Contributions from Readers

Contributions from Readers

When a human being enters the world, they do not enter ‘the world’ in any abstract sense, nor do they enter it as a ‘human being’ in any abstract sense. The world that they enter is a specific one which has its own history which proceeded independently of the newly formed human. Moreover, this human being does not enter the whole world, but a very specific part of the world, some specific country, some specific region of that country, some specific city or town within that region of the country, some specific family unit within that town. This human being is not an abstract human being either. They are born in certain specific conditions, with or without proper medical care, with or without various genetic defects, with or without access to appropriate nutritional sources. Further, the human being is not fully formed upon exiting the womb, it must engage with ideas and material which have preceded them, ideas and material which have been millenia in the making. There can be no reasonable expectation placed upon a new human being to have a solid grasp of the entirety of the history preceding their own existence. Indeed, babies tend not to be able to grasp rattles very firmly, let alone notions of quantum mechanics. In the process of formation, the human being must come to their own conclusions while they learn. These conclusions must be held up to scrutiny and either accepted, modified, or rejected based on existing and pre-existing evidence, all without ever forgetting that these conclusions are merely the conclusions of ideas still in formation. Man proposes, God disposes as the old saying goes, or in our case Kipp and AM propose and Anti-Capital disposes.

On Education, from Kipp

Pt 1 « Education heck yea

Main talking points:

  • education has a strong capitalist bias (woah I never noticed) leading to nothing but an echo chamber of thought
  • current education system the world over is rife with specifically engineered hurdles which can bar many members of the proletariat (ableism, racism, sexism, etc.,)
  • educated workers are powerful workers; education gives rise to more than just physical revolution, but also mental
  • In an ideal society, education of all forms is accessible to all to continuously empower the working class
  • Education is trying to be less ew but it’s trying to patch an inherently flawed system

The Actual Article

When I say “education”, what does one think of? The world over, one would think of a cube classroom, with rows of students sitting in desks as the teacher drones on about the subject, whether it be math or science or what have you. Many people mistakenly refer to this as education, but in the world of capitalism, it is little more than indoctrination. Why the pointless rules? No running in the hallway, ask to go to the bathroom, carry a hall pass outside of class, etc., I could list these for ages. Why the uniformity? Any students deemed “different” being abandoned the moment they step foot into these heartless institutions. It is all to train the future proletariat to be subservient and accepting of bourgeois authority. The schooling system used all over the world was popularized in the early 20th century, created to enslave the future generations. There have been little to no changes to schooling over the past century, and for good reason, on the bourgeoisie’s part. Back then, the public education system was created to churn out blue-collar workers, who listened to orders and did as they were told. Not demanding raises, not creating unions. Capitalist propaganda filled the schools, and it still does. »

Pt2 « Sit in on a discussion of politics among middle schoolers, and anyone further left than social democracy is quickly silenced by staff, because “they are too extreme”. There is no objective view of the world, there is no second opinion. You are capitalist, or you are too extreme. Not to mention, what human learns like this? Sitting in a box for 6 hours a day, writing down pointless information designed only to crush them, waiting to come home only to work an extra 6 hours on assignments and homework. Again and again, scientists have proven this is not effective. Only the luckiest, the bourgeoisie, with no neurodivergancies, no disabilities, cisgendered, Caucasian, and straight can profit off of this system. I myself, the writer, am lucky that my family has the capital to give me a good education. Without that capital, the fact of the matter is that I would be left behind, much like every other child, for whom the material conditions of their birth cursed them to live through this vicious cycle of endless work for no result. Over and over. At the end of the day, when these proletarian children become adults and receive that diploma, who has the system created? Nothing but an apathetic nobody, because that’s exactly what the bourgeoisie need to further their goals. If our education system was effective, objective, and worked to children’s strengths, I predict there would be no bourgeoisie. The nurturing of critical individuals into a critical community can only lead to one thing. Revolution against the oppressors. But the bourgeoisie knows this. That is why no matter how reformists shout for “peaceful change”, nothing will happen. We cannot abide by these material conditions as well as effectively educate the people. To truly revolutionize education, we must change the material conditions which led to the mess of a system we have today. »

