Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Great Britain: Once again and endlessly “The Housing Question”

To start with

In his text The Housing Question (originally published in the form of articles in 1872 and republished as a pamphlet in 1887), Friedrich Engels wrote: “Whence then comes the housing shortage? How did it arise? [… It] is a necessary product of the bourgeois social order; that it cannot fail to be present in a society in which the great masses of the workers are exclusively dependent upon wages, that is to say, on the sum of foodstuffs necessary for their existence and for the propagation of their kind; in which improvements of the existing machinery continually throw masses of workers out of employment; in which violent and regularly recurring industrial vacillations determine on the one hand the existence of a large reserve army of unemployed workers, and on the other hand drive large masses of the workers temporarily unemployed onto the streets; in which the workers are crowded together in masses in the big towns, at a quicker rate than dwellings come into existence for them under existing conditions; in which, therefore, there must always be tenants even for the most infamous pigsties; and in which finally the house owner in his capacity as capitalist has not only the right, but, in view of the competition, to a certain extent also the duty of ruthlessly making as much out of his property in house rent as he possibly can. In such a society the housing shortage is no accident; it is a necessary institution and it can be abolished together with all its effects on health, etc., only if the whole social order from which it springs is fundamentally refashioned. That, however, bourgeois socialism dare not know. It dare not explain the housing shortage from the existing conditions. And therefore nothing remains for it but to explain the housing shortage by means of moral phrases as the result of the baseness of human beings, as the result of original sin, so to speak” 1.

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1917-2017: Toward the Future

In celebrating the centenary of the October Revolution 1, we have tried to extract the lessons to be learned from October 1917 (and suggest them again for the future, as this is what interests us). Now, a question spontaneously arises: is it really necessary to emphasize yet again the urgent need for communism? It would be sufficient to look around us to see the answer. The capitalist mode of production is becoming more and more like a blind, lame tightrope walker setting out along a tightrope fraying at both ends: on all sides the puppets of Capital are insisting that the crisis is coming to an end; on all sides there are more and more signs that the crisis exists, is showing its teeth and accumulating more explosive material, destined to blow up sooner or later. And we might even stop here. But this is impossible.

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Against all imperialist wars

There’s no need for a lot of words: only the pathetically deluded can fail to see that deep within the capitalist economy, which has been in a critical state for decades now with all its ups and downs, a new, generalized conflict is being prepared, even more devastating than the two past world wars and the infinite “minor wars” that have preceded and followed them.

The conflict is not the will of Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un (or other future puppets), even if they’re growling and flexing their muscles at the moment. Imperialist wars are not the result of the “will for power” or “homicidal folly” of one “dictator” or the other (or – worse still – of one “people” or another). They are the product of capital’s own dynamics, obliged as it is to resort to them in the attempt to get the jammed mechanism of accumulation moving again, by destroying what has been produced in excess (work-force included).

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Migrants – yet another indictment of capitalism

The tens and hundreds of thousands of men, women, children (the old people can only be left to die) fleeing from the war theatres in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Central Africa, Libya, whole regions of Africa ravaged by famine and endemic poverty, who try desperately to save themselves by crossing lands and seas, often coming to their deaths among the dunes or the waves, this horrifying movement of human beings that provokes the most despicable and sickening of reactions, all this is further proof that this mode of production, capitalism, must be overthrown, in order to usher in a society in which class divisions, the race for profit, competition of all against all, the repression and oppression of peoples, the wars between imperialist crooks, to sum up, all the rot that the society of capital is immersed in, finally disappear.

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“Once-Upon-a-Time America”. But is it really so?

Overcoming an instinctive rejection crisis, we return to the subject of post-election USA, which has confirmed what we have been arguing for decades about the role of “armoured democracy” (or “democratic dictatorship”) in drugging the “sovereign people” and pushing through what are – with all due contradictions – the primary needs of Capital - a topic already discussed with regard to Brexit1. The generalized chaos, the challenge to situations that seemed fully consolidated, the somersaults and about-turns in domestic and international politics (together with the many, now “chronic” wars scattered around the world) dominate the international panorama: evident proof to us that, beyond any rashly optimistic judgements from the “experts”, the economic crisis is pursuing its course undeterred and, above all, preparing new upheavals. As to what is going on in the United States - still the most powerful imperialism, battered and breathless as it may be – this is revealing, since it represents none other than the amplification of dynamics destined to develop (or become more radical) elsewhere.

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