Corporative Socialism

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Corporative Socialism

Post by Revocity on Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:01 am

Celtiberian wrote:
Revocity wrote:I'm familiar with Harvey's work though not this particular book. I would, in turn, encourage you (especially if you're considering switching to sociology) to take a look at Emile Durkheim's Professional Ethics and Civic Morals which contains his most cogent exposition on Corporatism (if you haven't already).

I've read some of Durkheim's material in the past and consider his economic analyses to be wholly unconvincing. Although his 'solidaristic corporatism' is undoubtedly an ethical improvement over fascistic corporativism, it shares the latter's idealistic premise regarding class and property. Neither represent a departure from capitalism, as they are merely different methods of managing the system. But, again, we can further discuss this subject elsewhere. I appreciate the book recommendation nonetheless.

Though I respect Syndicalism I'm not a believer in economic determinism or scientific socialism; that you can transform society by changing who owns the means of production.

One needn't subscribe to scientific socialism or adhere to economic determinism to be a syndicalist. As for the transformation of society, no one is suggesting that social ownership of the means of production would result in human perfection being achieved, or what have you. Our claim is more modest: that avarice and crime will be mitigated, the exploitation of man by man ended, and self-realization in labor attained when capitalism has been transcended by communism—with syndicalism representing its lower phase.

I'm very wary about mechanistic interpretations of society because it cannot be simply boiled down to a set of economic relationships or production configurations.

I'm unaware of anyone claiming that all social phenomena are reducible to the substructure of society. In fact, this is a straw man argument conservatives often erect against Marxism. To quote Engels:

"According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if anybody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure: political forms of the class struggle and its results, to wit: constitutions established by the victorious class after a successful battle, etc., juridical forms, and then even the reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brains of the participants, political, juristic, philosophical theories, religious views and their further development into the systems of dogmas, all also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles, and in many cases preponderate in determining their form. . . . Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasize the main principle vis-à-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place, or the opportunity to allow the other elements involved in the interaction to come into their rights."
Friedrich Engels quoted in Robert L. Heilbroner, Marxism: For and Against (New York: Norton, 1980), p. 66.

Rather I'm in favor of a variety of socialism based on faith, flag, and family (faith not necessarily being religious in nature), not a modernistic socialism but rather a socially conservative, traditional socialism.

We clearly differ in opinion regarding the merits and deficits of such a traditionalist Weltanschauung.

I am not hostile to national identity or the family unit (in their unoppressive manifestations), but I don't believe these concepts can be successfully marshalled into an idealist project to construct socialism. Indeed, the bourgeoisie have been able to utilize "faith, flag, and family" rhetoric to fulfill their own objectives for centuries. The fate of socialism, in my view, ultimately rests with capitalism's inability to provide a significant percentage of the proletariat with the means by which to lead a dignified existence.

On a different note I found that thread about Iron March very entertaining. I might be digging a grave for myself here but I do participate there sometimes although, while billing itself as a Fascist forum, it is not that far removed from Stormfront in the sense it's overrun by rampant racialists paranoid about "da jooooz." There are, as you might know, a few Syndies on there but it turns out that a site laden with Hitler quotes and fan letters to Anders Breivik mostly attracts lunatics. Who would've thought? Shocked

The "syndicalists" on Iron March are chiefly National Syndicalists, which is a misnomer. While reading through some of the posts in that cesspool, I've also encountered instances of people erroneously assuming that National Syndicalism is indistinguishable from revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalism, except insofar as the national question is concerned. This, of course, betrays a stunning ignorance of fascist history and National "Syndicalist" theory.

You're quite right about the lunacy displayed by the general membership of that forum. For example, one of the most mentally disturbed individuals to have ever registered here (TotalitarianSocialist) couldn't stand our refusal to celebrate mass murderers and genocide, but found an audience willing to entertain such madness in Iron March. How any rational person could tolerate Alexander Slavros's megalomania and the rank antisemitism and racism featured on that forum is beyond me.

I can understand your hostility towards traditionalist socialism because you’re American (presumably) and American socialism is not as developed (politically speaking) as European socialism. The inseparable fusion of neo-liberal, capitalist economics and social conservatism in the United States as well as the lack of a strong and historic socialist tradition means that most American socialists embrace modernist socialism as the only viable route. Also the political right in the United States does, as you suggest, have a virtual monopoly on the flag, faith, and family narrative and use it to oppose socialism because socialism is not part of the American tradition. I therefore concede that achieving traditionalist socialism in your national context would probably be very difficult.

