Posts Tagged ‘Income Tax’

Lenin on Worker’s Industrial Management, Government and the Withering Away of the State

December 24, 2018

One of the central tenets of Marxism is that the period of socialism ushered in by the seizure of power by the workers will eventually lead to the withering away the state and begin the transition to the period of true Communism. This will be the ideal, final phase of society when the government of people will be replaced by the administration of things.

Lenin seems to have believed that the transition to this ideal society would begin after everything had been nationalized and placed in the hands of the workers. The workers would then be able to manage the economy and society through the way capitalism had simplified the management of industry so that it could be performed by the workers themselves. This is explained in a passage from his The State and Revolution, reproduced in Lane W. Lancaster, Masters of Political Thought, Vol. 3: Hegel to Dewey (London: George Harrap & Co. Ltd 1959), pp.193-4.

Accounting and control – these are the chief things necessary for the organizing and correct functioning of the first phase of Communist society. All citizens are here transformed into hired employees of the State, which is made up of the armed workers. All citizens become employees and workers of one national state ‘syndicate’. All that is required is that they should work equally, should regularly doe their share of work, and should received equal pay. The accounting and control necessary for this have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anyone who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic.

When the majority of the people begin everywhere to keep such accounts and maintain such control over the capitalists (now converted into employees) and over the intellectual gentry, who still retain capitalist habits, this control will really become universal, general, national; and there will be no way of getting away from it, there will be ‘nowhere to go’.

The whole of society will have become one office and one factory, with equal and equal pay.

But this ‘factory’ discipline, which the proletariat will extend to the whole of society after the defeat of the capitalists and the overthrow of the exploiters, is by no means our ideal, or our final aim. It is but a foothold necessary for the radical cleansing of society of all the hideousness and foulness of capitalist exploitation, in order to advance further.

From the moment when all members of society, ore even the overwhelming majority, have learned how to govern the State themselves, have taken this business into their own hands, have established control over the insignificant minority of capitalists, over the gentry with capitalist leanings, and the workers thoroughly demoralized by capitalism-from this moment the need for any government begins to disappear. The more complete the democracy, the nearer the moment when it begins to be unnecessary. The more democratic the ‘State’ consisting of armed workers, which is no longer a State in the proper sense of the term, the more rapidly does every State begin to wither away.

for when all have learned to manage, and independently are actually managing by themselves social production, keeping accounts, controlling the idlers, the gentlefolk, the swindlers and similar ‘guardians of capitalist traditions’, then the escape from this national accounting and control will inevitable become so increasingly difficult, such a rare exception, and will probably be accompanied by such swift and severe punishment (for the armed workers are men of practical life, not sentimental intellectuals, and they will scarcely allow anyone to trifle with them), that very soon the necessity of observing the simple fundamental rules of every day social life in common will have become a habit.

The door will then be open for the transition from the first phase of Communist society to its highest phase, and along with it to the complete withering away of the state.

Lenin’s ideas here about industrial management and the withering away of the state are utopian, despite his denials elsewhere in his book. Lancaster in his comments on the passage points out that industrial management required to feed, clothe and house a society is far more complex than simply ‘watching, recording and issuing receipts’. Lenin in fact did try to put workers’ control into practice, with the result that industry and the economy almost collapsed completely. The capitalists and managers, who had been thrown out of the factories and industries in wheelbarrows by the workers, were invited back in afterwards, and restored to their former power. At the same, Alexandra Kollontai and the Left Communists, who wanted the workers to run the factories through trade unions, were gradually but ruthlessly suppressed as Lenin centralized political decision making.

Lancaster also points out that the administration of things nevertheless means government, and that it is very hard to convince a man, who has just been refused permission to open a new bus route or produce as many shoes as he can, that he is not being governed. Lancaster also argues that practice in both the democratic west and the USSR shows that a truly ‘stateless’ society impossible. He also states that the reduction of society to one enormous factory or office will repulse the normal mind, as it resembles a colony of insects, and that the similar routinization of the fundamental rules of normal social life into a habit destroys the autonomous individual and reduces them to a machine. He could also have mentioned, but doesn’t, the very sinister implications of ‘armed workers’ and the use of military force. The USSR was created by violent revolution, and maintained itself through force. Those attempting to set up their own businesses were arrested for ‘economic sabotage’ and sent to the gulags, where they were treated worse than ordinary criminals.

