- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Just a minor question, SDF

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 16, 1999 at 10:54:32:

In Reply to: So you say. posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on December 16, 1999 at 00:50:47:

Just a minor question, SDF; is socialism si what you say, then how does it differ from communism? Is it the Leninist distinction between distribution of goods accoridng to work or according to need?

If I supported 100% collective popular control of the means of production, I would be a communist. I see nothing intrinsically impossible or especially unlikely about this. But it strikes me as less than perfect, because it fails to satisfy teh minority who may be individualistic, and to take into account jobs which cannot easily be done collectively or in rotation. (Science is perhaps teh classic example).

My model, I believe, falls between teh social democratic model and Barry's model by requiring some measure of job rotation. I believe I said that jobs like janitor, ditch digger, mechanic, etc. should not be held by anyone as a career, but should be rotated among everyone. (Gandhi had a similar idea). I believe further that 8 hours of labor should be required each week and donated to the state, along with one or two years of volunteer labor from everyone between ages 18 and 20. That alone should horrify most libertarians, so I hope no one calls me a libertarian.

: : 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.

Yes. Sweden does have 90% state ownership, don't they. Damn, how could I have forgotten. How could I have forgotten all the railroads in Sweden built with volunter labor. damn stupid of me. Also, Sweden is not exactly a model I would be criticizing. Sweden was neutral in the Cold War, they're hardly an American stooge. And the Swedes certainly seem to like what they've got.

: : 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.

SDF, money existed for thousands of years, in all kinds of societies, befroe capitalism entered on the scene. In traditional Africa, money existed, but the societies as a whole were freqiuently best described as traditional communism. If your dire scenario is correct, how do you explain this?

: 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.

Seriously, if Russia had not wasted tons of money building up a nuclear arsenal, had not bled themselves dry subsidizing places like Afghanistan and Ethiopia, had not sent satellites into space, had done a better job of wiping out corruption and a better job appealing to people with the necessity of working for the greater glory fo socialism, and if they had been democratically responsive to teh peopel as a true communsit state should, don't you think they would still exist right now? If the CIA hadn't meddled,don't you think that Allende and Ortega would still eb in power now?I always ask this of the Trots, and I have yet to hear an answer.

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: : 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,

Watered down as compared to what? As compared to soem historical model?or as compared to some theoretical construct? 'Actually Existing Socialism' and all that.

: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?

yes, everyone calls themselves a socialist. So what makes one person's definition teh definitive one? Why is your definition superior to mine, or Barry's superior to Lark's?

: 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.

Yeah Right. How about this duggestion? Chomsky knew he didn't ahve a chance in hell of winning, and he wanted, like most ordinary huamn beings, to save face, so he excused himself by saying taht he didn't want to be presidnet anyway.

Reminds me of a story. About 3 years ago the Indian national elections resulted in a hung parliament. There was no majority, so a coalition ahd to be formed, and they were scrambling around for someone to lead it. Jyoti Basu, Chief Minister of West Bengal and GEneral Secretary of the Communist Party, Marxist was asked if he would liek to be the next prime minister. Jyoti, some 82 or 83 years old, knew that his party would not be a majority.HE refused on grounds that to lead a coalition government, given that communists only comprised 8% of the total Indian vote, would force him to abandon his principoles. I suspect taht teh real reason was thathe was pessimistic and figured that anyone trying to rule India would probab;ly make a hash of it. Better to settle with a good record as teh chief minister of a large state than with an inevitably mixed record as prime minister of India.

: I have to believe the same pressure was on Carter, thus his support for the Shah etc.

Do you think you could have done better? If not, then who are you comparing him to? Some perfect Ideal Man? plato's dream?

: 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.

No, I definitely beleive that soem cops are good and others are bad. i have to laugh when I hear peopel criticize policemen as a class. Classes are made up of individuals, after all, which may be good or bad.

: 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.

But isn't it necessary to know, say, in a war between Vietnam and Cambodia, which side to defend?

: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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