In my national context, however, we have an extremely vibrant socialist tradition that, alone in Europe, succeeding in establishing workers’ movements that sought the common good or, to use more up to date terminology, social cohesion rather than class struggle and was born out of the theme of family life. The London Living Wage campaign is the most modern example of this manifestation which is based on the theme of family life and that it is impossible to have with parents working two jobs just to survive.

Committed to work as a patriotic value, the traditionalist elements in the British labour movement understand the necessity for cross-class organisation and a strategic alliance with the middle class so we have a balance between bourgeois policy technocrats and class-conscious working people who are connected in realising the common national good which, at this point in history, is resisting finance capitalism, globalisation, and undertaking substantive of immigration. The problem with the proletarian revolution rising up to challenge the ownership of the means of production mode is that the vast majority of ordinary patriotic socialists in my country see that as subversive and counter-productive. Electorally, it is also suicidal since the Labour Party must have a voter base in the middle class and they’re not going to maintain that if they become a bastion of class warriors.

I don’t understand how you can self-identify as a left-wing nationalist and believe in the ideal of a proletarian class revolution because it is an inherently internationalist concept. The proletariat was conceived as a group of people which ultimately transcended national borders. This is ultimately why nationalists have a tendency to view Marxism as seditious because it can promote international class alliances against national interests.

As for the Engels quote, I can certainly understand why he would defend historical materialism by claiming it is not economically deterministic because that would undermine the political agency of the proletariat to change its own situation. However, the construction of the international proletariat is superficial, mechanistic, and economically-driven in the sense that it asserts that class, defined by one’s place in the chain of economic production, ultimately divides humanity more than nationality and that it should be the referent for the political struggle against international capitalism. Left wing nationalism diverges from this interpretation because it sees the struggle against capitalism as a national-political one as much as a socio-economic one. Sometimes this means, as a sheer matter of political expediency, that the means of production remain in private hands BUT are nonetheless directed and moderated by the state in the interests of the country and of the workers. But this is not the only thing that gives corporative socialism its corporative element. It recognises, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, the necessity for associational capacity and the need for workers and employers to be engaged in a continued dialogue and share a common communal environment based on the understanding that the workers have an obligation to work as long as the employers have an obligation to provide work and humane working conditions. Does this mean that the interests of workers and employers are exactly the same? No. But the idea of the occupational corporation is not based on that premise but rather the need for there to be a shared purpose and a proper framework for the resolution of disputes rather than a subversive class war that rips the fabric of society and the nation to threads.

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Re: Corporative Socialism

Post by Celtiberian on Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:23 pm

Revocity wrote:I can understand your hostility towards traditionalist socialism because you’re American (presumably) and American socialism is not as developed (politically speaking) as European socialism.

The United States ranks among the most violent countries in terms of the history of our labor movement; the 19th and 20th century were replete with brutal struggles between labor and capital. Prior to the Cold War, we also had a number of relatively successful radical political parties (e.g., the Socialist Party of America, Communist Party of America, and the Socialist Labor Party of America) and militant industrial unions (e.g., the International Workers of the World), all of which were suppressed by the government—beginning with the First Red Scare and ending with the McCarthyite blacklists. Socialist organizations have failed to recover since then due in large part to the Left's adoption of cosmopolitanism and the historically anomalous creation of a middle class.

We also possess a long history of workers organizing various communal and cooperative associations. Hence, it would be inaccurate to describe North America as having a socialist heritage which is 'less developed' relative to Europe's.

The inseparable fusion of neo-liberal, capitalist economics and social conservatism in the United States as well as the lack of a strong and historic socialist tradition means that most American socialists embrace modernist socialism as the only viable route. Also the political right in the United States does, as you suggest, have a virtual monopoly on the flag, faith, and family narrative and use it to oppose socialism because socialism is not part of the American tradition. I therefore concede that achieving traditionalist socialism in your national context would probably be very difficult.

I'm not suggesting that American socialists distance themselves entirely from rhetoric concerning the family, nation, or what have you; I'm simply claiming that the animating force behind the proletarian revolution will largely be material in nature.

As I've stated elsewhere, the trouble with idealist conceptions of social change is that moral persuasion alone cannot succeed in the battle of ideas since "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force" [Karl Marx, The German Ideology (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2004), p. 64]. In other words, radicals are at a disadvantage when attempting to illustrate the reasons why socialism is ethically preferable to capitalism because the bourgeoisie control the media and our educational institutions. Moreover, when conditions are relatively stable the incentive for ordinary people to listen to such discussions is lacking. Ethics only become truly relevant when the internal contradictions of capitalism immiserate the working class, thereby generating a legitimation crisis—for it's only then that bourgeois ideology no longer possesses much currency among the masses.

