Two socialisms

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Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:15 pm

*What is 'revolutionary socialism'?

For purposes of this forum, revolutionary socialism is defined as a socialist tendency based upon a fundamental commitment to the complete abolition of capitalism — this being contrasted to conventional Social Democratic and corporativist models, based upon the partial or complete maintenance of the capitalist mode of production — and the construction of a workers' state.

Note: In this context, no distinction is drawn between literal revolutionary socialists, Blanquists/Vanguardists, democratic socialists, anarchists, etc.

Do you consider Leninists (in their various forms) in the "vanguardist" sub-type of socialism?

I ask this because I consider Leninists anti-socialists, and don't see Bolshevik systems as abolishing capitalism, but just making it state-capitalism instead of market-capitalism.

IMO, not only does Leninism fail to abolish capitalism, it aggravates it - if we were characterize capitalism (to borrow Dewey's term) as "industrial feudalism", Bolshevism transforms the system to the worse in such a way that a new characterisation of "industrial slavery" becomes more fitting for that kind of capitalism.


[Being that I said I do not consider Leninism the abolition of capitalism, I will only breefly mention that I consider capitalism abolished if all the production is under the direct control of the workers, and if there are no unearned incomes (rents).]

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by DSN on Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:11 pm

I think if we did this with every branch of socialism the admin, moderators and/or majority of forum disagreed with then we could sit here all day engaging in tendency wars. It's fine if you think that Leninism won't work, but if you're looking for a forum that focuses on more libertarian strains of socialism then they are out there (Libcom for example). As for my personal opinion, however, I don't think that Leninists are anti-socialists just because their ideas might not work. To actually be considered an anti-socialist you would have to actively reject socialism or have beliefs that stand in direct contradiction to it.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:53 am

DSN wrote:if you think that Leninism won't work

just because their ideas might not work

I don't condiser Leninist ideas at all socialist, whether they work or not.

To actually be considered an anti-socialist you would have to actively reject socialism or have beliefs that stand in direct contradiction to it.

I see as the core trait of socialism the emancipation of workers, that is- the disappearance of bosses, which put in practice by workers' direct control over production. Having that in mind, I consider Leninism matches these conditions you mention. Insted of moving towards worker control over production, they moved in the oppossite direction- strengthening the control over the workers (which eliminates the possibility of worker control over production- that is- eliminates the possibility of socialism) by joining economic and state hierarchical authority, and a very oppressive one. Also, they not only actively reject(ed) socialism, the Bolsheviki persecuted and murdered socialists, they quenched socialist rebellions in blood, and they destroyed entire socialist societies. Therefore I consider them utterly anti-socialist.

Also, to mention- I'm not a libertarian socialist per se, I do oppose hierarchy among people, but I don't support abstaining from elections and trying to win state power, and I dont' support abolishing the state (although I think only direct-democratic republics would be justified).

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by DSN on Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:51 pm

Leveller wrote:I don't condiser Leninist ideas at all socialist, whether they work or not.

Well if Leninist theory does work then the vanguard party and state would eventually wither away, leading the people through to true socialism.

I see as the core trait of socialism the emancipation of workers, that is- the disappearance of bosses, which put in practice by workers' direct control over production. Having that in mind, I consider Leninism matches these conditions you mention. Insted of moving towards worker control over production, they moved in the oppossite direction- strengthening the control over the workers (which eliminates the possibility of worker control over production- that is- eliminates the possibility of socialism) by joining economic and state hierarchical authority, and a very oppressive one.

I've recently moved more towards this path of thought. I think the thing to consider though is that Russia, at the time, was a bit of a shithole. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't more than half of the population illiterate? I think Lenin did doubt the workers' abilities a bit too much, but there seems to be some credibility to his concept of educated revolutionaries organising society until the proletariat could administer the state themselves. From what little I know of Russia at the time, it wasn't really even in the position to bring about socialism at the time.

Also, they not only actively reject(ed) socialism, the Bolsheviki persecuted and murdered socialists, they quenched socialist rebellions in blood, and they destroyed entire socialist societies. Therefore I consider them utterly anti-socialist.

