The UK Snoopers Charter

So, I wrote to my MP, Sam Gyimah about the new Bill that is trying to be shoved through UK parliament.

Hey Sam,

Haven’t written in a while, but this new ‘Communications Data Bill’ has really got me worried.

While I have absolutely nothing to hide, I believe that too many people having access to too much of my information – personal information – that can be easily accesses and held insecurely, is a terrible idea. I’m also fairly sure that, given the track record of data-loss by organisations in this country, the access will not be properly regulated.

Collecting and having access to this data by law-enforcement, with a warrant, is a good idea, but only in small measures and certainly not the broad strokes the bill lays out and without adequate safeguards.

Why is it the EVERYBODY’S data will be collected and stored – mine, yours, my mothers and not JUST those who are under suspicion? I pretty sure there is no good reason to collect this information about me without my consent and further, there can never be a reason why this data can be accessed so easily and without warrant. Who get’s to decide who accesses this data? Law enforcement. Do they need a reason? Probably not – that’s the meaning of warrantless.

Hiding under a shroud of “maintaining capability”, whatever THAT means, the bill, in it’s current form, is dangerous and alarming. Much of the data the bill makes reference too, held by services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, is much richer than that of a telephone conversation and, once mined, will probably highlight things about me that I don’t even know. This is invasive and most unwelcome.

This kind of snooping and data storage requires stringent oversight to make sure that people are not put at risk.

I have seen no evidence to support the need for this bill. It undermines the commitment of the coalition (which YOU are a part of Sam), to enhance our civil liberties.

I would like you, on my behalf, to oppose this bill unless it changes significantly. On top of that, I’d like you to make others aware of what dangers this poses and how it could be abused. Control over these kind of powers needs to be tightened, not loosened as this bill requires.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Pearce

Originally posted on

Radical Openness and #LiWoLi 2012

Tomorrow I head to Linz, Austria to participate in LiWoLi 2012.

LiWoLi: 24-26 May 2012
Location: I/O Stadtwerkstatt, Kirchengasse, Linz, Austria
LiWoLi is a community festival, open lab and annual meeting spot for artists, educators and developers using and creating Free Software (FLOSS), Open Hardware and Open Design in the artistic and cultural context. This event is all about sharing artistic skills, code and knowledge within the public domain and discussing the challenges of an open practice.
This year’s edition will have a special focus on artworks that can be created, performed or exhibited outdoors and in public space. Like every year, numerous activities such as lectures, workshops and audiovisual performances will take place during the course of this three-day festival.

Thinking about “the challenges of a open practice” gets me thinking about what “radical openness” could mean. On the surface, it could just mean really, really, extremely, very open. But that’s a overly colloquial understanding of the word radical, as in “totally rad,” as opposed to “radical critique.”

Extreme or drastic is not necessarily radical. Radical requires a fundamental transformation, change so deep it goes to the root, the “radix”. Radical has the a same linguistic root as “radish,” the edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family.

Thus, to be radical, a practice has to get at the root, to work towards a fundamental transformation, no matter how moderate or gradual.

Radical openness would not necessarily mean being as open as one could be, but rather working towards removing the fundamental obstacles to openness that exist, perhaps even in ways that are not open, or less open than we might like.

To be open, we need to be safe and we need to be alive.

To be safely open requires us to have the freedom and privileged to speak our mind, to do as we please. When what you want to say, or do is unwelcome by powerful forces, perhaps because what you are saying
or doing is something they consider threatening to their interests, you can not be safe. So long as inequality and intolerance exists in society, any chance we have to get the freedom to pursue radical openness requires us to have privacy, requires us to be able to chose
when and with whom to be open. Not having privacy means that we will have less openness.

Radical openness requires privacy.

To be alive we require food and shelter and the necessities of life, and in a capitalist society, what we do, our practice, is largely formed by our participation in the labour market, in order to obtain such necessities. As such, not only the practice, but what becomes of the results of our work, is determined not by our own wishes, but by the logic of capitalism. This logic means that in most cases we can not chose either the conditions of our labour nor the terms of distribution of what we create. For the masses, openness in terms of their productive life is simply not a practice they can chose. This means that the degree of openness that we can have is not determined by individual choice, but by collective struggle.

