Coronavirus denialist billionaire Elon Musk attacks Marx


This 20 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The Matrix‘ Co-Creator Slams Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump | NowThis

‘The Matrix’ co-creator Lilly Wachowski shut down Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump for referencing the movie’s iconic ‘red pill’ sequence with a simple four-word tweet: ‘F*ck both of you.’

In US news and current events today, Musk cryptically tweeted ‘Take the red pill’ on May 17, and Trump responded, saying ‘Taken!’ In response to Musk and Trump’s interaction, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski said, ‘F*ck both of you.’ In ‘The Matrix,’ which was co-directed by Wachowski and her sister Lana, Keanu Reeves’ character Neo is given the choice to take either a blue or red pill. In recent years, the term ‘red pilling’ has become a meme among right-wingers, like men’s rights activists. Broadly, the term signifies convincing someone to see the world in a new way, which, in reality, usually means adopting fringe beliefs that are often fascist, misogynistic, or anti-Semitic. It’s unclear what Musk meant when he tweeted about taking the red pill. …

Wachowski followed up her tweet with a link to the Brave Space Alliance, an LGBTQ+ social service based in Chicago, and asked her followers to support it if they can. Musk has recently been steeped in controversies related to his thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic. From early tweets saying that ‘panic’ about the coronavirus ‘is dumb’ to reopening Tesla’s factory early, Musk has frequently dismissed the severity of COVID-19. As of May 18, neither Musk nor Trump had responded to Wachowski’s dig at them.

By Joseph Kishore in the USA, 29 July 2020:

Elon Musk discovers Das Kapital

It may come as a surprise to followers of American politics that Elon Musk, the world’s seventh-richest individual, is a great student of Marxism. In between his time running Tesla, SpaceX and his other endeavors, Musk has apparently devoted himself to a significant examination of Marx’s great three-volume work, Das Kapital (Capital).

In a tweet Monday afternoon, Musk provided the conclusion of his study. “Das Kapital in a nutshell,” he wrote, is “Gib me dat for free.”

Indeed, a brilliant insight! We can forgive Musk for the use of an informal vernacular, for he has summed up an important fact of capitalism—that the profits accumulated by the capitalist class come from the fact that the value produced by workers is excess of what they are paid in wages—that is, it is “unpaid labor.”

The process deserves a more detailed explanation.

Marx’s Das Kapital is devoted to an analysis of the basic laws of capitalism, the social and economic system that now prevails throughout the world. He begins his work with a study of the fundamental unit of this economic system, the commodity.

Society has at its disposal a reserve of living labor power, the capacity to produce all the requirements of human life, from food and shelter to transportation and communication technology. As a consequence of the division of labor among different producers, the products of this labor assume the form of commodities. Automobiles and cellphones, food and houses, each is produced by different individuals and industries and are bought and sold on the market.

The many complex workings of modern capitalism are all based on a single law, first fully elaborated by Marx: the law of labor value, that is, that the value of commodities is determined by the quantity of socially necessary human labor expended upon them. Thus, for example, a Tesla automobile has a greater value than a gallon of milk, because more human labor goes into the former than the latter. On the market, commodities are exchanged for other commodities of equivalent value (or, with the development of money, for the same amount of money).

However, if commodities are exchanged with each other based on the labor that is required for their production, where does inequality come from? Why are such vast sums of wealth monopolized by a tiny layer, while those who are engaged in actual labor, the working class, are impoverished?

Elon Musk has a net worth of $70 billion. This is more than two million times the median individual income in the United States ($31,000). Does this mean that Musk, in his 49 short years on Earth, labored the equivalent of two million people working for an entire year? Even if we were to accept that Musk is a particularly hard worker, the figures do not add up.

The source of inequality, Marx explained, lies in the peculiar nature of one of the commodities bought and sold on the market: labor power. In common language, it is said that the worker sells his or her labor to the capitalist. This is not correct. What the worker sells to the capitalist is not labor but the commodity labor power, the capacity to work, which goes into the production and value of all other commodities.

The owner of the means of production (the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, owned by Musk, for example) buys the labor power of workers. That is, he buys the capacity of these workers to work in exchange for a certain wage or salary.

Like every other commodity, the value of this particular commodity, labor power, is determined by the amount of labor required to produce it. This is equivalent to the quantity of goods that are necessary for the survival and reproduction of the worker. The less that is required for this survival and the reproduction of the next generation of wage workers, the poorer is the worker and the cheaper is his or her labor power.

Once the capitalist has purchased this commodity, labor power, he or she has the right to consume it. He does so by putting the worker to work. However, and this is the critical issue, the quantity of labor of the worker on the line, in the store or in the fields exceeds the value of his own labor power expressed in his or her wage. To put it another way, a worker labors more than the value of the commodities required to sustain himself or herself.

There is an excess, or surplus, value, the difference between the value produced by the laborer and what is required to keep him alive. The greater the exploitation (the more the capitalist can sweat out of the worker) and the lower the cost of labor power (the less he or she pays the worker to live), the greater the surplus value that is extracted.

