The Hours Trap: How overwork contributes to the waste of social resources and the degredation of personal time.

One of the tricks that capital plays on the worker is entrapment into excessive hours of work. The worker is enticed into overtime by time and a half schemes and other financial incentives. Wages are held low so the cost of a “comfortable” existence is not possible without excessive hours at work.

The resulting lack of leisure time is also a deprivation of time that a working person would otherwise spend to have comfort in their own existence by means of their own efforts.

Man with snowblower

Man with snowblower

We eat fast food take out in the car on the way to work because we lack the time to make a decent breakfast. “Labor saving” and electronic entertainment devices are sold to us as compensation for the deprivation of our personal time. The devices are only affordable to us if we work extra hours.

It is worth considering that the working class in the current age has lost a battle that was fought for and to a certain extent consolidated in the last century. That is the fight for the eight hour day and 40 hours work week.

As demand returns to the labor market and the capitalist measure of “unemployment” approaches 5% –of course not counting millions driven out of the work force in the recent crisis and millions more of younger workers who have not been provided the skills and education to enjoy meaningful employment, and the millions working multiple simultaneous part time jobs who are counted as “employed.” Further pressure to increase working hours should be resisted.

We should as well resist the temptation to fill the void in our lives created by excessive work and a deprivation of personal, family and creative leisure time with compulsive consumption.

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Ferguson, Mo., lawsuit exposes debtors’ prisons for traffic tickets : from The Militant

The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 79/No. 8      March 9, 2015

 
(front page)
Ferguson, Mo., lawsuit exposes debtors’
prisons for traffic tickets

 
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS  
Six months after Michael Brown was killed by cop Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and after ongoing protests spread nationwide over police abuse there, a class-action lawsuit was filed Feb. 8 in federal court challenging city rulers’ practice of jailing low-income workers for outstanding traffic tickets or other infractions and the subhuman conditions they’re subjected to while incarcerated.

“The City’s modern debtors’ prison scheme has been increasingly profitable to the City of Ferguson, earning it millions of dollars over the past several years,” the suit says. “It has also devastated the City’s poor, trapping them for years in a cycle of increased fees, debts, extortion, and cruel jailings.” The suit seeks damages and an injunction against these practices.

The suit was filed on behalf of 11 plaintiffs by Equal Justice Under Law, ArchCity Defenders and St. Louis University School of Law. A similar lawsuit was filed against nearby Jennings, Missouri.

Last year cops and courts in Ferguson, a city of 21,000 residents, two-thirds of whom are African-American, issued more than 3.6 arrest warrants per household, nearly 2.2 warrants for every single adult. Most were in cases involving unpaid debt for tickets. Court fines and fees have become Ferguson’s second-largest source of income, netting the city $2.6 million in 2013.

“They’re robbing us blind,” Markese Mull, a friend of Brown’s family in Ferguson, told the Militant in a phone interview Feb. 23. “They’ll ticket you for a $10 traffic violation and then tack on $100 in warrant delivery fees and another $100 in court costs.

All links to the original article at The Militant.com

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REUTERS reports on Teamster Freight Rail Strike in Canada.

CP Rail’s train engineers, conductors go on strike in Canada: union

TORONTO Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:59am EST

A Canadian Pacific Railway crew works on their train at the CP Rail yards in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken April 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files

A Canadian Pacific Railway crew works on their train at the CP Rail yards in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken April 29, 2014.

CREDIT: REUTERS/TODD KOROL/FILES

(Reuters) – Canadian Pacific Railway’s train engineers and conductors walked off the job on Sunday as a midnight deadline to reach agreement on a new contract passed, setting the stage for back-to-work legislation to be enacted by the government.

Canada’s No. 2 railway had reached a last-minute deal with another union, Unifor, which represents safety and maintenance workers minutes before the deadline.

But it did not agree terms with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represent more than 3,000 locomotive engineers and conductors.

“Canadian Pacific workers are now on strike,” Teamsters Canada said on its Twitter feed. A spokesman confirmed the workers had walked off the job.

The Teamsters and Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, had both set a Feb. 15 strike deadline.

CP, which also has a substantial U.S. network, said last week that its managers will be ready to take over if engineers and conductors go on strike.

Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel said the Calgary-based company has been preparing for a strike for two years. He said that if one goes ahead it would reduce earnings per share by about one cent per day.

CP earned C$2.63 a share in the fourth quarter.

The Canadian government joined contract talks between CP and unionized staff on Friday to help stave off a potential strike but it also began laying the groundwork to introduce back-to-work legislation.

The Conservative government put the legislation on Parliament’s notice paper for Monday, meaning it could pass it into law soon after any strike.

In recent years, the government has intervened or threatened to intervene in several major labor disputes in the transportation sector.

Unpredictable schedules and fatigue problems have been key issues in the Teamsters negotiations. CP Rail has said union demands were unreasonable.

Scheduling has been an ongoing labor issue at both CP Rail and at Canadian National Railway Co, Canada’s largest rail operator.

CN reached a tentative deal with the Teamsters union on Saturday and is still in talks with Unifor. Unlike CP Rail, it had not faced a strike deadline from either union.

(Reporting by Amran Abocar; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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Port labor dispute is big concern for railroads Union Pacific, BNSF – Omaha.com: Money

The following article indicates the concerns amongst the major rail shippers engendered by an evidently successful port slowdwown amongst longshoreman working at the port of Los Angeles.

Port labor dispute is big concern for railroads Union Pacific, BNSF – Omaha.com: Money.

Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 1:00 am

By Russell Hubbard / World-Herald staff writer

With rail network congestion improving in some of the nation’s grain belt, Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway are facing another prospective headache: a shutdown of the port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the country’s largest.

Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad says a work slowdown by the the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on the California waterfront is hurting international volumes of cargo containers that travel by ship, rail and truck.

BNSF Railway, owned by Omaha’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said the labor dispute needs to get resolved before the economy begins to register damage.
Click above link for full article text.

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U. S. National Railroad Workers Contract Negotitations Begins in January 2015

In the context of expanded production in the US economy, increased hiring amongst the major “Class 1” railroads and an industry expansion driven by increased oil production in the United States. Industry-wide contract negotiations have opened between the major US  rail carriers and the trade union organizations that represent the workforce in the rail transportation industry.

As reported in industry periodical Progressive Railroading U.S. Class I workforce widened again in December”  The ranks of working employees in the six class one railroads increased overall by nearly 5 percent including an over 8 percent increase in “T&E” employees–the trainmen and engineers who operate the moving equipment. This hiring activity remains active into 2015.

Below is an aggregation of articles covering still the developing negotiations between the rail carriers and the various employee unions.

NRLC statement

Unions and Craft Employment Figures for 2015 Rail Contract Bargaining round.

The Militant (logo)

Vol. 79/No. 3      February 2, 2015
(front page)
Rail workers discuss fight against
bosses’ attack on safety, crew size

As union contracts expire, freight rail workers in U.S. and Canada face bosses’ demands for speedup, cuts in crew size. Above, July 31 protest in Seattle against one-man crew.

BY ANNE CARROLL
AND R.V. SMALLWOOD

CHICAGO — More than 140,000 workers are in the middle of contract negotiations with the wealthy owners of freight railroads throughout the U.S. and Canada who are driving to increase profits at the expense of safety.

http://railroadworkersunited.org/us-unions-in-national-bargaining/

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James P. Cannon: A Blood Transfusion

Because Cannon was not, in the way of some, an “intellectual” he is so often underestimated. In Cannon’s veins ran the blood of the militant workers movement of the United States. A Wobbly, a founding member and first secretary of the Workers Party, and then of the SWP(US) Cannon ranks among the great revolutionaries of history. His legacy is as yet unfinished.

Shiraz Socialist

Claiming rights as Americans

Back in March, the sometime-socialist Seymour posted this piece of far-right apologia (and rank anti-Semitism) on his blog. He has since received a resounding rebuke, and replied – characteristically- with childish, yah-boo petulance  predicated upon the idea that long words equal serious thought. If I thought it would do this buffoon any good, I’d dedicate the following elementary lesson in the socialist attitude to race, to him:

The veteran Trotskyist James P. Cannon, writing in the US Socialist Workers Party’s paper The Militant, in May 1947:

Things are not exactly what they used to be in South Carolina. The mob of 31 white men who lined the Negro Willie Earl, and admitted it with ample detail in signed statements, were put to the inconvenience of a trial in court. That is something new. But it turned out to be a very small point, for the lynchers were all triumphantly acquitted…

View original post 711 more words

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‘Fire in the Barrio “The Way of Sandino”‘ excerpt from Omar Cabezas, Fire From the Mountain: The making of a Sandinista.