Pt 3 « With a revolution, we can establish a new society free of the chains of the bourgeoisie. The child and the worker will be able to learn what they want to learn, be who they want to be, without pressure and bias from the bourgeoisie. As individuals improve themselves and grow, so does the community, and thus we will not only be ruling ourselves, but we will know how and why as well. »

Our young comrade Kipp, being surrounded by the capitalist education system, feels compelled to critique it, and we applaud this impulse to subject to critique that which is found to be lacking, inadequate, and harmful. The Canadian comrade is correct to note the historical foundation of education being rooted in the preparation of workers for industrial life. Marx speaks at some length about the integration of ‘schools’ within factories throughout the course of Capital Vol. 1, and the utter inadequacy of these schools to do anything more than merely meet the legislative requirement of children attending a place called a school staffed by a person called a teacher for a certain number of hours. What is left out of Kipp’s historical analysis of education is as important as what he has included, and what has been left out has been the recent history of education in America.

“From their beginnings, public schools in the United States have been viewed as institutions that served their local communities. Initially, those schools were often financed by voluntary contributions, but by the end of the 19th century the tradition of funding them through local property taxes was widespread.

But as time passed, fewer people lived in such communities. Instead, more people crowded into major cities, and then—if they achieved “success”—moved to the suburbs that came to surround those urban centers. As the suburbs grew, the inhabitants retained the tradition of funding public schools through local property taxes, but now this system was flawed. Parents who moved to affluent suburbs were generally willing to fund well-equipped, well-staffed public schools for their own children, but—familiar only with the tradition that public schools should be funded locally—they saw little reason to pay additional taxes to fund equivalent schools for the impoverished students left behind in city centers or rural towns.”

( http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may02/vol59/num08/Unequal-School-Funding-in-the-United-States.aspx )

Or, in other words, the white bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie fled the cities in the 1960’s and left the black inhabitants behind with no means to fund city schools. Segregation continues to rear its ugly head in the realm of differential school funding. School’s funded by local taxes ensures that the children of the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie will have access to quality education while the proletariat is left out in the lurch with growing class sizes and increasingly scarce access to resources to help children with different needs. Further, it is no secret that higher education in America is so expensive as to be out of reach for many workers, and that those institutions of higher education have become for-profit enterprises. Those workers that are capable of attaining a higher education find themselves burdened with a near life-long debt obligation.

Keeping in mind that Kipp is Canadian, we can safely say that this trend is not an American exclusive, and that Canadian schools are also funded primarily at the provincial and local level. Further, both Canadian and American school systems suffer from private and charter schools which effectively wall out a significant portion of students unable to pay for a higher quality of education. Canada also still retains publicly funded religious schools. Lastly, the student debt crisis due to expensive university education is not foreign to Canada either.

We, as communists, must oppose this new form of segregation, this differential funding of schools and differential access to quality education. This is merely the same demand in a different cloth as the demand for One Big Wage, or a demand for universal access to the highest quality of medical care, or a demand for universal access to quality housing and food stuffs. It is the revolutionary egalitarian demand. We make these demands with it fully in mind that these demands are not sufficient unto themselves, that a universal wage, paid socially or privately, paid at the highest levels is not sufficient to establish communism, but that this demand is incompatible with capitalism. Capitalism is incapable of tolerating such a demand and these demands will force the question of State power. It is on this basis that we make these demands.

Returning to Kipp’s article, we understand the general feeling of opposition to the ‘cube classroom’ and quote the International Workingman’s Association at length on the subject of Juvenile labor for a glimpse at an answer.

Juvenile and children’s labour (both sexes)
We consider the tendency of modern industry to make children and juvenile persons of both sexes co-operate in the great work of social production, as a progressive, sound and legitimate tendency, although under capital it was distorted into an abomination. In a rational state of society every child whatever, from the age of 9 years, ought to become a productive labourer in the same way that no able-bodied adult person ought to be exempted from the general law of nature, viz.: to work in order to be able to eat, and work not only with the brain but with the hands too.

