November 18, 2017 - No. 37

Amazon Pay-the-Rich Scheme

To Be or Not to Be in Control of Their Lives Confronts the Working Class


Cities bid for Amazon second headquarters -- another pay-the-rich scheme

Amazon announced its intention to open a new headquarters, HQ2, outside Seattle and solicited pay-the-rich schemes from any community in North America willing to pay the price. To entice bidders, Amazon said it would invest $5 billion and hire up to 50,000 workers in the winning city.

In its Request for Proposals, which closed October 19, the successful pay-the-rich scheme must include the following, amongst other demands:

Site/Building -- Suitable sites for buildings with "the best real estate options whether this be a redevelopment opportunity, a partnership with the state, province, local government, or new buildings."

Capital and Operating Costs -- A stable business-friendly environment and tax structure.

Incentives -- "Outline the type of incentive (i.e. land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, permitting, and fee reductions) and the amount."

"Labour Force" -- "A highly educated labour pool is critical and a strong university system is required."

Logistics -- Mass transit providing access to "significant population centers with eligible employment pools."

Timetable -- "The project requires an expeditious timetable for location decision and commencement of construction."

Cultural Community Fit -- "The Project requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long-term success. This includes the presence and support of a diverse population, excellent institutions of higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company, among other attributes."

Community/Quality of Life -- "The Project requires a significant number of employees. We want to invest in a community where our employees will enjoy living, recreational opportunities, educational opportunities, and an overall high quality of life. Tell us what is unique about your community."

James Thompson, a former executive of Amazon, told CBC in an interview, "The company [Amazon] will need to cast a wide net to attract thousands of people with the necessary technology skill set and will be open to workers coming from other countries. Since the process to obtain a work visa in the U.S. is difficult, Canada might be a good option for Amazon. On the other hand, the company would not respond well if there are no tax concessions or if workers tried to organize. Amazon has not responded well to unions."

Amazon is an Internet retail company that sells and delivers commodities to buyers. Most of the commodities it sells are produced by other companies that list their goods on Amazon's website. Commodities are stored in a regional warehouse and shipped to the buyer using Amazon's own delivery service, a contracted distributor or coming directly from the supplier. Amazon pockets a retail service fee for operating its website and acting as salesperson. The retail fee is a deduction from the original added-value workers produce in producing the commodities Amazon sells. From worldwide sales in 2016, Amazon declared a gross income of $135.98 billion. The company said this culminated in a company profit of $2.371 billion. It presently employs 541,900 workers.

U.S. companies such as Amazon, Uber and Airbnb use the advanced digital technology developed from the collective storehouse of human thought material not to benefit humanity but to further their narrow private interests and empire-building. The U.S. ruling elite exercise control over the global Internet and the communication satellites and other necessary equipment for digital commerce to function, and maintain an iron grip over worldwide financial transactions and currencies. Most international trade is conducted in the U.S. dollar, which requires countries to buy the U.S. currency and maintain it in reserve. Buying U.S. dollars is yet another form of sending tribute into the coffers of the U.S. imperialists. The U.S. military and associated non-governmental organizations threaten regime change, destabilization, economic blockades and even invasion of any country that attempts to break free from any aspect of the U.S.-led imperialist system of states. Stirring up trouble worldwide, organizing economic blockades, threatening war, occupying countries with military bases, engaging in invasions and regime change are important aspects of U.S. economic control. Arms sales are soaring and the U.S. is by far the greatest merchant of death on the planet.

U.S. imperialism's control of the global economy has been strengthened as a result of annexation of many economies, such as Canada's. U.S. monopolies use military-developed advanced technology, such as the Internet to bust up old arrangements and strengthen their control. Many Internet transactions between a seller and buyer in countries throughout the world result in money being taken out of the economies engaged in the exchange, ending up as tribute within the private coffers of monopolies in the United States.

The Concentration of Social Wealth in Fewer Hands

Control over the global economy of industrial mass production, distribution and circulation has become concentrated in the hands of a few private interests. The socialized nature of modern mass production, distribution and circulation is found in open conflict with the private relations of production dominated by the financial oligarchy of the main imperialist powers.