The product of the workers’ labor belongs not to the worker but to the capitalist. In selling commodities on the market, the capitalist realizes surplus value that has been extracted in the form of the profit.

In this way, the capitalist class as a whole extracts a mass of surplus value from the working class as a whole. This surplus value is then divided up among the different sections of the capitalist class in the struggle on the market via the price mechanism, competition, manipulation, trade restrictions etc. Marx analyses these complexities in Das Kapital. But what is being divided up in the struggle on the market has already been created by the expenditure of the labor power of the working class.

All of this boils down to the fact that the profit and wealth of the capitalist is not the result of his own labor, but the labor of others, the workers. “The surplus value,” Marx explained in his earlier work, Value, Price and Profit, “or that part of the total value of a commodity in which the surplus labor or unpaid labor is realized, I call Profit.”

Or, in the somewhat oversimplified version laid out by Musk: “Gib me dat for free.”

One elaboration, however, is required to understand the present situation, and that is the way in which the ruling class has utilized its control over the apparatus of the state, particularly over the past four decades, to funnel wealth directly into the financial markets and therefore the bank accounts of the super-rich.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the American ruling class, through the US Federal Reserve, has turned over trillions of dollars to Wall Street, driving up share values to an extraordinary degree.

This massive bailout of the corporations and banks—another version of Musk’s “Gib me dat for free”—was endorsed, on a nearly unanimous bipartisan basis, in the passage of the CARES Act in late March. Indeed, Musk’s own wealth derives in large measure from such financial operations. As a result of the soaring stock market, amidst growing death and social misery, Musk has tripled his net worth in the first seven months of this year.

While apparently involving the production of money out of thin air, via the printing press of the Federal Reserve, everything turned over to the rich must be paid for through the exploitation of workers, the source of all value.

This is what is driving the demand by the ruling class for a return to work even as the pandemic rages out of control. Musk himself has played a leading role in insisting that all restraints on the spread of the pandemic must be ended and that supplemental unemployment benefits for workers be cut off. Workers must be forced back to producing surplus value and profit.

In words that take on immense relevance today, Marx brilliantly summed up the dynamic of capitalist development and its revolutionary consequences toward the end of the first volume of Das Kapital:

Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under, it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. The integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

Some might argue that in his tweet on Marx’s Das Kapital, Musk did not intend to summarize the process of capitalist exploitation of the working class. Perhaps he was suggesting that in protesting their exploitation it is somehow the workers who want something for free?

Such a reading would make Musk look like an ignoramus and a blowhard. If workers were to interpret his tweet in this way, however, they will reply that they merely seek to establish a society in which the process of production is controlled democratically, and in which the product of human labor is distributed on the basis of equality and human need, not the accumulation of vast wealth by the few. It is the expropriators, they will say, who must be expropriated, with Musk among the first in line.

Nazi vandals attack Marx’ grave, people react


This 25 January 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

The Grave of Karl Marx

Karl Marx died on 14 March 1883 and was buried at Highgate Cemetery in London. Marx is famous for his works as socialist philosopher and economist and writing the book “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848.

Among the causes which Karl Marx supported was the fight of the Irish people against English landlords and English rule. Here is a famous poem about the grave of Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone, who lived half a century earlier than Marx.

From the World Socialist World Site:

Workers, youth denounce police decision to close investigation of desecration of Marx’s grave

4 March 2018

Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke to those visiting Highgate Cemetery in London on Saturday. Many had been moved to go there by the recent desecration of Karl Marx’s grave.

Last week, the World Socialist Web Site revealed that the Metropolitan Police had closed their investigations into two recent attacks on the grave, having made no arrests.

The monument, still bearing the marks of the attacks, receives a steady flow of visitors throughout the day—people who travel all over the country and the world. Many have left flowers or messages of support at the foot of the grave.

Carolina

Carolina, a student, spoke of the impact of the rise of the far right on her home country, Brazil. Last October, the fascistic reserve army captain Jair Bolsonaro, who has hailed the military dictatorship that ruled from 1964 to 1985, was elected president of Brazil. …

“I traveled from Brazil to see Marx’s tomb. There we are being attacked by fascist ideas against labour, against the people, and against their human rights. Our president is very anti-communist. He and his government attacked Marx’s ideas and democratic ideas in general. In education and the schools, the freedom of ideas and thought is being attacked too with certain classes being closed down. They are working against left-wing teachers trying to teach critical ideas. They are being persecuted.

“This attack on the grave is ideological persecution. The authorities, the government ought to be doing something about it. I think Marx’s ideas are important for showing us how to understand the current world and society, capitalism, and how it works, and how to build a new one.”

John, a civil servant from Australia, did not want his photo taken, noting the right-wing political climate within which he was working. He said, “I admire Karl Marx greatly and am a great fan of his and of his works. He tells us everything about today. It’s hard to sum it all up. His forward-looking philosophy is about where we need to go, but also his analysis of how we got here. Even most right-wingers would admit that his analysis of capitalism is still foundational. There’s Marx the economist, Marx the philosopher and Marx the political theorist, and they are all to be admired.