However, workers are capable of participating in government. One of the points Anthony Crossland made in one of his books was that the American unions had a large measure of industrial democracy, all though it was never called that. He was arguing against worker’s control, considering it unnecessary where there were strong unions, a progressive income tax and the possibility of social advancement. The unions have since been all but smashed and social mobility has vanished. And under Thatcherite tax reforms, income tax has become less progressive as the rich are given massive tax cuts, while the tax burden has been shifted on to working people. But the point remains: workers are capable of becoming managers. It was demonstrated by the anarcho-syndicalists in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. And Red Ken, when he was once asked by a journo why he supported worker’s management, said that it came from his experience as had of the GLC. Livingstone was now the head of a vast local government system, but there was nothing special about him. So, he believed, could ordinary people run a business. I think Leninspart was probably too modest, and he possessed managerial talents others don’t have, but the point’s a good one.

If the ability to make managerial and governmental decisions were broadened, so that they included employees and members of the public, this would empower both groups. It would make the domination of the rich 1% more difficult, and lead to a more equal, less class-ridden society. A truly classless, stateless society is probably impossible, as the example of the USSR shows. But introducing a measure of workers’ control is surely worthwhile in order to make things just that bit better.

Of course, to do so properly might mean giving working people management training. Well, Thatcher tried to turn British schoolchildren into a new generation of capitalists by making business studies part of the curriculum. She stressed competition and private enterprise. But it would turn her ideas on its head if such education instead turned workers not into aspiring businesspeople, but gave them the ability to manage industry as well as the elite above them.

That really would be capitalist contradiction Marx would have enjoyed.

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Frightened Davidson Tells May to Concentrate on Funding NHS

May 31, 2018

A day or so ago I put up a post arguing that Corbyn’s promise to renationalise the NHS had Tweezer and the Tories rattled, as there had been a story in the I that May had held the promise of repealing some of Andrew Lansley’s vile Health and Social Care Act. This is a long, convoluted act which basically absolves the Health Minister of the requirement to provide universal healthcare free at the point of delivery to everyone in Britain. It’s one of the major landmarks on the long campaign of the Thatcherite right – both Tory and New Labour – to privatise the NHS. May was also talking about increasing taxes to mend the funding deficit in the NHS. This was, however, spoilt by May acting true to form as a Tory. She immediately declared that everyone would have to pay this tax, which could be as high as £2,000. Mike’s posted a piece on his blog about how this was worked out, and pointed out that not everyone should have to pay the same amount. We have progressive taxation in this country, which means that the rich pay higher rates of tax than the poor, who can’t afford it. The Tories, however, hate progressive taxation, because they’re solidly on the side of the rich and despise the poor. And so Thatcher, Major, Cameron and now May have done their best to shift the tax burden onto the poor, in order to lower the tax rates on their rich friends. And Thatcher came unstuck in 1990/1 when she tried to promote the poll tax.

Like May’s proposed tax increase for the NHS, this was supposed to be a uniform rate charged on rich and poor alike. It was expected to replace the rates, which were charged on the value of your property. So a rich Tory donor living in a mansion was going to be charged the same amount of money as someone on unemployment benefit living in a simple terraced house. Never mind: Thatcher and her cabinet of grotesques claimed this was ‘democratic, because we all pay the same’. The British public didn’t agree, and there were massed protests and riots against it. I also know of a number of magistrates, who resigned because of it. As Justices of the Peace, they would be required to enforce this piece of legislation, which they personally felt was terribly unjust. And rather than find people guilty in support of a law, with which they profoundly disagreed, they obeyed the calls of their consciences and resigned. And I have every respect to these people for doing so. Thatcher was then outed in a coup, Major installed as her replacement, and unfortunately the Tories carried on in power until Blair’s victory in 1997.

It struck me at the time, as I said in my previous article, that May was probably trying to scare people with the £2,000 figure, which many poorer people wouldn’t be able to afford, so she could claim that the NHS is unaffordable as it stands. Cue more privatisation. Despite the fact that we could easily afford it if we took a leaf out of the European’s book and spent more on the NHS, and increased the tax rates for the rich instead.

