Post-Capitalism

Novara Media hosted a session called “Technology and Post Capitalism” at #lab17’s The World Transformed, unfortunately it clashed with the CLPD intro and I couldn’t make it, but they video’d it and posted it on YouTube.

I have watched it now, and here are my notes.

It’s not obvious from this, but from Mason’s Post Capitalism, he believes the correct exchange value for software is free. It’s a long argument which I need to re-read but it’s obvious that using classical theory of the firm and marginal utility theory this is the case, but Mason argues under a Labour Theory of Value model it should also be free, as he argues in his book and on the video quoting Marx’s Grundrisse and the fragment on machines, software is social knowledge. (I need to reread the chapter on LTV to better articulate how it sees software as free).

Later in the panel, they raise the question of platforms as business and the ease by which they could be co-operativised. It starts from a rant from Mason about Uber, who have just lost their licence to trade in London. But if the moral , legal, true/optimal economic price for software is free, then Uber could be nationalised with compensation for pennies and the real wealth creators (and in Uber’s case capital stake holders) allowed to own the company and retain the surplus value.

What’s of course interesting is that if there is an overwhelming moral case and even a welfare optimisation case for the public ownership of platform co-ops, then we need to recognise that banks are platform companies. The real stake holders are the savers, its hard to see what stake shareholders have in a modern bank.

They rightly spoke about climate change and the energy industry. Mason repeated his argument that, possibly, only a centrally planned solution of the energy markets will be able to reduce temperature growth to 2%. Alice Bell spoke of the small starts being made at instrumenting and digitalising the power grid and the conversation moved on to smart meters and smart home controllers. The questions were asked about who controls/owns the data. The benefits of automating power distribution are clear in that it’ll help reduce the demand. But who owns the data, in the case of the datenkraken’s home IT controllers, the data will be available to the device vendor. We should recognise that the smart meters, being rolled out today were designed to minimise cost and designed several years ago, they are going to run out of capability and will become insecure.

Bell pointed out the macro governance regime that generators have to sell to the grid and consumers buy from it. She remarked on the difference in the Brighton’s sea horizon view, with its new windmills. This all raises question of democratic control of the energy industry. One feature not explored, which to me is important is that basically energy can’t be stored and its wasteful to transmit it. 30% of power generated is lost in transmission. This it would seem suggests that a decentralised power generation scheme would serve society better; our problem at the moment is that we are commissioning nuclear power stations to reduce carbon consumption which requires large amounts of capital; this implies funding via government bonds or shares. I am definitely of the view that we need to re-engineer the grid and consumer units to reduce the wastage.

Another unmentioned fact is that 7% of the UK power consumption is driving IT. This all converts to heat; experiments on reusing this heat have not proved successful and the concentration of IT into data centres caused by the relatively slow speeds of even the fastest system interconnections are also physical centralising tendencies. Mason even argued that data is a public good and should be centrally stored. I don’t think this is going to happen; it completely ignores the gravitational attributes of data (and its volume).

The issue of data ownership and even market efficiency raised the issue of ownership models. Labour’s white papers on new co-operative models were briefly noted but as above, we need to review ownership models and capital funding models.

In a world where finance capital is no longer scarce, we no longer need the joint stock company, limited liability and fiduciary duty. The time for consumer/worker co-ops has come.

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The presenters are introduced at the beginning of the video, David Harvey, Paul Mason, Alice Bell and James Medway.

Post-Capitalism

Counting Votes

Advice from someone who’s been there!

Important lessons learned & tips for tellers. PLEASE READ & SHARE.

  1. Make sure the meeting elects competent & confident tellers. Officers/Councillors/MP are NOT entitled to count by virtue of their position.
  2. Carefully count numbers of eligible voters in the room for each vote.
  3. Ballot papers should only be issued to eligible people in the correct number.
  4. Make sure only tellers collect ballot papers from members – no one else should do this. (Ballot papers SHOULD be posted into ballot boxes. We are looking into getting these for our meetings).
  5. No of ballots cast should match to no of voters. Check & confirm independently. In no circumstances, should
  6. Count votes for each candidate. Tellers should double check each other’s counts & re count until agreed. Do not be afraid to recount. Everyone should be satisfied that the count is correct. Don’t be rushed.
  7. Make a note of total ballots cast, total for each candidate & any missing or spoilt papers. Numbers should all add up. If ballots are unclear they can’t be counted.
  8. No one should count or handle ballots who’s not an elected teller. If someone is interfering or distracting you whilst counting don’t be afraid to ask them not to!
  9. If anything odd happens, someone else collects ballots , ballots are missing or additional ballots cast raise this immediately and ask for a fresh ballot to be held.
  10. All the tellers must certify the result in writing, and the results announced.

If anything has been missed please comment below.

Counting Votes

Labour Pains

Last night’s General Committee was due to catch up on the motions backlog and receive reports from our Conference delegates. The agenda was packed as usual with the addition of a guest speaker from Unite who spoke mainly about Racism in the SE London NHS.

