Tag Archives: Mavroudeas

La pandémie et ses conséquences sur l’économie et le travail – entretien avec Stavros Mavroudeas

Le site francais Alternative Révolutionnaire Communiste (tendance de NPA) a traduit et publié en français l’interview suivante de l’économiste marxiste grec Stavros Mavroudeas sur la pandémie de COVID-19 et ses conséquences sur l’économie et le travail.https://alt-rev-com.fr/2021/09/01/la-pandemie-et-ses-consequences-sur-leconomie-et-le-travail-entretien-avec-stavros-mavroudeas/

La pandémie et ses conséquences sur l’économie et le travail – entretien avec Stavros Mavroudeas.

Colin Dresdner , Stavros Mavroudeas 1 septembre 2021

Le site italien Bollettino Culturale a publié l’interview suivante de l’économiste marxiste grec Stavros Mavroudeas sur la pandémie de COVID-19 et ses conséquences sur l’économie et le travail, que nous retraduisons ici en français.

Publié initialement sur Bolletino Culturale , traduit en français par Colin Dresdner

  1. Comment jugez-vous la gestion de la pandémie dans l’Union européenne ?

J’ai soutenu ailleurs1 que la pandémie de COVID-19 est une double crise. La crise économique couvait déjà (parce que le capitalisme n’a pas réussi à dévaloriser suffisamment les capitaux après la crise de 2008) et le coronavirus a déclenché et aggravé cette crise.

La réponse de l’UE a été similaire à celle des États-Unis, mais avec une différence marquée dans la “puissance de feu” politique. Comme après la crise de 2008, les États-Unis et l’UE se sont lancés dans des politiques sociales-libérales (donc non néolibérales) dictées par le nouveau consensus macroéconomique keynésien désormais dominant. Ces politiques comportent des mesures typiquement keynésiennes : une politique budgétaire expansive et une politique monétaire accommodante. Elles impliquent également une insulte au néolibéralisme : une politique industrielle discrétionnaire. Cependant, et contrairement à ce que pense une certaine “gauche” myope et réformiste antilibérale, ces politiques sont néoconservatrices et ne sont pas en faveur du travail et de la classe ouvrière. Bien qu’elles s’en écartent radicalement en utilisant activement la dépense publique pour soutenir la rentabilité capitaliste, elles partagent avec le néolibéralisme le fait de faire peser le fardeau sur les travailleurs.

Comme je l’ai déjà dit, l’UE a suivi cette voie. Mais les “munitions” utilisées (c’est-à-dire l’expansion fiscale et monétaire) sont nettement inférieures à celles utilisées par les États-Unis. Cela découle de deux facteurs :

– L’Allemagne (et le bloc “prudent” qui l’entoure) ne veut pas trop étendre ces mesures, car elle supporte la charge principale de leur financement.

– Les États-Unis ont une plus grande marge de manœuvre en raison du rôle dominant du dollar en tant que principale monnaie de réserve mondiale.

  1. Pensez-vous que l’argent du plan de relance « NextGenerationEu » (NGEU) un changement radical potentiel dans les politiques économiques européennes ou l’urgence sera-t-elle utilisée pour une transition vers un modèle de société pire que le modèle pré-covid ?

Comme je l’ai déjà dit, ces politiques néoconservatrices sociales-libérales n’amélioreront pas la situation des travailleurs. Le NGEU est un outil de restructuration des capitalismes européens face aux antagonismes américains et chinois. Ses priorités favorisent des intérêts sectoriels spécifiques (largement dictés par les principaux conglomérats de l’UE) et suivent une stratégie industrielle visant à renforcer leur position vis-à-vis de leurs homologues américains et chinois.

Le NGEU obéit à la directive visant à créer des “champions européens” (c’est-à-dire de grands conglomérats multinationaux européens capables de faire face aux concurrents américains et chinois). Par conséquent, il entraînera une concentration et une centralisation accrues du capital (c’est-à-dire l’oligopolisation et la monopolisation). Cela frappera durement les capitalismes périphériques et méditerranéens qui sont caractérisés par une énorme couche d’entreprises de taille moyenne. En ce qui concerne le travail, il n’y a aucun engagement à augmenter les salaires. Au contraire, la reprise planifiée est basée sur le maintien de coûts salariaux bas. Bien sûr, le capitalisme peut faire des plans, mais il est aussi traversé par des contradictions. Ainsi, en raison de cette violente restructuration capitaliste, il apparaît aujourd’hui – du moins en ce qui concerne la main-d’œuvre spécialisée – un manque d’offre de travail qui se traduit par une augmentation des salaires dans ces secteurs.

  1. Pour l’avenir post-pandémie, pensez-vous que le Green New Deal est une stratégie à soutenir ? Ces derniers mois, il y a eu de nombreuses discussions au sein des syndicats en Italie sur l’utilisation de ce type de politiques économiques pour créer des emplois bien rémunérés pour les diplômés, pour favoriser une situation de plein emploi à associer à des politiques de “garantie d’emploi”. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Le Green New Deal fait partie intégrante de ces restructurations capitalistes sociales-libérales néoconservatrices. Il a été présenté comme le New Deal keynésien de notre époque. Et la majorité myope et réformiste de la “gauche” occidentale s’est immédiatement jetée dessus et a agi comme les meilleurs publicitaires du capitalisme. Le Green New Deal est en grande partie une stratégie industrielle crypto-protectionniste qui vise à soutenir les capitaux occidentaux contre le défi de la Chine et des marchés émergents.

Il n’est vert que de nom, car il oscille entre (a) repousser les concurrents (dont les références écologiques sont moins bonnes) et (b) ne pas nuire aux intérêts particuliers des capitaux occidentaux (en imposant des restrictions écologiques trop sévères). Les récents tiraillements réglementaires concernant l’énergie et le transport maritime en sont des exemples.

Il n’envisage pas d’augmenter les salaires. C’est un fantasme de la majorité de la “gauche” occidentale réformiste. Au contraire, en raison de la restructuration capitaliste qu’elle implique, de nombreux emplois seront perdus. En Grèce, il y a un exemple typique avec l’arrêt brutal des usines d’électricité au lignite. Cela a augmenté les coûts de l’énergie électrique pour l’économie grecque (qui se répercutent sur les factures des consommateurs et augmentent la pauvreté énergétique) et dévaste les régions productrices de lignite (provoquant une augmentation du chômage et de la pauvreté). Bien sûr, d’un autre côté, cela favorise des intérêts entrepreneuriaux spécifiques ayant une énorme influence sur les gouvernements grecs (SYRIZA inclus).