From the chapter “Fire in The Barrios”:
Omar Cabezas  from
Fire From the Mountain:
The Making of a Sandinista.*

“When I left for the mountains I knew the Frente was behind me, as Frente, as a front. I wasn’t going alone. I knew when I left Subtiava a whole generation of students was behind me, but more important–and here I may be guilty of lack of modesty–a generation of students that in some way bore the seal of my own combat.

This was the student movement that later spread throughout the country. For the students we recruited in Leon went back to their own provinces and initiated work in the barrios. They were the first contacts of the regional underground of the FSLN.

So as I was saying, I left for the mountains with absolute confidence, not that I would come out alive–but confident of victory. Mainly because I felt that Subtiava was behind me. And when I left for the mountains, Subtiava, that was power.

In 1972 or ’73 we had our first mass demonstrations. Before that only students demonstrated. Never people from the barrios. I remember once we called a demonstration, I can’t remember now what it was for, but it brought together two currents, one from the university, the other from Subtiava. We had the capacity to mobilize masses in Subtiava, but in this march it was mainly people we’d already recruited in the other barrios, the small committees. Like all the mobilizations in Subtiava, this one was impressive. One long street runs from Subtiava to the cathedral, the students marching from the university to the park, the Subtiavans from Subtiava.

We had discovered the Indian origins of the Subtiavans and encouraged these as a strength; we tried to transpose the old ancestral struggles of Adiac, their ancient chief. And to remind them how they’d been dispossessed, humiliated. How both Liberals and Conservatives had bullied them and ripped of their lands How Sandino had rebelled just as Adiac had rebelled. And then there was the question of the bourgeois classes having all the power.

Before the Subtiavans started marching, they beat their atabales–you know what an atabal is? It’s a drum, a kettle drum. So the local committees went all through the barrios beating their drums: barangan-barangān . . . barangan- barangān. It’s a muted, serious sound; its not cheerful, but it’s not sad either; it’s a tense sound: barangan- barangān -barangan- barangān barangan barangān -. They didn’t look to the sides but only marched straight ahead, barangan- barangān barangan barangān -barangan- barangān -. And the people looked out from the vacant lots, over thorny hedges, or out of their houses.  And behind the drums the people came chanting, “Seven tonight in the plaza, seven tonight in the plaza.” People knew, being Sandinistas, this was a directive. So off they went to the plaza. Then, after a brief rally, they headed down the Calle Real, which is the street that goes all the way to the Central Square, the famous Calle Real. So at the head of the Subtiavans, the drums. First the drums, and behind the drums the leaders, and behind the leaders all the Indians. And the first leader was the man I met at the funeral, Magno Beruis.

So, when you saw the Subtiavans on the march, hearing their drums in the lead–baragan- barangān -barangan- barangān –you saw the stony face of the Indian, with course, straight hair, not smiling much, A serious face, not sad, and not bitter either, but grave, with a repressed rage that was just beginning to surface. And you felt a unity in the beat of the drums, a unity of rhythm and face, or of rhythm and step, or of step, rhythm and face. I don’t know what went into that unity, but you saw the Indians, with their Indian faces marching and shouting slogans, but not in the rowdy tone of the students, who were screwing around, making up catchy phrases. The Indians’ slogans were simpler. An Indian would call out, “Which way do we go?” And they all shouted back, “The way of Sandino!”

All serious looking straight ahead, and with gravity. This instilled respect and began to frighten the bourgeoisie. For this was the Indian awakening. The rebellious Indian going back to Sandino and projecting Sandino forward with greater historical depth, forward into the struggle against an exploitative class society. So when you saw hundreds of Indians on the march, all serious–women, children; old, heavy, stocky, tall; rough, strong, men–you imagined that it wasn’t just a Subtiavan march, but a march of Indians that encompassed all of Latin America: the Bolivian Indian, the Peruvian Indian, the Chilean Indian, the Indians of the copper and tin mines, and of the rubber plantations. I realized at that moment they were marching not only in the Calle Real but over all of Latin America, over the Andes, over history, over the future with a firm solid step.