But the fact that May is holding out the prospect of undoing her predecessor’s legislation, and raising taxes for the NHS, shows that Corbyn’s got her rattled.

And not just May. It also seems to have worried ‘Rape Clause’ Ruth Davidson north of the Border. The I ran a story on Tuesday reporting that Davidson had warned may to concentrate on increasing funding for the NHS, and ditch plans for more tax cuts. If she didn’t, she risked relegating the Tories to history.

This shows just how far the panic is spreading in the Tory party. Quite apart from Davidson and Gove forming a think tank – surely an oxymoron in their cases – to reinvigorate the Tory party with new ideas. Because, they warn, if they don’t have them, the Tories may be out of power for a whole generation.

Well, I’d just love to see this vile party and its horrendous politicians thrust out of power, and not just for a generation. That’s too short a time.

As for the gurning, smirking leader of the Tories in Scotland, today’s I carried pieces from a couple of newspapers predicting that Davidson is too young, ambitious and talented to be content to remain head of the Tories in Scotland. According to them, she will most probably try to head down south to forge a political career in Britain and Wales. What a terrible prospect! Davidson is responsible for trying to implement the government’s wretched austerity campaign in Scotland, including its demand that women, who’ve had more than two children due to rape, should have to prove this is the case when claiming child benefit. Hence her soubriquet of ‘Rape Clause’. It’s a nasty piece of vindictive legislation which punishes already vulnerable women, who have been traumatised by their sexual assault. But this is the Tories, who have absolute contempt for the poor, the weak and the underprivileged. Davidson is supposed to be a ‘liberal’ Tory, but there’s no evidence of that except her sexuality. And despite May’s attempts to position herself as a feminist, this is a thoroughly misogynist piece of legislation. The last thing the rest of Britain needs is for her to come down south to spread even more misery down here.

Actually, reading between the line, it’s possible that Davidson may not have a choice. For all that she’s supposed to have masterminded the revival of the Tories in Scotland, she didn’t actually increase their vote. Instead, the SNP’s vote decreased and Labour’s revived, which split the opposition and allowed the Tories to emerge as the largest single party, even though most
Scots voted against them. Which is another argument in favour of proportional representation. Given the parlous situation of the Tories in Scotland, it’s possible that the Scots may vote them out. This would result in the party looking around for a new leader, and Davidson given her marching orders. In which case, if she wanted to continue her career, she’d have to go south.

I don’t want her coming to England and Wales, but I look forward to the Scots voting out the Tories and their thoroughly grotesque and objectionable leader.

Vox Political on the Blatant Unsuitability of Jacob Rees-Mogg to Lead the Tory Party

September 3, 2017

Mike today has put up a short piece commenting on Jacob Rees-Mogg’s entire lack of ability to be a suitable candidate as next Tory leader. This features people’s posts from Twitter, one of which shows a man next to a dummy dressed in 18th century costume. The caption for this is that the fellow met Jacob Rees-Mogg, but thinks he might be a bit too old-fashioned to lead 21st century Britain.

Mike’s article begins with a photo of Mogg climbing over a low gate, with a caption from Mike asking whether if his campaign to be Tory leader would fall at the first hurdle. What actually struck me from the photo was how much Mogg, in pinstripe suit and bowler hat, resembles John Cleese in the classic Monty Python sketch, the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Perhaps that’s what will have to do to give him the ridicule he deserves. Every time he appears, someone should video it and add Philip de Sousa’s Liberty Bell, otherwise known as Monty Python’s theme music.

More seriously, there’s a short clip from Momentum Bristol, which Mike’s also put up, which fully bears out the comment below it from EL4JC that Rees-Mogg would be behind Vlad the Impaler, the real-life ‘Count Dracula’, as leader of the Tories in his view.

The video shows Rees-Mogg’s voting record, and as Mike has already noted in a feature he did on this upper class, malignant buffoon, he’s horrendous. He has consistently voted for measures to leave ordinary Brits worse off, while enriching the already super-rich, like himself. He voted against gay marriage, allowing EU migrants to stay in Britain, for raising VAT, the Bedroom Tax and college tuition fees, and against increasing welfare relief. He also voted against raising income tax on people earning over £150,000 per annum, and for the expansion of the surveillance state.