Radical openness requires collective struggle.

In this light, radical openness can only mean the collective struggle for a more open society, which is a society where open practice is not threatened by repression or economic consequence.

Which means that radical openness must be closed to violations of privacy and to economic exploitation.

I’ll be at stammtisch {2} this evening around 9pm as usual.


Commercialization makes your online rights irrelevant, more thoughts from my talk with @ioerror at #rp12

Last week I wrote about one of the topics Jacob Appelbaum and I discussed at our talk at Re:publica 2012 {1}; that as a result of the commercialization of the Internet, we have moved from free and open social platform, to the centralized social media monopolies we know today. Today I want to mention another issue that we covered, how commercialization is putting an end to the Internet as a public space.

It’s import to understand that it’s not that capital does not want to fund free and open platforms, or that capitalists choose not to: capital simply can not do so.

Capital can not fund free and open platforms because capitalists must capture profit or lose their capital, and thus for-profit platforms that can not capture profit must eventually vanish.

In order to capture profit, capitalist funded platforms must introduce choke-points and/or toll-gates into their platforms, because their business models depends on the control of user data and interaction, and therefore these platforms can not be free and open.

Thus, the prospects for free and open platforms returning in any mainstream form seem slim without alternatives to the profit motive to finance them.

Free and open communication platforms that don’t surveil, control or exclude can only be provided socially, as a public good.

However, in the current era of unchallenged neoliberal ideology imposing public austerity and community precariousness everywhere, building the social capacity to create alternative platforms at a scale that can displace Facebook and the others seems unlikely.

As these are commercial platforms, which are operated for profit, you only have the privilege of using the private platforms so long as you use them in ways that benefit the platform operator.

The result of this, is that using these platforms become the only popularly accessible way to communicate with the masses, whether your an activist, an artist, a journalist or anybody who has something to say, privately run social media platforms are the only way you have to reach the majority of people.

Activists, artists and journalists often have things to say that upset people, sometimes powerful people, who can create problems for the platform operators.

As nobody has any explicit right to use a private social platform, these platforms have a strong incentive to remove users and content that may create controversy.

The early internet was conceived as a sort of virtual public space. In his 1996 “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” John Perry Barlow writes “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

Barlow’s colleague John Gilmore famously claimed “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

The critical feature of the Net that gave rise to such freedom was the mesh topology of the network and the distributed and peer-to-peer architecture of the applications that ran on it.

The early Internet was a social platform that allowed groups and individuals to interact directly with each other, and thus, such communications where unmediated by any public or private third party. As a result, it was difficult to monitor and control such communications.

To preserve this freedom Barlow and Gilmore became two of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with Barlow’s declaration becoming something of a manifesto for the group.

The immediate threat was Government legislation intended to make the net more suitable for the purposes of commerce and law enforcement.

Barlow’s declaration warns how legislation such as the “Telecommunications Reform Act” (Telecommunications Act of 1996) are threatening to destroy the freedom of cyberspace. Barlow was so offended he claimed that the US 1996 act is one “which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis.”

The 1996 act was followed by many more in the US, as well as other countries. Some of these are well known. DMCA, SOPA, ACTA, The Digital Economy act 2010, the list goes on an on, all with the usual concerns: piracy and cybercrime. All part of the effort to make the Net safe for business and under the control of law enforcement.

Yet, none of these laws where ever able to totally take away the freedom Gilmore and Barlow sought to protect.

Since legislation is a public sphere, there is public contestation.

These laws where opposed by the EFF, along with other groups such as Le Quadrature du Net, along with large social mobilizations, and even by the emergence of a political wing in the form of the Pirate Party phenomenon.

Even if much of the opposition failed, some succeed. Certain laws where delayed, a few totally defeated, and many modified to include concessions.

Opposition did not only take political form, the laws where also flaunted and simply shown-up by inspiring renegade sites such as the Pirate Bay.

Legislating the public internet was no easy task when the people where willing to fight for their online rights.

Laws such as the DMCA where conceived in the days of a peer-to-peer internet. When groups and individuals controlled their own means of communications, by, for instance, running their own mail and news servers, their own web servers, etc.

