Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Remembering June 4, 1989 - Families of Tiananmen Square victims accuse Beijing of three decades of 'white terror' // Tiananmen Mothers: No Amount of Power Can Rub Out June Fourth

NB: Human rights defenders the world over should read the Tiananmen Mothers appeal and unequivocally support the Chinese people's struggle for democracy and justice. We must no longer allow national, ethnic, political and religious boundaries to obstruct clear vision on the matter of human rights - this struggle is global since violations and injustice are also global - DS

The families of those killed during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown have accused Beijing of subjecting them to nearly three decades of “white terror” in a bid to stop them speaking out about the massacre. In an open letter, (see below) published on Wednesday ahead of the 27th anniversary of the protests, the Tiananmen Mothers campaigning group said its members had been spied on, detained and threatened by security agents as part of attempts to cover up the killings.
Miao Deshun was one of 1,600 Chinese people jailed after the mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

But the families vowed they would not be silenced by such “detestable perversity”. “We have nothing left to fear,” they wrote. Saturday marks the 27th anniversary of the start of the military offensive against pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – and in other Chinese cities – during which hundreds, perhaps thousands are believed to have died. To this day, the Communist party continues to outlaw discussion or remembrance of those events, fearing such a reckoning would affect its grip on power. No public investigation has even been held and the precise death toll remains a mystery. Ahead of this year’s anniversary, police have embarked on their annual campaign to quell dissent. At least three activists were detained in Beijing in the early hours of Tuesday after attending a remembrance event where they were photographed under a banner reading: “Don’t forget the wounds of the country.”

On Sunday, a man in southwest China was detained on subversion charges after allegedly sharing online photographs of bottles of Chinese liquor with labels alluding to the crackdown. Meanwhile Ding Zilin, the 79-year-old founder of the Tiananmen Mothers coalition, has reportedly been confined to her Beijing home by security officials. Ding, whose 17-year-old son was shot through the heart during the 1989 crackdown, became a widow last September when her husband died at the age of 82. “She is physically and mentally exhausted and her state is worrisome,” her fellow campaigners said in their open letter this week.

Last prisoner from 1989 to be released: .. but families of those gunned down by government troops have yet to receive justice or compensation, and even today public remembrance of the massacre is outlawed despite calls for an inquiry.

The Tiananmen Mothers said they would ignore the pressure and continue to demand truth, accountability, and compensation. “A government that unscrupulously slaughters its own fellow citizens, a government that does not know how to cherish its own fellow citizens, and a government that forgets, conceals, and covers up the truth of historical suffering has no future,” they wrote. “It is a government that is continuing to commit crimes.”

On the 27th Anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre
The Tiananmen Mothers
 June 1, 2016
In September last year, a key member of the Tiananmen Mothers group, Mr. Jiang Peikun, passed away. His death was followed by that of Ms. Zhang Shuyun from Shandong. And in April this year, Ms. Han Shuxiang from Dalian died of illness. To date, 41 members from our group of victims’ family members are deceased. Their final regret was not being able to see justice done and wrong redressed!

Twenty-seven years have passed since the June Fourth Massacre of 1989. For us, family members of the victims’ families, it has been 27 years of white terror and suffocation.

For 27 years, the police have been the ones who have dealt with us. For 27 years, they have also been our frequent visitors at home. Each beginning of the year, from the anniversary of the late premier Mr. Zhao Ziyang’s death, to the Two Congresses, Tomb Sweeping Day, anniversary of June Fourth, to major national events and foreign politicians’ visits—we the victims’ families are eavesdropped and surveilled upon by the police; we are followed or even detained, and our computers searched and confiscated. The police use contemptible means such as making up stories, fabricating facts, issuing threats, etc., against us. All these actions undoubtedly desecrate the souls of those who perished in June Fourth, and insult the honors of the living.  
What is worse this year, the police have warned us, is that from April 22 to June 4, visits to Teacher Ding Zilin are being restricted. Those who want to visit her must apply for permission and may visit her only after approval by the Beijing Public Security Bureau, and they may not be accompanied by other victims’ family members.