However, for the present, we have only to deal with the children and young persons of both sexes divided into three classes, to be treated differently; the first class to range from 9 to 12; the second, from 13 to 15 years; and the third, to comprise the ages of 16 and 17 years. We propose that the employment of the first class in any workshop or housework be legally restricted to two; that of the second, to four; and that of the third, to six hours. For the third class, there must be a break of at least one hour for meals or relaxation.

It may be desirable to begin elementary school instruction before the age of 9 years; but we deal here only with the most indispensable antidotes against the tendencies of a social system which degrades the working man into a mere instrument for the accumulation of capital, and transforms parents by their necessities into slave-holders, sellers of their own children. The right of children and juvenile persons must be vindicated. They are unable to act for themselves. It is, therefore, the duty of society to act on their behalf.

If the middle and higher classes neglect their duties toward their offspring, it is their own fault. Sharing the privileges of these classes, the child is condemned to suffer from their prejudices.

The case of the working class stands quite different. The working man is no free agent. In too many cases, he is even too ignorant to understand the true interest of his child, or the normal conditions of human development. However, the more enlightened part of the working class fully understands that the future of its class, and, therefore, of mankind, altogether depends upon the formation of the rising working generation. They know that, before everything else, the children and juvenile workers must be saved from the crushing effects of the present system. This can only be effected by converting social reason into social force, and, under given circumstances, there exists no other method of doing so, than through general laws, enforced by the power of the state. In enforcing such laws, the working class do not fortify governmental power. On the contrary, they transform that power, now used against them, into their own agency. They effect by a general act what they would vainly attempt by a multitude of isolated individual efforts.

Proceeding from this standpoint, we say that no parent and no employer ought to be allowed to use juvenile labour, except when combined with education.

By education we understand three things.

Firstly: Mental education.

Secondly: Bodily education, such as is given in schools of gymnastics, and by military exercise.

Thirdly: Technological training, which imparts the general principles of all processes of production, and, simultaneously initiates the child and young person in the practical use and handling of the elementary instruments of all trades. [The German text calls this “polytechnical training.” — Ed]

A gradual and progressive course of mental, gymnastic, and technological training ought to correspond to the classification of the juvenile labourers. The costs of the technological a schools ought to be partly met by the sale of their products.

The combination of paid productive labour, mental education bodily exercise and polytechnic training, will raise the working class far above the level of the higher and middle classes.

It is self-understood that the employment of all persons from 9 and to 17 years (inclusively) in nightwork and all health-injuring trades must be strictly prohibited by law.

The answer lay in re-uniting ‘work’ and ‘education.’ With an understanding that ‘education’ is not a segment of a human being’s life that then ends as the ‘work’ segment begins. That education is, as work, a lifelong pursuit to be undertaken collectively with the full support of society such that the enrichment of humanity can be achieved.

We will depart from Kipp’s article with one final observation from the conclusion. “As individuals improve themselves and grow, so does the community” We hope that our feedback given here helps in Kipp’s growth such that he is able and willing to continue his submissions to Anti-Capital.

AM appreciated the demand for One Big Wage enough to take a crack at writing two articles to popularize the concept. We, in turn, appreciate his attempt at popularization and will subject them to Marx’s classic ruthless criticism. Since Apricot’s articles are somewhat longer, our critique will be embedded inside his article, denoted by bold text. At the very end of this article we will reproduce Apricot’s articles unmarred.

Defragmenting Work

Some say that death is the great equalizer.  But life is,  too: as workers and humans, so many of people’s basic needs are common to one another. Beyond food and shelter, we all need health care and public education. So it would be crazy to be satisfied with a society—much less a government—that fails to provide these things. It is our view that anyone who says we have a right to live must also concede that these necessities must necessarily be rights as well—and it’s not even news that a majority of Americans agree.

“Life” isn’t the great equalizer.  Needs are common. While needs are common the means and mechanism of realizing needs are entirely unequal.  That’s kind of the point of revolution, no?  To remedy the grand inequality?

