[lbo-talk] Robert Reich on the Obama we have been waiting for

c b cb31450 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 7 14:06:03 PST 2011

Reich: Some background: In 1909, Herbert Croly, a young political

philosopher and journalist, argued in his best-selling The Promise of American Life that the large American corporation should be regulated

by the nation and directed toward national goals. “The constructive idea behind a policy of the recognition of the semi-monopolistic corporation is, of course, the idea that they can be converted into

economic agents…for the national economic interest,” Croly wrote.

Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism embraced Croly’s idea.

> ^^^^

CB; Looks like Hilferding and Lenin weren't the only ones with the

idea that the concentration of wealth into the 1% at in the early 1900

( fulfilling Marx's prediction on centralization and monopolization of

wealth as a historical tendency of capitalist accumulation in the

penultimate chapter of Capital' see below). This monopolization

socializes many small enterprises within the giant corporations in

advance for socialism. Doug recent note critiquing a strategy of

turning to small business deals with part of this issue.


In this, Hilferding saw an opportunity for a path to socialism that

was distinct from the one foreseen by Marx: "The socializing function

of finance capital facilitates enormously the task of overcoming

capitalism. Once finance capital has brought the most importance

branches of production under its control, it is enough for society,

through its conscious executive organ – the state conquered by the

working class – to seize finance capital in order to gain immediate

control of these branches of production."[50] This would obviate the

need to expropriate "peasant farms and small businesses" because they would be indirectly socialized, through the socialization of

institutions upon which finance capital had already made them

dependent. _Thus, because a narrow class dominated the economy,

socialist revolution could gain wider support by directly

expropriating only from that narrow class_  ( the 1% -CB) In

particular, according to Hilferding, societies that had not reached

the level of economic maturity anticipated by Marx as making them

"ripe" for socialism could be opened to socialist possibilities.[51]

Furthermore, "the policy of finance capital is bound to lead towards

war, and hence to the unleashing of revolutionary storms."[52]

As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisition of the capitalist era: i.e., on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.

The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialized production, into socialized property. In the former case, we had the expropriation of the mass of the people by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people. [2]

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