Il n’y a pas de plein emploi ni d’augmentation des salaires dans le conte de fées du Green New Deal. Les syndicats qui jouent ce jeu ne sont que des pions du capital. Si l’on jette un coup d’œil à la littérature environnementale dominante, on découvre que l’un des faits stylisés est que l’existence des syndicats est anti-environnementale car ils favorisent les salaires au détriment des politiques vertes. La conclusion est que ces deux éléments sont contradictoires.

  1. La pandémie a démontré les lacunes de la protection sociale en Europe en raison des politiques d’austérité des dernières décennies. Pensez-vous que cette expérience puisse être utilisée pour réformer l’aide sociale dans le bon sens ? Certaines organisations communistes ont proposé un revenu de base universel pour résoudre les problèmes liés au manque de revenus créé par le verrouillage. Pensez-vous qu’il s’agisse d’une solution viable et permettant de résoudre le problème du chômage en Europe ou plutôt qu’elle représente une résignation face aux taux de chômage élevés dans nos pays ?

A court et à moyen terme, il y a une augmentation du financement du secteur de la santé publique car c’est le seul capable de faire face à la pandémie. Cependant, les domaines les plus rentables (vaccins, médicaments, etc.) ont été réservés au secteur privé et subventionnés par l’argent public. Je m’attends, une fois que la pandémie se sera calmée, à ce que l’on revienne au moins en partie sur l’expansion du secteur de la santé publique et que l’on redonne de la vigueur à la part du secteur privé de la santé.

En ce qui concerne le système de protection sociale en général, le social-libéralisme n’est pas mieux que le néolibéralisme. Le social-libéralisme veut également réduire les dépenses publiques, en particulier dans les économies occidentales vieillissantes. Cependant, il est plus intelligent que le néolibéralisme et comprend que le secteur public doit être l’épine dorsale du système et supporter les principaux coûts. De même, une réglementation stricte par l’État ou les organismes paraétatiques (comme les fameuses autorités de surveillance indépendantes) est nécessaire, faute de quoi les capitaux privés feront des ravages.

Je suis en total désaccord avec l’idée du revenu de base universel. Il s’agit d’une proposition néoconservatrice lancée initialement par M. Friedman. Elle est envisagée par les sociaux-libéraux et les néolibéraux comme un faible filet de sécurité pour prévenir les bouleversements sociaux et les révolutions. Elle aura également un effet dissuasif sur les luttes pour l’augmentation des salaires. Cela rappelle la politique de l’empire romain du “pain et des jeux ” afin de maintenir le prolétariat romain sous contrôle.

  1. La journée de travail en Grèce a récemment été portée à dix heures. Pouvez-vous nous expliquer quel plan de restructuration du capitalisme grec se cache derrière ce choix politique ?

Cela fait partie intégrante des politiques néoconservatrices de flexibilité du travail (que la majorité de la “gauche” occidentale, myope et réformiste, a épousé et vanté). Elle allongera le temps de travail effectif au prix d’un chômage croissant. Elle augmentera également le taux de plus-value (c’est-à-dire l’exploitation du travail) puisque les heures supplémentaires sont pratiquement abolies (qui étaient mieux payées) et que le temps de travail supplémentaire n’est pas payé mais récompensé par des vacances supplémentaires (!!!). Le plan du capitalisme grec est de supprimer davantage de coûts salariaux.

  1. En Italie, on discute ces jours-ci de la fin de l’interdiction des licenciements. Les syndicats se sont opposés à l’idée d’une fin sélective de cette mesure en fonction de la situation de chaque secteur individuel, proposant une réforme des filets de sécurité sociale. Y a-t-il des discussions similaires en Grèce ?

Le gouvernement déclare généralement que le budget public est épuisé et que, lorsque la pandémie aura reculé, ces mesures de protection de l’emploi seront supprimées. En Grèce, les entreprises qui ont reçu des subventions et des aides pour lutter contre la pandémie sont tenues de ne pas licencier leurs employés. En revanche, leurs travailleurs, une fois mis en suspension d’emploi (c’est-à-dire qu’ils travaillaient moins) n’étaient payés qu’une fraction de leur salaire normal. Aujourd’hui, de nombreux porte-parole des entrepreneurs (en particulier ceux du secteur du tourisme, scandaleusement désinhibé) affirment que ces programmes de protection de l’emploi sont désastreux car les travailleurs préfèrent bénéficier de ces subventions plutôt que de travailler pour des salaires de misère dans d’autres endroits que leur lieu de résidence.

Il existe une autre complication. Ces régimes d’emploi ont facilité les astuces statistiques avec le taux de chômage et l’ont ainsi maintenu artificiellement bas. C’est nécessaire pour le gouvernement de droite de la Nouvelle Démocratie, qui tente de mettre en place un plan de double élection, probablement à l’automne (en misant sur les piètres résultats de SYRIZA). Une augmentation du chômage n’est pas bonne pour cette stratégie électorale. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement hésite pour l’instant à supprimer ces régimes de protection de l’emploi. Mais à terme, élections ou pas, il les supprimera.

Les syndicats officiels (GSEE, etc.) en Grèce sont principalement les laquais du gouvernement et du capital. Aucune discussion sérieuse n’a donc lieu sur ces questions et le public n’y prête de toute façon pas attention.

  1. Dans cette phase de reprise économique, les entrepreneurs italiens critiquent le revenu de base des citoyens (une forme de « workfare »2 qui ne fonctionne toujours pas). Les jeunes préfèrent recevoir ce revenu plutôt que des salaires très bas pour de nombreuses heures de travail dans le secteur du tourisme ou de la restauration. Au lieu d’augmenter les salaires, ils demandent l’annulation du revenu de base des citoyens. Cette histoire rend flagrant un problème: de nombreux travailleurs sont pauvres alors qu’ils travaillent, à cause de salaires très bas. A mon avis, c’est un problème lié au système de production italien spécialisé dans les produits à faible valeur ajoutée. Par conséquent, de nombreuses entreprises peuvent rester sur le marché soit avec l’argent public, soit en baissant les salaires et en annulant les droits des travailleurs. Ces problèmes seront-ils exacerbés par les conséquences de la pandémie ? Comment une force politique qui défend les travailleurs devrait-elle intervenir sur ces problèmes ?

