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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:10 am 
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My analysis of the US Civil War isn't totally formulated but IIRC there's wayyy too much sympathy for the confederacy and an undervaluation of Black reconstruction among the traditionalist left communists. We've seen overcapitulation to racist and backwards reactionary elements of the "white" US working class manifest quite strongly again in the post-Trump's election era haven't we? (Jesus tapdancing christ it hasn't even been four weeks.)


I don't think among Marxists that is accurate. Certainly isn't accurate for the views of those of us involved in AC, Red Marx, etc. Radical Reconstruction (Congressional or Military Reconstruction which took hold in 1868, but was already on the wane by 1872), comes closest to being an almost revolutionary moment in US history.

As for agriculture-- I don't doubt that there were isolated instances of productive agriculture in China, but the history of agriculture in China is one of declining productivity, an "involution" of sorts-- I recommend the works Of Phillip CC Huang.

As for this:
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There are a number of petty capitalist farmers like Eliot Coleman and Jean Michael Fortier who are grossing about 150k USD a year on less than three acres. I'd say that's easily enough to feed a small community of a handful of families. In the US, there's a bit over a half acre of arable land per person. A family would have two or three acres no problem.


if these farmers are grossing 150K a year, then they are not subsistence farming; they are producing some high value agricultural products and marketing them. They are capitalists. They are not providing product that's enough to feed a handful of families. They are producing a value that in theory could support 6 families of 4 each at the poverty level, or 3 families at about the median average income in the US.


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:38 pm 
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Yeah, I've got a tiny bit of criticism over using that Endnotes quote. To be clear about where my sympathies lie, I see most of communization theory to be somewhat...hehe, infantile...but still see it as very much having value today and thinks it deserves serious consideration. One thing that was certainly not meant to be emphasize was this whole young vs old thing, yes people live and their personal outlooks evolve but I hate to assign this strict linear progression to it.


That's good to hear. Regarding the products of the communisation milieus, I'd agree that they're worth reading and digesting on their own terms, if for no other reason than to appreciate recent developments in a broadly defined revolutionary movement. I think it's definitely a direct emanation of trends operating within the working-class, the tendency toward exponentially increasing atomization and disorganization; a kind of reflection of changes in the regime of capital accumulation over the last 40 +/- years, but one with a very specific side effect in practice: political castration.

The question of the roles, tasks and functions of communists in the present is something we've been discussing (and writing about) lately in Anti-Capital. What are your thoughts on what 'we' do, both among ourselves and in relation to our co-workers and the rest of the class in the present?

That's not meant to be a loaded question, I know it's littered with complicated nuances and tons of tangential side-issues that relate to it, but it's definitely an important (and topical!) subject.

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We've seen overcapitulation to racist and backwards reactionary elements of the "white" US working class manifest quite strongly again in the post-Trump's election era haven't we?


Possibly. I think that working-class whites have long been viewed as either, at best, a contingent ally for the revolutionary movement (i.e. only when fractions of it are engaged in strikes etc. or progressive-social movements) or at worst, bought and paid-for by capital and largely act like some kind of bourgeois fifth column inside the proletariat.

I think approaching this question necessarily means dropping ballast and discarding theories like the 'aristocracy of labor', and actively (energetically?) working toward class unity.

Parts of the Democratic Party surely have overreacted, with some media stories after the election that all but blamed Trump's election on Joe Biden's decision not to run (the Democrats' resident "white guy whisperer"). Among some communists there was a tendency to become infected by this and exaggerate the level by which working-class whites voted for Trump, or have become 'Trump-ets' ('Trump-ettes'? 'Trump-eteers'?), but I think for far too many it just reinforced long-held ideological positions that working-class whites are too far gone.


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:45 am 
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sartesian wrote:
if these farmers are grossing 150K a year, then they are not subsistence farming; they are producing some high value agricultural products and marketing them. They are capitalists. They are not providing product that's enough to feed a handful of families. They are producing a value that in theory could support 6 families of 4 each at the poverty level, or 3 families at about the median average income in the US.


I had considered this, we're essentially arguing the same point. The thing is there is not much marketing (in like the social media sense) involved in running a CSA-style agribusiness. They sell direct or at the market. Your cash crops will still be a third or half the price of the grocery store, produced and consumed in a much less energy intensive manner. The work is no easier or harder for the individual laborer. It's a question of scalibilty and specialization, or the lack there-of. If right now there is .5+ acres for every man woman and child in the US that's plenty of room for people to learn to grow all their vegetables and other things at home as well. You might be thinking, "If that'd work, capitalism would already be doing it." Well it is. Read about the new agricultural "revolution", post-Norman Borlag or however the hell you spell his name. So bottom line is in my view it's very possible, contrary to the angle put forth by sartesian on the issue.


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:04 am 
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I don't think we are arguing the same point. I think your point is that "farmers"-- as a class, as a social formation-- will ally with workers in a revolutionary struggle for socialism. The issue isn't if some specialty agriculture can survive capitalist trends towards concentration and centralization by producing value for a niche market, or a niche in the markets.

