Socialists and the credit crunch: far-left policies are... what? (Part 2)

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Jacob Richter
Socialists and the credit crunch: far-left policies are... what? (Part 2)

Continued from: http://www.rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/socialists-and-credit-crunch-far-left-policies-are-what

 

 

A lot of the misperceptions of the far left are, unfortunately, due to the programmatic posturing (or rather lack thereof) by the far-left groups being observed by the "average Joe":

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What immediate-term policies, if any, are the various Trotskyite and Communist parties offering as practical proposals to handle the aftermath of this problem?

I´m not talking about any notions they may have of total revolutionary change, abolishing private property blah blah blah.

Basically, I´m asking this: has any left-wing party anywhere in Europe (such as Joe Higgins´ type) offered any kind of short-term practical responses to the economic difficulties?

Lenin was prepared to implement partially-capitalist programmes in Russia upon taking power, acknowledging Marx´s position that many aspects of capitalism are good. So it would be silly to pretend that no true Socialist would ever propose to operate capitalism.

I´ve been looking, and apart from vague, stupidly non-specific ideas like "abolish the profit system" I see nothing suggesting what socialists would actually do if they got into power.

Can anyone point me to a far-left movement´s website which gives specific policy proposals which are achievable and do not involve massive constitutuional change.

I mean Socialist proposals limited to taxation and subsidy, etc, not sweeping eliminations of the status quo without any proven-workable plan to replace them.

 

Of course, the poster's last comments demonstrated a false dichotomy between "taxation and subsidies" on the one hand and "abolish private property, revolution, etc." on the other.  And since the poster exhibits an economistic tendency, I'll only discuss economic demands or the economic aspects of more comprehensive demands.

 

1) Shorten the work week to 32 hours or less without loss of pay or benefits.

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The main demand there is the shorter workweek. The non-loss of pay and benefits is a side demand. If "capitalism is soooo swell," why the hell are workers working longer hours? The 32-hour workweek should've been reached in the 60s!

2) Direct proposals and rejections (a la referenda), at the national level, regarding all tax rates on all types of income (including capital gains and dividends).

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Actually, this direct democracy in income taxation also means giving "the people" the ability to establish new tax brackets. This means empowering "the people" to impose higher taxes on "the elite."

3) Abolish all indirect taxation (sales taxes, for example).

4) "Sliding scale of wages" and "living wage": First, lots of companies offer cost-of-living adjustments to their employees, so why can't this be universalized for all employment compensation and benefits?  Second, minimum wages (like those for Wal-Mart and McDonald's workers) should be bumped up to "living wage" levels.  Third, unemployment benefits should be at "living wage" levels, too.

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I've read minimum programs of various communist organizations, and I must apologize for not mentioning the offshoring stuff. However, the offshoring reeks of protectionism, and goes against my *personal* belief in subsidized trade favouring the developing world. If labour protectionism is to be enacted (as opposed to First World farm subsidies crippling Third World farmers :rolleyes: ), then the governments of the developed world will have to *invest* in equalizing the playing field (i.e., no "free market" clauses for international government banking loans a la the World Bank and IMF).

5) Bailout $$$ should be directed towards the formation of worker cooperatives, and more corporate and upper-class "taxpayer" money should head in this direction in the face of workplace closures, mass sackings, and mass layoffs.

[If workers for some reason or another do want to be "laid off," however, the bailout $$$ should be directed towards securing their pension plans.  I believe the economist Stiglitz suggested this recently.]

6) Really nationalize the banks and ban all derivatives trading (done during the Great Depression, I believe), instead of this de facto lending without oversight (much less more democratic control):

[url]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081203.wcopanitch04...

[The funny thing is that all the "European socialists" back during the post-WWII "consensus" NEVER treaded upon nationalizing financial services wholesale under one state-owned financial institution.]

7) Establish a fully nationalized "public works" program (although in reality "public works" should be expanded to broken neighbourhoods, alternative energy facilities construction, urban farming, etc.), instead of mere contracting out to the money-grubbing private sector.

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Obama is relying on a horribly inefficient and insufficiently comprehensive "public works" scheme.  As I said earlier, he's relying on the private sector.

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Also, what do you mean by "urban farming?"

[url]

">http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/08/news/CB-FEA-GEN-Cuba-Farming-H...