J’ai déjà répondu à cette question dans des questions précédentes. Permettez-moi de systématiser mon point de vue. Les faillites et les licenciements vont augmenter après la suppression des régimes de protection. C’est le cours naturel d’une crise capitaliste. Les gouvernements bourgeois interviennent dans ce cycle en essayant de reporter une partie du poids de la crise principalement sur les capitaux individuels mais aussi sur le travail. Ils agissent ainsi parce qu’ils craignent que si la crise se déroule sans contraintes, le système soit confronté à un effondrement économique et à une révolution sociale. Cependant, une fois que le zénith de la crise a été dépassé, les coûts de ces politiques doivent être payés. Rien n’est gratuit dans le capitalisme et la théorie monétaire moderne (MMT), essentiellement keynésienne, est totalement erronée 3.

Le mouvement communiste et la gauche (digne de ce nom) doivent mener une politique de classe contre le capitalisme et, en même temps, lutter pour que le fardeau de la crise soit payé par le capital et non par le travail. Le système appartient au capital et, par conséquent, c’est le capital (et non le travail) qui doit payer pour sa double crise (sanitaire et économique).

Mais la gauche et le mouvement communiste doivent voir clairement qui est le véritable adversaire. Les antilibéraux larmoyants et les plaidoyers pour plus d’interventionnisme étatique ne remettent pas en cause les politiques capitalistes. Ils soutiennent simplement un changement dans l’administration et la gestion du système. Le néolibéralisme est mort et l’État bourgeois – qui n’est jamais parti sur les questions cruciales – est déjà de retour. Mais l’orthodoxie sociale-libérale d’aujourd’hui se contente de promettre à la classe ouvrière quelques aspirines comme remède aux cancers socio-économiques que le système crée. C’est ce retour de l’interventionnisme étatique qui soutient généreusement le capital et cherche à faire porter le fardeau aux travailleurs. Et ce sont les politiques néo-keynésiennes dominantes qui sont le vecteur de ce changement aujourd’hui. La gauche et le mouvement communiste doivent lutter contre toutes les formes de restructuration capitaliste, néolibérales et sociales libérales, et proposer le socialisme comme seule alternative crédible.

En termes de revendications transitoires, les communistes et le mouvement ouvrier doivent s’efforcer d’obtenir la démarchandisation des principaux secteurs de l’activité économique et la fourniture de leurs produits et services par le biais de systèmes publics. Le cas de la santé en est aujourd’hui le parfait exemple. La mise en place de systèmes de santé publics (dotés d’un financement et de personnels conséquents et sans formes indirectes de privatisation) est une nécessité urgente, surtout au vu de la fréquence des grandes épidémies contemporaines. Le financement de ces systèmes doit reposer sur de solides systèmes d’imposition progressive frappant le capital.

En outre, ils doivent s’opposer fermement à la “nouvelle normalité” que le capital tente d’imposer. L’affaiblissement des lois de protection du travail ne doit pas être toléré et ces dernières doivent être encore renforcées. Une attention particulière doit être accordée au changement prévu dans les relations de travail par le biais du télétravail et aux nouvelles formes de contrôle et d’intensification du travail que le capital cherche à imposer.

Dernier point, mais non le moindre, la pandémie de coronavirus et la “distanciation sociale” imposée ont fortement restreint les droits politiques et sociaux. Il est déjà évident que le système expérimente ces limitations tant pour leur application générale que pour de nouvelles formes de manipulation idéologique du peuple. La gauche et le mouvement communiste doivent fermement repousser ces efforts.

  1. Une forme de travail qui s’est répandue rapidement en raison de la pandémie est le télétravail. Sa diffusion a donné lieu à de nombreuses discussions dans les syndicats en Italie. Personnellement, j’ai associé cette forme de travail à l’industrie domestique analysée par Marx au chapitre 13 du Capital. Il semble que le paysage contemporain du travail évolue vers ce que Ricardo Antunes appelle l’”ubérisation” du travail – un modus operandi entrepreneurial imparable, qui recherche le profit et l’augmentation de la valeur du capital à travers des formes de travail précaire en expansion à l’échelle mondiale. Par conséquent, cette ” ubérisation ” du travail, ajoutée aux lacunes législatives et à leurs possibles conséquences néfastes, favorise l’émergence d’une série de difficultés liées au travail à distance : individualisation des tâches, isolement social, perte de l’action collective, augmentation de la charge de travail… avec des conséquences sur la santé physique et mentale du travailleur. Pensez-vous que cette forme de travail peut encore se développer ou qu’elle va fortement décliner dès que la pandémie sera terminée ?

J’ai déjà évoqué ce point dans les questions précédentes.

Je voudrais ajouter quelques éléments.

Dans le cadre de ses politiques de restructuration, le capital tente à nouveau de sous-traiter plusieurs emplois qui s’y prêtent. Dans le climat sociopolitique actuel, cette sous-traitance minimise les coûts du capital et les transfère aux travailleurs précaires (en les qualifiant d’”entrepreneurs d’eux-mêmes” et en essayant de leur inculquer cette idéologie réactionnaire).

Cependant, il y a des contradictions dans cette politique car le capital peut minimiser ses coûts mais il perd sa capacité à contrôler et diriger ces travailleurs. Le système d’usine a été créé avec le capitalisme car c’est seulement grâce à lui que la prérogative managériale du capitaliste a pu être réellement établie (subsomption réelle du travail par le capital) et que des augmentations continues de la productivité du travail ont pu être réalisées. L’”ubérisation” présente le danger pour le capital de perdre la capacité à diriger et à contrôler efficacement le travail. Pour éviter cette perte éventuelle, des coûts supplémentaires de surveillance et de contrôle (caméras, applications, etc.) sont engagés. L’équilibre final est loin d’être assuré. Il en va de même pour son impact idéologique.

  1. La pandémie a montré à quel point le travail reste central. Elle a démenti de manière flagrante toutes les analyses sur la finalité du travail qui ont vu le jour au cours des quarante dernières années. Est-ce une preuve supplémentaire de la validité de la théorie de la valeur travail de Marx ?

La théorie de la valeur travail de Marx tient en tout cas. La crise jumelée d’aujourd’hui, une fois de plus, vérifie la centralité du travail. Cependant, le capital et ses porte-paroles ont, même avant la crise, vanté la fin du travail par le biais du marketing de l’inexistante 4ème révolution industrielle 4. Le tournant vers l’automatisation pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 a renforcé cette attaque idéologique. Après tout, c’est toujours le fantasme du capitalisme d’un monde sans la présence gênante du travail. Le problème est, comme le montre très justement le marxisme, que s’il n’y a pas de travailleurs, il n’y a pas de capital.

Notes de bas de page

1. Stavros Mavroudeas, The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – OPE-L lecture, 11 février 2021 ; Stavros Mavroudas, ‘The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ in INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL THOUGHT, février 2021.

