Friday, November 25, 2016

Nach Trump, ________________(Uns, Sie, Jeder, Niemand)

So it turns out, the total votes cast in 2016 exceeded the number cast in 2012 and 2008.  It turns out the election wasn't "boycotted" by those who voted in the previous two presidential elections, at least no more, and somewhat less, than elections have been "boycotted" or ignored in the past.

Trump received about one million more votes than Romney received in 2012, losing the popular vote by over 2 million to Hillary Clinton, whose own vote total was about 1.5 million less than that Obama received in 2012, which in turn was 2 million less than he himself received in 2008.

Now shock and awe have given rise, as shock and awe always do, to "stories," to creation myths, attempting to explain exactly how the world, this world, has come into being.  They're called "narratives," as if the material substance is the "story,"  is the "tell," like the "waiting ones" in Beyond Thunderdome do a telling, repeat the telling, and the telling is the material of history, even if, even when, but most of all, because it isn't.

"We ain't been slack, Captain."

"We kept it straight, you'll see.  Everything marked, everything 'membered."

"Alienated, disaffected, angry white working class... Living in Pox-Eclipse; in a world of pain, mediated by vicodin and oxycontin and suicide."

"Workers, Captain Walker, voted twice for  O-o-o-o-bama.  Post-race America of thee we sing. Kept it straight, see.  Marked and 'membered.  Then voted for the big Orange. See, Captain? Not race, class.  They waz angry workers. Fed up with the way of it all, the liberal-ing, the elit-ing of it all.  The big orange man, he spoke to those that waz angry.  He told them he knew everything about deals and they had gotten a raw one.  He promised to bring them back to the future, a morrow-morrow land of  home made air conditioners, and bright shining coal mines-- coal mines as far as the eye could see, and millions of them going to work everyday in the mines and coming home every night and nothing to stand in the way of  them and their happiness except maybe black lung (a hoax perpetrated by China to undercut red white and blue, said the big Orange).  Them that waz angry believed the big Orange because he said he was angry too.  It was class, not race, because they were workers, and white had almost nothing to do with it even if the big Orange was also promising to build walls, to keep out, throw out, force out, those from southern countries with browner skins, darker hairs, and different language."

That's one story.  It even comes with maps, showing the states going to the big Orange, and those that flipped from the Democrat side to the Republican.

But here are a couple of other maps:  First up,  a map of states (in blue) with anti-union "right-to-work" laws.  Looks kind of like the presidential vote by states, doesn't it?  Except for Pennsylvania, Montana, Kentucky,  Missouri, and Ohio-- and Ohio isn't from a lack of effort by its "reasonable Republican" governor, Kasich.

And next up a map of states requiring voter ID for registration and voting, ranging from "strict photo ID required"(red); "non-strict photo ID" (gold);   "strict non- photo ID" (royal blue); "non-strict, non-photo ID" (turquoise).  Note, North Carolina is not included because its law had been declared unconstitutional, which motivated the state to find other interesting ways to suppress voting, like reducing by half the number of polling places available in certain counties, specifically, certain counties where specifically African-Americans voters depended on easier access to polling places. Does this map bear a resemblance to the "final" tally of states?

Twenty-one states introduced voter suppression measures since 2010.  2016 was the first general election since the US Supreme Court disallowed the Voting Rights Act despite that the Voting Rights Act reauthorization bills invariably garnered massive, if not unanimous, support in the Congress.

But... we're supposed to believe that the anti-worker legislation; the voter suppression laws did not determine the outcome of this election?  We're supposed to believe that workers flipped a gigantic middle-finger at the status quo?  That years and years of Fox News, of Murdoch,  of Scott Walker, of Kasich, of the Koch Brothers, of police shootings, of non-police shootings, didn't mobilize racism in the service of capital?  We're supposed to believe that when the household median income of Trump voters is above the national median?