*Fire From the Mountain; Omar Cabezas,  English Translation by Kathleen Weaver, Crown Publishers, New York (1985)  pages 39-41.

For a New York Times Review of Fire From the Mountain from the year of its publication 1985 “Organizing the Revolution”

Posted in Nicaragua, Revolutionary Tactics and Strategy, The Right of Nations to Self Determination, The Workers' and Farmer's Government | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lenin between the revolutions: “Letters on Tactics” April 1917. More on the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry.

The text below gives further elaboration into the roots of the demand for the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry as articulated by the Bolsheviks before both the 1905  and 1917 revolutions in Russia.

This text is effectively concurrent to Lenin’s famous April Theses.

Excerpt:  Letters on Tactics  VI Lenin April 1917

Link to complete text

To be guided in one’s activities merely by the simple formula, “the bourgeois-democratic revolution is not completed”, is like taking it upon oneself to guarantee that the petty bourgeoisie is definitely capable of being independent of the bourgeoisie. To do so is to throw oneself at the given moment on the mercy of the petty bourgeoisie.

Incidentally, in connection with the “formula” of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, it is worth mentioning that, in Two Tactics (July 1905), I made a point of emphasising (Twelve Years, p. 435[16]) this:

“Like everything else in the world, the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry has a past and a future. Its past is autocracy, serfdom, monarchy, and privilege….Its future is the struggle against private property, the struggle of the wage-worker against the employer, the struggle for socialism….”[7]

Comrade Kamenev’s mistake is that even in 1917 he sees only the past of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. As a matter of fact its future has already begun, for the interests and policies of the wage-worker and the petty proprietor have actually diverged already, even in such an important question as that of “defencism”, that of the attitude towards the imperialist war.

This brings me to the second mistake in Comrade Kamenev’s argument quoted above. He criticises me, saying that my scheme “builds” on “the immediate transformation of this {bourgeois-democratic} revolution into a socialist revolution”.

This is incorrect. I not only do not “build” on the “immediate transformation” of our revolution into a socialist one, but I actually warn against it, when in Thesis No. 8, I state: “It is not our immediate task to ’introduce’ socialism…”.[8]

Is it not clear that no person who builds on the immediate transformation of our revolution into a socialist revolution could be opposed to the immediate task of introducing socialism?

Moreover, even a “commune state” (i.e., a state organised along the lines of the Paris Commune) cannot be introduced in Russia “immediately”, because to do that it would be necessary for the majority of the deputies in all (or in most) Soviets to clearly recognise all the erroneousness and harm of the tactics and policy pursued by the S.R.s, Chkheidze, Tsereteli, Steklov, etc. As for me, I declared unmistakably that in this respect I “build” only on “patient” explaining   (does one have to be patient to bring about a change which can be effected “immediately”?).

V. I.   Lenin

Letters on Tactics[9]


Written: Written between April 8 and 13 (21 and 26), 1917
Published: Published as a pamphlet in April 1917 by Priboi Publishers. Published according to the pamphlet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 42-54.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription\Markup: Unknown
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 1999 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Posted in Democratic tasks of the Workers Struggle, Lenin, Revolutionary Tactics and Strategy, Soviet/Bolshevik history, The Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry, The Workers' and Farmer's Government | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

E.A. Preobrazhensky Excerpt from “Primitive Accumulation and the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry”

Below is an excerpt from the paper on Preobrazhensky that I have been working on .

E.A. Preobrazhensky, the New Economics, and the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry.

The text above links to part 1 of the article. This work remains and unpublished early draft but the ideas are developed enough to share with readers. Comments, criticism debate, insight and additional historical information are all encouraged.


Preobrazhensky’s intellectual accomplishment must be considered in the context of the most important decision that he made in his life. Cannon explains, “For the proletarian revolutionist the party is the concentrated expression of his life purpose, …he knows that his socialist ideal cannot be realized without the party. …The proletarian revolutionist is a disciplined man, since the party cannot exist as a combat organization without discipline”[61] For Cannon as so for Preobrazhensky.