2. Le Workfare (littéralement « travailler pour le bien-être » en anglais) est une aide sociale des États-Unis apparue dans les années 1970, qui prévoit que les bénéficiaires aptes au travail doivent travailler en échange de leur allocation.

3. pour une critique, voir : Michael Roberts, Modern monetary theory – Part 1 : Chartalism and Marx, 28 janvier 2019.

4. pour une critique, voir : Stavros Mavroudeas, 4e révolution industrielle : mythe ou réalité ?, 17 juillet 2019, [].

INTERVIEW WITH STAVROS MAVROUDEAS ON THE PANDEMIC AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ON THE ECONOMY AND WORK – Bollettino Culturale

The italian website Bollettino Culturale hosted the following interview with Stavros Mavroudeas on the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences on the economy and labour

1. How do you judge the management of the pandemic in the European Union?

I have argued elsewhere (https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2021/02/11/the-economic-and-political-consequences-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-ope-l-lecture/ , https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2021/02/04/the-economic-and-political-consequences-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-by-s-mavroudeas-international-critical-thought/ ) that the COVID-19 pandemic is a twin crisis. The economic crisis was already simmering (because capitalism failed to devalorise adequately capitals after the 2008 crisis) and the coronavirus triggered and aggravated this crisis.

EU’s response was similar to that of the US but with a marked difference in policy ‘firepower’. As after the 2008 crisis, US and the EU embarked on social-liberal policies (hence, non-neoliberal policies) dictated by the now dominant New Keynesian Macroeconomic Consensus. These policies involve typical Keynesian measures: expansive fiscal policy and accommodating monetary policy. They also involve an insult to neoliberalism: discreet industrial policy. However, and contrary to the myopic and reformist anti-neoliberal ‘Left’, these policies are neoconservative and not in favour of labour and the working class. They share with neoliberalism putting the burden on labour but they radically depart from neoliberalism by actively using the public sector to buttress capitalist profitability.

As I already said, EU followed this path. But the ‘ammunition’ used (that is fiscal and monetary expansion) is markedly lower than that employed by the US. This derives from two factors:

  • Germany (and the ‘prudent’ block around it) do not want to expand these packages very much as they carry the main burden for their financing.
  • The US has more policy room for maneuvers because of the dominant role of the dollar as the main world reserve currency

2. Do you think that the NGEU money represents a potential radical change in European economic policies or will the emergency be used for a transition to a worse model of society than the pre-Covid one?

As I already argued, these social-liberal neoconservative policies won’t ameliorate the position of labour. The NGEU is a tool for restructuring European capitalisms in the face of the US and China antagonisms. Its priorities favour specific sectoral interests (grossly dictated by the main EU conglomerates) and following an industrial strategy aspiring to enhance their position vis-à-vis their US and Chinese counterparts.

The NGEU obeys the directive of creating ‘European champions’ (that is big European multinational conglomerates capable of confronting US and Chinese competitors). Therefore, it will lead to the increased concentration and centralization of capital (that is oligopolisation and monopolization). This will hit hard peripheral and Mediterranean capitalisms that are characterized by a huge layer of mid-size enterprises. Regarding labour, there is no commitment to increase wages. On the contrary, the planned recovery is based on keeping wage costs low. Of course, capitalism may make plans, but it is also riddled with contradictions. Thus, because of this violent capitalist restructuring, there appears nowadays – at least regarding specialized labour – a lack of labour supply which results in increasing wages in these sectors.

3. For the post-pandemic future, do you think the Green New Deal is a strategy to support? In recent months there have been many discussions within the unions in Italy on the use of this type of economic policies to create well-paid jobs for graduates, to foster a situation of full employment to be associated with «job guarantee» policies. What do you think about it?

The Green New Deal is part and parcel of these neoconservative social-liberal capitalist restructuring. It has been promoted as the Keynesian New Deal of our times. And the myopic and reformist majority of the Western ‘Left’ immediately jumped upon it and acted as the best marketing advertisers of capitalism. The Green New Deal is to great extent a crypto-protectionist industrial strategy that aims to support Western capitals against the challenge from China and the emerging markets.

It is green only in name as it oscillates between (a) fending off competitors (with worse green credentials) and (b) not hurting the vested interests of Western capitals (by imposing to harsh green restrictions). Recent regulatory tugs-of-war regarding energy and shipping are exemplary cases.

It does not envisage increasing wages. This is a fantasy of the majority of the reformist Western ‘Left’. On the contrary, because of the capitalist restructuring that it entails, many gobs will be lost. In Greece there is a typical example with the abrupt ending of lignite electricity factories. This has increased the electrical energy costs for the Greek economy (which trickle down to consumers’ bills and increase energy poverty) and is devastating the regions with lignite (causing increased unemployment and poverty). Of course, on the other hand, it favours specific entrepreneurial interests with huge influence on Greek governments (SYRIZA included).

There is no full employment and increased wages in the fairytale of the Green New Deal. Trade unions that play this game are simply pawns of capital. If one has a look at mainstream environmental literature he will discover that one of its stylized facts is that the existence of trade-unions is anti-environmental because they favour wages over green policies. The conclusion is that these two are contradictory.

4. The pandemic has demonstrated the shortcomings of welfare in Europe due to the austerity policies of past decades. Do you think this experience can be used to reform welfare for the better? Some communist organizations have proposed a universal basic income to solve the problems related to the lack of income created by the lockdown. Do you think it is a viable solution and with which to solve the problem of unemployment in Europe or rather that it represents a resignation towards the high unemployment rates in our countries?

In the short-run and in the mid-run there is an increase in funding the public health sector because it is the only one capable of confronting the pandemic. However, the more profitable areas (vaccines, drugs etc.) have been kept for the private sector and subsidized with public money. I expect that, once the pandemic has ebbed, to reverse at least some of the expansion of the public health sector and reinvigorated the share of the private health sector.

Regarding the welfare system in general, social liberalism is no better than neoliberalism. Social liberalism wants also to curb public expenses; particularly in the aging Western economies. However, it is cleverer than neoliberalism and comprehends that the public sector has to be the backbone of the system and bear the main costs. Also, that strict regulation by the state or para-statal bodies (like the infamous independent supervisory authorities) is required or else private capitals will cause a havoc.

I totally disagree with the idea of the universal basic income. It is a neoconservative proposal mouthed initially by M.Friedman. It is being considered by social liberals and neoliberals alike as a low safety net to prevent social upheavals and revolutions. It will also work as a disincentive to struggles for increasing wages. It reminds Roman empire’s policy of ‘bread and circuses’ in order to keep the Roman proletariat subdued.

