- Capitalism and Alternatives -

So you say.

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on December 16, 1999 at 00:50:47:

In Reply to: Stalin called himself a socialist. Does that make him a good guy? posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on December 15, 1999 at 17:55:19:

: 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: Let's just be clear about what we're defending, whether we're defending a "better of two evils" argument for social democracy as against Thatcherism, or whether we're being purists about socialism as against social democracy. That's all I was saying.

: : 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."

SDF: Oh, OK. So that's the definition of "socialist" you subscribe to. Does sound an awful lot like Sweden to me.

: 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.

SDF: And you don't think the regime of profit would rise from the ashes? One of the reasons I defended communes as alternative economic systems was that they didn't rely upon money, that they operated apart from a form of exchange that allows for the process of capital accumulation within their confines. That ASIDE FROM any of the objections which Stoller has leveled against them.

See, one of the pernicious things about money is that it defines the relationship between people under capitalism, and leaving the regime of money to work its wiles upon the people will make it more likely that the worshippers of money, those who want privileges, will be able to take back the economy. One of the reasons it was so easy for Thatcherists to plunder Russia was that the Soviet Union had not succeeded in abolishing money. Just something to think about.

: 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?

SDF: Mostly because of the watered-down versions of the above which you defend, and because in the above formulation you need to solve the problem of the primacy of "economic persuasion" as it operates upon capitalist democracy. I have no ethical problem with your utopian vision, myself. I will always defend your right to dream of utopia.

: :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.

SDF: You call yourself a socialist, does that say anything in itself about your leadership capacities? Or about what socialism IS?

See what I'm trying to untangle? Anyone can call him or herself a socialist. What does it have to do with bringing socialism to the planet?

As for Carter, frankly I don't think that anyone who rises to the top of the military monster can afford to do very much good, there are simply too many gun sights trained on everyone up that high. When Chomsky was asked to run for President, he declined, stating that his first act as President would be to impeach himself for all the crimes he was about to commit. I have to believe the same pressure was on Carter, thus his support for the Shah etc.

And I'm sure he was a swell guy. But Carter was a Trilateralist of the most inner-circle kind -- and, like it or not, the Trilateral Commission IS one of the primary decision-making systems behind global US imperialism. The Reagan-era military and debt expansion begun under Carter, with his permission and with his impetus.

Look, I can't bring myself to defend "good Trilateralists". This is like praising the "good cop" in the "good cop-bad cop" routine typically used to extract confessions out of political prisoners, only in this case what's being extracted from the working class is consent for the New World Order.

And, what's more, I don't care to participate in arguments for or against the so-called "communist" regimes, which ones to defend or attack, the sort of stuff sectarian Marxists endlessly bother themselves with. The "communists" had their utopian visions, that was their right, hopefully they're still thinking. Some of them were callous (Pol Pot etc.) and killed millions before admitting, like Reagan, that "mistakes were made". Some of them were and are benevolent, and have done great good for the world. The fact that the whole world is bracing for one great collision between global imperialism and the carrying capacity of the planet should lead us to start creating something NEW in terms of political economy.

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