Teacher Ding Zilin lost two family members last year—what a cruel double blow to an 80-year-old woman. She is physically and mentally exhausted and her state is worrisome. The affection and friendships among us, the victims’ families, have been coalesced by the blood of our family members. Our affection is deep and our friendships are sincere, surpassing those among family members. But even this simple and unadorned affection has been deprived by the police in their detestable perversity and unreasonableness.

For 27 years, we, victims’ families, have rationally maintained our three appeals: truth, accountability, and compensation, in an effort to seek a just resolution to the miscarriage of justice of June Fourth. But the government has ignored us, pretending that the June Fourth Massacre that shocked the whole world never happened in China, and refusing to respond to our appeals, while our fellow countrymen gradually lose the memory of the event.

We must inform the world that this is the current reality of the living conditions of the June Fourth victims' families!

As everyone knows, the June Fourth tragedy resulted from the government’s flagrant mobilizing of the field army to kill peacefully protesting students and citizens. This was unprecedented in the history of China. If the government continues to not face the facts in good faith, and not resolve this problem from a legal perspective, then China will have difficulty preventing this type of tragedy from happening again in the future! Evidence proves that after the suppression of June Fourth the whole country was plagued with corruption from top to bottom, resulting in the current challenges in fighting corruption. 

A government that unscrupulously slaughters its own fellow citizens, a government that does not know how to cherish its own fellow citizens, and a government that forgets, conceals, and covers up the truth of historical suffering has no future—it is a government that is continuing to commit crimes!   

People need to live with dignity and die with dignity. As the families of victims, more than one-third of our individual lives have been lived under the shadow of our loved ones who were shot dead. But we live with strength and optimism—because we hold the firm belief that we need to struggle, work hard, and persevere. 

In the 27 years of suffering all kinds of hardships, abuse by the authorities, and intimidation, we have nothing left to fear. We are convinced that the June Fourth tragedy will inevitably reach a fair and just resolution—because the truth is on our side, and we have the vigorous support of the just and kind-hearted people of the whole world. 

We use our immense maternal love to declare publicly to future generations: do not succumb to brute force, confront all evil forces with courage, and justice will prevail! The June Fourth massacre will forever be etched into the history of the world—no amount of power can rub this out!

We persist, with our respects to those who previously fought alongside us and are now deceased, and condolences to loved ones of the victims of the June Fourth massacre! 

see also

Aarti Tikoo Singh - Every Pandit in Kashmir faces identity crisis

If all the components of a wrecked ship are replaced and restored, is it fundamentally the same ship? The question is Theseus' Paradox — the thought experiment about identity, originally recorded in the late first century and poignantly captured as recent as in Anand Gandhi's 2013 award-winning film Ship of Theseus.

The dilemma of 'who am I' in the absence of one's ethnic community and in a conflict-ridden society, led a Srinagar based organization to investigate, for the first time, whether Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, were really who they thought they were two decades ago.

Pandits claim to be the aborigines of Kashmir and boast of a rich cultural heritage and ethnicity. Around 3,00,000 Pandits were driven out, most of them in 1990, with the eruption of Islamist separatist insurgency in Kashmir. As of now, there are only 2,765 Pandits (651 families) left in 192 places across the Valley.

Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an organization of Pandits, in a survey that took almost two years to complete, discovered that 100% Pandits in the Valley faced "identity crisis" and over 99% Pandits did not find their identity the same as it was before 1990. Over 62% Pandits, the survey revealed, had a "compromising self-image".

The findings are alarming -- until now only the displaced Kashmiri Pandits had been complaining about the loss of their identity due to the loss of their homes, the inability of a scattered community to preserve its culture against dominant local cultures across the country and a high rate of inter-community marriages. It is however, for the first time that Pandits in the Valley, have acknowledged their loss of identity.

