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Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies.

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Image result for playpower richard neville

Oddly Absent from Aaron Bastani’s pick of five books to understand Marxism (Guardian. May 2018)

I had hoped that by ignoring Bastani he would go away.

Apparently not.

Respected commentators, or sages as we call them, such as Hegemony describe him in terms of a “huckster and half baked ideas” and the below as “essentially what you get if you filter the Utopianism of the hard left through Iain M Banks’ Culture science fiction novels, and then have the result narrated to you by a gym-bunny.”

Then,

Very redolent of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of hucksters and grifters pushing half-baked ideas on the populace, mystics and futurologists competing in the marketplace of ideas and actually being taken seriously.

So here is some background.

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.

“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labour, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

Guardian.

Many people will have thought he was a bleeding idiot on this basis alone.

And,

In the run-up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Bastani initially campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. Bastani went on to change his position on pragmatic grounds two weeks before the referendum.

 

But Bastani keeps popping up , including on the paradigm of luxury communism, the Venezuelan media TeleSUR,

 

 

Bastrani has his eye on the future,

Interplanetary Gold Rush  

As outlandish as it sounds, space exploration, like AI and renewables, is an important terrain on which a rising left must fight. The technology is changing, as are the legal frameworks; we need a politics which understands the possibilities of the future and puts them at the service of social justice and abundance – the province of us all – rather than private profit and scarcity.

Not everybody likes the idea,

Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique  mcm_cmc

Fully automated luxury communism thus rests on a highly optimistic vision of the potential of technology to meet our desires with a minimum of human labour. But is this a practical vision? One point that challenges the luxury communist notion is the way in which conceptions of goods as luxurious are often tied up with exclusivity. For example, a Cartier watch isn’t valued for its superior timekeeping abilities as compared to other watches or for its staggering beauty (they are often quite ugly) so much as that they are known for being expensive and thus owning one confers the status of being able to buy something other people cannot afford. ‘Cartier for everyone’ would thus make it meaningless as a status symbol and destroy the very reason it was viewed as a luxury in the first place.

Beyond this, the well established problems of limited natural resources and the damage done to the environment by production raises questions about the possibilities for the growth in production that luxury communism must be predicated upon. Our reliance on maintaining the earth’s environment for our very survival means that sustainability is a key concern to any future vision whilst the new technologies of late capitalism, including technologies such as the internet that rely on vast banks of mainframes consuming large quantities of electricity, have a major impact on the environment, the effects of which we are already seeing. There may well be technological developments that can attenuate or even go some way to reversing these effects, however it would be foolhardy to assume that technology will pull through and avert disaster in the end.

In addition, the limited quantities of materials available for production must inevitably act as a limitation on productive expansion. Thus environmental concerns must limit this promise of ‘luxury for all.’ Older limitations of scarcity may have been overcome, but the problem of environmental scarcity is more pressing than ever before.

Finally, by focusing on work as the production of goods, fully automated luxury communism risks overlooking other forms of labour such as those involved in social reproduction and care. Care work, such as the raising of children, looking after the sick, disabled and the elderly and the everyday tasks required for staying alive remains a large (and proportionately growing) burden of labour time, one for there seems no easy technological fix. Sure, care robots and other forms of automation have been suggested and implemented in part, but these are ill suited to accommodate the complex needs, requirement for human interaction and demands for dignity and agency which must surely be a key part of the provision of care in any future communist society.

As Sylvia Federici argues ‘while production has been restructured through a technological leap in key areas of the world economy, no technological leap has occurred in the sphere of domestic work significantly reducing the labour socially necessary for the reproduction of the workforce.’5

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If production isn’t infinitely expandable and the scope for the technological replacement of labour power is limited then we will need to rethink what we mean by ‘luxury’, and indeed what we mean by ‘communism’. Here it is necessary to think more generally of a transformation of social relations and relations between humanity and nature, looking towards the creation of a ‘public affluence’ rather than the ‘private luxury’ of capitalist desires.

