How To Create A Classless Society: Abolish Profit!

Capitalist
“Don’t look at me!  – get back to work!”

 

Why is it important to create a classless society?

 

All of the social problems we face emanate originally from the division of society into two warring classes: capitalist, and proletariat.  These problems develop in manifold ways according to their own internal logic, or lack of, and alienate and oppress humanity.

 

Civil libertarians need to urgently realise the class basis to their causes.  The state is the primary organ through which the ruling class exert their control over society.  Whether your cause is a beef against parenting classes that undermine parental autonomy, smoking restrictions, or drinking restrictions, the ban on drugs, police harassment of ethnic minorities, immigration controls, whatever – all this stems from the state that is hungry to crush liberty, and itself is the primary organ through which the ruling class exert their control over society.

 

Those worried about the problems of work being unrewarding and causing of suffering in a capitalist society are also concerned about the class division.  The character of our whole society is affected by the class division.  Indeed, the project of human liberation gets nowhere until it confronts class.  The civil libertarians are necessarily on a losing streak until they confront class, because the state will keep on coming back and back at them.  Any victory for civil liberties tends to be short-lived.  Therefore, this blog seeks to unite everyone who has a problem with the way contemporary society is by locating the base problem in the fundaments of class society that creates the state.  It is that which must be done away with.  To get rid of the state presupposes we must get rid of class division.

 

How to create a classless society

 

The capitalist class are only reproduced by the existence of profit.  It is their ownership of profit that distinguishes them from even the wealthiest middle-class worker.  The ownership of profit gives them command over the way society is run, allows them to control the media in their own interests, and generally inhibits freedom for the majority.  Where the capitalist has profit, the worker has his wage.  These are quite different categories.

 

The wage represents the value of everything needed to reproduce and sustain the worker at a socially acceptable level – all the food, housing, childcare costs, occasional holiday, etc.  What it is not is an adequate compensation for work expended.  The worker generally produces more in a week’s work than he or she takes home as the wage.  But they are not paid for the quantity of goods they produce, they are paid as to what can reproduce them for the next round of work.  So, there is a discrepancy between worker’s pay and what workers have produced.  That quantity of value is what constitutes profit, the lifeblood of the capitalist.

 

Therefore, to create a classless society requires a new approach to wages and profit.  In fact, profit has to be done away with entirely to get rid of what reproduces the capitalist class.  How do you get rid of profit?  By abolishing wages.  Instead of paying the worker a wage that only represents what is necessary to sustain and reproduce him or her, instead workers-in-control pay themselves the full value of their produce.  If workers received an equivalent value to the work they have put in, then there is nothing left over, there is no profit any more.  Therefore, the capitalist class cease to exist, and you have a classless society.

 

The technology used in production could still be reinvested in by workers contributing part of their new earnings to it as part of the collective within the enterprise.  But without a capitalist owning the place and an army of managers and sergeants watching over them, then work suddenly becomes far more rewarding, especially knowing you will take home more than under capitalism.  Furthermore, you are now a real stakeholder as opposed to the bullshit use of this term by capitalistic politicians.

 

The worker would of course still pay some form of taxation – to fund schools, welfare, etc.  But given they have just received a 50% pay rise, they probably wouldn’t grudge that.  Also, they have an equal say over how the social fund from taxation is deployed, so would feel enriched by this.

 

Without the existence of profit, the post-capitalist economy loses capitalism’s tendency towards crisis, meaning the whole of society greatly improves in all dimensions, including morally.

 

It could be said that this is just a sketch of a worker’s co-operative.  It isn’t because I would advocate the model on a worldwide scale to get rid of capitalism in its entirety.  It should also be added that new participatory democratic structures would need to be called forward to co-ordinate the production of goods to unleash the already latent social dimension to production.  As people learn to co-operate more and more, they will swap jobs over with each other, to try new things, and develop their all-round capacities.

 

To summarise: the creation of a classless world unfetters a profound human liberation.

