Wednesday, September 25, 2013

America’s Cup is half empty


The America’s Cup contest is over. The Billionaire Oracle Team leader Larry Ellison won. The Emirates Airline/Team NZ lost. Here we have a marvellous expression of what is good and bad about capitalism. Capitalism wins. The new technology and design skills which produce big cats that stand out of the water on tiny foils, fuses developments in high tech materials and advanced computer design. It is a leading edge, or more appropriately, foil edge, of what drives technical advances in labour productivity and thus profits. There will be massive spinoffs into industries of all sorts in the same way as technical advances in the military and space travel have given us cyber-technology and drones. While we can admire the new technology and the skill or those using it, we cannot separate the fact that this technology is branded “intellectual property of the US ruling class.”

Yet capitalism also loses. US imperialism is on a downward spiral as its global hegemony is challenged by the rise of China. Its struggle for survival means a massive sucking of resources including intellectual property from the underdeveloped and emerging nations like NZ creating a widening gap between the huge wealth in the hands of a few hundred billionaires at one pole, and the poverty and misery of a growing mass of workers at the other pole. This is because each advance in technology means the expulsion of living labour from the productive economy. High tech increases productivity of labour so fewer workers can produce more commodities in less time. However, because technology is only employed if it makes a profit capitalism faces an insoluble limit. Increasing labour productivity that does produce value cannot compensate for the rising cost of capital invested in plant and technology that does not produce value. Instead of us all sharing in the growing wealth and working less labour time, falling profits leads to stagnation and the destruction of wealth, and the collapse of the Earth’s ecology and survival of humanity.

The fallout from this contradiction is the inevitable decline of capitalism as it expels workers from production, squeezes the middle class down into poverty, and sucks all the wealth into the pockets of the 0.1%. The ruling class can attempt to mask this widening inequality by creating spectacular contests such as the America’s cup, when national pride is at stake. Yet such contests are simulations of trade wars and military standoffs and training grounds to prepare workers in the US camp to prepare for economic and military wars. So “NZ” and the “US” may be rivals in the America’s Cup but they are actually financed by US billionaires and oil sheiks whose main objective is to enlist the poor and oppressed masses in the US imperialist camp in its economic and military struggle against the China/Russia imperialist camp. 

As revolutionaries we say we need to expropriate the obscene wealth of the capitalist ruling class and plan the economy to produce what the masses need and not to increase the profits of the few. We can do that easily as the accumulated technology produced by the collective labour of workers under capitalism can be appropriated to allow us to share in this wealth - “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”. We can do it by reducing the labour time that is necessary to reproduce our species and all other species and restore the ecological balance to the Earth. The “America’s Cup” that stands for the rise of capitalism from the conquest of the ‘new world’ to its terminal decline in the 21st century, will be replaced by the ‘cup that overfloweth’ held collectively in the hands of humanity.

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