In my national context, however, we have an extremely vibrant socialist tradition that, alone in Europe, succeeding in establishing workers’ movements that sought the common good or, to use more up to date terminology, social cohesion rather than class struggle and was born out of the theme of family life. The London Living Wage campaign is the most modern example of this manifestation which is based on the theme of family life and that it is impossible to have with parents working two jobs just to survive.

The history of British socialism contains far more revolutionary elements than what you've listed, starting as early as the 17th century with the Diggers. More contemporaneous examples include the guild socialists, which had been gaining traction among working people in the early 20th century; and the Communist Party of Great Britain, which also had a significant following around that period. Even Clause IV of the Old Labour Party's constitution contained the demand to progressively nationalize the means of production, and no one would argue that the Labour Party was unappealing to the working class following the Second World War.

Committed to work as a patriotic value, the traditionalist elements in the British labour movement understand the necessity for cross-class organisation and a strategic alliance with the middle class so we have a balance between bourgeois policy technocrats and class-conscious working people who are connected in realising the common national good which, at this point in history, is resisting finance capitalism, globalisation, and undertaking substantive of immigration.

I contest the very notion that the proletariat require a cross-class alliance for reform, let alone bourgeois technocrats to assist them in the construction of a desirable socialist commonwealth. Indeed, the very perpetuation of the bourgeoisie indicates that class exploitation and alienation would continue unchanged within your system. As for financialization, globalization, and mass immigration, these are inescapable byproducts of capitalism's development; attempting to curtail them through state mandate would be an exercise in futility.

Underlying all corporativist theory is the assumption that the state is an autonomous entity which can be utilized in whatever manner the people demand, as opposed to being a mere instrument of the ruling class. This, it should be noted, isn't a conceptual issue, it's an empirical one, and virtually all of the data collected on the subject verifies the Marxist hypothesis of the state being the "executive committee of the bourgeoisie." (I recommend consulting Thomas Ferguson's work, particularly Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.) Simply put, as long as class society exists, government will be wielded to fulfill the interests of whichever social class happens to be dominant.

The problem with the proletarian revolution rising up to challenge the ownership of the means of production mode is that the vast majority of ordinary patriotic socialists in my country see that as subversive and counter-productive. Electorally, it is also suicidal since the Labour Party must have a voter base in the middle class and they’re not going to maintain that if they become a bastion of class warriors.

Socialism cannot be achieved via parliamentary means, so these concerns are inconsequential. Moreover, "middle class" is too broad of a term for the purposes of this debate—middle income groups include such divergent classes as the petite bourgeoisie and skilled proletarians, only the latter of which have a material interest in abolishing private ownership of the means of production.

I don’t understand how you can self-identify as a left-wing nationalist and believe in the ideal of a proletarian class revolution because it is an inherently internationalist concept. The proletariat was conceived as a group of people which ultimately transcended national borders. This is ultimately why nationalists have a tendency to view Marxism as seditious because it can promote international class alliances against national interests.

Marxian left-wing nationalists, like myself, don't view internationalism as being incongruent with nationalism. On the contrary, we view national self-determination as an essential component of socialist internationalism. John Spargo summarized this stance quite well when he wrote:

"...[I]nternationalism does not mean for us anti-nationalism. Nor has it anything whatever to do with the vague doctrine of world-organization, for which no accurately descriptive name exists, symbolized by the picturesque ceremony of a flag burning. This much exploited ceremonial was a crude attempt to symbolize a conception of a nationless world.

We repudiate the claim made by some that loyalty to this nation is inconsistent with true internationalism. Those who say that Socialism involves the view that the working class has no nation to call its own, that all nations are alike, that there is nothing to choose between a militarist autocracy and a democratic republic, do not preach Socialist Internationalism, but pernicious reactionary nonsense.

"Internationalism presupposes nationalism. It is the inter-relation of nations. The maintenance of national integrity and independence is an essential condition of internationalism. This principle has never in the past been seriously questioned in our movement. It has been the guiding principle of our policies in the Socialist International
."
John Spargo quoted in Victor L. Berger: Hearings Before the Special Committee, Vol. II (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1919), p. 627 (bold emphasis added).