“I hadn’t actually heard about the attack on Marx’s grave as I’ve only just arrived in the country. But looking at it and what it represents, I assume it represents fascists angry that we, socialists, are relevant in the world again.”

Natalia and Kim

Natalia and Kim live locally, but decided to visit the monument only when they heard it had been attacked. Kim said, “I think it’s connected with the rising number of attacks against Jewish graves, and with the growing far-right danger, of course. It’s terrible to attack any grave, but especially one which has such significance to so many people.”

Natalia, originally from Chile, described a personal experience of right-wing thuggery. “In Chile, there was a book by a left-wing author. I forget the name, but it was a humorous book attacking [fascist dictator General] Pinochet. Several people who were seen reading it on public transport were assaulted. Those attacks were never properly investigated.

“You’ve said that there is no effort being put by the police or anyone into finding who did this attack on Marx’s grave? That doesn’t surprise me.”

Elena, a teacher from London, explained, “I’d heard the grave had been vandalised and wanted to come down and see it and show my support in some way.”

Asked why she thought the monument had been attacked, she replied, “It’s obviously significant that people felt it necessary to attack Marx’s grave. Quite clearly at the moment there is a rise of the far-right across the UK and Europe. They’ve obviously become emboldened by the normalisation of right-wing ideology in governments across Europe. You have the rise of [former English Defence League leader] Tommy Robinson, for example.

“I think these forces are scared of the threat, as they see it, of socialism. They’re doing anything they can to fight against socialist ideas and they’re using the right wing to intimidate people.”

A group of people at Karl Marx's grave in Highgate Cemetery on Saturday

Describing the importance of Marx’s ideas, she said, “Marx’s significance today is hugely important. Global capitalism is failing and they are trying to hold on to the last vestiges of it. But exactly as this sign [resting against Marx’s memorial stone] says, ‘You can destroy his gravestone but you can’t destroy his ideology.’ His ideology will live on and hopefully we will have some sort of socialist movement and government that will come out of it soon.”

Extreme right vandalism of Karl Marx’ London grave


This video is called Mike Leigh / High Hopes (1988) Highgate Cemetery Karl Marx scene.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why Marx is coming under attack

IT IS not merely socialists who are appalled by the second attack on Karl Marx’s Highgate Cemetery tomb in a fortnight. No-one who respects Britain’s rich heritage can be indifferent to what amounts to an attack on our history through the defacement of a monument to one of London’s most famous adoptive residents; besides which the desecration of a graveyard always has a distasteful aspect.

The attack was nonetheless political, the crude and counterfactual insults daubed on the tomb in paint making it clear that in the eyes of the perpetrators this was an anti-communist act.

It cannot be separated from wider political trends — most clearly the rise of an emboldened far right.

As ever, fascists combine violence and hatred towards ethnic minorities with a bitter hostility to organised labour and the socialist left.

Before Highgate was targeted we had already seen incidents where far-right thugs — sometimes donning yellow vests in a parody of the huge and popular protests in France, which are not dominated by the right — tried to start fights with members of the RMT union on picket lines. Pastor Niemoller’s famous poem on nazi Germany, First They Came for the Communists, identified the order in which Hitler’s machinery of repression selected its victims: first the communists, then the trade unionists, then the Jews.

This is not to say Britain is on the brink of fascism. The far right here is still weaker than in many European countries, and the socialist left, buoyed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and the subsequent growth of his party to become the largest in western Europe, is stronger and more confident.

But the causes of disgraceful acts of vandalism like this need to be exposed. The far right’s rise has been facilitated and encouraged by the Conservative-led governments since 2010 and their “hostile environment” that has seen black British citizens wrongly deported and a horrific, sustained rise in racist hate crimes (as well as in hate crimes against disabled and LGBT people — also, we may remember, groups targeted for extermination by the nazis).

The threat to our corrupt and parasitic elite posed by the democratic socialist politics of Corbynism has led to an unending barrage of anti-socialist propaganda from the media. A normalised Islamophobia (with the online hate peddled by the likes of “Tommy Robinson” blurring seamlessly into incendiary jibes at Muslim women from Establishment insiders like Boris Johnson) is then used to smear left-wing politicians such as Corbyn, who are constantly and baselessly accused of “supporting terrorism” because of their opposition to US and British imperialism. This has consequences: the Finsbury Park mosque murderer Darren Osborne admitted in court he had planned to kill Corbyn.

There has been a breakdown in respect for open debate and democratic norms, with socialists vilified in the crudest terms and violence against them increasingly advocated. At the same time our government and media have been complicit in the rewriting of history and rehabilitation of nazism taking place in other European countries such as Ukraine.

When fascists can be greeted with applause as respectable allies in the Scottish parliament and British troops can be dispatched to train Kiev’s military when it openly deploys neonazi paramilitaries in its war with the Donbass, a warped and weaponised account of the past which whitewashes fascism gains currency here too.

At the opening of the Reichstag in 1932 Communist deputy Clara Zetkin declared: “The battle must be fought to defeat fascism, which intends to destroy with blood and iron all class expressions of the workers.” She called on the working class to mobilise the strength anchored in its political, trade union and cultural organisations. That task remains as relevant today as it was then.