As mentioned above, I'm a bit rusty on my knowledge of the Soviet Union so I'll have a look into this.

Also, to mention- I'm not a libertarian socialist per se, I do oppose hierarchy among people, but I don't support abstaining from elections and trying to win state power, and I dont' support abolishing the state (although I think only direct-democratic republics would be justified).

The question of the state and whether it should be abolished immediately or not seems to mostly be a game of semantics. I don't see why Marx and Engels' definition of the state necessarily contradicts a more horizontal organisation of the working class.

"And people think they have taken quite an extraordinary bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy; and at best an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy, whose worst sides the proletariat, just like the Commune, cannot avoid having to lop off at the earliest possible moment, until such time as a new generation, reared in new and free social conditions, will be able to throw the entire lumber of the state on the scrap-heap.

Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat."

- Abstract from The Civil War in France – 1891 Introduction by Frederick Engels On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune

"Marx is at that juncture ridiculing mercilessly the Lassallean notion of a “free State,” showing that some of the beatitudes “demanded” by the Lassalleans are already “free” in such States as Switzerland and the United States, puncturing his argument by emphasizing that the proletarian State in the period of transition of the capitalist system into the communist system of society “can be nothing else but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” In other words, what he desired here to emphasize is that a State is a State, whether it be proletarian or bourgeois, and that a State is always an organ of suppression."
- The National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party's preface to Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1992

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:58 pm

DSN wrote:Well if Leninist theory does work then the vanguard party and state would eventually wither away, leading the people through to true socialism.

I find that Leninist line as even more dishonest thet Lenin's opportunistic support of socialism with the April Thesis and State and Revolution which were used only to gain support of the people, and never implemented.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't more than half of the population illiterate?

Which hasn't prevented them to have rural worker self-management (communist form) in the obshchina villages for hundreds of years, or stoped them from forming worker councils both in the 1905 and the 1917 february revolutions, and that didn't stop them from forming an entire society with 7m population that had a socialist economy (Free Territory of Ukraine).

From what little I know of Russia at the time, it wasn't really even in the position to bring about socialism at the time.

And the Russian tradition of obshchinas, and the industrial worker councils and the Free Territory of Ukraine are all illussions.

Lenin and the Bolsheviki abolished the worker councils, destroyed the Free Territory, persecuted and virtually destroyed the Esers, anarchists and libertarian marxists.

They even banned their own dissenting movement because they fought for giving the workers a little participation in the functioning of the economy or enabling a little democracy within the party (like Worker Group, Worker Opposition, Right Opposition, Decists, Left Opposition, Mensheviki).

It's interesting to mention that the Esers, a party of the Russian revolutionary democratic socialist movement, were more popular then the Bolsheviki. The results of the Elections:

(name of the party - votes - seats in assembly)

Socialist Revolutionaries - 17,490,000 - 370
Bolsheviks - 9,844,000 - 175
Mensheviks - 1,248,000 - 16
Constitutional Democrats - 2,000,000 - 17
Minorities - x - 77
Left Socialist Revolutionaries - 2,861,000 - 40
People's Socialists - x - 4

The Bolsheviks opportunistically using the slogan "all power to the worker councils" and the above mentioned two Lenin's works to gain support of the people and when they did gain enough support to gain state power, they used it to destroy both genuine socialists and exactly those worker councils.

They destroyed socialism in Russia, they destoyed the socialist movement in Russia, so I really don't see how can these people be called socialist.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Rev Scare on Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:59 am

Leveller wrote:Do you consider Leninists (in their various forms) in the "vanguardist" sub-type of socialism?

I ask this because I consider Leninists anti-socialists, and don't see Bolshevik systems as abolishing capitalism, but just making it state-capitalism instead of market-capitalism.

I consider Leninism a genuine strain of Marxism and corresponding to the socialist tradition, and I find the concept of the vanguard party appealing. I can scarcely envision a means by which to realistically impel revolution other than by way of a mass action political "vanguard." Do you care to elaborate upon such an alternative? Unless one entertains messianic anarchist plots, apolitical trade unionist fantasies, isolated reformist bands, voting booth schemes, or spontaneous uprisings, I cannot understand why any self-proclaimed revolutionary socialist would abjure the formation of a vanguard party. What is more, Leninism denotes a political philosophy; therefore, it is distinct from socialism as an economic system, but it is nonetheless a socialist current.