The survey findings also assume significance in view of the Central government's initiative in collaboration with the state government to build composite colonies for the return and rehabilitation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

The 2008-2010 survey that KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo shared exclusively with the TOI is based on interviews with 1,326 Pandits in the age group of 13 to 80 years from all the 651 families that stayed on. The respondents include housewives, college going students and retired government employees.

Over 51% respondents recorded serious mental and physical health issues including hypertension, clinical depression, psychiatric disorders and heart ailments which they trace to separation from their community. The survey found that 70% of Pandits in Kashmir felt that the mass departure of their community members led to the breakdown of their traditional family structure; 74% felt that it had affected the marriage prospects of their children.

Due to their small numbers, the community's youth do not find desirable matches in Kashmir and are therefore increasingly opting for inter-community marriages outside Kashmir. Almost 59% respondents said that their children were culturally alienated and after high school and college chose to leave the Valley for higher education or employment.

Tickoo pointed out that Islamic prayers in both private and public schools had affected Pandit children immensely.

The survey attributed the "dilution of their identity" through such various markers to the absence of their community, social isolation within Kashmir, inability to celebrate religious festivals with the freedom as they once did, destruction of temples and shrines by militants, and the scarcity of priests to officiate at ceremonies. "There is no encouragement from any government to preserve our culture or celebrate our festivals," complains Tickoo.

He also pointed out that Islamic prayers in both private and public schools had affected Pandit children immensely. At Kothi Bagh high school, Tickoo had to request the principal to exempt his daughter from standing in the queue for Islamic prayers. "My daughter felt uncomfortable and it raised issues about our identity in her mind," he says.

The other major factor that has led to the identity crisis, Tickoo says, was the "hostile" attitude of youth towards Pandits in the Valley. Girja Koul, a Srinagar housewife adds: "The older generation understands shared culture and identity. But the young boys here have no respect for who we are. They mock us on the streets. It is very insulting and painful."

As per the survey, 82% respondents regretted the decision to stay back. "We feel betrayed by everyone. The government is concerned only about the displaced community, but those who stayed back are neither acknowledged nor looked after. Our 562 youth are unemployed and instead of absorbing them here, they are being forced to leave the Valley," says Tickoo. "On top of that, mainstream political parties and separatists have vitiated the atmosphere so bad about the return and rehabilitation of the displaced community that most Pandits here regret that they stayed back," he says.

Avtar Kaul, a retired government employee says the communal separatist rhetoric of the last 26 years in Kashmir has affected him psychologically. "It has not been easy to be a Kashmiri Pandit here," he says. The famous Descartesian fundamental about identity—'I think, therefore I am'-- doesn't seem to provide any solace to him and other Pandits in the valley.

Noam Chomsky, The Responsibility of Intellectuals (1966) // Apoorvanand - This false dawn: Modi regime’s obsession with the ‘new’ and ‘historic’

Noam ChomskyThe Responsibility of Intellectuals (1966)

IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies. This, at least, may seem enough of a truism to pass over without comment. Not so, however. For the modern intellectual, it is not at all obvious.

TWENTY-YEARS AGO, Dwight Macdonald published a series of articles in Politics on the responsibility of peoples and, specifically, the responsibility of intellectuals. I read them as an undergraduate, in the years just after the war, and had occasion to read them again a few months ago. They seem to me to have lost none of their power or persuasiveness. Macdonald is concerned with the question of war guilt. He asks the question: To what extent were the German or Japanese people responsible for the atrocities committed by their governments? And, quite properly, he turns the question back to us: To what extent are the British or American people responsible for the vicious terror bombings of civilians, perfected as a technique of warfare by the Western democracies and reaching their culmination in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surely among the most unspeakable crimes in history. To an undergraduate in 1945-46—to anyone whose political and moral consciousness had been formed by the horrors of the 1930s, by the war in Ethiopia, the Russian purge, the “China Incident,” the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi atrocities, the Western reaction to these events and, in part, complicity in them—these questions had particular significance and poignancy.