5. The working day in Greece was recently extended to ten hours. Can you explain to us what restructuring plan of Greek capitalism is behind this political choice?

This is part and parcel of the neoconservative labour flexibility policies (which again the majority of the myopic and reformist Western ‘Left’ espoused and touted). It will extend the actual working time at the expense of growing unemployment. It will increase also the rate of surplus-value (that is labour exploitation) as overtime is practically abolished (which was paid higher) and extra work-time is not paid but rewarded with additional vacations (!!!). Greek capitalism’s plan is to suppress further wage costs.

6. In Italy we are discussing in these days about the end of the ban on redundancies. The unions have opposed the idea of a selective end of this measure based on the situation of each individual sector, proposing a reform of the social safety nets. Are there similar discussions in Greece?

There is a general governmental declaration that the public budget is exhausted and that, once the pandemic has ebbed, these employment protection measures will be withdrawn. In Greece, firms that took subsidies and support against the pandemic where required not to fire their workers. On the other hand, their workers, once put in employment suspension (that is worked less) were paid only a fraction of their normal wage. Nowadays, many entrepreneurial mouthpieces (particularly from the disgracefully uninhibited tourist sector) tout that these employment protection schemes are disastrous as workers prefer to take these subsidies instead of working for meagre wages in other places from their residence.

There is another complication. These employment schemes have facilitated statistical tricks with the unemployment rate and thus kept it artificially low. This is necessary for the right-wing New Democracy government as it tries to engineer a double-election plan probably in autumn (banking upon SYRIZA’s dismal performance). Increased unemployment is not good for this electoral strategy. Thus, the government shies away for the time being from shedding these employment protection schemes. But in the end, elections or no elections, it will abolish them.

Official trade-unions (GSEE etc.) in Greece are mainly government’s and capital’s stooges. So no serious discussions on these issues takes place and the public does not pay, in any case, attention to them.

7. In this phase of economic recovery, Italian entrepreneurs are criticizing citizen’s basic income (a form of workfare still not functioning). Young people prefer to receive this income rather than very low wages for many hours of work in the tourism or catering sector. Instead of raising wages, they are demanding the cancellation of citizen’s basic income. This story makes a problem glaring: many workers are poor even though they work because of very low wages. In my opinion, it is a problem linked to the Italian production system specializing in low added value products. As a result, many companies can stay on the market either with public money or by lowering wages and canceling workers’ rights. Will these problems be exacerbated by the consequences of the pandemic? How should a political force that defends the workers intervene on these problems?

I have already replied to this in previous questions. Let me codify my view. Bankruptcies and redundancies will increase after the removal of the protection schemes. This is the natural course of a capitalist crisis. Bourgeois governments intervene in this cycle by trying to defer some of the brunt of the crisis mainly on individual capitals but also on labour. They do so because they fear that if the crisis takes place without restraints then the system will face economic collapse and social revolution. However, once the zenith of the crisis has been surpassed then the costs of these policies have to be paid. There is no free lunch in capitalism and the essentially Keynesian Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is totally wrong (for a critique see https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/modern-monetary-theory-part-1-chartalism-and-marx/ ).

The Communist movement and the Left (that is worthy of its name) should pursue class politics against capitalism and at the same time fight so as the burden of the crisis is paid by capital and not labour.

The system belongs to capital and, hence, it is capital (and not labour) that must pay for its twin (health cum economic) crisis.

But the Left and the Communist movement must see clearly who the real adversary is. The lachrymose anti-neoliberalists and the pleas for more state interventionism do not challenge the capitalist policies. They simply support the change of the system’s administrators. Neoliberalism has died and the bourgeois state – which has never left on crucial issues – has already returned. But today’s social-liberal Orthodoxy simply promises to the working class some aspirins as cure for the socio-economic cancers that the system creates. It is this returning state interventionism that generously supports capital and seeks to pass the burden on workers. And it is the dominant neo-Keynesian policies that are the vehicle of this change today. The Left and the Communist movement must fight against all forms of capitalist restructuring; neoliberal and social liberal and propose socialism as the only credible alternative.

In terms of transitional demands, communists and the labour movement must strive for the de-commodification of key areas of economic activity and the provision of their products and services through public systems. The case of health case is today the perfect case in point. The establishment of public health systems (with strong funding and staffing and without indirect forms of privatization) is an urgent need; especially given the frequency of contemporary major epidemics. The financing of these schemes must be based on robust progressive taxation systems hitting capital.

Additionally, they must stand firmly against the ‘new normality’ that capital is trying to impose. The weakening of labour protection laws must not be tolerated and the latter must be further strengthened. Particular attention must be paid to the intended change in employment relations through telework and the new forms of control and intensification of work that the capital seeks to impose.

Last but not least. The coronavirus pandemic and the imposed ‘social distancing’ have severely restricted political and social rights. It is already evident that the system is experimenting with these limitations both for their general application and for new forms of ideological manipulation of the people. The Left and the Communist movement must firmly repulse these efforts.

8. One form of work that has spread rapidly due to the pandemic is smartworking. Its spread has led to many discussions in trade unions in Italy. Personally, I associated this form of work with domestic industry analyzed by Marx in Chapter 13 of Capital. It seems that the contemporary labor landscape is moving towards what Ricardo Antunes calls the «uberization» of work – an unstoppable entrepreneurial modus operandi, which seeks profit and the increase in the value of capital through forms of precarious labor expanding on a global scale. Therefore, this «uberization» of work, added to the legislative gaps and their possible harmful consequences, favors the emergence of a series of difficulties related to remote work: individualization of tasks, social isolation, loss of collective action, increased load of work … with consequences on the physical and mental health of the worker. Do you think this form of work can still expand or will it decline sharply as soon as the pandemic is over?

I have already referred to this in the previous questions.

I would like to add a few points.

As part of its restructuring policies capital attempts again to subcontract several jobs that are amenable to this. In the current socio-political climate, this subcontracting minimizes capital’s costs and shift them to precarious workers (branding them ‘entrepreneurs of themselves’ and trying to instill to them this reactionary ideology).

However, there are contradictions in this policy as capital may minimize its costs but it loses its ability to control and direct these workers. The factory system was created with capitalism because only through this the managerial prerogative of the capitalist could be really established (real subsumption of labour by capital) and continuous increases in labour productivity achieved. ‘Uberization’ poses the danger of losing capital’s ability to efficiently direct and control labour. In order to avoid this possible loss, additional costs of supervision and control (cameras, applications etc.) are incurred. The ultimate balance is far from sure. The same holds for its ideological impact.

9. The pandemic has shown how central work still is. It blatantly denied all the analyzes on the end of the work that emerged in the last forty years. Is this further evidence for the validity of Marx’s labor theory of value?