Amongst a sea of radical, liberal, reformist and revolutionary political tendencies the young Preobrazhensky chose the relatively small but yet the most rigorous and disciplined element amongst the Russian revolutionary organizations with which to align himself. [62]  He made this choice at the start of his adult life and his political career.

When I moved up into the seventh class, I could no longer remain a vague, wishy-washy revolutionary. I had to choose between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats. I was decisively influenced by two works: The Communist Manifesto, and The Development of Scientific Socialism by Engels. After long meditation over them, I decided that the Populist outlook was untenable and unscientific, and that only Marxism could show me the correct path. This watershed in my beliefs produced certain practical consequences. Previously I had distributed to students not only SD literature which reached us from the Oryol SD Committee through Valeryan Schmidt and Pyotr Semyonovich Bobrovsky (both later Mensheviks,) but also SR literature which was provided by the SR Nikkeleva, although she lived under supervision in Oryol. I recall with what sombre resolution I announced to her that I could no longer help her distribute SR literature because I had become a Social Democrat. [RSDLP][63]

Ulam makes no mention of Preobrazhensky in his study of The Bolsheviks[64] written just before Pearce’ translation of The New Economics. This is a surprising omission given EAP’s prominence as the co-author of the broadly popular pamphlet The ABC of Communism and as a figure in the opposition to the treaty of Brest Litovsk as a Bolshevik leader and organizer of considerable authority from the earliest days of the movement. “And it is characteristic of the man [Lenin] that he seeks to infuse the Marxists with the revolutionary fire and conspiratorial discipline that had belonged to the heroes of [Russian] populism.”[65] Ulam fails to comprehend the attraction to Lenin and Bolshevism of individuals such as Preobrazhensky who possessed not so much a penchant for hero worship but rather a critical intellect and a drive toward effective action, the character of a scientist and an organizer rather than that of a romantic or philosopher. In his characterization of democratic centralism as a machine made up of ‘cogs’ and in desperate need of a leader, Ulam misses the possibility of an organization of leaders functioning in disciplined collaboration. The character and behavior of EAP, is an affront to Ulam’s thesis. Ulam undervalues the degree to which Lenin’s organizational proposals were rational to their historical context and so to which self-reliant, capable and far sighted individuals were drawn to Bolshevism as the most effective political orientation of the time. Ulam discovers Preobrazhensky in his 1973 biography of Stalin and there pays him some due.[66]

When the Russo Japanese war broke out in 1904 Preobrazhensky participated in student and anti-war propaganda work in collaboration with the Oryol party committee. In the spring of 1904 at the age of 18 he was for the first time involved in the education of workers at the Khrushchev engineering works. “I explained the Party program to them at some length, but not very convincingly. In summer… after consultations with the Party, I gave lessons at the Dyadkovo factory in the Maltsev industrial centre, Bryansk district.”[67] In April and May of 1905 he describes participating in a “general strike in educational establishments in Oryol.” Despite having spoken publicly at these events he was allowed to graduate school and suffered no legal consequences.

From this point on Preobrazhensky’ describes an increasing level of authority and responsibility in the activities of the RSDLP and the major events of the day. After participating in workers’ circles in the Bryansk automotive plant he became part of the Oryol Committee which he describes as “conciliationist[68]” and in which his youth and zeal combined to amuse some of his older and less fervent comrades. “We have two Bolsheviks Mikhail Ekaterinoslavsky who is 20 and Evgeny Preobrazhensky who is 19…”[69]

