- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Is Lark a socialist?

Posted by: Barry Stoller on October 17, 1999 at 17:46:41:

In Reply to: some comments on utopia theory and practice posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on October 16, 1999 at 12:03:30:

Lark's posts often demonstrate why I feel that utopian visions weaken revolutionary resolve. Utopian socialisms (almost) always occur without class struggle. And mass class struggle...is the cornerstone of it all.

So what causes you to impute these things about Lark? Does his utopia have lots of pubs in it or something? I don't get it.

Maybe you have a better understanding of Lark's position than I do. Frankly, I'm bewildered by some of the stuff he says.

I based my above comment on Lark’s statement: 'if you join a political party you've got to know the party line and be OBEDIENT, you lose your FREE WILL, [so] don't be a bloody joiner.' Or, as he stated more precisely: 'Fuk all the parties, you make the revolution for yourself.'

This is libertarianism!

Then he elaborated: 'Well I am a Socialist and I generally dont see anything great about the workingclass at all, most marxists etc. think the workingclass are a bunch of saints, if they didn't revel in anti-intellectualism and fascistic behavior I'd see your point but since that's not the case...'

And finally: '[O]ne of the good things about capitalism is that it is innovative in fields like entertainment, where there any Playstations in the USSR? What about MTV?'

If there are 'Playstations' and MTV in his utopia, I'm sure the pubs can't be far behind!

If you can clarify any of the above, I'll be more than happy to hear it. Because, at this point, I am not very confident Lark is a socialist at all. Indeed, I'd say that he just picks and chooses from differing ideologies to suit his many different moods. Which is exactly the sort of 'mish-mash' Engels criticized so succinctly in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.

Your other points:

: Why should communes be "egalitarian" toward the self-professed fair-weather friends of democracy? Should the "revolution" take on bourgeois fellow-travelers who fraudulently promise us utopia?

Of course not. A utopia cannot function with them. But: a utopia can function without them---so long as the utopia never challenges their property relations in the 'outside' world. This means utopia must remain small and 'under the radar.'

But this smallness negates socialism (as Marx has defined it)!

Things are different when we consider a revolution instead of a utopia. The socialist order must be built from the (abundant) basis of capitalist production. (Which proves that revolutions in underdeveloped nations such as Cuba's cannot produce proper Marxist societies however hard they try.) What I'm getting at here, as you probably suspect, is that revolutions can only succeed when they expropriate large amounts of the means of production---means of production that are presently in the hands of the minority capitalist class.

What happens to the 'fair-weather friends' in this very different scenario?

They can flee, as did most professionals did in Cuba. (Then the problem of 'fair-weather friends' is more or less resolved.) Or they can enact a counterrevolutionary civil war (Russia), in which case the revolutionary class must defend themselves and their new property relations. This is class struggle, which, lamentably, is less than utopian.

As I understand it, utopian socialism is socialism predicated by pacifism---or 'private-property socialism.' That's nice for small holdings like Twin Oaks (which distributes according to socialist precepts but produces by surrendering surplus to capitalists like Pier One, various restaurants in the Charlottesville area, etc.), but that is not real socialism, the socialism of harnessing the great means of production in order to produce according to need.

Putting revolution in quote marks will not (to my knowledge) alter this analysis.

: The "have-nots" are still not in the category Marx called the "most advanced nations".

What's interesting, though, is capital's ardent desire to industrialize all of these nations. The proletariat always accompanies the accumulation process. The revolutionary situation is generated again and again. Capital never rests---and neither does its problems!

In my opinion, revolution is no longer likely in the 'advanced nations' (as your quotable author observes) because they are now operating primarily in the circulation sphere (i.e. enjoying the benefits of productive labor's exploitation overseas). The production sphere is where I think the revolution will (again) appear. Weirdly enough, China and Russia are still likely candidates for revolution! But so are smaller nations experiencing the growing pains of rapid industrialization.

Capital imports its grave digger along with everything else it has to offer (such as 'Playstations' and MTV).

Anyway, that's my take on it.

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