The Marx Grave Trust will be working with Highgate Cemetery to restore the monument and decide on how best to protect it in future. Our collective response must be a political challenge to the poison that feeds such vandalism, with a huge turnout for the anti-racist demonstrations being organised by Stand Up to Racism for March 16 and a mobilisation for the Marx Oration in Highgate the day after that.

The attack on Marx’s grave is, therefore, a significant warning of the growing danger to the working class across Europe and internationally from far-right forces that have been deliberately cultivated by the bourgeoisie and given succour by the mass media. Just as the Nazis did when they were in power in Germany, fascist attacks on left-wing monuments and graves are taking place across Europe. In Spain alone during recent weeks, the tomb of Dolores Ibárruri, the … leader of the Communist Party during the civil war, Pablo Iglesias, founder of the Socialist Party, and a plaque to honour the International Brigades have all been targeted. In recent months, swastikas have been daubed on Jewish gravestones and a Holocaust memorial near Strasbourg, France. Similar desecrations have occurred in Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Ukraine and Manchester, England. Such attacks are accompanied by a rising wave of direct physical assaults on immigrants and left-wing figures, including last year’s attack on British rail union leader Steve Hedley and his partner, who was hospitalised.: here.

Participants at today's rally in Highgate cemetery

By Peter Lazenby in London, England:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Highgate sees emergency rally in defence of Marx’s grave after second attack

A SECOND attack on the family grave of Karl Marx in London sparked outrage today as more than 100 rallied at his monument in Highgate Cemetery.

The latest attack on Saturday saw the words “Doctrine of Hate” and “Architect of Genocide” daubed in red paint on the monument.

In an earlier attack, the vandals daubed a nazi swastika on the grave as well.

On February 4 the marble plaque on the tombstone was damaged by an assailant who battered it with a hammer.

Scores of people held a vigil at the graveside, with London’s Kurdish-Turkish community pledging their determination to protect the grave — a Grade I listed monument.

There were also representatives from the Young Communist League and from Marx Memorial Library chairman Alex Gordon on behalf of the Marx Grave Trust that owns the monument.

Mr Gordon told the Morning Star: “There were about 150 people present, not only from the Kurdish community but also others who came to pay their respects at the desecration of the Marx family grave. There were people from Chinese, Indian and other communities there.”

The speaker from the Kurdish community Arif Bektas expressed the anger of his community at the desecration and pledged to devise a system of security to prevent further attacks on the monument.

Daoud Hamdani spoke on behalf of the Young Communist League.

Mr Gordon said: “He expressed the complete anger of the Young Communist League at the attack, but also the confidence of the YCL that we have to stamp out fascism for ever.”

The Marx grave and monument is visited every year by thousands of people.

Maxwell Blowfield, who works as a press officer with the British Museum, said he was “shocked” at the attack when he visited Highgate Cemetery on Saturday morning.

“[Marx’s tomb] is a highlight of the cemetery,” he said.

“It’s a shame. The red paint will disappear, I assume, but to see that kind of level of damage and to see it happen twice, it’s not good.

“I am just surprised that somebody in 2019 feels they need to do something like that.”

Police said the attacks had been reported, but there have been no arrests.

Highgate Cemetery branded the latest attack, “Senseless. Stupid. Ignorant.” But more than that it is a politically-motivated crime, perpetrated by right-wing dregs who view Marx with such fear and hatred that even his grave is considered a target. The last major attack occurred in the 1970s when a pipe bomb damaged the face of the bust, although a separate attempt to blow up the entire monument failed. Smaller acts of vandalism including graffiti and the daubing of swastikas have also taken place in recent decades. The Highgate Cemetery outrage is only the latest example of how far-right forces have been whipped-up by an endless torrent of official anti-communist propaganda. A report on the attack in the far-right Breitbart News, for example, evoked a stream of filthy fascistic replies from both the US and Britain: here.

Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, animated cartoon


This 15 September 2018 animated carton video says about itself:

Karl Marx‘s Das Kapital

Snapshot | 151 years ago today, one of the most important books of Leftist political theory was published: “Das Kapital”. This revolutionary work explained the contradictions of capitalism and went on to influence social movements and revolutions up until today. By Monero Ponce.

Karl Marx on alienation, BBC animation video


This video says about itself:

Karl Marx on Alienation

19 January 2015

Karl Marx believed that work, at its best, is what makes us human. It allows us to live, be creative and flourish. But under capitalism he saw workers alienated from each other and the product of their labour.

Narrated by Gillian Anderson. Scripted by Nigel Warburton.

From the BBC Radio 4 series about life’s big questions – A History of Ideas.

This project is from the BBC in partnership with The Open University, the animations were created by Cognitive.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF and Karl Marx


This video from France says about itself:

Corruption probe moves closer to IMF chief as aide charged

13 June 2013

Stephane Richard, the head of telecoms company Orange and a former aide to IMF chief Christine Lagarde, has been charged in a corruption probe related to Lagarde‘s time as France’s finance minister.

