Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wal-Mart and The Withering Away of The State

(I want to say before you read this, that it is only a thought. I am not staking my life on this post. I would not die for this post. It is mostly a work of imagination.)

Awhile ago I asked about Marx and Engels theory on the Withering Away of the State.

Now I will present to you why.

First a history lesson:

Marx and Engels theory on capitalism was that capitalism would eventually consume itself.

That eventually a company would arise that would consume all the companies.

Marx and Engels thought though that it would happen a lot sooner and would happen by revolution.

We have seen that revolution is not a product of higher forms of capitalism and democracy.

Revolution when looking in any high school history book only happens in the first stages of a country's industrial capitalist period.

In many of those countries a civil war came after. And the civil war was always between those who are clinging to the old fuedalist system verses the wage-labor capitalist.

Then after awhile the countries no longer have civil wars, but civil disobedience and riots like the in France in the late 60s or in America in the late sixties.

We can say this non-violent approach to making changes in a society is because of democracy and freedom of speech.

Now we can see that Marx and Engels were wrong about revolution. Revolution doesn't occur in developed capitalist nations.

Now the question is asked, why doens't it occur?

Revolutions are caused by extreme scarcity, the population must be starving for them to leave their houses and kill people. Besides that there are other abstract factors like there is a class dying, another class using different modes of production rising, there has to be a new ideology rising amongst the masses etc.

What I mean by "rising class" is that the feudalist or aristocracy economy was farming and they used either peasants or slaves or serfs to the work. They didn't pay wages hourly.

And the bourgeois class used factories and shops and paid their workers in wage-labor. They didn't believe in using peasants, slaves, or serfs, but proletariats as workers. A proletariat is someone who works for a wage and goes home to their own house on their own land.

But the communist wants to use the same type of factories as the capitalist, the same modes of production. Because if you have millions living in your country and you want the millions to stay alive you still have to use factories that mass produce products.

So even though the rich who make money off of computer technology aren't really a different class, their companies use wage-labor, and they have factories to produce their products also.

The proletariat is not and will never be a rising class.

The proletariat always has food, and if he does not, the state will supply a food stamp card to get some.

The proletariat works so much and is so numbed by whatever job he has that he doesn't have the energy to care about such huge things as national politics, he has the energy to care about what he has a stake in, taxes, schools if he has children, etc. But not enough time to consume himself in learning a whole new way of government.

Marx and Engels didn't know what the death of God and the lack of religion would have on the population. They did not know that people would start worshipping celebrities and cult of personalities as a way to give themselves some semblance of an identity.

This has led us to a kind of revolutionary stalemate. Even though America currently has a completely defective government and mainstream media that no longer listens to the population. The government still grants food and enough labor that people can eat and buy drugs to stay complacent. And the government if you cannot afford drugs will give them to you for free.

So it seems that history has ended, that we are trapped. Because if people do not revolt the giant corporations than we have no chance of a new and better world.

But maybe history is not over?

Part 2.

Engels said, "The capitalistic mode of production moves in these two forms of the antagonism immanent to it from its very origin. It is never able to get out of that "vicious circle" which Fourier had already discovered. What Fourier could not, indeed, see in his time is that this circle is gradually narrowing; that the movement becomes more and more a spiral, and must come to an end, like the movement of planets, by collision with the centre."

This is Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is the largest business in the world, it has stores all over the world. it is a global business.

We must remember that Trotsky thought the only way for a communist nation to survive and for the state to wither away was if the whole world was communist and it was all happening at once.

Wal-Mart is global.

Wal-Mart is making its own products now.

Wal-Mart will slowly bankrupt all of the companies it deals with and then make the product they were producing themselves.

Wal-Mart will eventually start making its own cars, grow its own pickels, peas, potatoes, it will have livestock farms to get meat from, its own publishing companies its own shoe companies, construction companies, pill companies, doctors, lawyers, etc.

Wal-Mart is the center of the spiral.

It will be the company that consumes all the other companies.

Wal-Mart will continue to branch out until it has sucked every other company up.

But how will Wal-Mart cause the withering away of the state you ask?

Engels said, "State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not "abolished". It dies out."

We have already seen huge billion dollar record, movie, food companies bend to the will of Wal-Mart.

Eventually Wal-Mart will have so much power that governments will have to bend to the will of Wal-Mart, which we could say they already have in a lot of local governments.

But eventually it will be more than bending, if Wal-Mart controls the food and the means of supplying it, if it controls entertainment and the means of supplying it, if it controls the clothing and the means of supplying it, than the governments of the world will become powerless to Wal-Mart.

The governments will become superfluous.

