Global Wage-Workers

Capital Doesn’t have a Nationality

[Following is a statement issued by Kamunist Kranti (Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar) to the participants of the 55th International Antiwar Assemblies in Tokyo, Sapporo, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

People are in the era of global wage-workers and the increasing dysfunctionality of wage labour based commodity production.

l    In its embryonic form, wage labour based commodity production was understood as the last state of hierarchic social formations, wage workers as the radical social subject, and, the world as the arena.

l    Private property (individual ownership) was seen as the essence of capital/wage-labour based commodity production. The emergence of joint-stock companies in Western Europe in the 1860s was taken as the negative negation of capital (and cooperative factories as the positive negation).

l    By 1880s, joint stock companies/share based companies became the dominant form of wage-labour based commodity production in Western Europe.

l    A social strata called "intellectuals" increased in numbers and social significance. A part of this strata filled management positions in expanding companies and state bureaucracies. Another part of this strata, the radicals/revolutionaries looked at wage-workers as the levers for the fulfilment of their aspirations which in essence were statisation (nationalisation) of everything. Karl Kautsky theorised the social significance of this section :

1.   Communist consciousness comes from the study of philosophy, history, economics, culture.

2.  Wage-workers on their own cannot acquire communist consciousness.

3.  Communist consciousness has to be injected into wage-workers from outside.
Lenin popularised Kautsky's theorisation in Czarist Russia and after 1917 it acquired worldwide importance.

l    Radical/revolutionary intellectuals had national/state boundaries as their arena although the word, 'international' was in circulation. In 1914, by and large they supported the war waged by "their" countries. The denunciation of Kautsky as renegade is fine but the social basis and the premises of the Third International were fundamentally the same as those of the Second International.

l    Fixation on private property suited the statists even though private property in the means of production was becoming increasingly insignificant in Europe and then the USA. The corollaries of this were:
(a)  Around 1900, capitalism had become moribund, decadent imperialism.

(b)  Production relations had become fetters on the productive forces (a prominent leader in the 1930s said that productive forces had stopped growing! And, in the 1980s a fringe left group claiming descent from the German-Dutch Left and the Italian Left stated that wage-workers had stopped increasing from 1914!!)

l    Accumulation of capital is also the process through which capital moulds the world in its image. Wage-labour based commodity production spread throughout the globe. But even then, as late as the 1970s in Africa, South America, Asia (with Japan as an exception) wage-labour based commodity production areas were islands in the oceans of simple commodity production (peasants and artisans). And, peasants and artisans provided fertile breeding ground for statist tendencies. Also, when the dysfunctionality of wage-labour based commodity production had reached such levels in Europe, the USA, Japan that it led to the massacres of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, the vast population of peasants and artisans in Asia-Africa-South America provided cushions to capital.

l    The worldwide social upheavals during 1965-1970 increased exponentially the security needs for the maintenance of the money-market relations. Electronics entered the production and circulation spheres of commodity production. This was an incomparable leap in the productive forces. Just compare this with steam-coal, internal combustion engine, electricity, type-writer. In value terms, surplus value increased massively.

l    This incomparable leap in the productive forces has in these forty years so intertwined material and non-material production and circulation in the world that we are today in the era of global wage-workers and increasing dysfunctionality of wage-labour based commodity production on global scale.
To contribute to radical ruptures it is indispensable to frame social dynamics in terms of social relations. Other framings provide space to identity politics which are rampant.

l    Colonisation from 1500 to 1800 is fundamentally for the expansion of money-market relations. The efforts of trading companies were to transform goods into commodities. And, the anti-colonial struggles of this period were essentially struggles of varying natural economies to maintain themselves. The incentives to long distance trade were the margins due to historical and geographical reasons that provided significant profits in Europe even after covering the costs of long distance trade. This expansion of money-market relations was promised on simple commodity production.

l    Colonisation from 1800 onwards was premised on wage-labour based commodity production. The process of accumulation of capital engendered this colonisation wherein capital moulding the world in its image greatly expanded simple commodity production in colonies and at the same time gave rise to wage-labour based commodity production in the colonies.

l    The anti-colonial/national liberation druggies of the twentieth century were essentially the struggles between factions of wage-labour based commodity production. The anti-colonial/national liberation struggles were between factions of capital based in the home country and in the colony.

l    More than a hundred years ago it was said: "When German industry trades with German peasants, it is external trade. When German industry trades with British industry, it is internal trade".

l    Capital is a social relation. Capital does not have a nationality. National capital and foreign capital are terms that are very loaded. A lot of baggage needs to be discarded to come to : "Capital in India", "Capital in Japan".

l    That wage workers do not have a country has been in currency for more than one hundred and fifty years. Then how is it that the term foreign workers is often used? A lot of baggage needs to be to come to: Wage-workers in India (some of them being legal/illegal immigrants from Nepal/Bangladesh), Wage-workers in Japan ...

The incomparable leap in the productive forces has engendered a huge superfluous population in the world. The social death/social murder of peasants, artisans, shopkeepers is at a very rapid pace. Artificial intelligence et al are leading to lesser and lesser number of wage-workers producing huge amounts of material and non-material goods. Abolition of wage-work, abolition of work is on the social agenda.

Vol. 50, No.9, Sep 3 - 9, 2017