- Capitalism and Alternatives -

An answer to bill's question: what Marx missed

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on August 28, 1999 at 10:33:29:

: Still, the final question remains - can socialist Theory be reconciled with an environmentalist perspective - or is it apples and oranges.

SDF: I'm starting to go back and look at "utopianism," since Marx appears to have been, not a scientist, but another utopian. Socialist theory appears to me to be clogged with people who have this "Marx had all the answers" approach. There are four details which inspire in me a serious skepticism about the idea of Marxist "scientific socialism". One: the horribly vague way in which Marx laid out how the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" was to transact its business. If everything was to be centralized in a single power, then why no blueprint for socialism? Or conversely, if the people are to decide the details of socialism for themselves (the ostensible reason why Marx left no blueprint), then why centralize everything? We are going to trust ONE set of people with the fate of the Revolution, and NOT tell them what to do?? Two: Marx's historical failure to judge the size of the proletariat and its effectiveness. Apparently, Marx vastly overestimated the size of the proletariat in nations such as France (The 13th Brumaire apprently has these overestimations) and was thus premature in deciding whether the world was ripe for socialism. This error was repeated by Lenin. Well, OK, now that capitalism has fully matured and the working class is quite big, where's the proletarian ripeness for revolution? The answer is the one Craig Calhoun gave in THE QUESTION OF CLASS STRUGGLE -- as capitalism matured, the working class had more of a stake in capitalism, thus it perceived that it had more to lose. So the working class today supports reformism, and there's no proletariat left in the sense that the proletariat was to be a CLASS-CONSCIOUS working class. It's that perception that kills us, regardless of the level of capitalist oppression today. Three: Marx's horrible vagueness about process. Since he himself was mired in violent disagreements about process in the First International, you'd think he'd pay more attention to this matter. Four: Marx's lack of understanding of the problem of the division of labor. Barry Stoller made hay of it in a post to this Debating Room. Frankly, I prefer Barry's Walden Two - type approach, rotate the jobs, make everything low-tech.

So, frankly, even tho' the basic thrust of CAPITAL and CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY is still correct, I still think "socialist theory" needs a root canal.

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