Luxury communism focuses on the fulfilment of privatised, materialistic desires as they exist now through technologically created plenty. This approach has the benefit of clearly resonating with popular demands without telling people what they ‘should’ want, however if this plenty is limited then we need to look more carefully at the transformation of social relations and how desires are constructed.

For example, the promise of a work free society resonates with people’s unhappiness in work; work is something we do to survive and given the choice we would prefer to not do it. However, if it isn’t possible to replace all these tasks with machines what should the alternative be? Aaron Bastani touches on this with the promise of a 10 hour week, and certainly this would be preferable to working 40+ hours. However, this would still mean 10 hours a week in the same miserable, unsatisfying labour.

Readers of this Blog will hardly need reminding of James Bloodworth’s book Hired which describes the use of new technology to make people’s lives a misery of surveillance and hard labour. Not to mention the fate of those ‘freed’ from work relying on benefits. Or the fact that the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle , now in power, has, faced with the obvious difficulties of implementing the idea in a large country, quietly shelved the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

We can “demand” full automation and full common ownership as much as we like, but without agencies organising people with an interest in socialisation, and without real plans to divest the present owners of their power, this has much likelihood of any effect as Richard Neville’s Oz era advocacy of the ‘alternative society’ replacing the old world with playful “heads”.

For a more in-depth analysis of some these ideas on the end of work in the form advocated by André Gorz, see, André Gorz. Une Vie. Willy Gianinazzi. Review.

 

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Red London: Political Confusionism.

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Red London and associated images

The Kind of Thing that Beggars Belief. 

Red London is a Stalinist meme Facebook page and Twitter account which spreads fake news about Trotskyists and others on the left whom they don’t like.

Founded some time in 2015 Red London is a clique of individuals in Labour and Momentum, including some involved in the hostile takeover of Lewisham Momentum last month. The people who organise around Red London have a constellation of social media outlets for their bile, platforms which selectively and strategically share content, including Red London, London Young Left (formerly the voice of London Momentum Youth and Students before the group was shut down by Jon Lansman for its bullying behaviour), and the blog Check Their Minutes, dedicated to spreading lies about Workers’ Liberty and bullying people who work with us.

AWL

There are a few loony bins in Suffolk on the same wavelength.

One type, around 19. He was going about his Grindr’ :} Account, how he liked Stalin, the IRA, whilst sipping his G & T.

They are no friends of the Labour Party.

They are forces deeply hostile to democratic socialism.

They have no place in our movement.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Michel Collon, Conspiracies, Political Confusionism and…… Steve Hedley (RMT).

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Image result for Investig'Action

Michel Collon, Conspiracy Theorist and Confusionist. 

Michel Collon is a member of the Parti du travail de Belgique  PTB (English here) and sits on its central committee. This party, which counts around 10,000 members, has 47 local councillors and 2 MPs in the Federal Parliament and a number of other representatives, and at present is said, according to opinion polls to be the second largest political force in Wallonie. It is of a ‘Marxist-Leninist” origin, that is pro-Chinese ‘Maoism’, publishing in 1994  a book in support of Stalin, Un autre regard sur Staline (éditions EPO) and supported Kim Il Sung. Since 2008 it claims to have become an “open” party, turned towards electoral campaigning as a party of the working class, with references to other European lefts from different traditions, including the Portuguese Communist Party (Parti du travail de Belgique : du maoïsme au parlementarisme ?). It’s success in the last year owes a lot to the massive corruption scandals affecting the Belgium  Parti socialiste  and the PTB’s ability to carry out grass-roots campaigns on immediate issues such as public services.