The thing that will make this truly communist is that workers of Wal-Mart all own stock in Wal-Mart. Therefore if the workers all own stock, than it will be a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Now I do not know what a Wal-Mart world would look like, if it would be a good place to live or what. And if you couldn't hold a job working for Wal-Mart I don't know what would happen to you, you would probably die. Perhaps Wal-Mart will become unionized one day and things won't turn out that bad, who knows.


I asked several people if they thought Wal-Mart would cause the withering away of the state. Gene Morgan replied that it would be the state that caused it.

Which is true, the state could right now make creative decisions to make a better world. We have the technology but the government is full of rich kid preppies.

Now we can all agree with this as artsy fartsy fucks. Preppies usually suck. Some grow up after high school, but most suck. And these aren't even the preppies we know. These are like preppies that grew up with millions of dollars. Preppies that attend Ivy League colleges and pass with Cs. The people who make up our governments are power-hungry preppy assholes.

It is like the best people I know, the people I would love to see hold political office, people like James Chapman or the owner of the used bookstore in Youngstown, peaceful, down to earth, kind people. Those people never run for office, it doesn't even occur to them.

It is like fashion design or marketing majors, you know whoever would want to do that with their life is an asshole.

I'm sure some of you have had this situation, you are at college and someone says they dream of working for TIME magazine, and I bet you thought, "God, that person is an asshole."

People who dream of running for congress, senate, being president, and working in the presidential cabinet and then spending all their time getting huge corporations to give them money to campaign are assholes.

For example: it takes a very skinny tall woman with a pretty face to be a supermodel.

And it takes a huge ass kissing preppy power hungry asshole to become a congressman or state governor.


Noah Cicero said...

To anyone who comments, I have no idea what this post means.

I seriously don't.

adam said...

Then I won't post the questions I'd thought up.

Susan Miller said...

A Proletariat’s View - 2007

There is a system. There are checks and balances. Empires rise; empires fall. We are kept in check by cause and effect. We know of the hierarchy. We understand the potential inevitability of decay. We understand that our angst is a part of the system. So maybe we smoke, drink and take pills to numb ourselves.

But what if? I like what ifs. What if as a proletariat I understand as much as possible about the establishment and choose to think that humans will survive it or they won’t. They will work at Wal-Mart or they’ll die. My understanding (the cause) leads to me concluding that if I don’t have what is important to me and I know the game then I can take responsibility for not having what is important to me. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs there are certain needs recognized. And anything else, I recognize for myself, is just part of what I consider a game.

So what if I choose to not have angst? What if I understand that…..

"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river." -Will Durant

I appreciate your posts. I like that you write these things because they make me think.
Thank you for writing, Noah.

chief said...

As it happens, I know far more than I need to about the Soviet Economy--how it worked, why it failed, etc. Let me give you a quick primer:

The USSR had what's called a "command economy" or "centrally planned economy." This meant that all of the maunfacturing resources within the borders of the country were controlled by a single office in Moscow, which couldn't possibly manage it all.

Anyway, throughout the 70 years of the USSR, the economy was managed like it was wartime. Instead of issuing an order to a factory to build them 500,000 new bombs to send to the front, the Economic office in Moscow would issue an order to a factory to build them 500,000 shoes--all for the left foot. Of course, massive bureaucracies being what they are, they would forget to send an order to another factory to make 500,000 right foot shoes, and then you'd have this big pile of useless left shoes.

That's why Russians were always standing in massive lines for things like toilet paper. Unlike a capitalist factory, which is controlled by one business that only manufactures one product, Soviet factories (and workforces) were super-versatile, and designed to produce a wide variety of products. A factory that in January was making new telephones might, in March, be retooled to produce new televisions.

It was chaos, from a consumer standpoint, because you would show up at the "products" store, and never know what you were going to get.

People had to hoard everything--hence the "black market" which was totally necessary for people to survive.

Wal-Mart, I think, is eerily similar to a Soviet era "products" store. All your needs are consolidated into one shopping outlet, which is ugly and staffed by unhappy serfs. The only difference is, Wal-Mart actually has stuff.

That could change at any time, though.

chief said...

Also, from 1996 to 1998, I lived in Russia, in St Petersburg.

Once I took a trip to Irkutsk, in Siberia, near Lake Baikal.

I went into a fancy looking restaurant and took a seat. I was handed a large menu, several pages long, almost like you get at an American diner: burgers, soups, hotwings, desserts, etc.

"I'll have the dumplings" I told the waitress.

"We're out of dumplings," she said.

"Okay then, I'll have the borscht and pancakes."

"We don't have that either."

It went on like this for a little while longer, with me going down the list, and her saying, "we're out of that, too," until I finally got wise and asked, "Okay, what do you have?"

"We have cutlets," she said.

"That's it? just cutlets?"

"Just cutlets," she admitted.

"what kind of cutlets?"

"chicken, I think."