If somebody was hosting content somebody else objected to, coercive laws where required to force the person to remove the content from their own server.

While these laws where written in such ways so as to favour the interests of intellectual property holders and law enforcers, they where none-the-less regulating the internet as a public sphere. They recognize some rights and liberties for both sides, and, though with unequal capacity, both sides had the chance to fight for these rights and liberties.

However, starved of sufficient financing, the original distributed and peer-to-peer applications, that where the communications tools of the public internet, began to be abandoned.

As capital can not fund such platforms, online communications has largely moved to privately controlled social media platforms. Being private, they are not subject to the contestation of the public sphere.

Our social space online has moved from the public square to the shopping mall.

From the public sphere where we can fight for our rights and influence the laws and bylaws that govern our conduct, where we can engage in civil disobedience when we oppose the rules, to the private sphere, where we have no rights, and can be expelled and excluded at the pleasure of the private owners of the platforms.

Today, if somebody is hosting content that somebody else objects to, that content is not likely to be hosted by a server they control, but rather by a commercial social platform. Such content can be removed with no due process, with no recognition of the rights and liberties of both parties, simply the unilaterally imposed rules of the platform operator.

In the case that the content is controversial, and the objecting party is powerful, the operator has strong incentive to remove it, and very little incentive to put themselves at risk to keep the content online.

The powerful interest that wish to control content online no longer need coersive laws to do so, they simply need co-operation from the platform owners. Such co-operation is happily provided by most operators, and is often even a precondition of their financing.

Commercialization has made online rights irrelevant

The world where “anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” can not exist on Facebook, and can not be built by capital.

I’ll be at Cafe Buchhandlung at 9pm as usual tonight. Please join us.


Privacy, Moglen, @ioerror, #rp12

re:publica 2012

Privacy, Moglen, @ioerror, #rp12

I gave a talk with Jacob Applebaum at last week’s Re:publica conference in Berlin.

It seems it had fallen to us to break a little bad news. Here it is.

– We are not progressing from a primitive era of centralized social media to an emerging era of decentralized social media, the reverse is happening.

– Surveillance and control of users is not some sort of unintended consequence of social media platforms, it is the reason they exist.

– Privacy is not simply a consumer choice, it is a matter of power and privilege.

Earlier at Re:publica, Eben Moglen, the brilliant and tireless legal council of the Free Software Foundation and founder of the FreedomBox Foundation, gave a characteristically excellent speech.

However, in his enthusiasm, he makes makes a claim that seems very wrong.

Moglen, claims that Facebook’s days as a dominant platform are numbered, because we will soon have decentralized social platforms, based on projects such as FreedomBox, users will operate their own federated platforms and form collective social platforms based on their own hardware, retain control of their own data, etc.

I can understand and share Moglen’s enthusiasm for such a vision, however this is not the observable history of our communications platforms, not the obvious direction they seem to be headed, and there is no clear reason to believe this will change.

The trajectory that Moglen is using has centralized social media as the starting point and distributed social media as the place we are moving toward. But in actual fact, distributed social media is where we started, and centralized platforms are where we have arrived.

The Internet is a distributed social media platform. The classic internet platforms that existed before the commercialization of the web provided all the features of modern social media monopolies.

Platforms like Usenet, Email, IRC and Finger allowed us to do everything we do now with Facebook and friends. We could post status updates, share pictures, send messages, etc. Yet, these platforms have been more or less abandoned. So the question we need to address is not so much how we can invent a distributed social platform, but how and why we started from a fully distributed social platform and replaced it with centralized social media monopolies.

The answer is quite simple. The early internet was not significantly capitalist funded, the change in application topology came along with commercialization, and it is a consequence of the business models required by capitalist investors to capture profit.

The business model of social media platforms is surveillance and behavioral control. The internet’s original protocols and architecture made surveillance and behavioral control more difficult. Once capital became the dominant source of financing it directed investment toward centralized platforms, which are better at providing such surveillance and control, the original platforms were starved of financing. The centralized platforms grew and the decentralized platforms submerged beneath the rising tides of the capitalist web.