From daily The Morning Star in England:

Christine Lagarde invokes Marx at ‘inclusive capitalism’ conference

Wednesday 28th may 2014

INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde raised the ghost of Karl Marx yesterday at a London conference of the super-rich on “inclusive capitalism.”

The managing director cited the founder of scientific socialism’s insight that capitalism “carried the seeds of its own destruction” while addressing an audience of corporate tycoons at the Mansion House and Guildhall.

Business bigwigs who jointly manage £17.8 trillion were invited by the City of London and financiers EL Rothschild to discuss how repeated crises, mass unemployment and spiralling inequality were undermining confidence in the capitalist order.

But the well-heeled guests had little to offer by way of reform except vague allusions to “corporate responsibility” and praise for wealthy philanthropists.

Ms Lagarde said she feared that “massive excess, rising social tensions and growing political disillusion” were costing “trust in leaders, in institutions, in the free market itself.”

She called for “rewards for all within a market economy.”

Marx Library chairman Alex Gordon said Ms Lagarde was “fond of appropriating Marx” without having read or understood his work.

“Marx predicted the failure of the IMF to ‘civilise’ capitalism. Marx wrote that bourgeois society ‘is like the sorcerer no longer able to control the powers of the nether world he has called up by his spells. Not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself, it has called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons, the modern working class’,” Mr Gordon said.

Speakers at the City shindig included former US president Bill Clinton, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and royal loudmouth Charles Windsor, who intoned pieties about capitalism serving “the concerns of humanity rather than the other way around.”

His royal highness was thinking about the proper role of business in society 30 years ago,” gushed EL Rothschild CEO Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

But Left Economics Advisory Panel co-founder Andrew Fisher said: “Capitalism is necessarily exclusive. Only a few can hold capital in any meaningful quantity.

“If you want an inclusive society you need to democratise the economy — and that is called socialism, not capitalism.”

See also here.

On Tuesday the world’s major investors, plus celebrities such as ex-President Clinton, confirmed admirers, and even relics of feudal society such as Prince Charles, met at an exclusive ‘Inclusive Capitalism Initiative’, from which of course the working class was barred: here.

The highest-paid woman CEO makes less than 1/3 of the highest-paid man: here.

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Abraham Lincoln and the British labour movement


Reward for capturing runaway slaves from St. Louis, USA, in 1847

By Tom Mackaman in the USA:

The British working class and the American Civil War: 150 years since London’s St. James’ Hall meeting

26 March 2013

On the evening of March 26, 1863—150 years ago today—as many as 3,000 workers packed into St. James’ Hall in London for a meeting backing the Union in the American Civil War and praising the Lincoln administration for the Emancipation Proclamation. The gathering was one of the most outstanding episodes of British working-class opposition to the Confederacy and slavery during the US Civil War (1861-1865)—opposition that emerged in spite of persistent efforts by British ruling circles and Southern operatives to blame the Union and Abraham Lincoln for the serious economic suffering caused by war.

The St. James’ Hall meeting had been called in the name of the London Trades’ Council, for “the purposes of expressing sympathy with the Northern States of America, and in favour of NEGRO EMANCIPATION,” as the bill for the event advertised. While a Quaker mill-owning Member of Parliament, George Bright, chaired,

Very probably, Tom Mackaman made a mistake here. Probably, the chair at the meeting was John Bright, Quaker mill-owner and Liberal MP; not “George Bright.” Also on John Bright and Lincoln: here.

the hall was filled “with the exception of a few guests [by] the members of the working classes,” according to an American diplomat sent to observe, Henry Adams—the remarkable journalist, son of US ambassador to the United Kingdom Charles Francis Adams, great-grandson of John Adams and grandson of John Quincy Adams.

Karl Marx, who followed the American war as a journalist, was present but did not speak. He may have played a significant role in organizing the meeting.

The meeting passed two resolutions and approved a letter to Lincoln. One resolution hailed Lincoln and the Union, declaring that “the cause of labour and liberty is one all over the word,” and further pledged that British workers would fight against the diplomatic recognition of any government “founded on human slavery.” The second condemned the support for the South among British “capitalists and journalists.”

The Letter to Lincoln read, in part:

“Honored Sir: —[O]ur earnest and heartfelt sympathies are with you in the arduous struggle you are maintaining in the cause of human freedom. We indignantly protest against the assertion that the people of England wish for the success of the Southern States… Be assured that, in following out this noble course, our earnest, our active sympathies will be with you, and that, like our brothers in Lancashire, whose distress called forth your generous help in this your own time of difficulty, we would rather perish than band ourselves in unholy alliance with the South and slavery.

“May you and your compatriots be crowned with victory; and may the future see the people of England and their brothers of America marching shoulder to shoulder determinedly forward, the pioneers of human progress, the champions of universal liberty.”