Marx’s Labour Theory of Value holds in any case. Today’s twin crisis, once again, verifies the centrality of labour. However, capital and its mouthpieces have, even before the crisis, touted the end of labour through the marketing of the non-existent 4th industrial revolution (for a critique see https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/4th-industrial-revolution-myth-or-reality/ ). The turn towards automation during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased this ideological attack. After all, it is always capitalism’s fantasy a world without the annoying presence of labour. The problem is, as Marxism very appositely shows, that if there are no workers then there is no capital.

I.I.Rubin and the fallacies of old and new «Rubin schools’ – S.Mavroudeas

Presentation at the 3rd Marx World Congress organised by the School of Marxism, Peking University, Beijing 17-18 July 2021

ABSTRACT

I.I.Rubin’s Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value played a crucial role in the 1970s Value Debate between Marxist and neo-Ricardians as it gave inspiration and support to the Marxist argument about the social dimension of the political-economic analysis and also about the difference between Marx’s and Ricardo’s LTV. However, the subsequent self-proclaimed ‘Rubin school’ overemphasized the social dimension and neglected the technical dimension of value. This led to a theory of form without content by identifying immediately value with money and thus abandoning labour values and substituting them with monetary prices. This old ‘Rubin school’ betrayed both Marx and Rubin as the latter never ascribed to their fallacies. Nowadays, a new stream of ‘Rubinists’ (e.g. the proponents of a monetary theory of value) appear that again identify immediately labour values with money and thus also make labour values redundant. This paper argues that the new ‘Rubinists’ betray also both Marx and Rubin and, moreover, fail to understand the essential working of the capitalist economy.

The powerpoint of my presentation follows:

The video-recording of my presentation flows:

M.Roberts, A.Marina & S.Mavroudeas on THE LAW OF VALUE – Revista Nueva Realidad web

The Revista Nueva Realidad organised on 12-6-2021 a webinar.

It theme was ‘Basics of Marxist Economics: Marx’s Law of Value’.

Michael Roberts (economist), Abelardo Marina Flores (prof. of Economics, Autonomous Metropolitan University) and Stavros Mavroudeas (prof. of Political Economy, Panteion University) gave the seminar.

My presentation follows below:

The video recording of the webinar can be assesed via the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/100852118355277/videos/412065370247321?tn=F

A video-lecture by P.Bond on financialisation

Patrick Bond (Professor of Political Economy, University of the Western Cape, School of Government) has made a very illuminating video-presentation on the subject ‘Financialisation theories’.

Part of the video-presentation is based on Mavroudeas S. & Papadatos F. (2018), ‘Is the Financialisation Hypothesis a theoretical blind alley?’, World Review of Political Economy vol.9 no.4.

Our paper can be downloaded at

https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.13169/worlrevipoliecon.9.4.0451#metadata_info_tab_contents

and

Patrick’s video-presentation follows:

lecture 45 – Financialisation theories from Patrick Bond on Vimeo.

‘The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ by S.Mavroudeas – INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL THOUGHT

In the recent issue of INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL THOUGHT it is included an article authored by me and titled ‘The economic and political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic’.

It can be assesed, downloaded (and even listened to through the LISTEN button) via the following link:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21598282.2020.1866235

Research Article

The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Stavros Mavroudeas Received 11 Jun 2020, Accepted 28 Jul 2020, Published online: 03 Feb 2021

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 epidemic has triggered a twin (health and economic crisis). The first is caused by the “metabolic rift” (capitalism’s uncontrollable and insatiable commodification of nature) that leads to the modern “emerging epidemics” of zoonoses. The economic crisis was already simmering but lockdowns triggered and aggravated its eruption. Furthermore, it argues that socialism is better equipped to confront health crises due to its superior state economic capacity, better co-ordination mechanisms and focus on the well-being of the labouring classes’ majority of society. Additionally, this commentary explains that this twin crisis will aggravate the current state of intra-imperialist conflicts and will intensify the process of “de-globalisation.” Confronting this situation the Left and the Communist movement should not become subservient to intra-bourgeois conflicts (as anti-neoliberalism argues) but pursue class politics against capitalism and at the same time fight so as the burden of the crisis is paid by capital and not labour.

Additional links:

https://www.academia.edu/45049218/The_Economic_and_Political_Consequences_of_the_COVID_19_Pandemic

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349029121_The_Economic_and_Political_Consequences_of_the_COVID-19_Pandemic

Publication of the ‘Companion to Marxist Economics’ in Portuguese

Back in 2011 Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho (with the collaboration of Marco Boffo) have edited a Companion to Marxist Economics published by Edward Elgar. I have contributed two chapters in this companion:

  1. Mavroudeas S. (2011), ‘The Regulation Approach’ in Fine B. & Saad-Filho A. (eds.) Companion to Marxist Economics, Edward Elgar – translated also to Portuguese as ‘A ABORDAGEM DA REGULAÇÃO’ in Fine B. & Saad-Filho A. (eds.) 2020 DICIONÁRIO DE ECONOMIA POLÍTICA MARXISTA, Expressão Popular: São Paulo.. One on the Regulation Approach and one on the Social Structures of Accumulation.
  2. Mavroudeas S. (2011), ‘The Social Structures of Accumulation approach’ in Fine B. & Saad-Filho A. (eds.) Companion to Marxist Economics, Edward Elgar translated also to Portuguese as ‘A ABORDAGEM DAS ESTRUTURAS SOCIAIS DE ACUMULAÇÃO’, in Fine B. & Saad-Filho A. (eds.) 2020 DICIONÁRIO DE ECONOMIA POLÍTICA MARXISTA, Expressão Popular: São Paulo.

Alfredo informed me today that the Companion has been translated to Portuguese and published by Expressão Popular. The publishing company is associated to the landless peasants’ movement, the MST, and the National Trade Union of Academics has sponsored the publication (and will purchase 500 copies). These are excellent news. They show the continuing strong interest in Marxism by militant grassroots organisations and trade unions in countries at the forefront of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

Another comment on the current tensions between Greece and Turkey (and a debate with a Turkish chauvinist– S.Mavroudeas PRESS TV 11-9-2020

Yesterday (11-9-2020) I was asked by PRESS TV to comment on the current tensions between Greece and Turkey.

I expressed the opinion that these tensions and war-mongering threats are coming from both sides, that is the Greek and the Turkish ruling elites. And that the peoples of Greece and Turkey have nothing to gain from this. The two ruling elites scramble for supposed oil reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The existence of these reserves is far from certain; and also, if they exist, it is equally uncertain whether it is economically feasible to exploit them (debth, price of oil etc.). The irony is that, even if they exist and one side or the other gets them, the ultimate beneficiary would be the big Western oil companies that will exploit them paying peanuts to the host country.