As my stated tendency indicates, however, I do not identify as a Leninist and am critical of certain aspects of Lenin's thought, but I highly respect his work and view him as an important Marxist theoretician.

IMO, not only does Leninism fail to abolish capitalism, it aggravates it - if we were characterize capitalism (to borrow Dewey's term) as "industrial feudalism", Bolshevism transforms the system to the worse in such a way that a new characterisation of "industrial slavery" becomes more fitting for that kind of capitalism.

[Being that I said I do not consider Leninism the abolition of capitalism, I will only breefly mention that I consider capitalism abolished if all the production is under the direct control of the workers, and if there are no unearned incomes (rents).]

I would not describe capitalism as "industrial feudalism," because capitalism and feudalism are two distinct modes of production and conflating them is poor practice. Due to the exploitative nature of capitalism, it has often been referred to as a system of "wage slavery," but this does not hold true for the Soviet Union. I presume you are, in particular, critical of Soviet state socialism, which you erroneously describe as "slavery." While it is true that the Soviet system was alienating for average workers due to its lack of workplace democracy and functioned under the thumb of a virtually unaccountable political bureaucracy, it is false to characterize state socialism as "slavery," as it was based upon collective ownership of the means of production. You should eschew the bad habit of labeling any system you find objectionable as "capitalist,"  as such logic fails to appreciate the qualitative differences between various economic arrangements, which is itself a necessary prerequisite for a viable critique.

In order for an economy to be correctly identified as a capitalist economy, the following three conditions must prevail:

1) Private property in the means of production. An ownership class, the bourgeoisie or capitalist class, must be empowered to monopolize both access to the means of production and their outputs.

2) Wage labor. Another class, deprived of means of production, the working class, must sell its labor power in order to subsist. The capitalist class takes advantage of the relative vulnerability of the working class and enters into an exploitative relationship with it via the wage-for-labor-time contract, thereby appropriating the surplus product produced by the workers.

3) A market. Capitalists must be more or less free to purchase labor power and means of production, and workers must be more or less free to sell their labor power. Production must be oriented toward exchange, whereby commodities (including labor power) are bought and sold in the market. Without a market, there can be no exchange value, and without exchange value, there can be no profit motive and, as a result, an impetus for capital accumulation, upon which hinges the entire capitalist order.

The Soviet Union abolished all three features. The means of production were collectivized, and a planned economy replaced the anarchy of the market. To the extent that workers received regular monetary compensation, this "wage" was of a qualitatively different nature than the wage relationship under capitalism. The surplus the workers generated, while not directly appropriated by themselves, was reinvested into the economy by the state, thereby indirectly benefiting them through extensive public programs and rising standards of living.

I see as the core trait of socialism the emancipation of workers, that is- the disappearance of bosses, which put in practice by workers' direct control over production. Having that in mind, I consider Leninism matches these conditions you mention. Insted of moving towards worker control over production, they moved in the oppossite direction- strengthening the control over the workers (which eliminates the possibility of worker control over production- that is- eliminates the possibility of socialism) by joining economic and state hierarchical authority, and a very oppressive one.

Your notion that the elimination of "bosses" altogether, in terms of external management, is the quintessential ingredient in socialism is rather crude and was never the case. At the very least, technocratic conceptions of socialism predate the Bolsheviks by at least a century (Henri de Saint-Simon being the most prominent early proponent). Likewise, workplace democracy in itself is insufficient for transcending capitalism. Since the economy of the USSR failed to conform to the three central properties of the capitalist mode of production enumerated above, it is, at best, misleading to portray it as capitalist. Whether or not one wishes to designate it "socialist," as I would argue is appropriate, can be debated at this juncture, but it certainly cannot be regarded as a manifestation of capitalism.