The contradiction between social and private is explosive as private interests such as Amazon cannot function as private companies without their social needs being met by other sectors and parts of the economy on which they rely. Ironically many of those companies are competitors and become targets for takeover or destruction. Most importantly, the private interests rely on the hundreds of millions of workers they require to operate. This reliance is bound together in an antagonistic social relation between the working class and its opposite the not-working class or financial oligarchy representing the private interests who own and control the basic sectors of the socialized economy and have amassed great social wealth from the value workers produce.

The powerful private interests, the not-working class or imperialist parasites, use their control of the social wealth the working class produces and their dominant positions within the state to extract anti-social concessions from workers and to argue that without state-organized pay-the-rich schemes, and state-supplied infrastructure, social programs and public services to support the private interests of the parasites, the economy will suffer, if not collapse, and workers will be left unemployed and destitute. This is a neo-liberal lie to fool the gullible, akin to parasites demanding the host allow them to continue devouring it and not take action to rid itself of the parasites. A new direction for the economy is required to cleanse the host of the parasites. That is the truth of the matter!

Working class concessions and state pay-the-rich schemes further concentrate social wealth in fewer hands and strengthen the control of private interests over both the economy and the lives of the working class, marginalizing people from the affairs that directly affect them and weakening those sections of the economy and regions from which value is removed. The backward and untenable excuse for continuing this state of affairs and not moving on to modern relations of production where the actual producers control the socialized economy for the greater good is that with the rich becoming richer a few crumbs will fall to the working people.

The contradiction between the socialized economy and private ownership is clearly seen in Amazon's demands within its Request for Proposals for its second headquarters and its refusal to recognize the rights of the working class. Its Request for Proposals demands the socialized economy, including the human factor, serve Amazon's empire-building and the private interests in control whose aim is to amass greater and greater social wealth and power for themselves. The reason these demands and aim exist as legitimate and are not widely denounced as predatory and backward is found within the current private relations of production, the constant state-organized attacks to deprive working people of a modern pro-social outlook, and U.S. imperialism's military, economic, political, social and cultural, especially ideological, domination of the world. This can only be turned around by the working class itself, organizing and engaging in actions with analysis to defend its rights, constantly strengthening its independent political movement and institutions and spreading far and wide its modern outlook upholding social consciousness and the human factor.

Amazon cannot function without the collective economy serving it under the overall control of U.S. imperialism. The various requirements of Amazon, with its immense gross income and fixed assets, and over half a million workers employed, are beyond anything it could provide itself and still be profitable without the various countries and economies within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states serving its needs. It cannot possibly educate its workforce to the required level or supply enough skilled workers to itself on its own. It cannot possibly provide the national, international and even outer space infrastructure it needs on its own. Even the problem of moving its workers to and from its worksites and their living quarters in mass transit cannot be resolved on its own without infringing on its aim for a maximum rate of profit. Everything Amazon and other imperialist monopolies require and do is interconnected with every other basic sector of the economy and most crucially with an iron grip over the human factor, the working class, within an antagonistic social relation of opposites where struggle is absolute and unity is relative.

The private Amazon investors demand a return that is impossible to meet unless the socialized economy provides services and infrastructure for free, and the half a million workers they employ restrict their claim on the value they produce and agree to work in a dehumanized environment without collective input in their terms of employment or equilibrium or relative unity in the social relation based on the recognition of workers' rights.

The Clash Between Form and Content, Between Private Relations of Production and a Socialized Economy

If Amazon and other monopolies are to operate as private entities, workers within the imperialist system of states who do the work and produce the social product and value within the socialized economy are expected to give up any control of the value they produce and over those affairs that affect their lives at work and generally in society, especially control of their workplaces and economy and affairs of state. Workers must give over control of the economy to a small privileged group who then exercise control over the parts and the whole, in contradiction with the whole, its interrelated parts, and the human factor. This is an explosive situation that cannot last in this form as revealed by recurring economic crises and war, and the many unresolved economic, political and social problems. The socialized content of the work has outgrown by far the private form of the relations of production between workers and the not-working class with its inherent class privilege and biased state organizations favouring a select few in control in opposition to the rights of the working people and their well-being and the general interests of society.