So, the Greek and the Turkish ruling elites are flirting with war for their own gains and the gains of their foreign patrons. The Greek and the Turkish peoples have nothing to gain from this. However, they will pay a bloody price in the case of a war as they will be the cannofodder for their ruling elites.

The solution is a return to the status quo ante and the cease of all aggressive actions by both sides.

The other commentator in the News programme was a Turkish analyst who expressed the typical nationalistic and war-mongering rhetoric of chauvinist jingoists in both sides of the Aegean. Notable, among his arguments, was the dictum that you can expand your borders by winning militarily. Typical rubbish by people that usually send other people to be massacred while they play the super-heroes safely at home.

The videos of the comment can be assesed via the following links:

https://urmedium.com/c/presstv/34705

 

‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’ – Stavros Mavroudeas, FARAK International Conference

I was invited to speak at the International Conference on ‘Liberalism, Marxism, Study of Realism, Gandhism and Communism’, organised by FARAK in India.

The subject of my speech is ‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’.

The transcript of my speech and the video follows.

 

 

FARAK international conference

‘Liberalism, Marxism, Study of Realism, Gandhism and Communism’

  

‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor of Political Economy

Panteion University, Athens, Greece

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr

 

What is Marxism and why is relevant today

In 1989, after the fall of the Eastern bloc, mainstream pundits professed the death of Marxism.

However, not long since, around the 2008 global capitalist crisis this mainstream belief was shaken. Even die-hard mainstream voices (like the FT and the Economist) professed that Marx is more relevant than ever today. Of course, they gave a distorted picture of Marx and Marxism. Nevertheless, the ‘death of Marxism’ argument was buried for good.

The advent of the current COVID-19 health-cum-economic crisis reverberated even more strongly the contemporary relevance of Marxism.

But what gives Marxism this enduring analytical and practical power?

The answer lies in his ‘DNA’. Marxism is an entity comprising of (a) a worldview, (b) a socio-economic analysis and (c) a guideline for social praxis.

 

Marxism’s worldview

The essence of Marxism’s worldview is the very realistic proposition that our world is material, conflictual and dynamic.

  • Material because it is the matter (rather than some metaphysical mind) that forms our world.
  • Conflictual because contradictions (between social classes, opposing interests etc.) are the rule.
  • Dynamic because the struggle between the opposing sides of these contradictions generates change.

This is the old philosophical tradition of dialectics. Marx and Engels based this perspective on material conditions (rather than on idealist principles as for example in Hegelian idealist dialectics).

Hence, Marxism conceives the world as a material entity which is riddled with contradictions (and not harmony) and is prone to changes.

Marxism’s world view is organized on the basis of two intertwined theoretical sets: Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism.

 

Dialectical Materialism

Dialectical Materialism offers the methodology to understand our world. It is founded on the old dialectical scheme of thesis – antithesis – synthesis. This scheme signifies that out of the struggle between opposing sides (thesis and antithesis) a new situation will emerge (synthesis).

Among the many other features of the dialectical materialist analysis two have a prominent role and are particularly pertinent for comprehending the contemporary world.

The first feature is the distinction between appearance and essence. Its situation has an external appearance (the way it is presented in everyday life). But beneath it is hidden an essence; that is a system of generic relations that may not be viewed with a naked eye, but it dictates the way things evolve. For understanding the true condition of things, the human theory must move beyond the realm of appearances and discover the hidden essence of things. According to Marx’s very accurate dictum ‘all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided’. The essence represents the general, generic elements and their concomitant laws of motion of a thing and/or a situation. Thus, it represents its general characteristics or, in dialectical materialist terms, its abstract dimension. The appearance is the modification of this general character with specific and special (for each particular case) characteristics. Hence, the appearance belongs to the level of the concrete.

 

Appearance Essence
concrete abstract

 

 

The second crucial feature is the method of abstraction. It follows from the previous feature. In order to understand the world, we have to proceed beneath the level of the appearances and discover the hidden but governing level of essence. Science should do this through the method of abstracting from special characteristics (which are of a lesser importance), concentrate on the few basic aspects and then dig beneath them to discover the hidden essence.

abstract                     concrete

 

 

Historical Materialism

Historical Materialism is the application of the dialectical materialist perspective in comprehending the human history. Marxism breaks radically from pre-existing conceptions of history as the result of the impact of ideas that were to effect changes in a society. For Marxism, ideas stem from material conditions. At the heart of material conditions is the economy; that is the system through which the humankind gets the necessities for its subsistence. This has been characterized, by friends and foes, as economic determinism. It is indeed economic determinism (as even Bill Clinton recognized that ‘It is the economy stupid’ that matters). But, contrary to the various anti-determinists, it is a determinism that (a) permits degrees of freedom and (b) recognizes feed-back effects. Hence, it is not a mechanistic determinism, as they erroneously clamour. In more strict Marxist terms, the economic relations are the base on which the superstructure (the rest of the social relations) is erected.

Contradictions – that is the struggle between opposing sides – in class-divided societies takes the form of class struggle between social classes. The primary field of this class struggle is the economy, but it subsequently spills over to the rest of social relations (which in turn affect the economy through feedback circuits).

Then Marxism explains the evolution of human societies through a stages of history theory. Human societies are organized on the basis of modes of production (MoP – that is configurations of socio-economic relations between different classes). Thus, different modes of production are recognized (primitive communal societies, slavery, feudalism, capitalism etc.). Each MoP has exhausted its life cycle and is ready for substitution by another MoP once it can no longer develop the forces of production (FoP – that is expand the well-being of societies).

 

 

Marxism’s socio-economic analysis

The world’s materiality rests primarily on the economy. For this reason, Marxism accurately profess the primacy of the economy over the rest of the social relations. Thus, Marxism’s second fundamental axis is his system of political economy. It consists of the Labour Theory of Value (LTV) and the Theory of Surplus-Value.