With respect to the responsibility of intellectuals, there are still other, equally disturbing questions. Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us. The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than what Macdonald calls the “responsibility of people,” given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.

The issues that Macdonald raised are as pertinent today as they were twenty years ago. We can hardly avoid asking ourselves to what extent the American people bear responsibility for the savage American assault on a largely helpless rural population in Vietnam, still another atrocity in what Asians see as the “Vasco da Gama era” of world history. As for those of us who stood by in silence and apathy as this catastrophe slowly took shape over the past dozen years—on what page of history do we find our proper place? Only the most insensible can escape these questions. I want to return to them, later on, after a few scattered remarks about the responsibility of intellectuals and how, in practice, they go about meeting this responsibility in the mid-1960s.

IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies. This, at least, may seem enough of a truism to pass over without comment. Not so, however. For the modern intellectual, it is not at all obvious. Thus we have Martin Heidegger writing, in a pro-Hitler declaration of 1933, that “truth is the revelation of that which makes a people certain, clear, and strong in its action and knowledge”; it is only this kind of “truth” that one has a responsibility to speak. Americans tend to be more forthright. When Arthur Schlesinger was asked by The New York Times in November, 1965, to explain the contradiction between his published account of the Bay of Pigs incident and the story he had given the press at the time of the attack, he simply remarked that he had lied; and a few days later, he went on to compliment the Times for also having suppressed information on the planned invasion, in “the national interest,” as this term was defined by the group of arrogant and deluded men of whom Schlesinger gives such a flattering portrait in his recent account of the Kennedy Administration. It is of no particular interest that one man is quite happy to lie in behalf of a cause which he knows to be unjust; but it is significant that such events provoke so little response in the intellectual community—for example, no one has said that there is something strange in the offer of a major chair in the humanities to a historian who feels it to be his duty to persuade the world that an American-sponsored invasion of a nearby country is nothing of the sort. 

And what of the incredible sequence of lies on the part of our government and its spokesmen concerning such matters as negotiations in Vietnam? The facts are known to all who care to know. The press, foreign and domestic, has presented documentation to refute each falsehood as it appears. But the power of the government’s propaganda apparatus is such that the citizen who does not undertake a research project on the subject can hardly hope to confront government pronouncements with fact.[1]

The deceit and distortion surrounding the American invasion of Vietnam is by now so familiar that it has lost its power to shock. It is therefore useful to recall that although new levels of cynicism are constantly being reached, their clear antecedents were accepted at home with quiet toleration. It is a useful exercise to compare Government statements at the time of the invasion of Guatemala in 1954 with Eisenhower’s admission—to be more accurate, his boast—a decade later that American planes were sent “to help the invaders” (New York Times, October 14, 1965). Nor is it only in moments of crisis that duplicity is considered perfectly in order. “New Frontiersmen,” for example, have scarcely distinguished themselves by a passionate concern for historical accuracy, even when they are not being called upon to provide a “propaganda cover” for ongoing actions. For example, Arthur Schlesinger (New York Times, February 6, 1966) describes the bombing of North Vietnam and the massive escalation of military commitment in early 1965 as based on a “perfectly rational argument”:

so long as the Vietcong thought they were going to win the war, they obviously would not be interested in any kind of negotiated settlement.

The date is important. Had this statement been made six months earlier, one could attribute it to ignorance. But this statement appeared after the UN, North Vietnamese, and Soviet initiatives had been front-page news for months. It was already public knowledge that these initiatives had preceded the escalation of February 1965 and, in fact, continued for several weeks after the bombing began. Correspondents in Washington tried desperately to find some explanation for the startling deception that had been revealed. Chalmers Roberts, for example, wrote in the Boston Globe on November 19 with unconscious irony:

[late February, 1965] hardly seemed to Washington to be a propitious moment for negotiations [since] Mr. Johnson…had just ordered the first bombing of North Vietnam in an effort to bring Hanoi to a conference table where the bargaining chips on both sides would be more closely matched.

