- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Stalin called himself a socialist. Does that make him a good guy?

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 15, 1999 at 17:55:19:

In Reply to: Social democrats are not socialists posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on December 15, 1999 at 16:51:00:

JESUS FECKIN" CHRIST! I thought the whole lesson of the argument between you, Lark and Barry was that PEOPLE MUST ARGUE IN GOOD FAITH. I.e., if you, SDF, say you aren't a liberal, then you aren't. If I say I'm not a social democrat, then I'm not. Isn't it up to each of us to determine if we are socialists or not? It really pisses me off when people try to second-guess each other and accsue each other about being deceptive about representing themselves. Did I ever call you a Liberal?

: SDF: As far as I can tell, NJ, you're not a socialist, you're a social democrat. A socialist would be arguing for the abolition of money and the democratization of property.

In the past, I believe I argued for 80-90 perecnt publicly owned property. While I have not (yet) advocated teh abolition of money, I believe I said "Incomes should be ENTIRELY DISCRETIONARY, in other words money should only be needed for petty luxuries. Health care, food, leisure, decent work conditions, education, shelter, and other basic necessities should be provided free of cost."

What that means, Sam, is that I want money's importance to be vastly reduced. It woudl not be teh end of money, but teh end of money as we know it, as the lubricant by which important social transactions take place. If someone wanted, they could survive in my utopia without money, at a decent strandard of living.

As for the democratization of property, I believe my suggestion of 80-90% is the most democratic possibility. It woudl give everyone a share in controlling the economy (90% control is, effectively, control), while at the same time not forcing those few lone individualists to do something they didn't want to do. Collective, majority rule while respecting teh rights of teh minority. That's the principle of political democracy, which I just analogized to the economic sphere. If I stand for the same principle in both cases, then why am I a political democrat, but not an economic democrat?

:Red Deathy was a socialist. Anyone who spends as much time as you do defending Jimmy Carter, scion of Coca-Cola and the Trilateral Commission, is not a socialist.

Jimmy Carter may not have been a socialist, but he was a good man and a good leader. Stalin called himself a socialist. Does that make him a good guy? Or bettr than JC? COme on.

: Socialists like democracy, not dictatorship through elite appointment. Nicaragua under the Sandinistas was 40% state-owned, like Israel. Are the Israelis socialists? No, they're social democrats.

Benevolent authoritarianism in the Sankarist mode also has its time and place. Nicaragua may only have been 40% state owned, but the rest of teh economy was largely udner teh control of small peasants, not capitalists. A small peasant society is perfectly compatible with socialism. The Sandinistas were planning to nationalize more; their constitution also proclaimed the principles of economic democracy. India's economy has historically been over half state owned, their constitution plroclaims them a Socialist Republic.

: In this space and time, being a social democrat might be justified. But social democratic regimes behave in remarkably toothless ways when pressure is put upon them -- note for instance how the "Red-Green" coalition in Germany endorsed the US-led gratuitous bombing of Serbia,
I'm not a social democrat, so I don't need the lecture, thanks. After I defedn 90% nationalization, Brezhnev, Allende, the Sandinistas, and Uruguayan guerilla warfare, then I make one sttaement in favor of Jimmy Carter, and suddenly I become a social democrat?!

:note the collapse of the Sandinistas,

They didn't cause themselves to collapse because they were SD's; that's a total 'blame-the-victim- mentality that I hear from Trotskyists and conservatives alike, all the time! They collapsed because of American terrorism! If burglars break in to an old lady's apartment and rob her blind, while she'd sitting there in terror, I'm not going to fault teh old lady!

: note the phoniness of the "Socialist Party" in France under Mitterand
Remember how they nationalized the banks....

:and "New Labour" under Blair in England

He ain't EVEN a social democrat.

:(and in New Zealand, tho' I know less about this). So there is a danger in being a social democrat.

Which i am Not.

: To efface the distinction between socialism and social democracy would make it impossible for participants on this BBS to theorize. If you're really a socialist, NJ, please explain in what ways you're a socialist. 'Cause frankly, you look to me like a social democrat.

Easy. 1) I stand for 80-90% public control of the means of production. Social democracy is about socializing distribution, not production.
2) I stand for guerilla and revolutionary warfare, in certain tiems and places.
3) I believe in a labor-union dominated economy.
4) I believe in required voluntary labor to be donated to teh state, to the tune of 8 hours a week.

Is that enough?

I was the one who defended Vietnamese Communism, so to hear your leftier than thou accusations frankly puzzles me. If you're so far to the left of me, how come you're so opposed to Socialist Vietnam, Cuba, and the post-Stalin Soviet Union, all of which I defended at certain points and contexts?

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