 

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For Rob O’Connor: A Homeless Man Who Froze To Death In Chelmsford City

rob o'connor
Rob O’Connor

I first met Rob after a gig by my favourite comedian Stewart Lee at Chelmsford’s Civic Theatre back in 2011.  Rob asked me for “50p for a cup of tea” which I was able to spare.  Over subsequent years I saw him lurking in a sorrowful state on several occasions and would give him cigarettes or spare change.  Sadly, this man, who was a rough sleeper, died a week ago from the horrendous tragedy of freezing to death on the streets.  Yes, you read it right – he froze to death in the 21st century.

 

Regarding reporting of this terrible event, the BBC initially took the same response I did – implying fury and outrage at the preventable death of a young man.  But then 2 days later, the BBC reneged on their outrage saying there was a shelter available not too far away from where Rob died that had spare space, and he could have stayed there.

 

Rob died outside of an Argos store that had shut down several months earlier, laying off a couple of dozen workers.  This building is quite big – sufficient to house all of Chelmsford’s homeless.  Yet the building was not requisitioned on the popular thoroughfare of Springfield Road by the Council, it has lain idle.  So, the irony is, Rob froze to death in the doorway of a building that is not even in use, yet had been shuttered.

 

Regarding the so-called “shelter” that Rob ‘could have’ used, this is 23-24 George Street.  It is about a 7 minute walk from where he died, and does not tolerate smoking inside, drink or drugs, that inevitably puts off many homeless, hence it is frequently running under full capacity.  Furthermore, it is run by Christians who offer advice regarding benefits you can claim with the ultimate intention of getting you into work.  But if it was the world of work that the homeless often despise due to various ‘mental health problems’ (as they are called) or other factors.  In short, who would want to stay in a shelter that just moralises at you to get a job?

 

Don’t get me wrong, the Christians who run the shelter are motivated by good intentions.  It is great they are there to offer help to those who don’t mind the nagging aspect to their care.  And technically it is true that Rob would not have died that night if he had availed himself of such benign charity.  But let’s face it, it is not an ideal situation.  Run the risk of freezing to death or suffer patronising Christians when you have no faith is a perilous choice to make.  Furthermore, Rob probably was staying out late to try and get more spare change from people coming out of nearby clubs.

 

The big problem which the BBC reportage has glossed over is that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of caring individuals, Christian or otherwise, to provide the necessary help.  It should be a responsibility of the Council.  Individuals are not duty-bound to provide care to the homeless, though it may tug on their heart-strings and is a noble act when they do.  But because those in need often resent the kind of care being offered, it would be better if a Council offered a neutral form of support, i.e. simply providing shelter for those who through no fault of their own have become homeless.  There could be leaflets regarding the claiming of benefits, but no mandatory interviews with Christian counsellors upon arrival.  And the temporary accommodation provided must allow the individual homeless person or family to do whatever they want, as too the rest of us should expect in our homes – to smoke, drink, take drugs, if that is your poison.

 

3D printing can now knock up reasonable temporary accommodation in the course of a few hours.  Why isn’t this technology being deployed to solve a pressing social problem?

 

Really this issue harks to the whole problem of private ownership over each and every building.  Surely at least some buildings should be exempt from this notion.  If allocated rationally, homelessness – a rising problem in all the ‘advanced’ countries – could be abolished overnight and deaths prevented.  When humanity’s desire to solve problems encounters a problem with ‘objective circumstances’, then it is time to change those circumstances.

 

Chelmsford Council might argue that unhindered free accommodation would just encourage more homeless to come here.  The image they are trying to create of the town centre – fashionable stores (that always seem to close down within 2 years) – is incompatible with the socialist cause.  They would say that housing the homeless sends a negative advertisement to the rest of the country.  But surely the real negative advertisement for a city is that people freeze to death within its jurisdiction.  Do they really want to amend the road signs: “Welcome to Chelmsford: Good luck!” or would it better to have a rational policy regarding homelessness that is not governed by the law of value for money?