 

Labour Theory of Value

This theory regards human labour as the sole creator of wealth. Human labour is the only active component of the production process and the one that sets in motion the other FoP (means of labour etc.). Without human intervention no wealth-production can take place. Consequently, in capitalism (capitalist commodity production), where almost all goods become commodities, the amount of labour spent over the production of each commodity is its value. This (labour) value passes through a series of transformations (as it passes from the sphere of production to the spheres of circulation and distribution) and it is ultimately expressed as (monetary) price. Hence, value determines price but the latter – contrary to D.Ricardo – almost never coincides with its determining value; it rather fluctuates around it. This is the famous Law of Value:

value      determines               price

 

Marx formulated this conception through his Value Theory of Abstract Labour (that is a social conception of labour), as distinct from Ricardo’s (and the majority of Classical Political Economy) Value Theory of Embodied Labour (that is a technical conception of labour). Also contrary to Ricardo, value determines price but (a) through an indirect mechanism passing through different spheres (Prices of Production) and (b) at a subsequent phase prices feed-back on values.

Theory of Surplus-Value

This is the theory that explains how exploitation takes place in the capitalist system. It is based on the valid assumption that what it is bought and sold in the labour market is not the labour performed but the ability to perform labour (labour-power). This assumption grasps very accurately the fact that what a capitalist buys are hours of labour under his command and not the actual labour performed. The capitalist pays to the labourer a certain amount (value of labour-power). Then, the capitalist implements his managerial prerogative and is able to extract from the labourer’s work more value than what he has initially paid him. This is called surplus-value, it is unpaid labour and it is transformed in the capitalist’s profit.

It is worth noting that no other economic theory (Neoclassical, Keynesian etc.) can offer a different coherent explanation of the capitalist’s profit.

Subsequently, Marxism argues that capitalism is a socio-economic system organized around the extraction of profit (profit motive). This is again a very realistic assumption that no other economic theory can offer a satisfactory alternative.

From the rich and sophisticated Marxist economic analysis two elements are especially important.

The first element is that the capitalist system is riddled with internal contradictions. A consequence of these contradictions is the regular appearance of economic crises. Marxism, as opposed to mainstream Economics, has a very developed and meticulous theory of economic crises. The basis of the Marxist theory of economic crises is the famous Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall (LTPRF). The gist of this argument is that capitalists by competing among themselves for greater profits ultimately lead the system to overaccumulation (that is expansion beyond its realistic dimensions) and thus to a falling rate of profit. This falling profitability tendency, once surpassing certain definite levels, leads to economic crises (that is the collapse of normal functioning of the system and the reduction of the GDP). In a nutshell, this conception argues that the ‘success’ of the system leads to its ‘failure’.

Relentlessly, Marx emphasises this self-destructive force built into the process of capitalist development:

‘And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand, by the enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.’

 

The second important element of Marxist economic analysis is that as the capitalist system ‘grows old’ (that is it fails to expand the FoP and becomes an obstacle to their further development), then it increases the exploitation of the toiling masses. This takes the form of relative (but also absolute in several cases) immiseration of the popular classes. In stricter terms, this explains the increase of economic inequalities and poverty in contemporary capitalism.

 

 

Marxism’s guideline for social praxis and change

Based on his worldview and his socio-economic analysis, Marxism offers his guideline for social praxis. It argues that once a socio-economic system is exhausted it is futile to try to reform it. Thus, it is necessary to remove it and substitute it with a better one. This has happened in the past with the succession from pre-capitalist socio-economic systems to the capitalist socio-economic system. Hence, Marxism pivot for social praxis is the societal change.

This societal change does not take place smoothly and peacefully as vested dominant interests and social classes do not relinquish their grip on society. Thus, societal change comes through class struggle:

‘The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles’

(K.Marx)

In the case of the capitalist system, class struggle takes place on the basis of the antagonistic relation­ship between its two main classes: labour (the creator of social wealth) and capital (the appropriator of the greater part of social wealth). Marxism argues that labour (the working class) is the instigator of societal change towards a more just and equitable socio-economic system: socialism (and ultimately communism). Class struggle by labour (and the rest of the allied with-it popular classes) should not try to reform the system as this is futile. Instead, it should follow the strategic aim of overthrowing the whole system. This strategic aim is organized at the tactical level with the everyday struggles for ameliorating the working and living conditions of the toiling classes.

 

The contemporary relevance of Marxism

Marxism’s ‘DNA’ (his worldview, socio-economic analysis and guideline for social praxis) gives him his analytical and practical superiority and explains his contemporary relevance.

The recurrence of economic crises during the recent decades (e.g. 2008, 2020) emphasises Marxism’s superiority against mainstream Economics. His focus on economic crises makes Marxism better equipped to understand bot the existence and the recurrence of this phenomenon; whereas mainstream Economics simply lack a general theory of crisis or hve a very weak one (in the case of Keynesianism).

Similarly, the increase of inequalities and poverty in contemporary capitalism prove the contemporary relevance of Marxism. Again, mainstream Economics fail to offer a convincing alternative perspective.

But also, at a deeper epistemological level, Marxist materialist dialectics and their notion of contradiction prove particularly apposite in understanding the contemporary world that is riddled with conflicts and antagonisms.

 

A comment on the current tensions between Greece and Turkey – S.Mavroudeas PRESS TV 11-8-2020

The News Bulletin of PRESS TV asked for my comments on the current tensions between Greece and Turkey regarding the Exclusive Economic Zones in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

The video of my comments and their transcript follows.

https://urmedium.com/c/presstv/30191

The current tensions are part of the long-running antagonism between the Greek and the Turkish ruling elites. This antagonism goes back to the formation of nation-states in the Balkan and the Eastern Mediterranean area in the 19th and the early 20th centuries.

In this antagonism both ruling elites scramble for gains and for regional influence.

They both use international law at will; that is each one chose an item of international law of the seas that suits it and disregards others.

This antagonism takes place under the auspices of the US, EU and NATO who are the ultimate patrons and arbiters. Recently, Greece has become even more subservient to these patrons because of its participation in the EU and the subsequent wreck of its economy during the recent economic crises. On the other hand, Turkey pursues a more independent and aggressive policy by playing not only with the West but also with Russia and other regional powers. As it feels more confident, the Turkish ruling elite expands its areas of operation more aggressively. However, the Greek ruling elite – although in a worse condition – does not fail to reply aggressively wherever it can.

The object of the current tensions is the ownership and the exploitation of potential oil and natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus, both ruling elites try to extend their Exclusive Economic Zones. The irony is that (a) the existence of these reserves (and moreover whether they are economically exploitable) is far from certain and (b) if they exist it is US and Western oil companies that will get the contracts.

This is a miserable reason for throwing the peoples of Greece and Turkey into a bloody war. A famous Turkish poet (Nazim Hikmet) once wrote that they are two Greeces and two Turkeys. The one is that of the ruling elite and it is fake: it serves only the interests of itself and its patrons. The other is that of the people and it is the real one. This real Greece and this real Turkey have no interest whatsoever in a bloody war supervised by the Western patrons.