I have no doubt that there are many innovations in agriculture that can and will enhance productivity, and reduce the waste involved in capitalist production. However the farmer earning 150K per year, regardless of the size of the acreage, is not a subsistence producer. On what basis would you expect the class of farmers earning 150K a year to support a workers' revolution? And is that support class-based, that is to say, on the reproduction of the farmers as farmers in the networks of exchange?


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:39 pm 
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I just wrote an essay to sartesian but was logged out and lost the comment. Would be excellent if you all could kick up the time before this happens a bit in the settings, please. Happened three times and now I'm like f--- it.

As I said before, at a certain point of income just like workers involved in managerial staff you become a part of the petty bourgeoisie. That's why in the og post sartesian refers to I called the farmers I shouted out (simply for growing technique, they grow a **** ton of food) as petty capitalists. So same with other farmers as is with "workers" with higher salaries. On the otherhand, a lot of folk who self-identify as farmers (think farmersonly.com---it's "working class whites") aren't working for much else than basic privations. So there is a such a thing as working farmers in my view and they are part of "the class" which is historic and revolutionary. Hate to break the news lol. Marx and Engels had a curiosity with communal land during the 19th century, yes, and some of us still. share this curiosity although traditionalist "class lines" may be blurred from your optics.

[quote="mhou"]Possibly. I think that working-class whites have long been viewed as either, at best, a contingent ally for the revolutionary movement (i.e. only when fractions of it are engaged in strikes etc. or progressive-social movements) or at worst, bought and paid-for by capital and largely act like some kind of bourgeois fifth column inside the proletariat.

I think approaching this question necessarily means dropping ballast and discarding theories like the 'aristocracy of labor', and actively (energetically?) working toward class unity.

Parts of the Democratic Party surely have overreacted, with some media stories after the election that all but blamed Trump's election on Joe Biden's decision not to run (the Democrats' resident "white guy whisperer"). Among some communists there was a tendency to become infected by this and exaggerate the level by which working-class whites voted for Trump, or have become 'Trump-ets' ('Trump-ettes'? 'Trump-eteers'?), but I think for far too many it just reinforced long-held ideological positions that working-class whites are too far gone.


Hmm, very well formulated. I agree.

I'm not purely "white" (although no one is are they?) but I don't understand the Sanders > Trump move so many have witnessed in our personal acquaintances, friends and family. Perhaps most of the white working class in the US is "too far gone"---on sexism and xenophobia. Ethnic nationalism is very strong in the US.

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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:01 pm 
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Dankston wrote:
I just wrote an essay to sartesian but was logged out and lost the comment. Would be excellent if you all could kick up the time before this happens a bit in the settings, please. Happened three times and now I'm like f--- it.


I think I fixed it, though if it was logging you out you could hit the remember me option and just manually sign out when you were done to be safe.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:40 pm 
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When it doubt, use MSWord to copy/paste before submitting.

Quote:
I'm not purely "white" (although no one is are they?) but I don't understand the Sanders > Trump move so many have witnessed in our personal acquaintances, friends and family. Perhaps most of the white working class in the US is "too far gone"---on sexism and xenophobia. Ethnic nationalism is very strong in the US.


I think the proportion of that particular demographic that is likely 'too far gone' is quite small; they're tolerated by a much larger portion to different degrees. Absent an alternative, I don't know how it could be otherwise.

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As I said before, at a certain point of income just like workers involved in managerial staff you become a part of the petty bourgeoisie. That's why in the og post sartesian refers to I called the farmers I shouted out (simply for growing technique, they grow a **** ton of food) as petty capitalists. So same with other farmers as is with "workers" with higher salaries.


I don't agree with that framework-- specifically, tying relative income to class. I realize you mentioned managerial staff specifically, but with the same basis, coal miners, longshoremen, rail crafts, top tier factory workers etc. with annual salaries (with or without overtime and bonuses being accounted for) that can be up to 5+ x more than a fast food or retail worker could be "evolved" out of the working-class by falling within the same compensation brackets as managerial staff (Max Weber's BS).

This sort of ties into the real class basis of rural America as well.

Here in WV, I have several co-workers and bosses who live on or own 'farms'. Some have small agricultural output such as one who rents the land to someone else to work for practically nothing (since the owner works a 'regular'/traditional full-time job, the actual farmers do repairs and upkeep on the property basically as payment for using it); some are active in local agricultural bureaus and whatnot and send their kids to 4H programs; most simply live there or sell it off after their parents or other relatives died and left it to them so it could more accurately be called "Land-That-Used-To-Be-A-Farm."

None of these people fit the definition of a farmer. They all have 'traditional' jobs (as workers or managerial strata) as their primary source of income, while their relation to farming is more akin to a lifestyle choice or a hobby.

But this is what is especially pernicious in rural and semi-rural areas and made apparent in the Trump campaign/election: the illusion of a universal, shared way of life irrespective of class differences.

Class distinctions may be superficially blurred but the real class relations remain.


