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Museum Piece



Let's let Mr Money retire from the management of our mode of survival and find shelter in a museum niche to rest beside flint stone hammers, anvils and bronze axes. Visitors might then like to stop a while in front of the niche, ponder over the antique family accommodated therein and discover Mr Money among them; but this time with a difference. For the old, Mr Money might still rouse great reminiscences, but for the young merely an inquisitiveness about an odd article, now stripped of any individuality.

Our kids would surely be much amused to observe the currency note with printing on the paper and ask "What's that, mummy?", "Papa, what is it?" and we "papas" and "mummies" would be prompt enough with our ready knowledge: "That was money."

"Well, what was money?" our kids would wonder.

"Money was what money did."

"What did it do?"

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The Rise and Decline of Capitalism

Capitalism was progressive during its ascendance i.e. in its formative stage. During this phase all its necessary formations and reformations were progressive, even though it emerged having been drenched in blood and gore. Both the capitalist and working classes were sprouting, growing – evolving. All the productive forces – means of production, instruments of labour and labour power - were developing within the womb of the new born relations of production.

Hence here the working class movements for formation/reformation were progressive simply because elimination of capitalist relations, which were just taking shapes, was out of the question, even though consciousness about its negation i.e. socialism, began to appear as working class ideas and interests alongside the ruling ideas and interests of the capitalist class. Both classes were involved in severing feudal relations of production and installing capitalist ones.





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Critique of Paresh Chattopadhyay's "Twentieth Century Socialism"

Paresh Chattopadhyay once visited me at my rented residence after we launched our party, the World Socialist Party (India) here in Calcutta (now Kolkata), 1-3 March 1995. He listened to my long speech via audio cassette of Bishnupur public meeting and highly appreciated it. After a detailed discussion he agreed to send articles in the event we published a journal in Bengali which however didn't mature. At that time he was sympathizing with the Trotskyists. I wanted to know why he should support the Trotskyists at all. His answer was that this gave him the opportunity to meet and speak to them at their annual gathering in Paris and that's all. The matter ended there.



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Class



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HISTORY OF ECONOMICS



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CAPITAL AND THE CAPITALIST CLASS



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CAPITALISM, ITS REAL BARRIER & CRISIS



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Poverty / Relative wage / Industrial reserve army



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Invention



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‘Bandh’ Strikes: Not the Answer

In this era of capitalism's decadence the general strike (or ‘Bandh’) for more reforms or mere protest is futile. It has lost its edge. Its usefulness has become ineffective vis-à-vis world level productive abundance. It is not the answer to the problems produced by the potential and from time to time actual ‘epidemic of overproduction’ (Communist Manifesto) that is prevalent today.

During its rising phase capitalism, i.e. the capital/wage labour relation, was spreading out by swallowing up antiquated pre–capitalist economic relations and transforming the feudal social classes into two great modern antagonist classes – the minority collective capitalist class vis–á–vis the majority collective working class – or as in recent parlance 1 percent vs. 99 percent. Feudal relations of production were giving way to the capitalist relations of production.





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MARXIAN ECONOMICS

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Men, Ideas and Society

Marx became a socialist sometime towards the end of 1843 or beginning of 1844, Engels a little earlier. Previously the both of them had been "Young Hegelians", that is followers of Hegel's philosophy who gave it an atheist and radical-democratic interpretation.

Hegelian philosophy, the dominant school in Germany at the time, was thoroughly Idealist holding that ideas, and even the Idea, made history. During 1845 and 1846 Marx and Engels wrote a criticism of this view which they called The German Ideology. This book, for which they were unable to find a publisher, is important because in it Marx and Engels set out in more detail than in any other of their writings their alternative, materialist conception of history.

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Capitalism, its limits & crisis

Production of goods and services as simple commodities (exchanged only for satisfaction of needs) began well before capitalist era. However, simple commodity production turned onto full-fledged commodity production (produced by wage-labour and sold in terms of money for profit) and commodity production became generalized only in capitalism.

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WHY COUNT STEPS WHEN YOU HAVE AN ELEVATOR?

In his preface to Volume I of "Capital" Marx wrote:

"One nation can and should learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement - and it is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society - it can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth pangs."

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Colonialism

In his preface to Volume I of "Capital" Marx wrote:

In the middle of this last millennium the search for markets, sources of raw materials, cheap labour power and most profitable locations for business gave rise to ― "colonialism", having transcontinental ramifications into all pre-capitalist formations. This indicated capitalism’s global dimensions right from the beginning. It was British merchant capital which navigated Job Charnock, who on 24 August 1690 arrived at the village of Sutanuti that later developed into the capitalist city of Calcutta, the first capital of British India.

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Lenin: ideologue of ‘equal wages’

In his preface to Volume I of "Capital" Marx wrote:

In August and September 1917 Lenin wrote The Sate and Revolution to propound a theoretical justification for the uprising he was planning. He declared:

“We, the workers, shall organize large-scale production on the basis of what capitalism has already created, … shall reduce the role of the state officials to that of simply carrying out our instructions as responsible, revocable, modestly paid “foremen and accountants” (of course, with the aid of technicians of all sorts, types and degrees). This is our proletarian task … a state-capitalist monopoly … once we have overthrown the capitalists … a mechanism which can very well be set going by the workers themselves, who will hire technicians, foremen and accountants, and pay them all, as indeed all “state” officials in general, workmen’s wages. Here is a concrete, practical task which can be immediately fulfilled … a task whose fulfillment will get rid the working people of exploitation. …Accounting and control – that is mainly what is needed for the “smooth working”, for proper functioning, of the first phase of communist society. All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state, which consists of the armed workers. All citizens become employees and workers of a single countrywide state “syndicate”. All that is required is that they should work equally, do their proper share of work, and get equal pay. … The whole society will have become a single office and a single factory, with equality of labour and pay.” Employing “Marx’s terms the “first” or lower phase of communist society” Lenin read, “The means are no longer the private property of individuals. The means of production belong to the whole society …the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production - the factories, machines, land, etc. – and make them private property.” (Lenin, Selected Works, 2, pp.303-4, 344, 345, 337-8)

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Marx and Engels foresaw

In his preface to Volume I of "Capital" Marx wrote:

“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society,” wrote Marx and Engels in 1848 in Manifesto. According to Marx, capital as “self-expanding value” (V = c+v+s, where V = Value, c = constant capital, v = variable capital and s = surplus value) constantly coerces its personified functionaries, the capitalists, to look for maximum profit by raising the rate of surplus value (exploitation) i.e., by raising ‘s/v’ that pushes up the organic composition of capital or ‘c/v’, which reciprocally (tendentiously though) reduces the rate profit ‘s/(c+v)’.

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