That's a narrative all right, but it misses a critical component of the class struggle .   It misses the real history of the bourgeoisie's struggle against the meager gains in equality; the relentless attempts to rollback racial and social equality; that that rollback was intrinsic, and essential to, the transfer of wealth "up" the social ladder; the aggrandizement of more by fewer.  Never have so many paid so much to so few.

The weapons used against the working class as a whole since 1973 were tempered, tested, blooded, in the attacks on black labor, in the opposition to the emancipation of black labor.   The weapons that will be used against the class as a whole for the next unknown years have been tempered, tested, and blooded in the attacks on migrant labor.  That's no narrative.  The history, such that it is, of impaired capitalism is the history of the attack on the condition of labor.

 "Who runs Bartertown?"  Aunty Entity or MasterBlaster?  It's still shit, and you're still shoveling.

November 25, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Anxiety of Typos

I think we need to really move to some programmatic [NOTE: I originally typed "pogrommatic"(!)] points for class based opposition.

The next moment of this big-ass recession is about to hit-- profits in the US S&P 500 have been down for 5 successive, if not already the 6th, quarters. Overproduction of oil, steel, etc. shipbuilding has driven the markets into near paralysis.

So I offer a couple, just a couple of points, to get the discussion started.

So first point: NO LAYOFFS

November 13, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What's Important and What's Really Imporant

1. See this article in the NYT   It is an important article

2.  It is important to note that the article confirms Insurgent Notes' argument that the turn to Trump was a measure of desperation by workers, and that neither racism, nor anti-immigration were the selling points to the Carrier workers.

3.  It is important that none of the African-American workers interviewed could bring themselves to vote for Trump.

4.  It is important to note that "holding Trump to his promises"  is where you get the full measure of the desperation-- that despite the actual record of Trump as a businessman, where breaking agreements, contractual obligations, promises of payment to suppliers, vendors, and workers was his default procedure-- there is the "wish to believe."

5. It's important to grasp that the reduction in manufacturing jobs with a higher wage rate, the increase in service jobs with a lower wage rate; the increase in part-time and temporary employment; the destruction of benefits, is not the result of globalization or "open borders" or NAFTA, or the WTO or free trade agreements, but is inherent in the "productivity of labor"-- the substitution of machinery for living labor that capitalism demands of, by, and for the capitalists.  The incessant substitution drives down the profitability of production, leads to overproduction, precipitates the attacks on wages and benefits, is the source of the demands for "give backs" and further "productivity gains" leading to successive drops in profitability and attacks on wages.

6.  It's important to note that this death spiral is not intrinsic to technological advance.  It is intrinsic to the advance of capitalism.  It is intrinsic to technology deployed and constrained in and only in the service of profit.  We are not Luddites.  Not even the Luddites were Luddites. Technology, when attacked, is attacked as the embodiment of capital, as the property of oppression and oppressors

7. It's really important to note that the African-American workers smelled a rat in the  "program" of Trump. The rat is that big capital uses attacks on the the poor, on the marginalized, on the undocumented,  by both the "centrists" and  the "alt-right" not as a "social medium" but as a street force in a mobilization exercise, an organizing principle to be used against  all workers regardless of what promises are made, what promises are broken.  The Clinton attacks on black youth as "super-predators" and the Trump full page-ads calling for execution of the Central Park Five were siblings in the same litter. 

8. It's important to note that in the 2Q 2016, profits for the S&P 500 declined approximately 3 percent on a year-over-year basis.  This is the fifth consecutive quarterly decline. The last time the S&P 500 experienced five straight quarters of decline was 2008-2009.  Carrier intends to begin layoffs at the Indiana plant this summer.  The workers don't have that long. The layoffs will begin before that whether or not production is transferred to Mexico.

9. Against all promises.  Against all layoffs.

November 12, 2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Importance of Being Wrong

There's good news and bad news.  The good news is that my unblemished record of incorrectly predicting the winner of presidential elections is.......still unblemished.  That's 36 years and 10 presidential elections in a row, and I defy anyone to show me a record that approaches mine in consistency, steadfastness, and error.