Coming at that moment, Schlesinger’s statement is less an example of deceit than of contempt—contempt for an audience that can be expected to tolerate such behavior with silence, if not approval.[2].. read more:  

Apoorvanand - This false dawn: Modi regime’s obsession with the ‘new’ and ‘historic’

“Pradhan mantri ke vision se suryast suryoday mein badal gaya hai, raat ho rahi hai lekin hum dekh rahe hain ek nayi subah (The prime minister’s vision has turned sunset into sunrise, night is falling but we are watching a new dawn)”

This is how Doordarshan chose to describe the advent of a new era under the leadership of a prime minister who continues to remain new even after two years in office. Pradhan mantri chairman and the sentence assumes a familiarity, at least for those who are steeped in the Stalinist or Maoist political culture. Everything in Maoist China had to be informed by the vision of the chairman or was worthless. Similarly, in the Soviet Union, for any idea to be valued it needed to bear the Stalin stamp.

The sheer obsession with the adjective “new” or “historic” also takes one back to the days of these two “greats” of history, who were red and not saffron. Stalin wanted to engineer the souls of his dear people to carve a “new man” and a new society out of them.

For a new to be created, the old has to be destroyed. The appeal for the new thus becomes the legitimiser of the death of the old. The only problem is that the old lingers on in many forms and threatens to sabotage the project of building the new. So, its residuals need to identified through a campaign and destroyed completely. The old is also made synonymous with the elite.

When Chairman Mao gave a call to the Chinese people, it was the youth he mainly addressed. The Cultural Revolution in China started on May 16 fifty years ago which, again in one of the ironies of history, is the date when a new “revolution” started in India two years back. Chairman Mao divided his people into two categories: One belonged the revolutionary masses and the other a part of the old privileged elite, remnants of the past, who needed to be weeded out. Mao called for a protracted revolution. It was called cultural as it sought to change the way people lived, their notion of relationships and transform them from individuals to soldiers of a great mission.

Such regimes confer the title of the real or true people on one set of the masses, who are then unleashed on the other who are termed enemies of the people or non-people. Mao’s cultural revolution or Stalin’s purge witnessed people voluntarily participating in not only eliminating the enemies but also creating them. Such non-people ranged from school teachers to entrepreneurs, doctors to cultural workers, scientists and researchers, homosexuals and Jews or simply “non-productive” people. Children reported on their parents and teachers and participated in their public humiliation and, in most cases, organised their killing.

The list of non-people officially sanctioned and promoted by the new regime of India is growing: “Terrorists”, “love jihadis”, “beefeaters”, “religious converters”, “infiltrators” and, finally, “anti-nationals” or “saboteurs”. A more neat division was suggested by the prime minister on May 26. “I can say there is development on one side and obstructionism on the other. The people will choose which side to choose, that I firmly believe,” he said. The trust in the intelligence of the people is touching.

The horrifyingly interesting part of the Cultural Revolution was it gave a sense of agency to people who were, in fact, conforming to the orders of the leader. Power was handed over to the ordinary masses who craved for it and which they exercised on the obstructionists or anti-nationals. People did not have the luxury of not choosing their side. Else, they became suspects.

The rush to join the officially sanctioned category of the people does not have anything to do with a particular ideology. Germans, Russians, Chinese, Americans, Israeli, have been complicit in the crimes their leaders unleashed on fellow beings. Even the persecuted offer themselves. They self-denounce and seek purification. The joy of disempowering your neighbour always pushes human goodness to a dark corner. It is revived only after the departure of the bully from the scene. 

