Resolution for a Method of Arriving at Program and Strategy

Establishing a Database for Revolutionary Planning
as a Work of the Unemployed Councils

We are all aware of the general concepts of "praxis" and "social reproduction".  We understand that the "means of existence" of each of our lives are the product of a world-spanning web of intermeshing human activities, a global labor-process, which is now shriveling up and breaking down.

But precisely because this global metabolism that sustains our life is now, by virtue of its capitalist form, collapsing in on itself, the time has come when we must fulfill the concepts of "praxis" and "social reproduction" with actual content. We must get beyond the concepts in general to grasp the specific, detailed content of the social reproductive praxis now going on.

This means mastering a vast sea of information. We can do this by taking over a very powerful technique for the organization and presentation of such data which has already been developed, and adapting it to our specific purposes.

The attached resolution proposes, as an ongoing project of each local unemployed council, the construction and maintenance of a model of its local "unit of reproduction" and of the detailed relation of this unit to the rest of the global economy, as a database for developing program and strategy, for anticipating coming developments and their strategic and tactical implications, and, in the end, for planning the detailed process of expropriation of capital.

As we enter what may well be the final decades of the decadent phase of capital, habits of struggle developed in the ascendant phase must, as a comrade last night pointed out, be discarded as no longer useful. In the decadent phase, reforms are increasingly impossible for capital to afford, and we as workers must prepare ourselves and our class to assume responsibility for social reproduction, as capital (wage-labor) becomes increasingly irreproducible; impossible as the social relation of reproduction, and as the bourgeoisie and bureaucracy are forced by their position to destroy, rather than perpetuate, the reproductive potential of humanity. We can no longer successfully make "demands" upon Daddy Capital and Mommy the State, petitioning the government as a class of capitalist society to grant us certain "rights" or "favors". We must be developing ourselves in the direction of a class-for-itself, wherein we grasp conceptually and practically our own self-production, and work to agreement among ourselves, not what we "demand" of others, but what we plan to do ourselves.

We, as workers, must develop the experience of and confidence in being initiators and planners of our own life-production; a planning-consciousness with respect to social praxis and social reproduction; an identity of subject, not object, with respect to the global economic process. Socialism radically depends on making the social unconscious conscious in this way. And, the social unconscious, in capitalist society, is the social activity upon which all our lives depend: social production.

The proposal of this resolution also relates to this need.

The specific method recommended is a modification of one known by the foreboding title of "input-output table" or "Leontieff matrix". There is no reason to be overwhelmed by such verbal inflation. This device is just a particularly powerful, abbreviated, convenient way of presenting the information of social production, best likened to a cookbook. What is a cookbook? A stack of recipes. The input-output table is also a stack of recipes. It is constructed by listing all the products of our labor twice — once vertically and once horizontally, and in the same order, forming a grid of rows and columns under and after each product. Each of the slots of "cells" of this grid gets filled with a number (see figure). The row after "product 1" gives the "recipe" for product 1; it tells how much of each of the (other) products (including itself), goes as an ingredient into making a unit of product 1. The row after "product 2" gives the "ingredients" of product 2, and so on. A stack of recipes. A cookbook.

As a whole, the chart shows the mesh, the interconnection, of all production in the society whose productive activity it models. The chart portrays the choreography of the incessant global dance of social reproduction which we daily do. The products listed on the outer edge of the body of the chart are just the momentary particular results of the vast intermixing production process whose structure is laid bare in the interior of the table.

OK — a cookbook. But what kind of cookbook — for what? One could give the answers. One is that this cookbook tells how to make the entire man-made world; existing world society — how we do make it. The other is that the I/O Chart is the "Us Cookbook". Since each product we use is interdependent with virtually every other product as shown in the chart, this chart as a whole shows us how we are presently, for good and ill, making ourselves.

For our purposes, we would want to modify the usual I/O cookbook in several ways. The usual ones have their numbers in units of price. For our purposes, especially given rapid inflation, we should have them in units of labor-hours, and methods for doing this translation from dollars to time are being worked out.

Also, the usual ones break down production only into abstract product categories — they give no insight into the spatial distribution of production; no geographical information. We could build this information in by adding layers on either side (forward and back) of the basic product-category chart, which layer we could call the "zero-layer" or "Leontieff layer".