Yet so many modern activists fail to sufficiently criticize wages themselves. As the reason people bother to seek work, and the way our needs are met today, wages cannot be considered beyond reproach—particularly in a world being ravaged by an economic crisis that’s laying bare the failings of the brutal, unfettered capitalism that landed us with wage inequality.

Not just “wage inequality”– that is an expression of the inequality of life hidden in the wage, but the wage itself, equal or unequal, betrays the unequal relationship between the capitalist and the worker.

All workers—from strawberry pickers to plumbers to spreadsheet pushers—have one thing in common: they sell their time for money. It’s important to get to the bottom of why some get a seemingly better deal than others. In particular, we must see the deeper truth beyond “expertise” or “competence” as some vaguely-defined differentiating factor.

Good. Very good. This hits at precisely the point of the demand for One Big Wage, to unite the workers on the economic plane based on their shared economic position.

Education and training are work put into making one’s work more valuable. When you attend vocational schools or universities, you make use not only of your own work to improve your skills, but you also leverage the expertise of master craftspeople and professors. This is what makes university education expensive, which strengthens the argument.

Actually, in any education environment you are making use of the general social development and expertise.  Med students are just making use of Pasteur’s advances; they’re making use of the advances in cleanliness; they’re making use of the efficiency of janitors. The relationship extends beyond merely the student and professor, and reflects the current development of society as a whole.  Which argument, we wonder, is strengthened by this? It’s worth thinking about tying in the demand for free higher education here. If university education were no longer expensive would this alter the argument? We think, fundamentally, the argument remains the same. The remunerative basis of higher wages for ‘skilled’ workers is two-fold. It consists of both a supply and demand relation wherein the worker is capable of leveraging economic force to guarantee a better wage (parallel with unions), and a leveraging of the dead labor ‘accumulated’ by the ‘skilled’ worker in the form of the education or training that they retain, to be contrasted with the living labor alone that an ‘unskilled’ worker has to offer. Neither of these factors are insurmountable obstacles in the way of the demand for One Big Wage.

The purpose of this publication [article] is to sound an alarm and encourage workers to take the opportunity and time afforded to them by this crisis to reconsider our system as a whole. Though America’s ballooning differential between CEO and worker pay has been accepted as a fact of life by far too many, there have been plenty of historical attempts to create alternate models. For one, the hugely successful Spanish Mondragon family of cooperatives (though certainly not perfect) imposes strict limits on pay disparity. As we’ll explore in other articles, however, the dog-eat-dog reality of uncurtailed capitalism makes it hard for businesses that respect their workers’ rights to unseat their tyrannical competitors.

There is no such thing as “America.” There is a class society called the United States.  To omit the class characterization is to undermine the argument about inequality from the get go. We are  arguing for an end to the wage system, not for businesses to respect “their” workers’ rights. The success of Mondragon is  precisely based on its limited power and reach; like a utopian colony that exists within the capitalist framework.

Nevertheless, we hold that this is only a baby step in the right direction. America’s vast masses live hand-to-mouth in circumstances worse than anywhere else in the developed world, and are being spoonfed narratives that allow them to ignore the true causes of their despair by news sources across the spectrum.

Our workers have successfully been fooled into believing that farmhands deserve less than grocery store clerks, who in turn deserve (far) less than engineers. Once this premise was accepted, all the upper class has had to do to forever solidify our oppressive disparities is  restrict access to well-paying jobs.

Instead of saying that workers have been “fooled” into believing in wage differentials, it is more useful to say that they have been indoctrinated, educated, or absorbed. The point is that there is no real wage that any worker ‘deserves.’ The wage a worker receives is determined by the course of class struggle. Every worker ‘deserves’ the wage they currently have in the sense that their wage is always proportional to the level of class struggle. They haven’t been tricked in to supporting wage differentials, they’ve been convinced. Our job is to demonstrate the necessity of economic unity within the working-class.

Our broken education system—remember the college admissions scandals?—plays a big part in keeping this power structure in place. Instead of realizing they’re being screwed over by those in power, America’s working class has been turned on itself.