The bad news?  The bad news is the "soul-searching" and the "self-examination" and the despair and the hope and all the other crap that will now pile on this outcome.  We've got the "Jesus Christ, not this."  We've got the "I told you sos."  We've got the "Economy has had the slowest, weakest recovery since XXXX."  We've got "It's a global phenomenon."   We've got the "Pushback against the elites."  We've got the "International alliance of sinister forces sabotaging..."

We'll get the "Don't mourn, Organize."

We're gonna get it all and more including the Muslime raus!  Latinos raus! Juden raus! (except for accountants and tax lawyers, because Trump wouldn't want to cut off their noses, as it might spite his own face).

But before we go down any of those roads, let's dispose of the supposed "lucid, direct" appeal to the "white working class" made by Trump.  And let's dispose of it like this.  Rural areas, smaller cities, and married white males provided the deep reservoirs of Trump's support. There is no questioning the devastation that has been wreaked upon those rural and small city areas since 1973, and more intensely, after 1979, with asset stripping, de-unionization, and  capital flight.  But.....but has the "white" working class suffered more than black workers?  Is the unemployment rate higher for white workers than black workers?  Is the unemployment rate, incarceration rate, death rate, higher for white rural youth than for black rural youth?  Are incomes for whites higher than incomes for blacks?  Are white workers generally employed in higher paying jobs than black workers?    No, no, yes, yes??  Well, just one fact for your consideration, since 1980, black and Hispanic hourly earnings have shown no progress in reducing the hourly wage differential that keeps those earnings at about 70 percent of the earnings of their white counterparts.  So.......?

So why didn't/doesn't the Trump appeal appeal to black and Hispanic workers?  Because the appeal is anything but lucid, and direct.  Because the appeal is precisely to prejudice, status, privilege, to class non-solidarity and class collaboration.  Because the appeal is to the aspiration to becoming a little bourgeois unto himself, and it's not unlike the appeal that kept the poor white Southerner in line for years  working for lower wages.  Because the appeal is designed to obscure class, and target color, race, gender, ethnicity.

It's the same appeal Trump made to flog enrollment in Trump "University." "You too can become a slaveholder" is now  "you too can be a real estate developer.  you too can become a (petty) bourgeois."  Trump appeal to ethnicity, not to class.  His was the identity politics writ large.

So when some Marxist tells you how "chattering classes" have stigmatized the white workers as dumb racists, let's point out that today the "chattering classes" are all talking about the "alienated, angry, neglected, white working class,"  so incensed over a worker from Honduras working at a job a white worker would never accept, for money that's below what the white worker accept... let's point out to those "Marxists" that in talking about the chattering class, they are talking about themselves.

The election was secured not only by and in the once working class strongholds of the Democratic Party-- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin-- but just as, importantly, by the impact of voter suppression actions throughout the country, particularly in Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.  The fact that the chattering class Marxists have ignored this extensive and intensive policy of the bourgeoisie, have never even entered the field of opposition to this suppression by seeking to mobilize the population in direct action, and independent of the Democrats and NGOs, shows how effective the rollback, the erasing, of the entire experience of the civil rights struggle has been over the last 4 decades.  We can't ever remember how we even accomplished anything.

So here's a prediction.  The alt-right, new-right, Trump-Breitbart-Murdoch government will begin a campaign in or out of Congress to either repeal outright, or allow states to opt out of the 14th and 15th amendments.  Nothing portends the approach of the second civil war, like the repeal of the accomplishments of the first civil war.  The specter of Radical Reconstruction arising from the grave, threatening  the reconstitution of  the former slaveholders through and in Redemptionist governments will not be banished until those violations of "states' rights" are reversed.

On that, all the Republicans in this now current Redemptionist government can agree.  Take that Thaddeus Stevens!