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Scott McHale  says: "Humans just aren`t well controlled."

That, of course, if proven false by human history. In fact, most of human history has been spent attempting to escape slavery, poverty, and the oppression of others. Hell, as we speak, one occupying power is bombing a ghettoized civilian population while another has claiming victory after killing and displacing a good 20 per cent of another occupied state. Meanwhile, slavery, including child and sexual, is as rampant as ever.

The problem with our poster is that his perspective is limited by his cultural realities. He only knows what he sees on TV. So he confuses multiple brands of deodorant with freedom in democracy.

In fact, the world is quite small. But he is smaller. He looks up and he fails to see  the constraints of the planet. He thinks we can go on indefinitely occupying people, looting their national resources, and plundering the planets wealth so that he may go out and buy more iPods, and Wiis, and plasma TVs to reinforce his own sense of cultural supremacy and wealth within an impoverished world.

Every single piece of evidence tells us the planet has reached its limits and yet he will not acknowledge that because to do so would require immediate and lasting change in his  own worldview. 

If he wants to know why humans won't change, he should examine his own attitudes and inability to see past his own selfish desires for electronic gadgets and other trivial consumer items.

 

Brian White

Scott, you are basically argueing that "acceptable" 3% growth can continue for a long time.  Thats the real hand grenade in the system. In fact, because it relys on 3% growth to continue, the system IS the hand grenade.

So Scott, if you want to participate in honest dialogue, you have to accept that  growth cannot continue. Here is a primer. This is solid mathematics a science as opposed to the economic religion that people like you believe in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY&feature=channel_page 

Scott McHale says "The challenge is to begin creating honest dialogue on the goods and ills of the current system and our proposed systems and move people forward in ways that can demonstrate to them that a more collective system will be better.

That can't be done by simply placing a hand-grenade in the cogs of the current system and telling everyone hurt by the explosion that it's for their own good and in the end they'll thank us. They won't thank us. They'll stop us. Frankly, when we talk about simply doing away with everything they've known because whether they realise it or not we're right and we know what`s best and we`re going to decide what the right pay is, the right projects are, the right rights are, I`m not sure I`d blame them"

Jacob Richter

What measures, then, can be presented to reduce consumption in a relatively harmless manner? [Whether I am personally for or against such is another matter.]

Policywonk

Jacob Richter wrote:
What measures, then, can be presented to reduce consumption in a relatively harmless manner? [Whether I am personally for or against such is another matter.]

How harmless is maintaining or increasing consumption? And what we consume and produce is as important as how much.

Fidel

Brian White wrote:

Scott, you are basically argueing that "acceptable" 3% growth can continue for a long time.  Thats the real hand grenade in the system. In fact, because it relys on 3% growth to continue, the system IS the hand grenade.

And some have likened economic growth based on a debt-driven monetary system to the mathematics of an atomic bomb.

If something can't go on forever, it will stop.

And the difference between 3% and 2% is 50% not 1% as some people might tend to want to believe. I'm not exactly sure how GDP is measured, but I think we need to start measuring things that matter to people and throw out the excess, and more importantly to stop it from happening.

I think we've observed an increase in barbarism over the last eight years. Perhaps now the question might be, socialism or global war?

Policywonk

Fidel wrote:

And the difference between 3% and 2% is 50% not 1% as some people might tend to want to believe.

Not worth arguing about, but it's both. 3% is 1% more than 2% absolutely and 50% more relatively.

Brian White

We cannot do either. Increasing consumption at 3% over time or even  0.00003% over time is mathematically impossible. There is ample evidence that we have overshot the carrying capacity of the earth so maintaining it is almost as impossible.  We can either have planned retreat or forced retreat.

The capatilist answer is thieft with guns, The socalist answer is cooperative reduction. Either way, we must retreat. 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

That is the central reality. And even theft with guns is merely delaying the inevitable.

Jacob Richter

The environmental take on "socialism or barbarism" has fascinated me for years now. Smile

Fidel

I'm glad we got it straight about three percent versus two percent growth rates. I was worried.

Well it looks like socialism or armageddon at this point. And the choice is not ours. Is there any other gear for kapitalism other than crisis mode? It's like a car that's constantly on blocks for repairs.