The result is astonishing. Instead of engineers being concerned about the less fortunate, they blame them for being less educated. Instead of finding support for policy change that improves life for immigrants, (who, like it or not, will be the main driving force behind industrial agriculture for the foreseeable future) Americans are deluded by “their” politicians into (at best) a vague hatred towards those on the other side of the political aisle, or (at worst) directing blame towards their fellow workers for misfortunes. We are consistently failing to identify the real culprit.

As a country [class], it’s critically important we wake up to the plain fact that capitalism has always encouraged predatory behavior. The circumstances we face today, between the opioid, student debt, climate, and ventilator crises can always be tracked back to companies and those controlling them trying to expand their profits and power at the expense of not only their employees, but America’s workers as a whole.

If we ever hope to improve our conditions, we must make well-thought-out demands that won’t fall short of what’s necessary to put Americans on an even footing.

Rather than putting Americans on an even footing the demand for One Big Wage is an effort to build working-class unity in order to abolish the wages system entirely. The wages system is propped up, in part, by the variations in wages. Eliminating those variations removes an obstacle in the way of eliminating the wage itself.

And the second article from AM

More Than Raises

If you’re still reading after that, you probably agree that the relationships between workers, and more generally the social contract, are heavily damaged. Workers must reconsider how we treat each other and how work plays a vital role in that.

Centrally, we have to rethink what a wage is. What today is a cash sum could—by way of reconsidering the social contract— include universal health care, public housing, education, etc. This could do wonders for public health by ending the scalping being performed by pharmaceutical companies, price-gouging mega-landlords, and a college system that puts profits above teaching.

The social contract is a relationship you will not ever find invoked in any Marxist text for the simple reason that it does not exist. It is a myth based on the idea that the current society is one which all agree is the best society, that all are partaking in this society as they please and as they choose. Instead what we see, when we take our eyes off the pages of Rousseau, is the violent suppression of the working-class anytime they begin to act like human beings instead of cattle for capital. The countless black lives lost, literally, beneath the boots of the American police did not enter in to any social contract wherein they agreed to be worse than second-class citizens. The theory of social contract serves to hide the raw class antagonisms present in society.

We think workers should not shy away from asking for pay equality—some may even ask for the “radical” idea of paying literally every person the same wage. Yet is it really that radical? We clearly are capable of producing immense wealth. If everyone is willing to contribute a reasonable amount to that production without fear of getting sick and paying their rent, wouldn’t we all end up happier?

We’re not arguing that this is the perfect, only solution. We do, however, understand that it must be on the table. Given the crises we’ve faced recently and the free market’s failures in addressing them, we have to broaden our horizons in looking for solutions—even when it means considering choices that fundamentally change our system.

One Big Wage is not, itself, a principle. We are not interested in asking for pay equality at the negotiation table with capital. We know what the capitalists will say, they will average our wages downward which is a tendency they are already and always engaged in. Instead, One Big Wage is an intra-class slogan meant to forge economic unity within the class. It is the advanced workers urging on and fighting with the worse paid workers. It is a slogan meant to advance the wages of all workers to a universally high level. We’d also like to take this moment to push back against a tendency of anti-audacity. We are arguing that the political unity of the working-class is based on the economic unity of the working-class. If we want to overthrow calss society we will need the political unity of the working-class. The only other cases of political unity engendered in the working-class occur when the entire working-class is under attack at once, putting us in an inherently defensive posture. Demanding One Big Wage, or economic unity more generally, for the working-class is our only shot at an offensive political unity. This is the only solution.

In efforts to get to a better future, humanitarians must understand that fixing, building, and advocating for the social programs we need to survive—be they health care, housing, or just lead-free drinking water—is likely to be a central part of an effective strategy. The few progressive politicians serving in America’s legislature today are outspoken about the benefits of “universal” programs: When a service is guaranteed to everyone, economies of scale take over, quality of life increases, and deficiencies are more likely to be taken seriously as politicians face the same hurdles as the rest of us.