The narratives of the red guards of the Cultural Revolution, or the veterans of the Vietnam war or Israeli combatants reveal the scale of moral devastation all of them have gone through. There are people, however, who are in the job of intellection, who can see through the game. They alert the people to the danger of loss of humanity. Maxim Gorky did it in the heyday of the Bolshevik Revolution when he condemned Lenin for turning the working masses into murderers and immoral morons. Lenin nudged off Gorky to Italy. Others were not so lucky. Ironically, Gorky later returned to the Soviet Union to work with Stalin. Denunciation of intellectualism and disinterested scholarship is thus one of the main features of such drives. Masses are pitted against intellectuals, who are portrayed as parasites who must be made to do real work.

The May 16 circular of Mao, which became the manifesto of the Cultural Revolution, said, “This concept which makes no class distinction on academic matters is also very wrong. The truth on academic questions, the truth of Marxism-Leninism, of Mao Zedong’s thought — which the proletariat has grasped — has already far surpassed and beaten the bourgeoisie. The formulation in the outline shows that its authors laud the so-called academic authorities of the bourgeoisie and try to boost their prestige, and that they hate and repress the militant newborn forces representative of the proletariat in academic circles.” There is nothing then that remains as scholarship or professionalism.

China is now the envy of the developed world. But it is a deeply wounded society. A witness of the Cultural Revolution says it turned the country into a moral wasteland. The memory of the sense of powerlessness of their victims gnaws at the hearts of the former red guards of the Chinese revolution. Will their lost humanity be ever restored? This question came to me when I read Professor Bandukwala in this newspaper and felt his sense of helplessness, when he says he forgives to hope. He knows it well that there is no one seeking forgiveness and, therefore, his offer has no value. But by doing so, he is desperately trying to claim the power of humanity for himself. It is a pathetic sight. How much time would Bandukwala’s tormentors need to realise that by making people like him powerless they were in fact robbing themselves of their humanity?

Such realisation on part of the tormentors is not easy, as journalist John Pilger tells us. He writes: “The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. It didn’t matter…”. Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis”.

Let us examine ourselves: Are we in the spell of hypnosis?

Monday, 30 May 2016

Jason Rhodes - In Service to Scarcity: The Pursuit of Value as the Production of Poverty

Jason Rhodes - In Service to Scarcity: The Pursuit of Value as the Production of Poverty
from Insurgent Notes: Journal of Communist Theory and Practice

Preface: While the left has had little success in developing a critique of capitalist value capable of informing either radical organizing strategies or an anti-capitalist narrative which reaches a popular audience, the conventional assumption that manifestations of economic value are reflections of social utility has escaped critical examination.This essay argues that exploring the roots and subsequent development of capitalist value theory over the course of the nineteenth century reveals a Janus-faced project:on the one hand, the development of a popular narrative which insists upon the “natural” inevitability of the scarcity which both backs value and precludes socialism, and on the other, an esoteric discussion of the need to channel the labor-power of society in directions that maintain the scarcity of the goods for which the majority exchange their time.Both the popular and the esoteric discussion had as their common enemy the nineteenth century socialists who argued that both the folly of capitalism and the potential of socialism could be readily seen, and explained, by way of a critical examination of the uses to which the collective labor-power of society were being put.What follows is intended to suggest the contemporary relevance of such an approach as radicals seek to develop narratives about imagined possibilities—which the discourses of value, both popular and esoteric, are deliberately designed to foreclose.

Introduction: The anti-capitalist left is in need of a coherent, popularly accessible critique of capitalist value.We live in a time in which well-researched exposés of capitalist crimes are common—think Monsanto, or the numerous studies that trace everyday objects to the labor and environmental horror stories at the production end of their supply chains—but do little, if anything, to explain the systemic logic that produces the conditions under discussion, much less spark subversive dialogue about possible alternatives to capitalism.Indeed, both elites and the public seem to be held in thrall by a “market populism” that suggests that freedom is found in the marketplace, and “radical” critiques of the systems that produce our food, clothing or electronics frequently conclude by urging us to “revolutionize” the market via a redirection of our purchasing power.

