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Posts Tagged ‘paul mattick’

“To be sure, Hayek’s attack upon those who refer to totalitarian serfdom as a “new freedom” is fully justified. But when he speaks on behalf of the “old freedom” of liberal capitalism, he only matches “mere words” with “mere words.” He should know, and probably does know, that his proposals in both national and international fields, for arresting the capitalist tendency toward totalitarianism cannot be realized, and, even if they could be realized, would bring forth only once more what they intended to destroy. This hopeless situation reduces the economist, Hayek, to a mere propagandist for free enterprise. Hence the popularity of his book, which is no more than a testimony of the bankruptcy of its author and of the interests he represents.”

– Paul Mattick, “Serfdom in a Free Society.” Western Socialist, Boston, USA, September 1946.

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“It is of course true that Marx and Engels acknowledged the obvious, namely, that the overthrow of capitalism demands the overthrow of its state. For them, the political aspect of the proletarian revolution exhausts itself in overwhelming the capitalist state apparatus with all the means required to this end. The victorious working class would neither institute a new state nor seize control of the existing state, but exercise its dictatorship so as to be able to realize its real goal, the appropriation of the means of production and their irrevocable transformation into social means of production in the most literal sense, that is, as under the control of the association of free and equal producers. Although assuming functions previously associated with those of the state, this dictatorship is not to become a new state, but a means to the elimination of all suppressive measures through the ending of class relations. There is no room for a “socialist state” in socialism

though there is the need for a central direction of the socialized economy, which, however, is itself a part of the organization of
the associated producers and not an independent entity set against
them. 

Of course, for reasons not as yet discernible, this might be altogether
utopian, as thus would be a socialist society in the Marxian
sense. It has to be tried in a revolutionary situation if a serious
effort is to be made to reach the classless society. It may be forced
upon the workers by objective conditions, quite aside from whether
or not they understand all its implications. But it may also fail, if
the proletariat abdicates its own dictatorship to a separately organized
new state machine that usurps control over society. It is
also not possible to foresee under what particular concrete social
conditions the revolutionary process might unfold, and whether or
not the mere extension and intensification of dictatorial rule will
degenerate into a new state assuming independent powers. Whatever
the case may be, it is not through the state that socialism can
be realized, as this would exclude the self-determination of the
working class, which is the essence of socialism. State rule perpetuates
the divorce of the workers from the means of production, on
which their dependence and exploitation rests, and thus also perpetuates
social class relations. 

However, it was precisely the attempt to overcome the apparently
utopian elements of Marxian doctrine which induced the
theoreticians of the Second International to insist upon the state
as the instrument for the realization of socialism. Although they
were divided on the question of how to achieve control of the
state, they were united in their conviction that the organization of
the new society is the state’s responsibility. It was their sense of
reality that made them question Marx’s abstract concepts of the
revolution and the construction of socialism, bringing these ideas
down to earth and in closer relation to the concretely given possibilities. 

Indeed, the construction of a socialist system is no doubt a
most formidable undertaking. Even to think about it is already
of a bewildering complexity defying easy or convincing solutions.
It certainly seems to be out of reach for the relatively uneducated
working class. It would require the greatest expertise in the understanding
and management of social phenomena and the most careful
approach to all reorganizational problems, if it is not to end
in dismal failure. It demands an over-all view of social needs, as well as special qualifications for those attending to them, and thus
institutions designed to assure the social reproduction process.
Such institutions must have enough authority to withstand all irrational
objections and thus must have the support of government
which, by sanctioning these decisions, makes them its own. Most
of all, the even flow of production must not be interfered with
and all unnecessary experimentation must be avoided, so that it
would be best to continue with proven methods of production and
the production relations on which they were based.

– Paul Mattick, Marxism: Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie?  Armonk, New York: M. E. SHARPE, 1983. pp. 160-162.

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“The hinterland is basically the space that lies beyond the administrative centers of the global economy, which tend to be centered in the downtown cores of (largely coastal) metropoles. Obviously, there is enormous variation in what this space looks like. But I use the word “hinterland” to try to capture the idea that these places are not peripheral in the sense of being on the “edge” of capitalism and therefore having relative autonomy, where self-sufficiency and subsistence might be possible. They are fully dependent, subordinate to these administrative centers. But their priority does differ: the “far” hinterland is lowest in this hierarchy, suitable for the sort of things that are best kept out of sight. At its best, it is defined by some sort of extractive primary industry (mining, farming, timber, etc.); at its worst, it’s just a sort of abandoned zone, dominated by informal work and black markets, where small towns desperately compete with one another to be the host site for a new prison or landfill. And it’s important to note that these spaces don’t necessarily map directly onto our intuitive idea of urban and rural. The far hinterland is certainly mostly a rural space, but it would include that deep rust belt decay you see in Flint, MI, for example. One part of the concept’s utility, then, is to point out that the experience of poverty in rural Kentucky is actually not going to be that fundamentally different from the experience of poverty in “inner city” Detroit—the two will be distinct, but both will certainly be far more similar to one another than to the average life experience of someone born to a moderately wealthy family in Boston or Seattle. At the same time, you also have these islands of affluence in rural areas, which are usually either leisure centers (like Aspen, CO), or simply commuter exurbs, and these places have a much closer relationship with the urban core despite their distance.

The “near” hinterland is something that’s more visible, but for some reason you still constantly run into people who basically have no clue that it’s there. For example, in a city like Seattle, all the highest poverty census tracts, all the census tracts with the highest shares of foreign-born population, and all the census tracts with the lowest shares of white population are located in suburbs or on the urban fringe, with a few (rapidly gentrifying) exceptions. These are the same areas that have the highest concentration of employment in manufacturing, utilities, warehousing, and transportation. I mean, in Kent, WA, just south of Seattle, you have a massive Amazon Fulfillment Center, and across the street is a literal campground where people are living in trailers and tents and they’re walking over to work in the warehouse, joined by people commuting in from the uphill suburban neighborhoods where they live in decaying postwar single-family houses subdivided to accommodate multiple extended families. So you have this massive working-class population that is hyper-diverse, employed for poverty wages sorting packages, processing goods, driving shorthaul runs, and even doing “traditional” manufacturing, all taking place in these peri-urban centers just outside the borders of major “post-industrial” metropolitan centers like Seattle. But I still run into people all the time who really think that Seattle is somehow a “post-industrial” city, and that the suburbs are where white people live—and of course these people themselves are living in “inner city” areas that maybe used to be part of the city’s black neighborhood, or Asian neighborhood, but are now seventy, eighty, or ninety percent white, and they think it’s a hip, “diverse” urban lifestyle.”

– Phil Neel with Paul Mattick, “The Center Has Fallen and There’s No Going Back: In Conversation about Hinterland: America’s New Landscape of Class and Conflict.” The Brooklyn Rail, April 4, 2018.

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