This is nothing new. This was the same business model that capital devised for media in general, such as network television. The customer of network television is not the viewer, rather the viewer is the product, the “audience commodity.” The real customer is the advertisers and lobby groups that want to control this audience.

Network Television didn’t provide the surveillance part, so advertisers needed to employ market research and ratings firms such as Nielson for that bit. This was a major advantage of social media, richer data from better surveillance allowed for more effective behavioral control than ever before possible, using tracking, targeting, machine learning, behavioral retargeting, among many techniques made possible by the deep pool of data companies like Facebook and Google have available.

This is not a choice that capitalist made, this is the only way that profit-driven organizations can provide a public good like a communication platform. Capitalist investors must capture profit or lose their capital. If their platforms can not capture profit, they vanish.

So, if capitalism can not fund free, federated social platforms, what will? For Moglen’s optimistic trajectory to pan out, this implies that funds can come from the public sector, or from volunteers/donations etc? But if these sectors where capable of turning the tide on social media monopolies, wouldn’t they have already done so? After all, the internet started out as a decentralized platform, so it’s not like they had to play catch-up, they had a significant head start. Yet, you could fill many a curio case with technologies dreamed up and abandoned because they could not be sustained without financing.

Give the continuous march of neoliberal public sector retrenchment, the austerity craze, and the ever increasing precariousness of most communities, it seems unlikely the public or voluntary sectors will be the source of such a dramatic turnaround. Given the general tendency of capitalist economies toward accumulation and consolidation, such a turnaround seems even less likely.

Thus, there is no real reason to believe Moglen’s trajectory will come about. The obstacle to decentralized social media is not that it has not been invented, but the profit-motive itself. Thus to reverse this trajectory back towards decentralization, requires not so much technical initiative, but political struggle.

So long as we maintain the social choice to provision our communication systems according to the profit motive, we will only get communications platforms that allow for the capture of profit. Free, open systems, that neither surveil, nor control, nor exclude, will not be funded, as they do not provide the mechanisms required to capture profit.

Facebook is worth billions precisely because of it’s capacity for surveillance and control. Same with Google.

Thus, like the struggle for other public goods, like education, child care, and health care, free communication platforms for the masses can only come from collective political struggle to achieve such platforms.

In the meantime, we have many clever and dedicated people contributing to inventing alternative platforms, and these platforms can be very important and worthwhile for the minority that will ever use them, but we do not have the social will nor capacity to bring these platforms to the masses, and given the dominance of capital in our society, it’s not clear where such capacity will come from.

As surveillance and control is enforced by the powerful interests of capital, privacy and autonomy become a question of power and privilege, not just consumer choice.

It’s not simply a question of choosing to use certain platforms over others, it’s not a question of openness and visibility being the new way people live in a networked society. Rather it’s a fact that our platforms are financed for the purpose of watching people and pushing them to behave in ways that benefit the operators of the platform and their real customers, the advertisers, and the industrial and political lobbies. The platform exists to shape society according to the interests of these advertisers and lobbies.

As such, how coercive these platforms are largely depend on the degree to which your behaviour is aligned with the platform-operators’ profit-driven objectives, and thus privacy and autonomy is not just a feature any given platforms my or may not offer, but determine the possibility of resistance, determine our ability to work against powerful interests’ efforts to shape society in ways we disagree with. As Jake said at our talk “We can’t have post-privacy until we are post-privilege”

Eliminating privilege is a political struggle, not a technical one.

I’ll be at Stammtisch as usual around 9pm, please come by, anybody still hanging around after #rp12 is more than welcome to join us. You can find us here:

Arts & Economics Group // Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h

Y o u a r e c o r d i a l l y i n v i t e d t o t h e :
Art & Economics Group comeback at West Germany, Berlin
hosted by Gitte Bohr

Quarterly Forum 2012, Q2

Presented by:
Tanja Ostojic / David Rych / Dmytri Kleiner
On behalf of the A r t & E c o n o m i c s G r o u p

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h

West Germany, Skalitzer Straße 133, Berlin-Kreuzberg

– One day exhibition of Art-bonds 2007-2012
– Quarterly report
– Theoretical lecture by Diego Castro
– Auction of the special edition of art-bonds designed by Diego Castro
– Discussion

After a break due to the economical recession, the come-back of the Quarterly Workshop of the Art &Economics group will be held on
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 19:00h at “West Germany” in Berlin-Kreuzberg. This will be the first in a series of quarterly discussions held this year.