The Marxists will have yet another opportunity to screw the pooch and leave the battle to the Democrats and the NGOs.

Moving on, let's smack ourselves in the forehead-- no, not you, just me, I smacked myself in the forehead, because......because for 45 years, I've been following the US oil industry major corporations, the movement of their profits and profitability, and I became somewhat adept at linking "policy" and "politics" to the conditions within that sector, which happens to be the most technically intensive sector of the economy.  

Where has the price of oil been for the past two years?  Where have profits been in the industry for the last two years?  And how could I, of all people, have forgotten what happens when the profitability of the oil industry tanks?  How could I have forgotten what happened in 2000 after the price of oil dropped in 1998 to $10 per barrel?  Or how could I have forgotten what happened in 2003 after the price of oil in 2002 dropped to $20 per barrel.

So two things, or relations, or moments of capital are returning:  1. a big-ass recession  2. a US war in the Mideast to get the price of oil up.  

Putin likes Trump?  No doubt.  The price of oil will begin to climb.  He might not like it so much when Trump starts threatening Iran with tactical nuclear weapons.  Like it or not, it's going to happen.

That's another prediction.

November  9, 2016

Pollster Post Mortem

Ripley: It's very pretty Bishop but what're we looking for?

Bishop: [pointing at gas coming from the reactor] That's it. The emergency venting.

Private Hudson: Oh, that's beautiful, man. Oh man, that-that-that just beats it all.

Corporal Hicks: How long till it blows?

Bishop: Four hours. With a blast radius of thirty kilometers, equal to about forty megatons.

Corporal Hicks: We got problems.

Private Hudson: I don't believe this. I don't fucking *believe* this!

November 9, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Note Insurgency

The comrades at Insurgent Notes have published an editorial regarding the possible election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.  The editorial is both confused and mistaken, and gives credit to the notion that Trump has attracted considerable support because of working class resentment and alienation, or at least in "white working class" resentment and alienation, as if there is even such a thing in the United States as a white working class separate and apart from the working class as a class.  Where it does exist "apart" or separate from the working class, where it does exist as "white" first and foremost, it exists as the legacy of the different historical processes that converged in the make-up of the class as a whole, and that different historical process for the most part is....segregation.

The issue is not if some  workers support Trump; just as it was not the issue that/if some workers supported Nixon, or Reagan, or Bush.  Of course, some workers support Trump.  Some support him based on real grievances.  Some support him based on imagined grievances.

The issues are the claims made in the editorial:

1. “Donald Trump is like no major candidate in living memory”–demonstrably wrong as a) Buchanan preceded Trump playing similar themes b) Trump has surrounded himself with the same “advisors” “consultants” who have been in the stable of every Republican presidential candidate since Nixon, c)what’s important isn’t Trump or not Trump but how and why Trump presents the absolutely logical extension to its “illogicity” of the bourgeoisie’s “strategy” since Nixon– “coding” for racism, suppressing voter enfranchisement, jerry-mandering– that point of extension being where the coding strips itself away. And why that appears at this moment.

2. “What is occurring is nothing less than a (very) skewed referendum on the past 45 years of American politics and society, and those who feel they got the short end of “free trade” and “globalization” think they have finally found a voice"– again absolutely not the story, at least not the whole story.

This isn’t a referendum of any sort on free trade or globalization– part of that 45 years was also the reduction in poverty rates until 1979, and then again prior to 2001; part of that 45 years where the were attempts to secure measures of equality for women in reproductive health care, in schools, in after school supports. Part of that 45 years is also the 30 years of attempted voter suppression, the corporate focus on state legislatures to dismantle protective legislation, and unions.

The “referendum” being held is whether or not white supremacy can dispense with the “code” a la David Duke dispensing with the white sheets .

Is there real economic distress in West Virginia? Sure thing. In the rural, and small town areas of Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, etc? Sure thing.

