|Destroyed shops in Minneapolis|
Commodities, Services and Jobs
This paper started with the incentive to talk about Work-and-Fulfillment within an alternative Socialist Society, as distinct from the Capitalist Societies we all currently inhabit! But, such a single purpose endeavour as that intended objective, was immediately and dramatically overtaken by the significantly fast-deepening crisis of current World Capitalism, revealed by the latest bi-monthly Lecture by Dr. Richard Wolff in the Judson Memorial Church in New York City.
For it was precipitated by the joint effects of the beginnings of a mighty global virus epidemic, due to a wholly new Coronavirus, but occurring along with a Major Simultaneous Crisis in the Global Oil Industry, due to the threat of competition from the burgeoning Fracking Shale Oil Industry in the USA, which immediately caused a dramatic drop in the price of Oil across the Globe, and then immediately thereafter, a catastrophic drop in the value investments upon the Stock Markets of the World.
To make matters worse, the crisis caused by COVID19 was quickly transforming into a Global Pandemic, which literally nowhere was prepared for after, many still recovering from the economic slump of 2008!
Clearly, that joint Crisis had to be addressed NOW, urgently and even before any discussion upon Jobs, because a New Worldwide Recession could well be already in-motion, and the right political actions by the Revolutionary Left MUST come first, for the Current Crisis could be the initiation of a Revolutionary Situation.
So, in this context, the struggle for Jobs will also be transformed!
The ways people earn their livings have dramatically changed under Capitalism, and though all occupations have not been equally affected, not every one has been affected in the same ways, or to a similar degree. And, it is the jobs of what are termed the Working Class (the Employees) and their families, that have been affected most damagingly, while those of the Owning Class - the Employers, also including a wide range of business owners, from many of the so-called Petty Bourgeois, though vastly smaller that The Working Class, and whose livelihoods depend exclusively upon the Workers - as Customers for their essentially-supplied goods (as in local individual shop-keepers in Working Class areas), whose Life Standards don't usually rise very much above those of their customers. But thereafter, via larger scale suppliers of needed utility services-and-regular-supplies, then upwards to a swiftly improving range of well-remunerated suppliers, and particularly to more expensive Services, then on to the ever more well-financially endowed middle class professionals in Medical and Financial Services. For while all of these people need to work-to-Live, most would never agree to being categorised as being members of the Working Class, though at times of Acute Crisis they are undoubtedly hit too!
Only the real Owning Class - the Bourgeoisie, have Resources well beyond their Daily Needs, as apart from previously accrued Wealth, and the consequent wherewithal for further Investments, their primary sources of regular additional income, in addition to Profits from their Owned Enterprises, are also significantly added-to by Interest from investments, Rents from owned and rented-out Properties, and even lucrative fees from Financial Services and/or Advice expensively supplied to those who can pay.
Clearly, the overall numbers involved are totally dominated by the vast size of the Working Class, but reduce swiftly across those intermediate Groups, until arriving at the Big Bourgeiosie, the numbers then shrink to a relatively tiny proportion: indicated by the fact that the total wealth of the bottom 3.5 billion people on Earth is matched exactly by that of the top 80 individual Capitalists, mostly situated in the USA!
But, not all of these Classes enjoy what they have to do, to continue to exist. Nor are most of their jobs at all fulfilling!
Yet there are Jobs that can be, and often are, fulfilling: those that serve their fellow workers in Health and Education - those doing significant research and development in Key areas of Knowledge, Care and Advice, plus Firemen and Lifeboat men, Arts and Crafts workers, as long as they are not undercut by cheaper factory-produced competing goods, or have been somewhat elevated to exclusively supplying the rich.
Actually whatever it is that workers do, they are all majorly affected by how the vagaries of the current Employer-Employee relation can affect their security and happiness. Literally everyone below the Bourgeoisie are damaged by the usual relations, which regularly throw many out of their jobs, and into sometimes desperate hardships and homelessness!
Now Capitalism, being always driven by the Profit Motif, will always put cheapness over quality, for what it produces for the Mass Market, and hence drives its employees into ever more unfulfilling repetitive tasks, taking away any of the pleasures of creative activities, for the more profitable drudgery of tending the faster repetitive processes of machines.
So, these two dominating, and likely to escalate pressures, effectively remove what pleasures could be got from work: so, even changing ownership of the Workplace, would never be enough! Even the Distributive Co-operative Movements (owned by their customers) could NOT significantly improve the lot of their workers, because of competitive pressure from the abundance of Capitalist alternatives, who would simply buy all their required resources from cheaper, more exploitative sources.
So, any attempt at piecemeal changeovers, will simply never solve the problems of labour: Capitalism itself has to be dismantled!
Now the recent effort of the People's Forum in New York to present the whole of Marx and Engels Communist Manifesto, read in a succession of major languages by native speakers, actually addressed many of these seemingly intractable questions at its very launch, in 1848. And it did not shrink from a Revolutionary capture of State Power by the Communists, which was essential to both defeat the local Forces of Reaction internally, and thereafter go on to defeat Capitalist Armies of Intervention, and continue to defend the Revolutionary State! The subsequent history of Russia after the Revolution proved that this part of their analysis was not only correct, but imperative in ensuring the continuation of their State.
But, for such a Revolution to happen at all, in a mostly Feudal/Peasant Economy, had meant that it had to both carry out the objectives of a Capitalist Revolution, to dispense with the earlier economic stage of Feudalism, and almost simultaneously demolish it as it was created, in order to establish its own absolutely crucial anti-capitalist intentions.
And, in such a country as Russia that involved a very short Alliance with the Peasantry under the banner of Peace, Bread and Land - to keep them on-side, but it actually and unavoidably ground to a halt, and they had to continue to increasingly concede to the more successful Peasants, who naturally saw the Future very differently to the Working Classes of the cities, and were striving for Feudal type Landed Estates; so the necessary Counter-Capitalist security measures expanded to also suppress the Kulaks (rich peasants) and their followers demands. But, in the countryside, the old alliance dissolved in the light of new "Landed" perspectives, and the security organisations found themselves opposed by Peasant-Soviets, increasingly dominated by the Kulaks.
A major Fight then arose between the Bolshevik Leadership of comrades like Lenin and Trotsky, and a fast burgeoning administrative Bureaucracy organised and led by Stalin!
But there are No Peasants in the UK!
The Fight will be against the Big Bourgeoisie!
The small businesses will finally be won to our side.