The Art & Economics Group, established in Berlin in 2007 by Tanja Ostojic, David Rych and Dmytri Kleiner, investigates the intersection of art and political economy. For the first two years Art & Economics Group Quarterly Forums were regularly hosted by Project Room 35 and Wooloo
Productions Berlin. After a break due to the economic recession and the closure of those two art spaces, Quarterly Forums have since 2010 been hosted by the Museum of American Art Berlin and at other different venues.
The program of the Quarterly Forums (QF) includes: quarterly report, guest of the evening, auction of special edition of art bonds designed by the guest of the evening, and discussion. Topics include political economy as a theme in art, the economics of art production and economic activity as an action based art practice.

Among the guests we had before are: Diego de La Vega, Alex Nikolic from Slum TV, former artist Goran Djordjevic, Stefan Kurr,, etc.

Our guest of the evening Diego Castro (*1972 in Hanover) is a German-Spanish artist and researcher. His artworks, mostly drawings, video and installation, deal with political, historical and social issues. He is currently working on his PhD thesis on a critique of participation in art and as a leitmotif within the framework of post-fordist work ethics. In his theoretical lecture of the evening he will address the problem of the economic value of participation and of participation as labour.

Looking forward to discussing with you!

Yours sincerely,

Art & Economics Group

Contact: Art & Economics Group:
Gitte Bohr: /
Diego Castro:

Location: Gitte Bohr @ West Germany, Skalitzer Straße 133, Berlin-Kreuzberg
(entrance next to “Effendi-Optik”), U8/U1 “Kottbusser Tor”
Gitte Bohr – Club für Kunst und politisches Denken

Revolutionary Flows of Value in the Macroeconomy


In continuation from the last two essays looking at the macroeconomics  of class struggle (#1)  (#2) we will try to describe the process of revolution within the framework as developed so far.

The old acrimonious accusations between so-called “Reformist” and so-called “Revolutionary” positions are counter productive.

The reformist strives to improve certain conditions within the current society. A revolutionary strives for a complete transformation of society. In the context of the struggle against economic exploitation, a reformist fights for wages and benefits by organizing collectively and politically against capital, while the revolutionary organizes collectively and politically towards to abolition of capitalism.

Reformists argue the revolutionaries are unrealistic and divisive, while revolutionaries consider the reformists delusional and as simply serving to preserve capitalism.

In many cases, both are right.

Utopianism (#3 #4) is rampant among reformists, making& much of what is proposed among proponents of so-called “Alternative Economics” utterly nonsensical.

However, one must differentiate among those engaging in direct struggle for wages and benefits, that is, those who recognize and acknowledge class conflict, and those who, as Marx wrote, “want to improve the condition of every member of society, even that of the most favored. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at large, without distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For how can people, when once they understand their system, fail to see it in the best possible plan of the best possible state of society?” That is, those that “reject all political, and especially all revolutionary, action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, and endeavor, by small experiments, necessarily doomed to failure.”

And conversely, certain kinds of nihilism and disassociation are rampant among revolutionaries. A tendency to mock and often even hold in contempt all those who are actively trying to improve the conditions of life within capitalism, sometimes with the extremely vulgar belief that to abolish capitalism we must not improve the conditions of life within it, or even actually celebrate its further decline, for only when the conditions become so miserable that they become unbearable will the masses rise up and abolish capitalism!

Thus, those trying to improve the conditions of life are actually counter-revolutionaries, and those remaining aloof and inactive are the true revolutionaries!

Just as much as Utopianism is to be rejected, this view, what we might call “Cataclysmism” must likewise be rejected.

Neither waiting for the collapse of the ruling class, nor appealing for their mercy will lead to communism. Social collapse is much more likely to lead to despotism and fascism than communism. Appeals will fail because the ruling class is compelled to protect their privilege by any means necessary, just as the workers are compelled to keep working. If they fail to do so, they lose their privilege, not to the working classes, but to competing elites.

