- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Historical necessity

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 01, 19100 at 10:42:43:

In Reply to: Then how do you explain class traitors like myself? posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 31, 19100 at 16:24:11:

: Why do I, as a member of the bourgeois class, support socialism?

Historical necessity may be once factor. Remember this?

In the social production of their existence, men inevitable enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but the social existence that determines their consciousness.(1)

Or to put it in soundbite size... again, Marx:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past.(2)

As the mode of production (socialized labor) comes into conflict with the social relations attending it (private ownership of the socialized labor), resolution becomes historically required. The resolution is to take the socialized labor that is controlled by individual ownership it and turn it into socialized ownership. This historical evolution produces ideological expression: individuals who advocate that the means of production become socialized.

Thus revolutionaries arise from economic development itself, not from some asomatous, ahistorical morality.


If society has a technical need, that helps science more than ten universities.(3)

Why you and not someone else?

Again, Engels:

There is an interaction of all these elements [political, legal, philosophical, religious], in which, amid all the endless host of accidents (i.e., of things and events whose inner connection is so remote or so impossible to prove that we regard it as absent and can neglect it), the economic movement finally asserts itself as necessary.(4)

So! Your autonomy is preserved in the deal as well.

: If Worker X was really interested only in his own self-interest, he wouldn't support communism; he would support a hierarchical system in which HE was the capitalist or the bureaucrat.

And that is a great threat because in times of class crisis the bourgeoisie will offer just that promise (fascism) to sections of the proletariat.

Nevertheless, self-interest always motivates actions.

You may choose self-sacrifice for yourself (morality) but you choose your own sacrifice (x hours here, y hours there). Your sacrifice gives you recompense (a sense of moral superiority) for what you sacrificed.

: Can you REALLY argue that the socialist people's democracy will be no more righteous than General Motors?

A socialist people's democracy will NOT be 'righteous' for General Motors. I will never change their opinion of that, so sorry, not in a million years. And I won't bother. All I will be concerned with is that a worker's state WILL be 'righteous' for the workers.

I'm not as philosophical as you, my friend (although I'm glad someone is).



1. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Progress 1970, pp. 20-1.

2. Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, International n.d., p. 13.

3. Engels, Letter to H. Starkenburg 25 January 1894, Selected Correspondence, International 1934, p. 517.

4. Engels, Letter to J. Bloch, 21 September 1890, ibid., p. 475.

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