Putting aside the use of the word “humanitarian” which contains too many passive connotations for our liking, and the description of politicians advocating for policies that most other nations have as being “progressive,” the real benefit of ‘universal’ programs is not that politicians and other wealthy individuals will be facing the same hurdles as the rest of us. Indeed, these wealthy individuals will always have recourse to more expensive private resources that the working-class will not. The real benefit is that the class is placed on a class basis, that the whole working-class is moving together, either forwards or backwards, and thus forced to think and act as an entire class rather than a fragmented piece of a whole.

As critics are ever quick to point out, these things are never free: labor is needed to provide and preserve them. We don’t have a perfect answer for how to tackle this. Maybe college-age students should participate in work programs akin to the Austrian “social year”; maybe we should reinstitute FDR’s popular Civil Works Administration; maybe we push for public ownership of utilities and hospitals; maybe we should raise taxes. Chances are we’ll need a combination of these things. The one answer that’s certain to fail spectacularly is relying on the corporatist model which has failed us time and time again.

Pushing back again on the anti-audacity. We do have a perfect answer. Billions of dollars, and therefor raw materials, machinery, and human labor, are wasted on instruments of war and destruction every year. This is ignoring the literal dumping of millions of pounds of dairy, the flaring off of billions of cubic feet of natural gas, entire industries that could be gotten rid of such as retail, sales, insurance, toll-taking, etc. We must redirect these resources which we must stop wasting towards meeting and expanding human needs rather than being used to expand capital. We also recognize here the national myth surrounding FDR as a hero to the working-class being reflected in our young comrade’s view. It is just that, a myth. The Civil Works Administration that AM references lasted merely 3 months and paid $15 a week (roughly $294.25 today). The compromises FDR entertained with the working-class were an effort to redirect class energies in to war efforts instead of revolution. Recognizing that this is not the space for a full dismissal of the FDR myth we will leave it at this.

The biggest mistake American workers can make right now is to resort to free-market apologism. We need a better system. That doesn’t mean going “full Soviet”, nor does it mean copying point-for-point the social democratic reforms Western European countries like Germany have instituted. Still, it seems evident that the solution lies somewhere in that direction.

So what does it mean.  It doesn’t mean revolution, it doesn’t mean social democratic “reform,” so what does it mean? This is the denouement of all of the anti-audacity, the advocation for nothing in particular. We can appreciate the fact that comrade AM is trying not to leave the workers behind in demanding an immediately “full Soviet” solution, but in so doing he has left behind the revolutionary approach to demanding the economic unity of the working-class on the road to the final emancipation of the proletariat.

If you take only one thing from this piece, it should be that workers need to band together to have the courage to ask for more. Not necessarily more money, but more security, more free time, more education: on the things that interest us, not just what some “invisible hand” dictates are important right now.

There’s a problem here.  This is an iteration of “Gomperism”– What’s your plan for the workers, somebody once asked Samuel Gompers head of the AFL, to which he replied “more.” Our plan for the workers is greater than this, it is the present amelioration and future emancipation. Simply demanding “more” keeps you trapped inside the wages-system.

Going forward, we want to encourage a rewrite of the social contract. Part of this could be a reinterpretation of wages as outlined in this piece. We hope workers will understand that asking for change within the workplace will be a small part of the necessary strategies, if any at all. Instead, activists and other disillusioned parties should put their efforts towards fostering a widespread understanding that our needs need to be met in full for government and society to maintain any veneer of humanity or legitimacy. Of course, there are many ways to go about that: building good-will with those around us through neighborhood programs, going on strikes or protests once we’re allowed back out, and maybe trying to change the system from within.

All these strategies have one thing in common: they allow us to look beyond the groundless vitriol covered in the previous article and instead build bonds between workers. They’ll help foster a better understanding of what society can be: a world based on living full lives, not earning full pockets

We’ve already voiced criticism of the social contract so we will not repeat it here. “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” We need more than a reinterpretation of wages, we need the economic unity of the working-class.

Having reviewed three contributions from two young comrades we would like to extend an invitation for further submissions in order to give voice to young workers and aid in their political development. We would also like to extend a hearty congratulations to the two young comrades for having both the courage and initiative to write to us and expose their work to criticism, we hope to hear more from both Kipp and AM.

1_-_Defragmenting_Work

2_-_More_Than_Raises

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