 “I stuck to my guns and defended the positions adopted at the Third Party Congress.”[70] The resolution of the Third Congress called “for the Party to participate practically and most energetically in the armed uprising and to give it leadership[71] Held on the eve of the climactic events of 1905. The Third Party congress was an all Bolshevik affair with the Mensheviks holding a nearly concurrent ‘First All-Russian Conference’ in Geneva. Zinoviev writes, “At these two congresses both sides worked out their respective detailed tactics in relation to the 1905 revolution: for everyone sensed that the decisive days would come…[72] The Third Congress allowed the Bolsheviks to establish a preparatory organizational structure and propaganda apparatus and to reaffirm amongst themselves the strategic orientation put forward in What is to Be Done. Preobrazhensky though still a relatively young cadre of the Party, had absorbed this programmatic orientation and would carry it out with a commitment to the cause and to party discipline. In addition to sharpening the organization question and calling for the Bolshevik cadre to throw themselves into preparations for a general strike and insurrection, the connected theoretical questions of the class character of the regime which would replace the Tzar and the role of the peasantry in the revolution began to sharpen around the lines that would separate Social Democracy (Menshevism), Bolshevism and Trotskyism.[73] [74] Preobrazhensky as a leading, if still junior, party cadre tasked with the education and organization of workers preparing for insurrection would have been aware of, given thought to, and had to answer to his party’s positions on fundamental questions. [75] It is worth noting that at this stage in the development of Russian Social Democracy Trotsky stood apart from Bolshevism whereas Preobrazhensky clearly chose to support Lenin’s tight organizational strategy and to carry out its essential task of organizing the Russian proletariat directly.

Notes——————

 [61] Cannon, James P.  The Struggle for a Proletarian Party Ed John G. Wright First Edition 1942, Pathfinder Press (1972) Part 1 Section 4. ‘The Organization Question’ pp 15.  Cannon was only 4 years Preobrazhensky’s junior.

[62] Ulam, Adam; The Bolsheviks Macmillan 1965 (pp176-193) Ulam’s thesis is that all subsequent formations of Bolshevism, the communist Party and the Soviet state, including the rise of Stalin, the purges and show trials of the prominent leaders of the original Bolshevik movement are a function of the strategy outlined by Lenin in What is to be Done. Pp179 “But the source of it all is in What is to be Done.”

[63] Preobrazhensky, E.A. “Autobiography” in Makers of the Russian Revolution pp192. Preobrazhensky dates himself here at 17 (1903)

[64]Ulam, ibid;

[65] Ulam (1965) pp 177

[66] Ulam, Adam; Stalin: The Man and His Era, Viking (1973)

[67] EAP Autobiography pp 193

[68] The “conciliationists,” which includes Trotsky at this time sought to heal the rift or find the middle in the split between Lenin’s faction and the “Mensheviks”

[69] Ibid 194

[70] Ibid

[71] Third Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (London) 25 April –10 May “Revolution has broken out and its flames are spreading wider and wider …The Proletariat stands at the head of the fighting forces of the revolution…”
“The Third Congress sought to take into consideration the new tasks of the moment in its resolutions on the Party’s preparation for open action…”
Lenin Collected Works (LCW) Foreign Languages Publishing house, (1962) vol 8. Pp 433-439 Marxists Internet Archive (MIA)

[72]Zinoviev, Grigorii; History of the Bolshevik Party—A popular Outline, trans. R. Chappell. New Park (1973) Originally in Russian (1922)

[73] Service, Robert; Trotsky: A Biography, The Belknap Press of Harvard, Cambridge (2009) pp90, 91.

[74] An exposition of Lenin’s thinking during this period can be found in the 1904 book One Step Forward Two Steps Back which precedes the 3rd Congress (London) and in the July 1905 pamphlet Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution see note below.

[75] Stalin at this point was tasked similarly to Preobrazhensky conducting party propaganda work amongst the Georgian populace. A remnant of this work has survived courtesy of the gendarmerie in the form of the Russian Translation of an article originally in Georgian summarizing the positions advocated at the Bolsheviks Third Congress. See Stalin’s “The Provisional Revolutionary Government and Social Democracy August 1905” Stalin Works, Vol 1, November 1901-April 1907

Posted in Analysis of Mature Capitalism, Autobiography of EA Preobrazhensky serialized excerpts, E.A. Preobrazhensky, Primitive accumulation, Soviet/Bolshevik history, The Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry, The Workers and Farmer, The Workers' and Farmer's Government | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Comments on Money in Contemporary Capitalism: Autonomization of ‘Truly Social’ Forms…by L.M. Paulani Excerpt and Link

Below is an excerpt from L.M. Paulani’s excellent article which expands upon the question of ‘autonomization of capital’ in this case the money form of capital, which is also explored in the related article Valueless Knowledge-Commodities and Financialization: (Teixiera and Rotta 2012) also published electronically on the Rawlinsview Blog.

The excerpt consists of a lengthy quote from Marx framed by Paulani’s commentary.