The depiction of the Soviet elite as some sort of monolithic, highly privileged caste is also seriously flawed. Yes, the bureaucracy and party leaders did enjoy certain benefits above the rest of society, but they were picayune compared to the ruling classes of the capitalist West. The elite lived in fairly modest dwellings, could not own productive property, could not consign their posts to their children, and were not paid a sum extremely above the average worker's. Income distribution was much more egalitarian in the USSR than in Western capitalist states, and the aforementioned vast array of public services further served to level conditions. The Western Soviet historian Howard Sherman noted that the typical Soviet official enjoyed an allowance "far below that of most U.S. capitalists, both absolutely and relatively to their societies" (Foundations of Political Economy, p. 287).

Two other researchers describe the position of the elite in this way:

"The socialist pretensions of the Soviet system prevented its ruling group from acquiring personal wealth. Virtually all valuable property belonged to the state. And it is the consensus of Western specialists that, apart from the highest officials in the Soviet system, the average members of the Soviet party-state elite were not assured that they could pass on their elite status to their offspring. While the children of the elite had advantages in getting into the best schools and using contacts to get good jobs, one analyst found that most of the children of the top elite and their spouses took jobs in the intelligentsia "but not necessarily over the elite threshold." The common careers for children of the top elite were in academia, journalism, diplomacy, and foreign trade (they seemed to prize the ability to travel abroad). The Soviet elite was heavily replenished in each generation by individuals from worker or peasant background who gained an education and moved up the hierarchy.

The members of the Soviet party-state elite confronted a paradoxical reality. They were powerful and privileged. They ran one of the world's two superpowers. Yet in many respects they were quite confined. The bar to individual accumulation of wealth, and the uncertainty about passing on elite status to offspring, must have limited the extent to which the Soviet elite conceived of themselves as a class with clearly defined interests in society."

Kotz, David, and Fred Weir. Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System, p. 33.

Also, they not only actively reject(ed) socialism, the Bolsheviki persecuted and murdered socialists, they quenched socialist rebellions in blood, and they destroyed entire socialist societies. Therefore I consider them utterly anti-socialist.

Rejected socialism, persecuted and murdered socialists, and "quenched socialist rebellions in blood"? Do expound upon this pseudo-history.

Unlike you, I do not subscribe to the simplistic view held by some critics on the (libertarian) Left (e.g., Maurice Brinton, Paul Mattick) that the Bolshevik programme was born with "original sin," corrupt from its inception. While the factors involved in the gradual centralization of power were complex, the basic reasoning was simple. In order to not only restore the economy to its pre-war status but to develop socialism and defend the weak revolutionary state, immense coordination of material resources and labor was required, which entailed centralization. In other words, the desolate, backward and contentious environment was the greatest reason behind the shift from grassroots democracy toward centralized power.

The precursor to all of this was the uncertain period between the October Revolution and Russia's withdrawal from World War I.

"It was at this point [after the treaty of Brest-Litovsk averted the almost certain fall of the regime] that Lenin realized that the promises of 1917 were incompatible with the preservation of the new regime. Allowing workers and peasants to control their factories and fields, and encouraging anti-bourgeois pogroms, was only fuelling economic chaos. Food supplies suffered from the expropriation of the gentry's lands and the break-up of large estates. Meanwhile workers used 'workers' control' to benefit their own factories, rather than the economy as a whole, and harassed the hated managers and engineers. Labour discipline collapsed, a problem only worsened by the food shortages. The ranks of the unemployed swelled, and opposition to the Bolsheviks in the soviets grew rapidly."
Priestland, David. The Red Flag, p. 92.

Parochial factory committees which prioritized the well-being of their own factories ("socialism in one factory") and peasant land grabbing undermined the economy and the revolutionary gains. This situation only intensified after the bloody war against the Whites—in which numerous SRs and Mensheviks joined the counterrevolutionaries. The early peasant revolts and the Kronstadt rebellion were prompted by the dire circumstances Russia was in after the brutal civil war, with massive grain shortages and sharp industrial decline. In a word, the economy was decimated, and people were unhappy. The Bolsheviks were hardly to blame for this situation, and they could not allow the towns to starve. In fact, the situation in the countryside was so confused that the rebels in Tambov united behind such puzzling slogans as "Long live Lenin, down with Trotsky!" and "Long live the Bolsheviks, death to the Communists!" (Figes, Orlando. Peasant Russia, Civil War).

