Sunday, November 26, 2006

Practical Socialism

There are a couple of articles posted on Alan's blog "Mailstrom" which will be of interest to readers:

Building Profits versus Building Homes


How Socialism Can Organise Production Without Money

One of the arguments against Socialism is the so-called "Economic Calculation Argument." The Socialist Party was subject to criticsm from the Libertarian Alliance in the 1970s and after on precisely the ECA. One particular critic of the SPGB, David Ramsay Steele (and author of "From Marx to Mises", was in fact a former member of the party.

The Libertarian critique of Socialism led the party to look into its conception of Socialism; the result was a refining of the socialist case as well as a refutation of the ECA.



Frank Partisan said...

Very interesting post.

Unfortunately the closest any society came to abolishing $$ was in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

I disagree with how you use the word state capitalism, to describe the Soviet Union. Some Trotskyists particularly those evolved from Max schachtman also use that term. I would have used the term transitional state.

Overall a brilliant post.

I'm linked to this blog.

ajohnstone said...

"...The people's state has been flung in our teeth ad nauseam by the anarchists, although Marx's anti-Proudhon piece and after it the Communist Manifesto declare outright that, with the introduction of the socialist order of society, the state will dissolve of itself and disappear. Now, since the state is merely a transitional institution of which use is made in the struggle, in the revolution, to keep down one's enemies by force, it is utter nonsense to speak of a free people's state; so long as the proletariat still makes use of the state, it makes use of it, not for the purpose of freedom, but of keeping down its enemies and, as soon as there can be any question of freedom, the state as such ceases to exist..." Engels to Bebel

Doesn't sound very much like the actual so-called "transitional state" that supposedly arose in Russia , does it ?

gray said...

Hi Renegade

Cambodia under Pol Pot may have seen a "moneyless society" -- it is however a red herring to think that has anything to do with socialism.

The Khmer Rouge were nationalists, had an idealised version of Cambodian Peasant society (to the extent that the populace were relocated from the cities to the countryside) and mass murderers.

On a related note, Soviet "War Communism" saw the collapse of a highly inflated Rouble. Some, like Preobrazhinsky, argued this was the way to a moneyless society. Once again, this sounds like what we argue until you look deeper into the matter.

Socialism means the forging of new social relationships through the conversion of the (highly developed and socialised) means of production into common ownership. That act removes the commodity nature of useful items of wealth and thereby the need for a special commodity - money - to act as a means of exchange.

"The abolition of money" is a catchy phrase, but it doesn't encompass all the ramifications of the socialist case.

The Socialist Party analysed the nature of Soviet Russia as it developed. (The SPGB was of course formed in 1904.)

Sure enough, there was no private ownership of the major means of production. However, commodity production on the basis of wage labour didn't vanish -- it increased massively.

If Russia was a transitional state, it is in the sense of a transition from the autocratic semi-feudalism of the Czars to a form of capitalism unseen in the west due to the peculiarities of Russian development.

Thx for the compliment and for linking to the blog.