In a letter to Friedrich Engels, Marx noted that workers who rose at the meeting “spoke excellently, with a complete lack of bourgeois rhetoric and without in the least concealing their opposition to the capitalists.” Minutes of the meeting support this. An individual named Odger, a shoemaker, said that workers could not support a government that sought “to keep four millions of their fellow creatures in endless bondage.” Mantz, a compositor, declared that in England not “a hundred workmen could be found to meet together to justify a recognition of the Southern Confederacy, even on the ground of employment for the distressed operatives of Lancashire (Hear, hear.)” Cremer, a joiner, said that the Confederacy had “thrown down the gauntlet to the free labourers of the world.” Heap, an engineer, said that the meetings’ resolutions “would find an echo in the breasts of the working classes throughout the country.”

Charles Francis Adams sent copies of the resolutions and an official report to the State Department, which then forwarded these to northern newspapers. Articles appeared in Northern publications in April 1963, under the headline “VOICE OF WORKING-MEN OF LONDON.” Lincoln, who had written directly in response to a similar meeting held earlier in Manchester, this time responded through Adams that the “Trade Unionists have spoken the voice of the people of Great Britain.” Biographer Carl Sandburg would later note the novelty of Lincoln’s replies to the mass meetings of British labor: “It was not a custom for the ruling heads of nations to address letters to ‘workingmen’ in other countries.”

The role of the British working class in the American Civil War was indeed novel, and powerful, on many levels.

When Confederate leaders determined to pull their states from the Union in the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861, and then to precipitate the Civil War by attacking federal installations in the South, they calculated that Britain and France would gravitate toward diplomatic recognition, which very likely would have led to war. The Lincoln administration was fearful of this possibility, and for good reason.

The South’s cotton, produced by slave labor, had fueled Britain’s industrialization—or, conversely, Britain’s industrialization had generated the “Cotton Kingdom” of the South, and with it a dramatic growth and expansion of slavery. In 1860 over 80 percent of Britain’s cotton came from the South of the US; and Britain was the recipient of the lion’s share of all Southern cotton production. Though “white gold” was not the only important American link to the British economy—Britain was also dependent upon grain exports from the antislavery American Northwest—cotton created a powerful economic relationship.

Just as important, the European ruling classes remained deeply hostile to the republican experiment across the Atlantic. With Europe in the grip of reaction following the defeated revolutions of 1848, the US was, in Lincoln’s words, “the last, best hope” for democracy. The British and French ruling circles identified with the Southern elite; their newspapers propagandized against the Union and Lincoln. Britain manufactured warships for the South, granted it belligerent status, and came to the brink of a diplomatic rupture with the North over its naval blockade. For his part, Louis Napoleon used the American Civil War to install a puppet regime in Mexico.

The Southern elite calculated that the Cotton Famine would propel the British toward diplomatic recognition and then war, and presumed that British workers would play a role in this by protesting mass unemployment. Indeed, the South itself imposed an embargo on cotton exports to accelerate this process. Early in the war a Southern leader told the London Times, “We have only to stop shipment of cotton for three months and a revolution will occur in England. Hundreds of thousands of your workers will starve without our cotton, and they will demand you break the blockade.”

The response of the British working class astonished observers. Even in Lancashire, where unemployment approached 50 percent, the working class repeatedly expressed its hatred of slavery and its solidarity with the North, especially after Lincoln’s release of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862. As Henry Hotze, a Southern spy working in Britain noted, “The Lancashire operatives [are the only] class which as a class continues actively inimical to us… With them the unreasoning…aversion to our institutions is as firmly rooted as in any part of New England.”

On December 31, 1862, the day before the Proclamation’s implementation, large meetings in support were held in Manchester and London. In 1863 British workers held 56 pro-Union meetings, according to historian Royden Harrison; meanwhile attempts by pro-Southern agents to organize competing meetings “invariably failed,” in the words of historian Philip Foner.

The British ruling class, in its support of the South and in its bitter opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation—which it viewed correctly as an invitation to “servile insurrection”—was at least in part restrained from its proclivities by the working class. Marx put great emphasis on this fact, writing Joseph Weydemeyer in 1864 that the “monster meeting in St. James’ Hall” had “prevented [Prime Minister Lord] Palmerston from declaring war on the United States, as he was on the point of doing.”

The powerful demonstration of working-class solidarity with the Union and the slaves also nourished a spirit of internationalism developing among the most advanced English workers and helping to set the stage for the founding of the First International (or the International Workingmen’s Association—IWA) the following year in London.

Marx, who was elected to the IWA General Council, wrote the organization’s Inaugural Address, which included the statement that it was “the English working class that saved the West of Europe from plunging headlong into an infamous crusade for the perpetuation and propagation of slavery on the other side of the Atlantic.”

In late 1864 Marx was tasked by the IWA with drafting a letter congratulating Lincoln on his reelection. Marx wrote:

“The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.”

This was also received by Charles Francis Adams and conveyed to Lincoln. In return, Adams delivered Lincoln’s personal thanks and added that the Union derived “new encouragements to persevere from the testimony of the workingmen of Europe that the national attitude is favored with their enlightened approval and earnest sympathies.”

Notes:

Foner, Philip Sheldon. British Labor and the American Civil War. Holmes & Meier Pub, 1982.

McPherson, James M., “John Bull’s Virginia Reel,” in Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford University Press, 1988.