The "cells" in layer +1 would-have numbers referring to all the product of each category produced in a defined geographical region "1". Layer +2 would give this production data for region 2, and so on. Layer -1 would contain numbers telling the amount of each product category consumed in region 1 for each adjacent recipe row, i.e., for use in that recipe, and so on with layer -2 for consumption in region 2, and so on. Adding the numbers in the cells for a given product-category either forward (minus layers) or backward (plus layers) up to the zero layers would yield a sum equal to the number in the same product-category cell in the zero-layer (with some exceptions).

Finally, we would want to include labor-power as both a product-category and an ingredient, in order to "close" the table. Most traditional tables treat "household" or individual consumption only as consumption, not also as the production of labor-power. They treat household demand as an aspect of "final demand" — i.e., as an output only, but not as an input again as well.

The use of such an I/O model is to aid in conceptualizing actual human praxis, the vast, manifold interconnection of our self-production process. The array of digits in itself is nothing, and should not be fetishized. Any intelligence-value of such a model exists only in the relationship between the array as objectification of an information-gathering process, and the conceptual activity of those who created it and who use it to increase the productivity and acuity of their concept-forming activity in their effort to grasp the actual ongoing human practice, and to develop program and strategy on the basis of that developing grasp.

Once such a relationship, including the model, is created, there are well-developed methods for operating on it to quickly determine: (1) effect of a strike, or general strike, or production-collapse, in one geographic region, on all the other regions; (2) decline of the reproductive potential of humanity occasioned by each successive development of the depression (damage assessment); (3) reproduction potential of the existing means of production versus those being planned by us (losses due to unemployment of productive forces, versus the increased production to be counted on given a socialist transition); (4) amount production of all other products that would have to be increased in order to increase output of a particular product by a specified amount; (5) effect of a realized increase in productivity for one kind of product on potential output of all other products; (6) existing realized productivities (ratio of outputs to inputs for each "recipe", such a "recipe" also being known, in the "Leontieff matrix" context, by the formidable title of "production function").

That is, such a model-building project would give us the means to determine, given our assumptions, what actually can be done and needs to be done with the already existing productive forces, and to monitor closely what actually is happening to the possible reproductive trajectories of humanity as a result of the ongoing continuum of events of the crisis, the moves of the ruling class, and our own strategic acts.

Moreover, the data on the interconnection of product flows contained in the table can be tagged with "pointers" to a file containing an inventory of the existing stock of means of production, detailed down to the level of address/location and specification information in some instances. Such a database is a preparation for the monumental task of planning the actual revolutionary expropriation process, in terms of targets and objectives, how and where to setup local-central workers' council facilities, how and where to link up councils into a communications/protoplanning network through expropriation of the existing international communications nets (Telex, ARPA net, Autodin, Autovon), priorities of expropriation in terms of more than local necessities, and so on, as well as preparing for the first transitional social production plan of an emerging socialist society.

In general, such a database would allow us to simulate in advance, given various assumptions, the probable consequences of our various strategic and programmatic options, as well as of the actions of our class adversaries and of depression-collapse events.

The effort to build such a database will be greatly abbreviated by available studies done under government auspices which have produced county-by-county I/O matrices for the US for various years, as well as by the ongoing U.S.A. Census of Manufactures Standard Industrial Classifications Data, and other statistics gathering projects.

Optimum productivity in this project would require the acquisition of some computer power by the National Unemployed League, but rapid developments in computer obsolescence and in new, cheap microcomputers are bringing such power within our reach.


That each local Unemployed Council appoint from among its ranks a commission to work up a detailed input-output array model of the county, or other clearly-defined unit, of social reproduction in which said council is situated, for use in locating its local area concretely in its dependence upon and contribution to the global reproduction process, and as a database for proto-socialist planning, strategy, and program.
That each local I/O model be constructed so as to give geographical information, information in labor-time units, and so as to be "closed" with respect to labor-power (labor-power included as both input and output product category), to the extent practicable.

That each local model be constructed so as to be readily 'aggregatable' with the other local models, to enable us to obtain geographically more inclusive, regional, continental, and eventually global models, from the synthesis of the local databases.

Presented to the West Coast Regional Conference to Build the
October 1975