The meeting got off to a bumpy start when one of the delegates asked Vicky if the Momentum meeting speaker MP, Chris Williamson had asked her permission to speak in the constituency and if she had a view on the fact that a man was supporting Kath Dunbar, the Left candidate for women’s officer at the November AGM. She seemed particularly upset that a man was getting involved in the Women’s Officer election.  My understanding is that Chris did speak to Vicky. Given the incumbent Women’s Officer was imposed by the Centre-Right majority in opposition to the women’s forum nominee at a vote that included the male delegates, this is the last place I’d start.

The delegation reported back, that they’d interpreted their mandate as a requirement to vote to include the Brexit topic in the priorities ballot and had done so, in some cases against their personal inclination. They reported on the rules debate, but not highlighting the Brighton Pavilion’s refusal to remit their motion. The spoke at length about the change in the disciplinary rules, which has been reported elsewhere; basically, acts of racist or discriminatory speech are now against the rules, and will be dealt with under Chapter 6 processes, previously there was an absolute free speech defence.

An important event at conference was the exercising of the procedural motion to refer back paragraphs of the National Policy Forum report, this was new tactic enabled by a rule change in 2016. Conference referred the policy on Welfare cuts because it didn’t promise to reverse the Tory cuts and referred back the section on Education because it was insufficiently strong on democratic control of schools. I missed this but would have particularly enjoyed it as we had proposed this as a central piece of our opposition to Grammar schools and been badly stitched up in the Composite meeting and our words removed.

Rebecca focused on Woman’s Conference; it was the first time that it had been a policy making conference and Rebecca revealed that new rules had been written to enable the delegate to Woman’s Conference to obtain a mandate from female members only. Neither she nor I know why we didn’t do this.

The three of them reported on the fringe events and policy forums; it’s much easier to speak at these. When Maisie Sanders reported that she, like several others in the CLP including me, had attended the Stop the Purge meeting, chaired by Mark Sandell, the excluded ex-Chair of Brighton District Labour Party, she was interrupted by Mel Ward, who accused her of supporting a proscribed organisation i.e. the AWL by attending the meeting and by selling the Clarion which she wrongly alleged was an AWL paper. After about 15 secs of this, Rebecca Lawrence walked from the back of the room, and interrupted Mel Ward’s attack and expressed her disgust at the speech and her determination to stand in solidarity with Maisie; she was joined by Anshu.

The meeting had been advertised as an attempt to catch up on our backlog of Motions; it wasn’t to be. We had two emergency motions both on planning issues. I moved my motion on Tidemill Gardens development. For those following this, you’ll know that the New Cross councillors were split with Cllr Joe Dromey being given the unusual privilege of addressing the Planning Committee where he spoke in favour of the planning application; Councillor Dacres supported the objections. As I moved the motion, Cllr Dromey heckled me twice to the extent where I asked him to stop by pointing out that shouting at people while speaking wasn’t how we did things in the Labour Party; it would seem not everyone agrees as it is the second time he’s done this, although not to me.

A motion opposing the Silver St. development was also moved. In this case, the central reason for opposition is the height of the building and the light pollution i.e. shadows on current resident’s gardens.

It interests me that after Labour Conference, it would seem that support for private sector led regeneration by Labour’s members is on the wane. Councils are going to have to catch up.

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Anshu’s report has been posted on face book and is mirrored here.

Labour Pains

Tidemill

I am proposing the following motion to the Lewisham Deptford Labour Party General Committee.

This CLP resolves to send the following motion to London Regional Conference

“This Conference notes

1. The passing of Composite 5 on Housing at Labour Conference 2017
2. Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s speech in which he stated “Regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators … [&]… councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”
3. That Lewisham Council Strategic Planning committee approved planning permission to redevelop the Old Tidemills School site involving the redevelopment (destruction) of 16 council houses and the loss of Tidemills Community Gardens.
4. That further planning permissions involving the loss of council houses in Lewisham Deptford have been prepared.
5. That Councils have a duty to follow the direction of the Mayor’s Housing Plan

This Conference calls on the Mayor of London to call in planning permissions granted which involve the destruction of social housing”

This CLP instructs the Secretary to write to the Mayor of London informing him of this motion calling on him to “call in” the Tidemills Planning Application.

Tidemill

Godalming Three

I have now spoken to one of the Guildford Three. They were expelled for organising a public meeting to explore a common/shared candidate. The General Committee had voted to explore the possibility of a “Progressive Alliance” candidate. A public meeting was organised, the three Labour organisers were expelled. A candidate was imposed. In response, the General Committee voted a zero budget for the SW Surrey Campaign and donated what they would have spent to their nearest marginal, Ealing Central. Most of SW Surrey CLP’s leadership travelled to support Labour candidates in other seats.

Steve Williams, after his expulsion, nominated Louise Irving, the NHAP candidate. As he says, once expelled the rules have no power.

The three people expelled are all Corbyn supporters, of course, and leading activists in the CLP.

On one hand, you can see how a beleaguered head office, gearing up for an election they expected to be smashed in, would have had little time to deal with this in a sensitive fashion, but they are so used to getting away with it, that they roll out the old rule 4.I.2.B again.

Godalming Three