We see that it is unfair to gloss over the context in which the Bolsheviks found themselves. Lenin proceeded, for better or worse, to consolidate the soviets, which were dominated by the Bolsheviks in any case, in order to safeguard the revolution.

Lenin and the Bolsheviki abolished the worker councils, destroyed the Free Territory, persecuted and virtually destroyed the Esers, anarchists and libertarian marxists.

I fail to see how this renders them "anti-socialist." These were all opposing parties, and quite frankly, it is disingenuous to present the Bolsheviks as the sole instigators. It isn't as though these other groups were above such tactics. Lenin's party was politically powerful as a consequence of discipline, ideological vigor, and popular support. They were ultimately unwilling to share power with groups they recognized as subversive (which was, for the most part, correct).

Which hasn't prevented them to have rural worker self-management (communist form) in the obshchina villages for hundreds of years,

The Bolsheviks, especially when Stalin initiated the first Five Year Plan, wanted to replace the communes with what they, quite reasonably, believed were more efficient organizations in order to produce the necessary food surplus to end grain shortages, feed growing urban areas as industrialization commenced, and to dispense with the threat of the kulaks. It was not some nefarious "anti-socialist" plot. They socialized the farms.

Socialist Revolutionaries - 17,490,000 - 370
Bolsheviks - 9,844,000 - 175
Mensheviks - 1,248,000 - 16
Constitutional Democrats - 2,000,000 - 17
Minorities - x - 77
Left Socialist Revolutionaries - 2,861,000 - 40
People's Socialists - x - 4

Curious that you would reference the election results of the parliamentary style Constituent Assembly and not those in the soviets themselves, where the Bolsheviks held the majority. The SRs represented petty-bourgeois peasantry, and the Mensheviks were reformists. Since the peasants comprised most of the population, it should not surprise anybody that the Bolsheviks were less favored in the Constituent Assembly, as they were an avowedly urban working class party.

In conclusion, the above is not to be taken as self-righteous apologia. Lenin and his successors certainly employed means that future socialist movements committed to democracy should seek to avoid. However, I do not discount the achievements of the Bolsheviks or fail to assess their decisions within the proper context in some vulgar fashion. We should learn from the Bolsheviks, both the good and bad, so as to avoid the pitfalls of Lenin while salvaging the strength of his doctrine.


Last edited by Rev Scare on Tue May 13, 2014 10:43 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sun May 12, 2013 6:38 am

Rev Scare wrote: I can scarcely envision a means by which to realistically impel revolution other than by way of a mass action political "vanguard." Do you care to elaborate upon such an alternative?
Do you know of SPGB? I don't see why a revolutionary party shouldn't be directly democratic like SPBG is.

Unless one entertains messianic anarchist plots
The anarchists were the only ones to establish socialism. And such socialisms were destroyed by the bolsheviks.

I presume you are, in particular, critical of Soviet state socialism, which you erroneously describe as "slavery."
If you are peasant who's working his land, either on your own, or in a communistic obshchina, and the state comes, confiscates your land and tells you you must become a part of the "army of labour" and work as you're told, I call that enslavement. Maybe Bolshevik system during Lenin could be called state-capitalism, but under Stalinism it most surely was state-slavery.

While it is true that the Soviet system was alienating for average workers due to its lack of workplace democracy and functioned under the thumb of a virtually unaccountable political bureaucracy, it is false to characterize state socialism as "slavery," as it was based upon collective ownership of the means of production.
Ownership that exist only on the paper. How can it be common ownership when, as you yourself just said- workers had no say in the management. It's like I take something of yours and say- it's your ownership, but I control it, and you can use it if I agree, and you can use it only in the way I say you can. What does it matter that I say it's your ownership if you don't decide anything, but it's me who controls it. Nationalization puts property in the hands of the state, not people.