Amazon and other monopolies demand collective largesse from the whole while they remain competitive private enterprises out to build their own private empires in contradiction with other private interests and the collective whole. Amazon demands the socialized economy provide whatever it needs yet it remains committed to its own private empire-building, wealth and monopoly right to claim the value its workers produce and to seize or destroy other companies. Amazon even makes no bones about having Walmart and other powerful monopolies such as UPS and FedEx in its sights for destruction or takeover.

The aim of becoming richer and more powerful drives the ruling imperialist elite to demand and expect control over the socialized economy, the working class and state, and have them further their narrow aim and private interests. This private aim and control are incompatible with any aim to solve the economic, political and social problems of the modern world and the interconnected socialized economy of industrial mass production. Private control of the socialized economy is unable to meet the needs and well-being of the working people as that is not the aim. The aim and control of the ruling elite, which include the demand to pay the rich and make their class privilege, social wealth, control and power as great as possible, are not compatible with the socialized economy and are the root cause of the recurring economic crises and wars. Private control guided by the aim of making maximum profit for the privileged few cannot solve any of the pressing economic, political and social problems facing modern society.

The modern socialized economy requires cooperation amongst its sectors and parts not private competition. Only the working class can bring into being cooperation for mutual benefit and the greater good with a modern aim in conformity with the socialized economy and new socialized relations of production free from the confines of the antagonistic social relation between the working class and the not-working class.

The Clash of Aims and Outlooks

The narrow aim, outlook and control of the rich in defence of class privilege clashes with the broad rights of working people and their demand to control those affairs that affect their lives. The form of the relations of production and the state must change to conform to the socialized content of the modern economy in which the working people acquire their living and produce all social value and on which all people and society depend for their existence.

Private relations of production have a private aim within an antagonistic social relation with the working class. The privileged few in control demand the highest claim possible on the value the working class produces. The social assets of the economy and state are mobilized and directed to fulfil this private aim. Private interests compete for the social assets and fight for their particular private interests in battles to take over governing functions of the state to direct the social assets towards themselves. This fight amongst powerful private interests can degenerate into civil war such as is now bubbling within the United States. It cannot be otherwise within the current imperialist form.

For a new pro-social direction and form to occur, the imperialist aim and present private relations of production and state have to change to conform to the socialized nature of the content. Socialized relations of production have a socialized aim and outlook based on social consciousness and the human factor. The actual producers, the working people in control of their work and means of production, strive to meet the needs of the people from birth to passing away, to guarantee their well-being, rights and security. They strive to create a modern outlook, culture and civilized and just relations amongst individuals, between individuals and collectives, and between society and its individual members and collectives not based on property but on the right to be of all humanity, the right to be in control, on the rights that people have by virtue of being human.

Socialized relations of production allow the actual producers to unleash the full potential of the socialized economy and not have it wasted in destructive economic crises and war preparations and war. Socialized relations of production allow the working people to fulfil their aim, as they resolve the antagonistic social relation with the not-working class and gain their right as modern workers to manage the socialized economy with each part supporting each other and the whole for mutual benefit and the greater good, and to fulfil their right to claim the entire value they produce for use in nation-building to meet their own needs and the well-being of all, and for the extended reproduction of the economy and general interests of society. The new socialized form in conformity with the socialized content means the working people claim the entire social product they produce and engage in international trade on a state-to-state basis for mutual benefit and development.

To be or not to be in control confronts the working class as a burning question of life or death. The content of modern life cries out that its socialized work has been captured within a private form and this must change or humanity will perish. For the actual producers not to be in control of their work and lives, and not organize themselves to gain control means to extinguish in mutual ruin the contradiction between the socialized content and private form, the contradiction between the working people and the imperialists.

For the actual producers to be in control means to resolve the contradictions they face through revolution and embark on a modern nation-building project that vests control within the working people over their economy, politics, culture and society, and gives nation-building a modern aim and outlook to meet the needs of all and general interests of society in conformity to its socialized nature.

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