In short, despite his veneer of smooth, quiet-spoken politesse, Rees-Mogg’s a monster.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/03/jacob-rees-mogg-as-tory-leader-i-cant-quite-see-it/

Looking at the way he voted against gay marriage, I was struck by how different his attitude is to that Chris Hedge’s father. As I’ve written in previous posts, Chris Hedges is an American radical journalist, whose father was a politically liberal Presbyterian minister. He was deeply involved with the early Black and gay rights movements, for which he paid for his career. The very last sermon he preached was in favour of gay marriage. He stood with the Bible before him, read one of the passages on the value and sanctity of marriage, and said, ‘I believe in the sanctity of marriage and the sacraments. That is why I am against those who would deprive people of it based on their sexuality’. Or something like that. And then closed his Bible. Since gay marriage was introduced over here, I’ve read a number of letters on this issue by serving clergy, who’ve made more or less the same point.

My own fear is that, no matter how monstrous Rees-Mogg is politically, there are enough people, who will find him an endearing eccentric to vote him into power. In the same way that the equally repulsive Boris Johnson has managed to ingratiate himself with a part of the British public by play acting as a lovable buffoon when he is anything but.

Henry Hyndman and the Democratic Federation

May 10, 2014

Henry_hyndman pic

Henry Hyndman, founder of the Democratic Federation

One of the first Socialist parties in the latter 19th century was Henry Hyndman’s Democratic Federation, founded in 1881. Hyndman corresponded with Marx about reviving Chartism, and intended his new Federation to be a working class organisation continuing ‘the great work of Spence and Owen, , Stephens and Oastler, O’Connor and O’Brien, Ernest Jones and George J. Harney’. Beer in his History of British Socialism considered that his ideas were derived from Marx, Bronterre O’Brien and Benjamin Disraeli. At its founding conference in June 8th, 1881, the party decided on the following programme:

1. Universal suffrage.

2. Triennial parliaments.

3. Equal electoral divisions.

4. Payment of members.

5. Corruption and bribery of the electors to be punishable as criminal offences.

6. Abolition of the House of Lords as a legislative body.

7. Home rule for Ireland.

8. Self-government for the colonies and dependencies.

9. Nationalisation of the land.

They presented a more Socialist programme in their 1883 pamphlet, Socialism Made Plain. This urged working people to campaign for the following:

1. Erection of healthy dwellings by the central or local authorities and letting them at low rents to working men.

2. Free and universal education and at least one free meal for school children.

3. An eight-hour day.

4. Progressive taxation on incomes over £300.

5. Establishment of national banks and gradual abolition of private banking.

6. Nationalisation of railways and land.

7. Organisation of the unemployed under State control on co-operative principles.

8. Rapid redemption of the national debt.

Most of their programme had become law by the late 20th century. However, we’re now seeing these reforms increasingly attacked. Workers are increasingly required to work far longer than eight hours as part of their normal working day under various clauses in their contracts. Free education is under attack as the government engages on its programme of piecemeal privation of the school system. The railways were privatised by John Major. And the system of council housing was destroyed by Thatcher and her policies continued by Tony Blair. These reforms should all be revived and actively demanded.

One of the points that has not been put into practice, but which I strongly believe should, is no. 7: organisation of the unemployed under State control on co-operative principles. This was harking back to the National Workshops of Louis Blanc, which were opened and undermined through government hostility in the Revolution of 1848. They were intended to provide work for the unemployed, who would manage them and share the profits. Under the Tories, the present system of unemployment benefit is deliberately intended to be as humiliating as possible in order to drive the jobless into any kind of work, no matter how poorly paid and with poor working conditions. They are moreover seen as a source of cheap labour for the companies participating in the Workfare programmes. We desperately need a system of unemployment benefit and state provision of work that builds and empowers people. I’d like there to be ways in which the unemployed themselves can seize power so that they can force the government to treat them with humanity and dignity. The government’s lauded campaign to create a more entrepreneurial Britain by forcing the unemployed to classify themselves as self-employed in order to keep receiving benefits is woefully inadequate and doesn’t even come close.

