- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I don't buy it

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on October 25, 1999 at 01:12:29:

In Reply to: The 'Vanguard' posted by Barry Stoller on October 23, 1999 at 02:31:12:

: Back in August, Winslow Wacker posted:


: Here's a good M-E quote: "It is not a matter of what this or that proletarian or even the proletariat as a whole present as its goal. It is a matter of what the proletariat is in actuality and what in accordance with this being, it will be historically compelled to do." ("The Holy Family"). It seems to me that this is the exact opposite of Lenin's famous "There can be no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory." Hmmm.

: Well, let us look at these words of Engels (from 1874):


: It is the specific duty of the leaders [of the proletarian struggle] to gain an ever clearer understanding of the theoretical problems, to free themselves more and more from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the world, and constantly keep in mind that Socialism, having become a science, demands the same treatment as every other science---it must be studied. The task of the leaders will be to bring understanding, thus acquired and clarified, to the working masses, to spread it with increased enthusiasm, to close the ranks of the party organizations and of the labor unions with ever greater energy.(1)

SDF: I still await the objective scientific study of the conditions of revolutionary mobilization, or even the "pilot study" for the replacement of capitalism, something along the lines of what Skinner proposed...

The idea that Twin Oaks is a "successful" example of such a pilot test study, as stated here, was dead before it came off Stoller's typewriter, having been gainsaid by Stoller's prior discussion of Twin Oaks' "dependency upon capitalism".

And again...

Stoller: What's interesting, though, is capital's ardent desire to industrialize all of these [undeveloped] 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.

Stoller: I thought Marx did that for us already.

SDF: Marx didn't "show" anything about the empirical status of global revolutionary mobilization, about his time or ours. His historical writings, furthermore, overestimated the size of the proletariat and the likelihood of revolution.

(skipping the Marxist hagiography)

: The idea that Marxist revolution shall spontaneously arise from the atomized members of the working class---or the trade unions---is sheer bunk. A vanguard is necessary to lead the revolution. To repudiate the idea of a revolutionary party is to repudiate the idea of revolution.

SDF: And everyone who claims thusly is a member of a vanguard, advertising his or her own idea of the revolution. (Anyone want to volunteer to be a mere follower?) The working class is furthermore to be deprived of the means of distinguishing between valid and fraudulent claims to revolution under such a model, since it is only capable of "trade union consciousness" according to this Leninist model, and not "socialist consciousness" as you put it here. In short, I don't buy it. (And I AM being asked to "buy" something, i.e. vanguardism.)

Furthermore, again from this post...

SDF: If [revolution] is not imminent...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."

Stoller: No problem with that. I think intentional communities are a great improvement over individualist living practices. But I no longer think socialist consciousness is significantly forwarded by intentional communities.

SDF: If you once believed in such a thing as "socialist consciousness," then you weren't a behaviorist to begin with, were you? "Consciousness" is of course a cognitivism, which according to Skinner would explain nothing. I myself was using the idea of intentional communities as something that would forward observable socialist BEHAVIOR, something more obviously real than "consciousness".

And finally, again from this post...

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?

Stoller: Obviously, the possibility of socialist transformation in America is not imminent---or likely at this time.

However, the capitalist abundance that makes a socialist transformation possible has already occurred! The wealth is all around us! (Ecological considerations are important, of course, and the socialist future will obviously have to address the lack of ecological considerations in Marx's projections.)

SDF: The only thing that I can see that would restart the potential for revolutionary mobilization, absent a resurgence in intentional communities, sharing, and other forms of socialist BEHAVIOR (as opposed to mere vanguardist theorizing on BBS's), is the energy limitation upon capitalist "growth," which foretells of an era of scarcity and not of abundance.

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