"I guess I'll have the chicken cutlets, then."

chief said...

Oh, I forgot to give you the real point of the story:

Sitting there, in the fancy siberian restaurant, working at my obviously just-dethawed micowaveable cutlet with my knife and fork, I had a vision of the freezer, piled high with frozen cutlets.

Obviously what had happened was, some guy had given the owner a deal on cutlets, and like in the bad old soviet days, the owner had decided to hoard these cutlets. Business probably hadn't been so good, and now the owner couldn't afford to buy real food from the distributers (not that there are many wholesale food distributers in siberia), so he'd been priced out of the restaurant business.

But he still had these cutlets he could move, so...

That's russia in a nutshell.

MadisonGlass said...

I know nothing. Remember that whenever I post.

From what I've studied, mostly I'm talking about the last hundred years or so in Latin American, it is the middle class who initiates a revolution against the upper classes, sweeping the lower class into it with promises that things will get better for them. But instead the middle class becomes the upper class and the upper class becomes the middle class. And the poor are still fucked over.

Our middle class is dying. There are a scant few middle class folks. How can we revolt. And what constitutes a middle class these days? They aren't rich, but aren't in debt? Probably. I don't know. Usually I say, they can afford medical care.

Borderline people, like me, would be seriously fucked if something happened to them. If I get into a car wreck, I'm screwed. Actually, if they double my dosage on mood-stabilizers (as I have a bipolar disorder not to be confused with consumer-type-pharmaceutical-market) I'm screwed. I already pay as much for medicine as I do for rent. Without it, I can't hold down a job. Unfortunately, I made five hundred dollars more last year than I should have, a thousand the year before, and can't get state assistance. Insurance won't help because this is a prior psychological condition, which not only raises premiums, but limits the amount of help I can receive. Psychiatry has pathetic insurance coverage. But I'm rambling. Yeah yeah. Poor me. But I know I'm not the only one.

There's a health care crises. Yes.

On the news last night they talked about how an increasing number of people are stealing insurance card and identity information solely for the purpose of receiving medical care. (They made this young, white, upper class woman look like a victim. Poor victim.) The person who stole this particular woman's information was an old man. Frail. He stole X-rays and biopsies. And now he's going to jail for insurance fraud. If there's a breaking point, it will be access to medical care.

But as long as people are willing to go into debt, which is sold so well, we may as well forget it.

I'm sorry. I don't know much about Walmart. I've only been there once. Because they let people sleep in their cars (and trucks and mobile homes) in the parking lot. Or at least they used to. What's with Walmart? Other than unearthing burial grounds? Who specifically have they been incorporating?

Anonymous said...

i want to be a greeter in the new wal-mart world.


adam said...

As I've come to understand it, Wal-Mart isn't acquiring other businesses-- doing that would lead to anti-trust lawsuits, because they'd be taking existing customer bases and incorporating them into their own, Star Trek TNG Borg style (one of the few things that show even came close to getting right). They're just starting subsidiary companies under Wal-Mart that serve different needs, i.e. Sam's Club (a Costco-style store), Wal-Mart Grocery Stores (Safeway-style supermarket), and others.

The really scary move it looks like Wal-Mart is making, though, is into banking. They started a company that ostensibly handles their electronic transactions, but which also has the power to take deposits and make loans. The banking industry would resist a Wal-Mart bank for obvious reasons, and they'd definitely sue if Wal-Mart tried to acquire a bank (see above) but if their market share is large enough when they make the move, and they put a few ATMs out to cover the gaps between stores, they might just be able to start one with their own assets. And that's when things get exponentially better (if you own Wal-Mart stock) or nastier (if you don't).

RuKsaK said...

I second everything chief said. I also lived in Russia - slightly later - from '98 to '03. I go back once a year as well (my wife is Russian). It's been amazing to see the erosion of everything 'Socialist'. Granted, I moved to Russia 7 years after the fall of the CCCP, but there were many remnants left over: the 'kassa' system, poor service, lack of items as advertised on menus - gradually this has gone, and call me an insensitive tourist (which I am not!), but I miss these aspects of Russia, as do many Russians. You'd be surprised by the number who do want 'Socialism' to return.

Maya said...

dear noah.
this is a really interesting post i think.
today i got the human war in the mail, i am really excited to read it. it looks excellent. thank you for sending it to me!
love from maya

MadisonGlass said...


okay. that's scary. banking is the stronghold of our complacent debt-ridden society. If walmart can control that, they can control the country. (start nervous twitching) now all they need are drones, and clones, and... [other ominous rhyming word.]

adam said...

Sometimes I think I'm unimaginative, but then I realize it's just the laws of probability-- if something more fucked up could happen than what I think of, it probably has. And it probably involves Wal-Mart.

somebody said...