- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More utopia discussion

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on October 19, 1999 at 10:58:58:

From Barry Stoller's post #:

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.'

SDF: I don't see why a commune should never challenge the property relations in the outside world without admitting the bourgeoisie, much as I don't see why the Communist Party should admit the bourgeoisie to challenge the property relations outside its cadres...

I don't see why utopianism must always remain "under the radar" -- this wasn't the intention of Owenism, for instance...

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

SDF: How important is centralism?

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.

SDF: I'm sorry -- did I miss something? Perhaps you showed somewhere on this BBS that the beneficial revolution scenario you advertise above is imminent? Or that capitalism is going to produce the necessary "abundance" for it to happen? If the abovestated scenario is not imminent, on the other hand, then the point of discussing utopia and communes is to allow people to explore the relationships of people to each other and to things, i.e. to understand what Marx called "alienation". No, I don't see Lark doing a lot of that exploration on this BBS. But I don't see anything but a sort of feeble pandering and sterile competitive lust in our relationships with each other under capitalism. Well, it's been nice chatting with you over the Net -- I have to go chase some dollar bills now, talk to you whenever...

Look, Barry, you may have admitted you spoke rashly, but your "rashness" still appears to count as your position. Perhaps you'd like to say more?

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.

SDF: Analogously, we could argue that since the Soviet Union failed, communism will never succeed the way capitalism has succeeded. And we would still be wrong. Choosing a failed example to claim the disproof of an entire concept of society is logic worthy of amateur night.

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.

SDF: This needs to be SHOWN, not merely stated.

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.SDF: Let's not pass over the reason Calhoun gives for his observation that revolutionary mobilization has declined. Such reason certainly apply to the victim nations of global imperialism as well.

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

SDF: I don't see why capital shouldn't take the whole planet down with it. See, this is what humanity has to lose with more capitalism, and it's a problem that more capitalism won't solve. So it fits Calhoun's criteria for a belief that would generate revolutionary mobilization.

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