Collon has his own past which includes, “Il a participé à la conférence “anti-impérialiste” Axis for Peace, organisée en 2005 par Thierry Meyssan du Réseau Voltaire“. That is he took part in a conference held by the far-right, conspiracy (9/11 Truthers) Meyssan and the Réseau Voltaire which has been accused of anti-Semitism. It is at present, pro-Assad in Syria. In 2015  Collon claimed that the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Cacher were armed, trained and indoctrinated by French Socialist Minister Laurent Fabius as part of the war in Syria and Libya, “en réalité, ils ont été armés, formés militairement, endoctrinés par Monsieur Fabius et ses amis ; qui ont envoyé pendant trois ans des milliers, des dizaines de milliers de frères Kouachi, faire encore pire qu’à Charlie, en Syrie et en Libye. ” (Michel Collon sur les attentats de Charlie Hebdo : « les frères Kouachi ont été armés par Fabius »).

In his most recent book Collon has nevertheless attacked the conspiracy theories Alain Soral, on the grounds that Soral does not understand the mechanisms of capitalism behind these affairs. (Pourquoi Soral séduit  2017). It goes almost without saying that he is a writer for RT (Russia Today) defending Putin’s regime against US plots to demonise the state. (A quoi sert la diabolisation de la Russie ?)

Collon now runs a web site, InvestigAction (founded in 2004) which publishes in French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and (American) English. It is a classic “conspi” site, whose aim is as follows, “Investig’Action’s mission is to provide an alternative point of view about the world news and denounce medias’ lies.

 This is from their mission statement,

How did the Western media cover the various wars that followed the first Gulf war? Are there similarities regarding the way the media covered each of these events? Are there major “war propaganda” principles? Yes, there are.

 Hiding the interests. Our governments fight for human rights, peace, or whatever noble ideal it might be. A war should never be presented as a conflict between divergent economic and social interests.Each war must be preceded by a spectacularly big media lie in order to win public support. And after that, keeping on demonizing the enemy, especially by showing continually pictures of atrocities the latter committed.Hiding History. Hiding the historical facts and geography of the region, making local conflicts that are stirred, or even provoked by the Great Powers themselves, incomprehensible. Organizing the amnesia. Avoiding any serious reminder of past cases of media manipulation – it might make the public too suspicious.

Without tiring the reader this is an example of their approach to the popular protests in Iran,

Q: Why do you think the western countries are trying to use people against Iran and not use military force? What is the difference?.

Followed by,

Iran: Surviving another attack supported from abroad

Venezuela,

Western Journalists Threaten Venezuela.

North Korea, (Robert Charvin).

In spite of everything, and paying the price for it, the People’s Republic of Korea has remained sovereign, counting only on its own capacities, creating a spirit of uncompromising resistance to this day, blending in its ideology Marxism and Confucianism, in which journalists from the great Western press do not have the least bit interest.

I think we can guess before reading what their views on Israel and Zionism are.

But here it is, (November 2017)

Two stories reported by Haaretz on Wednesday underscore the unchanging goal of Zionism: the destruction of the Palestinians as a people and as viable communities, and the theft of their land for exclusively Jewish colonial settlement.

The site has received numerous criticisms from the French speaking left including this,  Michel Collon, un militant de la confusion ! (2014) which amongst other descriptions in the same vein calls it an “une imposture journalistique”. Ornella Guyet notes that Collon has attended events, alongside figures from the far-right,  to support the following, “Mouammar Kadhafi et de Bachar Al-Assad”.

Steve Hedley is a former member of the Socialist Party (resigned in 2013).  He is Senior Assistant General Secretary of RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. An active campaigner for leaving the European Union he attended the ‘European’ Rally of the small Trotskyist party, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID) in May 2016.

He has now found another odd far-left  crew to talk to, Investig’Action.

Brexit, Corbyn and trade unions: interview with Steve Hedley (January the 14th 2018).

Responding to the question as to why he and his union are against the Eu Hedley replies.

Very simply, because the European Union was and is a rich man’s club. It was set up as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. NATO was the military arm and the European Union was the economic arm. It’s a trading bloc that is competing against other trading blocs. If you look at the history of the European Union, it has free movement of capital, free movement of labour, and a neoliberal economy written into the treaties. Therefore to be part of the European Union is to accept all of those things.

More grist to the mill of Collon’s conspi site.