Anderson, Kevin B. “Race, Class, and Slavery: The Civil War as a Second American Revolution,” in Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

The International Workingmen’s Association 1864 “Address of the International Working Men’s Association to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America.”

The First International: here. And here.

Karl Marx and economic crisis today, from TIME magazine


This video from Brazil says about itself:

[Sergio Silva] The Surplus Value Samba

This video is in Portuguese and has already been uploaded to YouTube twice. The original version was first uploaded in October 05, 2006 as [Sergio Silva] O samba da mais-valia. Then, French subtitles were added and uploaded in March 19, 2008 as [Sergio Silva] La Samba de la Plus-value. However, to better understand the thought of Marx, the world clamoured for English subtitles and here they are at last. The credits of that spectacular work are at the end of the video. We can see the world as change now. At least the WWW world. Revolution and Carnival are finally together.

From TIME magazine in the USA:

World Finance

Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

By

March 25, 2013

Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx believed determined the course of history seemed to melt away in a prosperous era of free trade and free enterprise. The far-reaching power of globalization, linking the most remote corners of the planet in lucrative bonds of finance, outsourcing and “borderless” manufacturing, offered everybody from Silicon Valley tech gurus to Chinese farm girls ample opportunities to get rich. Asia in the latter decades of the 20th century witnessed perhaps the most remarkable record of poverty alleviation in human history — all thanks to the very capitalist tools of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Capitalism appeared to be fulfilling its promise — to uplift everyone to new heights of wealth and welfare.

Or so we thought. With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.

A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look. In China, the Marxist country that turned its back on Marx, Yu Rongjun was inspired by world events to pen a musical based on Marx’s classic Das Kapital. “You can find reality matches what is described in the book,” says the playwright.

… But the consequence of this widening inequality is just what Marx had predicted: class struggle is back. Workers of the world are growing angrier and demanding their fair share of the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. Congress to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, political and economic events are being shaped by escalating tensions between capital and labor to a degree unseen since the communist revolutions of the 20th century. How this struggle plays out will influence the direction of global economic policy, the future of the welfare state, political stability in China, and who governs from Washington to Rome. What would Marx say today? “Some variation of: ‘I told you so,’” says Richard Wolff, a Marxist economist at the New School in New York. “The income gap is producing a level of tension that I have not seen in my lifetime.”

Tensions between economic classes in the U.S. are clearly on the rise. Society has been perceived as split between the “99%” (the regular folk, struggling to get by) and the “1%” (the connected and privileged superrich getting richer every day). In a Pew Research Center poll released last year, two-thirds of the respondents believed the U.S. suffered from “strong” or “very strong” conflict between rich and poor, a significant 19-percentage-point increase from 2009, ranking it as the No. 1 division in society.

The heightened conflict has dominated American politics. The partisan battle over how to fix the nation’s budget deficit has been, to a great degree, a class struggle. Whenever President Barack Obama talks of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to close the budget gap, conservatives scream he is launching a “class war” against the affluent. Yet the Republicans are engaged in some class struggle of their own. The GOP’s plan for fiscal health effectively hoists the burden of adjustment onto the middle and poorer economic classes through cuts to social services. Obama based a big part of his re-election campaign on characterizing the Republicans as insensitive to the working classes. GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the President charged, had only a “one-point plan” for the U.S. economy — “to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

Amid the rhetoric, though, there are signs that this new American classism has shifted the debate over the nation’s economic policy. Trickle-down economics, which insists that the success of the 1% will benefit the 99%, has come under heavy scrutiny. David Madland, a director at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, believes that the 2012 presidential campaign has brought about a renewed focus on rebuilding the middle class, and a search for a different economic agenda to achieve that goal. “The whole way of thinking about the economy is being turned on its head,” he says. “I sense a fundamental shift taking place.”

The ferocity of the new class struggle is even more pronounced in France. Last May, as the pain of the financial crisis and budget cuts made the rich-poor divide starker to many ordinary citizens, they voted in the Socialist Party’s François Hollande, who had once proclaimed: “I don’t like the rich.” He has proved true to his word. Key to his victory was a campaign pledge to extract more from the wealthy to maintain France’s welfare state. To avoid the drastic spending cuts other policymakers in Europe have instituted to close yawning budget deficits, Hollande planned to hike the income tax rate to as high as 75%. Though that idea got shot down by the country’s Constitutional Council, Hollande is scheming ways to introduce a similar measure. At the same time, Hollande has tilted government back toward the common man. He reversed an unpopular decision by his predecessor to increase France’s retirement age by lowering it back down to the original 60 for some workers. Many in France want Hollande to go even further. “Hollande’s tax proposal has to be the first step in the government acknowledging capitalism in its current form has become so unfair and dysfunctional it risks imploding without deep reform,” says Charlotte Boulanger, a development official for NGOs.