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:04 am 
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I don't agree with that framework-- specifically, tying relative income to class. I realize you mentioned managerial staff specifically, but with the same basis, coal miners, longshoremen, rail crafts, top tier factory workers etc. with annual salaries (with or without overtime and bonuses being accounted for) that can be up to 5+ x more than a fast food or retail worker could be "evolved" out of the working-class by falling within the same compensation brackets as managerial staff (Max Weber's BS).


I never really meant to tie relative income to class in an absolute way. The qualification is whether you work to live, as in your in some real trouble if you miss a paycheck or two, no?

Quote:
Here in WV, I have several co-workers and bosses who live on or own 'farms'. Some have small agricultural output such as one who rents the land to someone else to work for practically nothing (since the owner works a 'regular'/traditional full-time job, the actual farmers do repairs and upkeep on the property basically as payment for using it); some are active in local agricultural bureaus and whatnot...

None of these people fit the definition of a farmer. They all have 'traditional' jobs...farming is more akin to a lifestyle choice or a hobby.


So the person who works the land, what's their story? What's their class? Chances are they were a worker, are still a part-time or casual worker, etc.

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But this is what is especially pernicious in rural and semi-rural areas and made apparent in the Trump campaign/election: the illusion of a universal, shared way of life irrespective of class differences.

Class distinctions may be superficially blurred but the real class relations remain.


That's not at all what I want to do here. I'm trying to show how workers of every shade, gender, age, sexual preference, etc. etc. are being forced out of work. And many have access to places they can grow food and are getting a number of calories this way.

Maybe this is a glimpse of a certain specific kind of new historical development, or at least one that hasn't happened in the West since like the 17th century when common lands were still a big thing. In the US where it sounds like most of us in this thread are living currently, cities like Detroit, Oakland, Queens, and even cities like Portland and San Francisco this kind of social relationship is fast on the rise. In Greece, I read up to 40% of the unemployed obtain the majority of their food from plots of food they work themselves.

How do we account for this? Developments, behaviors like this will only increase from pure necessity, in the age of austerity.

I think there's a chance for communists to intervene here against the "anarcho-capitalist" mentality (is there such a thing as a oxymoronic redundancy?) and say "Look, just give the food out for free." Many of us who have been involuntarily opted out of our former wage dependencies can either try to figure out ways to survive together, keep trying to find a job, or try to survive alone.


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:39 pm 
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I never really meant to tie relative income to class in an absolute way. The qualification is whether you work to live, as in your in some real trouble if you miss a paycheck or two, no?


Thanks for clarifying that.

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So the person who works the land, what's their story? What's their class? Chances are they were a worker, are still a part-time or casual worker, etc.


Well, farmer would be my best guess from the conversations I've had with them on the subject. The landowner (inherited) has nothing to do with any of it, just asks the land-user to do repairs ("Rent-in-Kind"?), landowner just lives in the house on the property. The farmer owns the livestock that grazes, the equipment that's used/stored in the buildings on the property, etc.

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How do we account for this? Developments, behaviors like this will only increase from pure necessity, in the age of austerity.


You may be right, I don't have any kind of data or anything to say otherwise.

Though if there is a kind of renaissance in subsistence gardening/food production (for lack of a better word), I still think the larger force at work is that of actively employed workers and especially pensioners supporting their unemployed and often young family members who have been either cast out of work, never entered the workforce, etc. This phenomenon has been particularly pronounced in Greece, but is present in all of the advanced/industrial/central nations.

In spite of any other measures taken to reproduce themselves, that is both a 'lifeline' sustaining significant parts of the working-class population in the central nations and a concrete means by which capital is making the working-class pay for its crisis (while it is also going after the other end as well: cutting pensions and so-called "entitlements").

There are equally significant segments of the class for whom this kind of setup isn't an option. West Virginia has a high proportion of both categories-- and then there's the criminal means of subsistence, state-run welfare programs (including the transition from unemployment insurance to disability to social security) and overlap with all of the above, in an out of the wage labor relation etc.

Do you think such operations (like the highly productive micro-farms [?] you mentioned in an earlier post) add something new to the revolutionary movement/class struggle in the present?


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 Post subject: Re: 'The Democratic Mirage'
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:11 am 
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Well, farmer would be my best guess from the conversations I've had with them on the subject. The landowner (inherited) has nothing to do with any of it, just asks the land-user to do repairs ("Rent-in-Kind"?), landowner just lives in the house on the property. The farmer owns the livestock that grazes, the equipment that's used/stored in the buildings on the property, etc.


So, yeah. Clearly a member of the ruling class.

:? :|

Quote:
You may be right, I don't have any kind of data or anything to say otherwise.

Though if there is a kind of renaissance in subsistence gardening/food production (for lack of a better word), I still think the larger force at work is that of actively employed workers and especially pensioners supporting their unemployed and often young family members who have been either cast out of work, never entered the workforce, etc. This phenomenon has been particularly pronounced in Greece, but is present in all of the advanced/industrial/central nations.


Parents die or go broke (not sure which is worse). And at this rate they're not handing out enough jobs to replace them when they do.


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