Any realistic path to overcoming economic exploitation requires both reform and revolution.

Which brings us back to Macronomic Identities.

Our capacity to change society begins with what I have described as “The social capacity of workers to invest” and identified macroenomically as Iw.

If Iw is zero, we can not change society at all, because we are not able to retain any more wealth than is required for our own subsistence. Thus we would have no wealth available to apply towards organizing collectively or politically towards anything at all, only just enough to toil another day.

The working of the capitalist labour market will always push Iw toward zero, thus only through political struggle is Iw kept above zero.  Our revolutionary capacity depends on pushing for as much reform as possible, whatever serves to increase wage levels and benefits gives us more left over to invest towards revolutionary aims.

However, such reforms will not serve our purposes unless they come with revolutionary aims. Increases in wages and benefits are easily absorbed in capitalist consumption, often simply in increased rents, if not intentionally intvested in worker’s productive capacity.

We can understand flows between modes of production similar to the way that imports and exports are understood.

Returning to our basic macroeconomic identity, W + P =  C + I, if we want to factor in imports and exports we can say that W + P = C + I + N, wages plus profits are equal to Consumption plus Investment plus net exports, that us exports minus imports. This allows us to look at the macroeconomy of one country within a global context that includes other countries.

A country can increase it’s wages and profit above what it’s own consumption and investment can fund when it has a trade surplus because the consumption from other countries are funding wages and profits within the country. However, at the global level net exports must always be zero, so a trade surplus in one country implies a trade deficit elsewhere.

When a country has a trade deficit then N is negative, meaning that the country’s total wages and profits are below it’s consumption and investment. This naturally means that the country is building debt and thus, such a situation is not normally sustainable. The economy of the country with a trade deficit is shrinking relative to the economy of the country with the trade surplus.

We can look at intermodal economic flows in the same way.

We can define the capitalist sector of the economy with P + Wm = Cm + Ip + Nm, or profits plus wages of workers working for capital equals consumption of the output of capital (market consumption) plus investment derived from profit plus net intermodal consumption. That is, the “exports” from the capitalist sector to the communist sector minus the “imports” from the communist sector to the capitalist sector.

Whenever money earned in the capitalist sector is used to consume wealth produced in the communist sector, the net effect is that the capitalist sector shrinks relative to the communist sector, and vice versa.

Conversely, we can define the communist economy as Wc = Cc + Iw + Nc, that is wages of commons-based producers are equal to commons based consumption plus workers’ investment plus net intermodal consumption.

Of course, Nm + Nc = Zero.

Thus, economic reformism is only to be dismissed with it simply increases Cm and thereby does not change the balance of economic power, while a revolutionary must strive to push Nc above zero, for if it can be sustained as such then this means the inevitable disappearance of the capitalist sector.

To abolish capitalism and replace it with a commons based economy we need to build an intermodal trade surplus.

I’ll be at Stammtisch as usual at 9pm (#5).  Please come!









The Macroeconomic Identity of Communism

Travels have kept me from posting a new article here in quite a while, however despite the long break, I’d none the less like continue the train of thought from the last article, “It’s The Macroeconomy, Stupid.” [1]

In that article, I start by explaining that a macroeconomic identity, as an accounting identity, is an equality that must be true, no matter what the values of its variables are. I use these economic identities to develop the argument that the goals of the economic elite are not to maximize the level of productive output of the whole economy, but rather to maximize their share of total wealth, at any level of economic output.

This point of view explains the seemingly inexplicable austerity programs being inflicted world wide. Cutting public spending in response to a private debt crisis looks like economic insanity. Understanding that the goal of the economic elite is increasing their share of wealth not the total economic output helps unveil the logic at work.

Class struggle is not a struggle over how much output the entire economy produces, but over the relative portion of wealth that is retained by the contesting classes. The classes that are able to retain the greater portion are able to impose their interests over the others. The class conflict is won by the classes that retain the most wealth.

The proposed macroeconomic identity X = C + Ip – Iw is an expression of the concentration of income, Income concentration is equal to Consumption (C) plus Capitalist Investment (Ip) minus The social capacity of workers to invest (Iw).