The BNP: Very Definitely Not ‘The Labour Party Your Grandfather Voted For’

May 4, 2014

Nick_Griffin_Demotvational_by_DigiFox0

Nick Griffin, current Fuehrer of the BNP. His father was a Tory accountant. Definitely not the face of Old Labour.

I’ve posted a number of pieces against the attempts by the Tories and Libertarians to claim that the BNP is somehow a ‘left-wing’, ‘Socialist’ organisation by looking at the origin of the claim with the Freedom Association, formerly the National Association For Freedom (NAFF – make up your own jokes here, folks) in the 1980s, and the history and origins of the Fascist movements themselves. These very definitely show that while Fascism had left-wing elements, it was very definitely an extreme Right-wing movement.

Unfortunately, the Tories and Libertarians have been able to claim some verisimilitude for their claim from some of the recent rhetoric by the BNP. Owen Jones in Chavs discusses the way the BNP deliberately tried to appeal to alienated working class Labour voters by presenting themselves as protecting them from competition over jobs and particularly council housing from immigrants. Discussing the Resistible Rise of the BNP (deliberate Brecht reference there) in Barking and Dagenham, Jones states:

In Barking and Dagenham, the BNP has cleverly managed to latch on to the consequences of unfettered neoliberalism. New Labour was ideologically opposed to building council housing, because of its commitment to building a ‘property-owning democracy’ and its distrust of local authorities. Affordable housing and secure, well-paid jobs became increasingly scarce resources. The response of the BNP was to delegitimise non-native competition, goading people to think: ‘We don’t have enough homes to go round, so why are we giving them to foreigners?’

Cruddas [local Labour MP, Jon Cruddas] describes the BNP as hinging their strategy on ‘change versus enduring inequalities, and they racialize it’. All issues, whether housing or jobs, are approached in terms of race. ‘It allows people to render intelligible the changes around them, in terms of their own insecurities, material insecurities as well as cultural ones.’ Yes, it is a narrative based on myths. After all, only one in twenty social houses goes to a foreign national. But, with the government refusing to build homes and large numbers of foreign-looking people arriving in certain communities, the BNP’s narrative just seems to make sense to a lot of people. ppo.230-1.

… Coupled with this strategy is an audacious attempt by the BNP to encroach on Labour’s terrain. With New Labour apparently having abdicated the party’s traditional role of shielding working-class communities from the worst excesses of market forces, the BNP has wrapped itself in Labour clothes. ‘I would say that we’re more Labour than Labour are, ‘ says former local BNP councillor Richard Barnbrook. BNP literature describes the organisation as ‘the Labour party your grandfather voted for’.

Sifting through the BNP’s policies exposes this as a nonsense. Their tax policy, for example, includes abolishing income tax and increasing VAT ins5tead – a policy beloved of extreme right-wing libertarian economists that would benefit the rich at the expense of ordinary working people. The party freely adopts Thatcherite rhetoric, committing itself to the ‘private-enterprise economy’ and arguing ‘that private property should be encouraged and spread to as many individual members of our nation as possible’. (p. 231.)

It’s a posture, and one that goes right the way back to Hitler in Weimar Germany. When goose-stepping about the Reich on his election campaigns, Hitler altered the content of his speeches according to the particular areas in which he was speaking. In working-class districts with very strong Socialist and trade union traditions, he’d play up the anti-capitalist side of the Nazi programme. In which speech he declared that when the Nazis took power, power and property of the capitalists would be smashed and their coffers thrown out onto the street. He then added that this would not, of course, be done to proper, patriotic German capitalists, but only to Jews.

Which is precisely what the BNP is trying to do here: present themselves as somehow pro-working class, anti-capitalist, while being absolutely nothing of the sort. And the only capitalism they object to, is when it’s pursued by Jews and Non-Whites.

The BNP aren’t and have never been ‘left-wing’, ‘Socialist’ let alone ‘Old Labour’. It’s a cynical ruse to gain votes. And in doing so, it appears – but only appears – to legitimise the old Libertarian attitude that Fascism is a form of Socialism. Both are lies, and should be treated as such.