His tactics, however, are sparking a backlash from the capitalist class. …

Resentment is reaching a boiling point in China’s factory towns. “People from the outside see our lives as very bountiful, but the real life in the factory is very different,” says factory worker Peng Ming in the southern industrial enclave of Shenzhen. Facing long hours, rising costs, indifferent managers and often late pay, workers are beginning to sound like true proletariat. “The way the rich get money is through exploiting the workers,” says Guan Guohau, another Shenzhen factory employee. “Communism is what we are looking forward to.” Unless the government takes greater action to improve their welfare, they say, the laborers will become more and more willing to take action themselves. “Workers will organize more,” Peng predicts. “All the workers should be united.”

Marx would have predicted just such an outcome. As the proletariat woke to their common class interests, they’d overthrow the unjust capitalist system and replace it with a new, socialist wonderland. Communists “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions,” Marx wrote. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” There are signs that the world’s laborers are increasingly impatient with their feeble prospects. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of cities like Madrid and Athens, protesting stratospheric unemployment and the austerity measures that are making matters even worse.

So far, though, Marx’s revolution has yet to materialize. … Despite such calls, however, current economic policy continues to fuel class tensions. … Debt-burdened governments in Europe have slashed welfare programs even as joblessness has risen and growth sagged. In most cases, the solution chosen to repair capitalism has been more capitalism. Policymakers in Rome, Madrid and Athens are being pressured by bondholders to dismantle protection for workers and further deregulate domestic markets. Owen Jones, the British author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, calls this “a class war from above.”

There are few to stand in the way. The emergence of a global labor market has defanged unions throughout the developed world. …

That leaves open a scary possibility: that Marx not only diagnosed capitalism’s flaws but also the outcome of those flaws. If policymakers don’t discover new methods of ensuring fair economic opportunity, the workers of the world may just unite. Marx may yet have his revenge.

— With reporting by Bruce Crumley / Paris; Chengcheng Jiang / Beijing; Shan-shan Wang / Shenzhen

TORY PM David Cameron finally admitted in Parliament yesterday that “Karl Marx was right,” writes Luke James: here.

Turkish book censorship, a little less


This video is about a poem about the 1945 Hiroshima nuclear bomb, The little girl. The poem is by famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet.

According to Dutch NOS TV, the Turkish government has taken 450 books off the banned books list.

NOS TV says these are politically Leftist books, by authors like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and John Steinbeck.

The Turkish banned books list contains works supposedly written by “enemies of the Turkish state”.

A bit strange that authors like Marx, Lenin, and Steinbeck are considered to be “enemies of the Turkish state”.

Karl Marx died long before the Turkish republic was founded on October 29, 1923. His writings contain kind words about the Turkish peasantry.

Lenin died shortly after the founding of the Turkish republic, in January 1924. In 1921, he had contributed to the Treaty of Kars between the Caucasian Soviet republics and Turkey, ending the First World War between the collapsed Ottoman and Czarist empires.

I am not aware that United States novelist John Steinbeck ever wrote anything about the Turkish state.

Turkish daily Hürriyet writes:

‘Of Mice and Men‘ gets taste of Turkish censor

The İzmir Education Directorate’s books commission is seeking to ban certain parts of John Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men” for several “immoral” passages, according to daily BirGün.

The book “contains immoral sections” and is “unfit for educational use,” according to the commission’s report.

Despite the call, Steinbeck’s classic is one of the Turkish Education Ministry’s “100 Fundamental Novels.”

January/02/2013

See also here.

NOS TV reports that though these 450 books by Marx, Lenin, Steinbeck and others are now off the censorship list, another about 5000 books are still on it.

So, a not really impressive measure by the Turkish government. It reminds me a bit of the most famous Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet. Decades after Hikmet died, the Turkish government at last gave him back his Turkish nationality; and announced that Turks reading his poems would no longer be arrested. During the Cold War, the Turkish government, being a slavish NATO ally, had taken away the citizenship of Leftist Hikmet.

Marx’, Darwin’s, Shackleton’s wills online


This video from Britain is called Richard Dawkins: The Genius of Charles Darwin (Episode 1).

From the BBC:

11 August 2010 Last updated at 08:27 GMT

Marx‘s will among millions online

By Peter Jackson BBC News

It may not come as a huge surprise that communist and anti-capitalist philosopher Karl Marx died a poor man.

But why did the German, who had seven children by his wife and died in north London, leave his meagre £250 (£23,000 today) to his youngest daughter Eleanor?

New online records are offering tantalising insights into the financial affairs of famous figures from the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Official summaries, or indexes, of more than six million wills from 1861 to 1941 have been put online for the first time.

They took about a year-and-a-half to digitise, and reveal a fortune of more than £20bn.

Once-rich polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left even less than Marx, the records show.

By the time he died in 1922, he was down to £556 (£20,000 today), having lost his fortune in a series of failed business schemes.

Naturalist Charles Darwin, by contrast, left the Victorian equivalent of about £13m today, and Charles Dickens £7m.

The probate calendar books for England and Wales present easily accessible records for historians and academics who have had to rely on paper searches until now.

But they also allow people to research their own family trees and tales of lost fortunes and wealthy ancestors.

Historic feuds and branching family trees mean many mysteries of missing millions will never be solved.

People across the labour movement are set to remember Eleanor Marx’s legacy tomorrow, as JOHN CALLOW explains: here.