This expresses what is really being contested. The owners of the means of production essentially want Iw to be as close to zero as possible, because that portion of workers’ income does not flow back to capital and thus does not reproduce it.

So, if the Capitalists want Iw to be driven down to zero, what would workers’ want? What would these variables look like under communism, a society where the working classes retained the entire product of their labour? Well, to start with, a society that did not to pay tribute to owners and rulers would not necessarily engage in market transactions at all, producing and sharing would likely take generalized and gift forms. However, lets stick with the theoretical and imagine we can express what the value flows might look like, if they where measurable.

Starting again with the identity P + W = C + I, profit plus wages = consumption plus investment, Kalecki broke down C as Cw and Cp to distinguish the consumption of Capitalists from the Consumption of workers. This, however, assumes that no other relevant mode of production exists.

Somewhere, Marx argues that a capitalist commodity can not properly be considered produced until it is consumed. That is, since capital makes commodities, not to fulfill needs or wants per se, but to increase capital, the production cycle is not complete until the product has been consumed and thus created profit. This is sometimes referred to as Valorization. The C in the above identity represents capital valorizing consumption.

However, what about the production that results from what we define as Iw, the social capacity of workers to invest? In order to change the structure of wealth, workers’ must prevent this income flow from valorizing capital and becoming profit, it must instead return to workers.

Thus, for our purposes, P + W = C + I can not be expanded simply as P + W = Cw + Cp + Iw + Ip, because it is not interesting to us whether consumption is by capitalists or by workers, but whether the proceeds of such consumption become profit or flow back to workers. So, let’s replace workers’ consumption (Cw) and capitalists consumption (Cp) with a different breakdown; commons-based consumption (Cc) and market-based consumption (Cm).

Now we have P + W = Cc + Cm + Iw + Ip. We can now separate this out further to reflect the economic power of capital vs the economic power of labour, using P = Cm + Ip and W = Cm + Iw. And thereby derive a rate of exploitation: E = Cm + Ip / Cc + Iw.

Just like Iw represents the social capacity of workers to invest, and thereby the dissolution of capital, it’s counterpart Cm represents that portion of surplus value that is retained by capital but not invested in production. So just as Capitalists need to drive Iw toward zero in order to maintain their class power, Communists need to push Cm towards zero in order to abolish class.

To imagine a macroeconomic identity for communism, no ready means of measuring the totality of I or C would exists as people would not produce and share for exchange value, the ultimate measure would be what did not exist: The need to measure exchange values in order to calculate profit.

Thus, the macroeconomic identity of communism is simple. Cm = 0.

We have achieved communism when everyone can get everything they need without valorizing any private capital. Which brings us back to how we can get there, and counter-politics, venture communism and insurgent finance, I will continue this theme over the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime, I look forward to being at Stammtisch [2] tonight around 9pm, please come by if you can.


Photos: R15N Exhibition at Aksioma, Ljubljana

R15N is up and running in Ljubljana until April 6 – together with our Miscommunication Technologies / R15N exhibition at Aksioma.

All previous R15N users are welcome to reactivate their accounts and initiate calls from the website, and spread your messages through Ljubljana and the world. Those of you in Ljubljana will have the added benefit of being able to initiate calls through the magic button and telephone at Aksioma.

Thanks to Janez, Marcela, Walter, Sonja & Mojca at Aksioma, to t_bazz  and the Transmediale reSource, to all the people we met, and all of you who keep miscommunicating through R15N.

It’s the Macroeconomy, Stupid. To understand neoliberal policy you need to look at the structure, not the level of wealth.

Illustration: Jonas Frankki

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about macroeconomic identities. An accounting identity is an equality that must be true, no matter what the values of its variables are.

Macroeconomics has many such identities. For instance, Y = P + W. Meaning total income (Y) is equal to profits (P) plus wages (W). As this is an accounting identity, this must always be true, and therefore any change in either profits or wages must either be compensated by an inverse change in the other, or be reflected in a change in total income [1].

This identity tells you that when profits grow faster than income growth, that wages must be falling. When profits grow and wages fall, this generally means wealth is concentrating.