Why Was Marx So Fundamentally Opposed To Capitalism?

marx

 

Numerous misinterpretations prevail.  This blog attempts to clear up two of these: the environmentalist interpretation, and the ostensibly ‘materialist’ take.  No blog of around 800 words could do Marx’s ideas justice – these are a few ideas that are intended to spur debate.

 

Firstly, the environmentalist interpretation holds that capitalism is destructive to the environment and must be reformed to enable a simpler type of existence that is more harmonious with the desires or interests of the planet.  But Marx’s concern is only for human welfare – this depends on a functioning planet, yes, and also some concern for animals is appropriate to the extent they enrich human life.  This is Big Anthropocentrism.  Capitalism does degrade the environment, even to life-threatening levels as we are beginning to see with the growing frequency of extreme weather events constituting a new trend.  And yes, part of the issue is indeed non-human species depletion or extinction.  Today Marx would be horrified at the conversion of Africa’s big game into just another resource, or the undermining of the sustainability of coral reefs.

 

But this is because Marx the humanist is worried about things that concern us, rather than some kind of inherent non-human moral value floating within such entities.  The solution to capitalistic environmental degradation is a new human society where our relationship to nature is considerate and rational rather than solely profit-oriented, that doesn’t preclude doing this or that where appropriate.  Moreover, with concerted effort, capitalism can sometimes mop up ecological disasters, so the environmentalist critique is non-revolutionary, whereas Marx wanted to transform our whole relationship with nature so as to remove the powerful alienation that prevails under capitalism.

 

Because Marx wrote so much about economics, and academia has failed to link this to his earlier focus on alienated human relationships, some have claimed that the essential Marx was all about developing the productive forces, go for economic growth whatever the cost.  This is erroneous firstly because it silences that most petulant of productive forces – labour.  Although Marx clearly thought the good society massively develops machinery and the such, his main concern was on the freedom of the individual worker and their own self-development that capitalism negates.  Capitalism reduces the individual member of society to an appendage to the machine and crushes them both mentally and physically.  Thus, the emphasis on developing the productive forces is first and fore mostly about liberating labour from the drudgery of profit-driven society.

 

Secondly there seems to be a semi-conscious attempt to interpret Marx as a vulgar pro-growth materialist in order to let capitalism off the hook – to say that alienated human relationships and their impact on everyone are irrelevant to his overriding concern with fixing or ameliorating the tendency for the rate of profit to fall.  Thus, Phil Mullan’s recent book Creative Destruction that I reviewed here takes a very narrow interpretation of the oeuvre only in order to suggest ways capitalism might overcome some current barriers to growth.  The role played by the theory of the falling rate of profit in Marx’s overall outlook is totally neglected.

The centrality of the theory of the falling rate of profit in Marxism is the final proof that the bourgeoisie would undoubtedly cease to be a revolutionary force in every country they reign, and that capitalism would have to undermine its own moral and intellectual foundations to persist.  In other words, the quality of human life would necessarily deteriorate as long as capitalism persisted, not only in terms of the material standard of living but also in terms of the quality of human relationships in society at large.

 

Marx’s understanding of the consequences of his theory of the falling rate of profit upon the quality of human existence is borne out by subsequent history.  Two world wars later and perhaps a third on the horizon, with only 36 minutes of peace known to the world since the end of World War Two, racism and brutality, the increased role of the state in social affairs, increased homelessness in the ‘advanced’ countries and massive destitution everywhere else, show capitalism has not fulfilled the claim it originally made to be an ‘Enlightenment’ society heading towards a new golden age.  The falling rate of profit is not important because we want capitalists to make lots of money – who cares? – but because the consequences of it upon society are dire as the ruling class offer apology after apology and quietly drop the claims to liberty and equality they once made.  Nowadays everyone hates everyone else, partly because economic life is so frustrating, and, filtered down, you get the new trend of horrendous school shootings in the USA.

 

To conclude, Marx was fundamentally opposed to capitalism because he was the most astute and consistent humanist that philosophy has ever produced.