- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Marx's salient critique of Proudhon's 'craft-idiocy'

Posted by: Krasny ( Internationale, All Countries... ) on January 14, 19100 at 11:17:50:

In Reply to: 'Selling' Job Rotation posted by Barry Stoller on January 13, 19100 at 11:17:52:

: First off, I'd like to say that's it is pleasant to speak to a comrade.

*Likewise. I have been perusing your posts for a few weeks now and while I do not agree with every nuance, it's clear that we are both cut from the same cloth.* --K

: : Instead of the rather ubiquitous "job rotation" try "libertine occupational sequencing" ...now that's anarcho-communist sheik comrade.

: Not sure what you mean. The anarchist 'liberty in the workplace' routine has been anathema to me. Job rotation, on the other hand, I believe, is fundamental to communism.

*My meaning I suppose was akin to Lenin's observation that in Russia, circa 1906, the 'Communist' Party in Germany was more 'social democratic' in it's approach to politics; while in Russia, the 'Russian Social Democratic Labour Party [Bolshevik Faction]' was actually working as a bonafide 'communist' party. For some, if you change the name, you change the thing. 'What's in a name...' and all that.* --K

: : [B]etween you and I... that particular passage by Marx must have been written *very* late at night and can hardly be considered his best work considering the dire seriousness of the question posed by a bourgeois vs socialist division of labour.

: The passage from The German Ideology has been attenuated by many a Marxist (Braverman is one example; Stalin another). If that was the SOLE reference to the social division of labor, perhaps I'd agree.

*Understood... but come on! That *particular* passage was poorly worded *especially* considering the importance of the topic it touched upon. I absolutely agree with and have read extensively your selections below on the question and these are well articulated positions that are in sharp contrast to the contested passage. My purpose was to make a small joke only... so often, M-Ler's (of which I consider myself one such) treat every word that came from Marx as a Golden Nugget of Wisdom. What are we... The f'n Catholic Church? :)* --K

But there's Marx's salient critique of Proudhon's 'craft-idiocy' from The Poverty of Philosophy. There's also---and this is important because it is a late work---the conclusion of chapter seven of Anti-Dühring where Engels EXPLICITLY advocates job rotation in socialist society.

*Those are both terrific works... also 'The Critique of the Gotha Program.'* --K

: Regarding the Bolsheviks, I direct your attention to Bukharin and Preobrazhensky's A B C of Communism (§§ 54, 80, and 81), the 1919 Party Platform, FORMALLY endorsed by Lenin at the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets. (Relevant quotes will be found in this post and this post.)

*I'll give it a look-see.* --K

: : I'm wondering whether or not to your mind the question of job rotation shouldn't be left up to the workers themselves? The genius of NEP to me was to keep a (somewhat diminished) private sector which state run enterprises would compete against. State run enterprises would offer better working conditions and benefits than their private counterparts and would enjoy advantages as far as economies of scale go.

: The most important thing about job rotation, I believe, is that it puts state administration in the hands of all workers equally. Lenin: 'The abolition of classes means placing all citizens on an equal footing with regard to the means of production belonging to society as a whole.'(1) To complete your N.E.P. analogy, placing only SOME workers in control of state administration while others did not control state administration, even voluntarily, would recreate the job privileges inherent in capitalist social relations. Let us not forget that the terms of the N.E.P. (state monopoly of Dept. 1 goods) were NOT 'left up to the workers themselves.'

*True. However, there is evidence that Lenin was moving in this direction before his series of strokes. He had moved to expand the CC by 50, all drawn from the working classes, (April 1921) and at the same time he was arguing for greater internal Party democracy, he was struggling with Trotskii to give the trades unions a greater measure of autonomy (Trotskii and the so-called "Worker's Opposition" faction had called for the end of trade's unions since, they argued, what role would there be for worker's representation in the worker's state?). So while I agree with you insofar as allowing individual worker's to decide on their own the question of job rotation is not practical, I can see no reason why the terms, conditions, and duration of such a program could not (or should not) be negotiated with groups of worker's representatives in the affected industries and the central government. Recall that one of Lenin's favorite expressions was, "All theory is gray; but eternally green springs the Tree of Life." Job rotation could be the greatest - or the worst idea ever. Empower the worker's to figure it out (I say).* --K

: : So the long of the short of it mate... do you see/think of revolutions as the violent and sudden break with the past as some seem to -or- is there something of the 'uninterrupted revolution' ala Lenin or the 'permanent revolution' of Trotskii in you? Just trying to size you up. For the record I'm of the Leninist branch on these, though Trotskii's ideas on this particular topic don't give me much heartburn.

: I believe the N.E.P. was an attempt to initiate socialism in a country primarily characterized by peasant proprietorship (we'll never know if it would have succeeded in the U.S.S.R.; other socialist 'mixed economies' and 'market socialism' in general, I believe, have been failures). I firmly believe that socialism can ONLY succeed in countries that are characterized by monopoly capital development (as Lenin himself pointed out in his famous 1914 exposition on Marxism). Socialism can never be a 'sudden break' with the past mode of production (large-scale, centralized capitalism) but it IS a 'sudden break' of the past social relations (violent resistance from the privileged expected).

*Nothing to give me heartburn here. NEP was, again in the words of Ilyich, 'Our economic Brest-Litovsk,' which was only resorted to after the failure of 'war communism.'* --K

: Like most Marxists, I seek methods to keep the transitional phase of communism to a minimum. Thus my emphasis on job rotation. Plus: abundance (a sure 'selling point' of socialism) has a hard time competing with capitalist abundance (in the imperialist nations where the labor aristocracy is glutted with goodies) BUT control of the workplace and control of the state is something capital can never offer workers... Lenin, again: 'If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism cannot retain its hold.'(2)

: _______________


: Notes:

: 1. Lenin, 'A Liberal Professor on Equality,' Collected Works volume 20, p. 146.

: 2. Lenin, 'The State and Revolution,' Collected Works volume 25, pp. 472-3.

*The transitional phase will necessarily be a l-o-n-g time I fear. So long as socialism is forced to conduct itself as an armed camp, ala Cuba, Nicaragua, SU, etc... socialism will never experience its greatest flowering. This, the capitalists and their politicians understand all too well I fear. Great discussion! I always take something away from these. All the best --K

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