What’s missing, of course, is any critique of the institution of capitalist value, an understanding of which is obviously necessary for any attempt to analyze and explain what drives the allocation of time and resources in our society, or to provide a clear and comprehensible answer to the question, what are we chasing, or being compelled to chase, in this rat race?Being able to answer this question seems crucial to any effort to make a convincing case that the race be scrapped, or to projects animated by a desire to scrap it, or at leastprovide exits and resting points from it along the way.

Value theory is implicit in any attempt to explain the rat race.We’re familiar with the conventional wisdom.Money is the measure of value, and we express our own desires when we part with it, while fulfillingor attempting to fulfill, those of others as we chase it.In aggregate, this is the market, a map of our collective desires, and everyone knows, or is supposed to know, that it would be impossible to imagine a more efficient mechanism for channeling resources in what amounts to a non-stop process of voting on the market to inform the collectivity of our individual wants and needs.Calling it a rat race betrays a bad attitude, though if the characterization happens to be on target, it’s only because, at the end of the day, we are, by our very nature, all rats.

Marxist value theory, of course, is supposed to make short work of this nonsense.Marx tells us that value is the necessary labor-time embodied in the products and services that produce profit for capitalists, and thus serves capital in its inexorable drive for expansion.Workers are exploited in the capitalist production process because the time they spend producing the value equivalent of their subsistence, which they receive in wages, is exceeded by the time they spend working for the capitalist.This is the source of capitalist profit, which is the same thing as the exploitation of labor, and Marx’s value theory makes it possible to read capitalism as the insanity of a society that devotes its time to the pursuit of representations of that very time.

It’s all very heady, seemingly quite powerful stuff.Why, then, is there an apparent disconnect between Marxist value theory and a popular critique of the rat race capable of not just doing battle with, but destroying the banalities of someone like Thomas Friedman?Why is it so hard to draw direct connections between Marx’s account of capitalist value and political projects that inspire us with their potential for transformative change?

Perhaps it’s because by the time we get finished explaining (or attempting to explain) the discrepancy between the value embodied in an iPhone, measured in units of necessary labor time, and its price, the audience has left the room, and they’ve done so not simply because of the obscurity of the discussion, but because it has seemingly taken them so far afield from the concerns that brought them to the discussion in the first place.There is, undoubtedly, a solution to this problem, to be had if only we arrive at the correct reading and presentation of Capital, but I’d like to suggest an alternative route to a subversive critique of capitalist value, one that just might be capable of reaching and engaging a broad popular audience, and serve as a complement to, rather than replacement for, what we’ve learned about capitalism from Marx.

If we can think about political economy as a discourse of governance, not as a contest to see who can come up with the manual which most accurately describes “how the economy works,” it should be obvious enough that as radicals we should take a vital interest in the conception, or conceptions, of value which inform the projects of governance which are inscribed in our landscapes and do so much to structure our lives.In Capital, Marx did just that by taking the economic categories of David Ricardo, the then-reigning champion of bourgeois economics, and demonstrating that they exploded on their own assumptions.The principles of Ricardian economics have long since been decisively rejected by elites, however, specifically on the grounds of their uselessness for the development of tools of governance, with Keynes declaring that the teaching of Ricardo and his followers “is misleading and disastrous if we try to apply it to the facts of experience” (Keynes 1936).In what follows I’ll explore the history and implications of the value theory which triumphed over Ricardo’s precisely for its perceived superiority as a tool of governance, and argue that a plain-spoken indictment of capitalism as a colossal misapplication of time and resources, which has as its intention and effect the exchange of lifetimes of obedience for goods which require comparatively infinitesimal quantities of human labor for their production, can be derived directly from bourgeois value theory itself... read more: 

see also
A Historical View of Economic Categories