Autonomization in political economy describes the process by which financial activity and value in mature capitalist society grow farther and farther apart from, and become over time actually opposed to, the real production of useful things.  In this case the author develops the progress of the autonomization of money from gold and other exchangeable precious metals, to paper currencies, credit and forms of “fictitious capital

The title below is linked to a Word file of the complete article a complete version in Portuguese is referenced below.

The Autonomization of Truly Social Forms in Marx’s Theory: Comments on money in contemporary capitalism* +

Leda Maria Paulani
Department of Economics
University of São Paulo – Brazil


Before we investigate the relationship between the first and the second determinations of money (measure of value and medium of circulation), it is worth noting that the necessary appearance of money  –  which is the general equivalent (and, therefore, measure of value) – as standard of prices functions exactly as a kind of transition between these two determinations. In other words, the functioning of money as medium of circulation, whose effectiveness presupposes its capacity to express in a simple common way the values of all commodities, imposes its position as a pattern of prices.

This observation is important because, as we will see, the main element that characterizes money as medium of circulation, i.e., as currency, is precisely the possibility it provides of being replaced by a representative of itself. Although long, it is worth reproducing a series of Marx’s considerations on this matter, all of them in the second section of the third chapter of Capital:

 Money takes the shape of coin because of its function as the circulating medium. The weight of gold represented in the imagination by the prices or money-names of the commodities has to confront those commodities, within circulation, as coins or pieces of gold of the same denomination. (…) In the course of circulation, coins wear down, some to a greater extent, some to a lesser. The denomination of the gold and its substance, the nominal content and the real content, begin to move apart.  Coins of the same denomination become different in value, because they are different in weight. The weight of gold fixed upon as the standard of prices diverges from the weight which serves as the circulating medium, and the latter thereby ceases to be a real equivalent of the commodities whose prices it realizes. (…) The fact that the circulation of money itself splits the nominal content of coins away from their real content, dividing their metallic existence from their functional existence, this fact implies the latent possibility of replacing metallic money with tokens made of some other material, i. e. symbols which would perform the function of coins. (…) The metallic content of silver and copper tokens is arbitrarily determined by law. In the course of circulation they wear down even more rapidly than gold coins. Their function as coins is therefore in practice entirely independent of their weight, i.e., it is independent of all value. In its form of existence as coin, gold becomes completely divorced from the substance of its value. Relatively valueless objects, therefore, such as paper notes, can serve as coins in place of gold. This purely symbolic character of the currency is still somewhat disguised in the case of metal tokens. In paper money it stands out plainly. But we can see: everything depends on the first step (ibid, pp. 221-224, author’s emphasis).[1]

The quotation makes it clear that, for Marx, for money to assume its role as currency, it doesn’t have to be a commodity, not even a metal token; it can be a mere paper-note. In this determination, therefore, money completely breaks free from the material barriers that (given the internal tension it contains), contradict its inclination towards abstraction and generality. As Marx states, its monetary function becomes “independent of value”. The final line of the quotation indicates, in turn, that this logical development is inevitable (see note 10 below). Therefore, we can say that money functioning as medium of circulation leads to the abstract that money represents becoming autonomous from the concrete that the measure of value requires.


[1] It is worth noting that, in the original, Marx wrote in French the last phrase of this quotation. There we read: “Man sieht, ce n’est pas que le premier pas que côute”.  The phrase in French means more than “everything depends on the first step”. It means that it is only the first step that costs, because once it has been given, everything else comes automatically. This is important for the argument we are defending here concerning the process of autonomization of the truly social forms. That is why I’m calling attention to this. [authors footnote]

* This essay is part of a broader research project funded by a CNPq productivity in research grant, and was developed as part of the activities of CAFIN, “Institutions of Financial Capitalism Research Group”, registered in the same institution.

+ The English translation of this article lacks a translation credit or publication date. The following article by the same author in Portuguese is referenced as follows

Paulani, L. M. 2009. The autonomization of the truly social forms in Marx`s theory: Comments on money in contemporaneous capitalism. Proceeding of ANPEC Congress – 2009. Available in Portuguese at: http://www.anpec.org.br/encontro2009/inscricao.on/arquivos/000-ef1d67621df728d0eca892bed24cdd23.doc
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