Every individual can be characterized as possessing several identities simultaneously, some voluntary (e.g., religion and hobbies), some structural (e.g., class), and some innate (e.g., ethnicity). Marxists contend that the most crucial of these is class because it literally determines one's access to the means of subsistence. In this sense, workers indeed have a unified, international interest. However, though the proletariat's exploitation is globally shared, the struggle for justice is initially national in scale: "Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word" [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988) p. 90]. This doesn't, however, negate nationality as a source of self-identification. The enduring status of nationality is what compels we left-wing nationalists to conclude that nationality will persist into communism. In fact, there is reason to suspect a general strengthening of national consciousness after capitalism:

"The effect on the character of the nation, the determination of the changes to this character, will be assumed once again by the society; the future history of the people will become the product of its own conscious will. The nation of the future will thus be capable of that which the commodity-producing society can never achieve: of educating itself, of fashioning its own fate, of consciously determining the future transformation of its character. Only socialism can give the nation full autonomy, true self-determination; only socialism can release the nation from the effect of forces of which it is not conscious and which are outside its influence.

"The fact [is] that socialism will make the nation autonomous, will make its destiny a product of the nation's conscious will, will result in an increasing differentiation between the nations of the socialist society, a clearer expression of their specificities, a clearer distinction between their respective characters. . . . Drawing the people as a whole into the national community of culture, achieving full self-determination by the nation, growing intellectual differentiation between the nations—this is what socialism means. The community of culture encompassing all members of the people, as it existed in the time of the communism of the clans, will be brought to life again by the communism of the great nations following the end of centuries of class division, the division between the members and the mere tenants of the nation
."
Otto Bauer, The Question of Nationalities and Social Democracy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), pp. 96, 98.

The allegation that left-wing nationalists are "seditious" for acknowledging proletarian internationalism as a legitimate phenomenon stems from a fundamental difference of opinion regarding what nationality is and what role it should have politically. Reactionary nationalists argue that any political philosophy which fails to subordinate everything to 'national interests' (arbitrarily conceived of) is treasonous. Left-wing nationalists, on the other hand, regard nationality as a relative community of character which merits political consideration (e.g., in the form of self-determination) but not absolute subordination.

As for the Engels quote, I can certainly understand why he would defend historical materialism by claiming it is not economically deterministic because that would undermine the political agency of the proletariat to change its own situation. However, the construction of the international proletariat is superficial, mechanistic, and economically-driven in the sense that it asserts that class, defined by one’s place in the chain of economic production, ultimately divides humanity more than nationality and that it should be the referent for the political struggle against international capitalism.

Nationalism is a neutral medium requiring exogenous content to be rendered politically relevant. National sentiment isn't something which "divides humanity" in any meaningful sense, it's simply a recognition of one's shared history and culture with a specific community. Class, however, does divide humanity in myriad ways. That isn't to say that national oppression can't animate a population into armed conflict, but these conditions are distinct from those which are conducive to social revolution—and the struggle against capitalism, though national in scale, is nevertheless social in content.

Left wing nationalism diverges from this interpretation because it sees the struggle against capitalism as a national-political one as much as a socio-economic one. Sometimes this means, as a sheer matter of political expediency, that the means of production remain in private hands BUT are nonetheless directed and moderated by the state in the interests of the country and of the workers.

Left-wing nationalism as you conceive of it. Those of us who adhere to a more Marxian conception thereof would view the failure to collectivize the means of production as signifying the continued hegemony of the dictatorship of capital.

But this is not the only thing that gives corporative socialism its corporative element. It recognises, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, the necessity for associational capacity and the need for workers and employers to be engaged in a continued dialogue and share a common communal environment based on the understanding that the workers have an obligation to work as long as the employers have an obligation to provide work and humane working conditions. Does this mean that the interests of workers and employers are exactly the same? No. But the idea of the occupational corporation is not based on that premise but rather the need for there to be a shared purpose and a proper framework for the resolution of disputes rather than a subversive class war that rips the fabric of society and the nation to threads.

The class struggle isn't something Leftists concocted ex nihilo, it's a recognition of the existence of two classes which possess radically divergent interests. By virtue of their ownership of property, one class (the bourgeoisie) is endowed with the means by which to control the governing apparatuses of the world and systematically exploit the class at a relative disadvantage to itself (the proletariat). And even if the state could be made to be an impartial arbiter in corporative disputes (improbable as it is), again, the preservation of the bourgeoisie necessarily entails the perpetuation of exploitation and alienation.

Socialism isn't a movement for guaranteed employment and humane working conditions, it's a movement for equitable remuneration, self-management, ecological sustainability, and global peace.

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"Nationality. . . is a historic, local fact which, like all real and harmless facts, has the right to claim general acceptance. . . Every people, like every person, is involuntarily that which it is and therefore has a right to be itself. . . Nationality is not a principle; it is a legitimate fact, just as individuality is. Every nationality, great or small, has the incontestable right to be itself, to live according to its own nature. This right is simply the corollary of the general principle of freedom."
—Mikhail Bakunin Red Star
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