Friday, October 25, 2013

There's Marxists and then there are Marxists

We read  this  report of a “Marxist” conference and can’t help but wondering just how Marxist it can be when it involves those “Marxists” who argues that one way “to break the current grip of Neoliberal, financial dominance would be if one country elected an authentic Left regime that changed the rules on the financial elites, or class or corporate owners, setting an example for other European nations to follow.” I wonder if Marx would agree with that sort of government legislation as a remedy against the contradictions of capitalism. If so, he failed to mention it in all his writings about the need for revolution.

We also read in the article:
“The creation of a parallel state to the existing state is easy to imagine.  It begins by campaigns to create alternative economic institutions such as popularly controlled banks and utilities, which citizen consumer power creates intermediary organizations that create an economic or energy foundation for an alternative economy... When investment is turned towards cooperative, green utilities and banks rather than the market, popular pressure from below will create both economic and political tools for even more systemic transformation.”

 Andrew Kliman, a Marxist economist, has written on those types of proposed “alternatives”

“The idea of a transitional society—an intermediate society in between capitalism and  socialism—makes little sense within the context of Marx’s thought. It does make sense given some other conceptions of capitalism and socialism, but not Marx’s. For instance, the idea of a transitional society makes perfect sense if one thinks, as Lenin and Trotsky and Mao did, that capitalism is private ownership while socialism is state ownership. In that case, there is indeed a third kind of society in between them, in which there’s both private and state ownership. And the move from capitalism to socialism is thus a transition, from less to more to complete state ownership.
And there are other conceptions of social change in which the idea of a transitional society also makes perfect sense. For instance, one idea that has recently been popular is that the new society is the completed process of occupying space and establishing new forms of organization on occupied space. On this conception, there is again a third kind of society in between capitalism and the new society, a society with elements of both of them, and the move from capitalism to the new society is again a process of transition––in this case, the quantitative increase in occupied space and new forms of organization.
But  the idea of a transitional society in between capitalism and  socialism isn’t coherent as a Marxian concept...”

“...Capitalism is based on the mode of production; socialism is based on the socialist mode of production. If there is a third kind of society in between them, what is its mode of production? Capitalism is governed by the law of value (in Marx’s sense) and related economic imperatives that are specific to it. Socialism is not. What about the third, distinct kind of society that supposedly lies in between them?  Is it governed by these specifically capitalist laws and imperatives, or is it not?”

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