Was that distress caused by globalization and free trade? Absolutely not.

Trade may have reduced some jobs by some fraction, but the overwhelmingly loss of employment in the rural areas begins with Reagan/Volcker and the double-dip recession of the 1980s and the great asset stripping adventure of the bourgeoisie determined to offset the fall in profits. The loss of jobs has been the result of the advances in productivity coupled with reductions in profit margins and has almost zero to do with globalization.

Globalization and “free trade” is no less an attempt to obscure the class nature of this distress, the distress imposed by capitalism, than is Trump’s characterizing of Mexican migrants as rapists and murderers.

3. This: “It is perhaps remarkable that, in America’s supposedly “middle class” society, the white working class is being discussed and catered to as the ultimate arbiter of this election. So unprecedented are the politics of 2016 that mainstream ideology suddenly feels the need to talk openly about the working class it previously disappeared or took for granted. UAW bureaucrats and AFL-CIO blowhard president Richard Trumka scurry hither and thither to convince the union rank and file not to vote for Trump.”

…pretty much takes the cake. The media, the politicos, which have spent decades avoiding “working class” as a category, using “middle class” wherever and whenever possible, suddenly is now granted authority in deciding what, who is working class and what working class issues are. Priceless. Nothing fits the fantasy of an “enlightened section of the bourgeoisie”– of which there is none– than the concurrent fantasy of an ignorant, reactionary, brutish working class.

4. I’m sorry I made a mistake; (3) above doesn’t take the cake, this does:

“And why should we be surprised, when the main surprising thing is that for the first time a candidate of a major party has bothered to talk directly to such workers about what has happened to them in the past decades.”

Because Trump isn’t talking directly to workers about what has happened to them, since workers are, and as a class, include women workers, black workers, latino workers, migrant workers, the working poor, workers at the minimum wage. He is talking directly to the petty-bourgeoisie that make up the bulk, and the shock troops, of his campaign, as manipulated by the same people who manipulated the petty-bourgeoisie for Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush etc. He is directly not talking to the class, but appealing to reactionary, racists segments of various classes under the classic corporatist mantra of “unity” a shared “us” vs. “them.”

5. I’m sorry, (4) doesn’t take the cake, this:

"We should not overlook, when identifying the class fractures at work, the role of identity politics, so rife in the metropolitan centers, in fueling the rise of Trump. Identity politics always had and has an explicit or implicit “suspicion” of workers qua workers, just as they have been supremely indifferent to the dismantling of the old industrial heartlands, which ravaged communities of white, black and brown workers alike. The rise of Trump is in part payback for the decades of condescension and barely concealed contempt for, or at best indifference to, the fate of ordinary working people rife in elite academia, the corporate media and the higher-end publishing world of the New York Times and posh journals of the chattering classes”

does, really. Parroting Trump’s nonsense is not a revolutionary strategy, nor does it amount to a materialist analysis. Identity politics have had zero to do with the so-called “alienation” of the so-called white working class. Everybody, except the editors of IN apparently, knows exactly where this type of “critique”– a critique of the “corporate media” “academic elites” the “NYT” and “posh journals” of the chattering classes goes– it goes right into the pocket of reaction.  Actions, appeals, programs initiated by those subjected to extraordinary levels of exploitation or oppression or discrimination or mistreatment is not responsible for the actions of reactionaries, racists, scheming self-aggrandizing politicos. Tagging “liberals” or “liberal journals” as a problem without identifying their role in the reproduction of the regime of capital misses the point that the attacks upon them are triggered because they no longer suffice to meet those needs. Claiming, as the editorial does, that this is “payback” is schadenfreude…. and a mouthful of ashes.

Clinton represents the status quo for the bourgeoisie.  Trump represents the reality undermining the status quo.  Together they represent the precarious conditions surrounding the accumulation of capital, and the absence of class opposition, not its distortion.

November 6, 2016