- Capitalism and Alternatives -

'State capitalist' is an oxymoron.

Posted by: DonS ( USA ) on July 29, 1999 at 13:07:15:

In Reply to: It was, but that hardly matters to Market Maoists... posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on July 28, 1999 at 17:36:51:

: : Don: A fear that Russia might return to communism in no way contradicts the fact that communism was unsustainable. After all, it can do great damage even if it only lasts a short while . . .

: SDF: I presume that if eastern Europe understood that corporate capitalism was "so much better" than the state capitalism of the USSR, why would they want to go back,

Don: USSR was communist. "State capitalist" is an oxymoron.

Don: The transition to a society with more freedom can be quite scary. Furthermore, it takes time to establish a free market, and places such as Russia which maintain state control of most industry inhibit the evolution of a free market. No doubt many people in Eastern Europe yearn for the stability of communism, even if this stability was only an illusion.

: especially since most of the governments of eastern Europe incl. the USSR (except Romania) had gotten themselves addicted to IMF loans and other such Western-provided subsidies (like Western food, when the USSR was in danger of starving due to a failed harvest), and in so doing were being controlled by corporate-capitalist money in the first place.

Don: The USSR was in danger of starving because of a failed system: communism. Capitalist produced grain did not directly control the Soviets, of course, but it helped them prop up their system for awhile, and at least they didn't shoot any missles at us . . .

: As Andor and Summers point out, the fact that "socialism" (not "communism," as you lying propagandists like to call it) was really a form of capitalism was laid bare toward the end of the 1980s by "market reforms". Add that on top of the then-obvious prosperity of the nomenklatura amidst the poverty of the masses as a whole. How can you reform a market if it wasn't really supposed to exist?

Don: The market will always exist. Socialism will never work. The black market always existed in the USSR. They simply ligitimized part of it, and encouraged it to expand to make up for the failures of communism.

: : Don: Draw even the thinest parallel between Maoism and the Western policies in Eastern Europe . . .

: SDF: Go ahead and read MARKET FAILURE, since they do so over the space of 200+ meticulously-researched pages. Or go back and read my post. I've already explained the crux of their argument for why Thatcherists are "Market Maoists". How is it so, DonS, that whenever someone presents an explanation you don't like, you dismiss it out of hand? Are explanations true only if they present themselves as pleasing to you beforehand? Or does there exist something called evidence?

Don: I read your post. That is what my point is based on. In your post a thin parallel was drawn, and your argument was based upon that. Your castle has no foundation.

Don: I do not claim the parallel is not true, since I lack the evidence to judge that. I am simply pointing out that it is a thin and specious argument even if it is true. It works with those like you who have bought the argument in advance, and those who lack critical thought. In effect, it is a good propaganda argument, but little more.

Don: What other explanations did I dismiss out of hand?

Don: As for the book, it is rather expensive. I think the topic is interesting, but I'm not ready to spend that much for (what appears to be) a piece of bare propaganda. Perhaps I can find it in a library . . .

: : Don: . . . then use it for propaganda . . .

: SDF: Interestingly Andor and Summers argue meticulously that the purpose of many of the procapitalist reforms was to use the increasing poverty of the masses as propaganda for the capitalist system:

The apologists for the new dispensation tend to stress that the creation of a private-property economy is bound to increase social injustice and inequality. These results are even considered to be positive outcomes by the real radicals. When the Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall was questioned about the immense fraud and corruption surrounding the privatization process in Hungary he pointed out that in the present American generation there are many successful individuals who are not proud of their grandfathers; nevertheless, the United States is now a prosperous economy and society and no one is really concerned about the sinful past now that good life can be enjoyed by all. As Gore Vidal has pointed out, in the US, success can only be enjoyed if failure is visible and seen to be punished (Thus, for instance, DonS's antipathy to government welfare as a payment to individuals, and his relative silence about corporate welfare -SDF).

Don: I don't support corporate welfare, either. I do not believe it was an issue in any of the threads I've commented in.

:The political problem for the Market Maoist social engineers in Eastern Europe is that the narcissistic 'culture of contentment' delineated by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith and enjoyed by the lucky two-thirds of American society can only be available to a much smaller fraction of the population in the Eastern countries.

: : Don: In fact, capitalism was not established.

: SDF: Well, it was, though not in the American variant -- it was state capitalism, they hadn't abolished money and they had a stable elite.

Don: "State capitalism" is an oxymoron. If you ever manage to create your socialist system, you will end up with an elite and money, too. If you expect it to last more than a week or two.

: The primary criticism Andor and Summers present of Market Maoism is that, since their zeal to establish "pure capitalism" around the world is mainly ideological, and that it purposely attempts to establish and celebrate a class of nouveau riches in every country, what they've done to the world as a whole is they've turned its governments into supplicants to the creditors of the world. Rather than create healthy economies, say Andor and Summers, through mechanisms that were obviously then available in the post-Soviet economies of eastern Europe, the Market Maoists rushed forward with fire-sale privatization and created destitute ones, merely because such privatization was ideologically mandated. The debate between Andor / Summers and the defenders of Market Maoism is thus not a debate about the virtues of capitalism, it is a debate over whether capitalist economies are to be managed by their governments with thoughtful concern for the prosperity of a population as a whole, or whether they are to be managed with ideological zeal for the establishment of "pure capitalism," never mind the grinding poverty to which the great majorities are to be indefinitely subjected.

Don: The ideological zeal for capitalism is based on the knowledge that it is the system that works best, and provides optimal benifits for the majority.

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