In order for an economy to be correctly identified as a capitalist economy, the following three conditions must prevail:
...
I disagree. I define capitalism by exploitation of the workers, either directly (by there being a boss) or indirectly (by a capitalist renting something to them). Capitalist property existed in USSR with the difference that there was only one capitalist- the state. Being that there was no market and the worker had to work for that one capitalist, and couldn't choose between competing capitalists, their condition was closer to serfdom.

Your notion that the elimination of "bosses" altogether, in terms of external management, is the quintessential ingredient in socialism is rather crude and was never the case. At the very least, technocratic conceptions of socialism predate the Bolsheviks by at least a century (Henri de Saint-Simon being the most prominent early proponent).
Saint-Simon didn't call himself a socialist, and was not considered as such by first socialists, both state and stateless ones- Owen, Ricardian Socialists, Proudhon, and people following such ideas. He was firstly called a socialist only by technocratic right-marxist, who themselves were not considered socialism by the rest of workers' movement, including left-marxist such as De Leonists, impossibilists and council communist, let alone democratic socialists and anarchists. Anyways, I consider technocacy incompatible with socialism. "Bureaucratic collectivism" can abolish indirect exploitation, but it cannot abolish direct exploitation because it by it's existance commits it.

Likewise, workplace democracy in itself is insufficient for transcending capitalism.
It by it's existence abolishes direct exploitation. It is also necessary that the worker coop doesn't rent anything to anyone and then it's not capitalistic. A system with all firms being such coops is a socialist system.

The depiction of the Soviet elite as some sort of monolithic, highly privileged caste is also seriously flawed. Yes, the bureaucracy and party leaders did enjoy certain benefits above the rest of society, but they were picayune compared to the ruling classes of the capitalist West. The elite lived in fairly modest dwellings, could not own productive property, could not consign their posts to their children, and were not paid a sum extremely above the average worker's. Income distribution was much more egalitarian
This is all irrelevant. Social democracy gives this to the workers in a market-capitalist economy, and in a much less oppressive way.

Unlike you, I do not subscribe to the simplistic view held by some critics on the (libertarian) Left (e.g., Maurice Brinton, Paul Mattick) that the Bolshevik programme was born with "original sin," corrupt from its inception.
And I think you are wrong in doing so.

In order to not only restore the economy to its pre-war status but to develop socialism and defend the weak revolutionary state, immense coordination of material resources and labor was required, which entailed centralization. In other words, the desolate, backward and contentious environment was the greatest reason behind the shift from grassroots democracy toward centralized power.
I don't see argument for this kind of reasoning. There existed a state- a centralized power designed to enforce laws. In an environvent where a huge number of people supported emancipation from exploiters, it could be easily used to enforse laws that establish worker self-management and ban all unearned income, there is absolutely no need for centralization of economy, which itself is incompatible with socialism, because it necessitases the existence of central managers which become the new bosses.

Lenin proceeded, for better or worse, to consolidate the soviets, which were dominated by the Bolsheviks in any case, in order to safeguard the revolution.
They were dominated by the Bolsheviks because they gained popular support by saying they're for "all power to the soviets", which they're weren't.

I fail to see how this renders them "anti-socialist."
They established state-capitalism, destroyed a society that established socialism and persecuted groups that really fought for socialism. If that doens't make them anti-socialist IDK what could.

The SRs represented petty-bourgeois peasantry
I don't accept the marxist view of classes and thereby reject the notion of "petty-bourgeois". If workers own their means of production, and don't exploit anyone, they're workers, not capitalist of any sort (or size).

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Rev Scare on Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:57 pm

Leveller wrote:Do you know of SPGB? I don't see why a revolutionary party shouldn't be directly democratic like SPBG is.

Yes, I am aware of that impotent group, and it humors me that you would mention them approvingly. Can their organizational structure even be regarded as "directly democratic"?

Direct democracy is not a viable option for a revolutionary organization because proletarians have not attained equal levels of class consciousness and theoretical sophistication. We reside in a revolutionary epoch, and as such, radical movements cannot adopt the full extent of participatory structures that we would expect in a socialist mode of production. Internal subversion by bourgeois governments is a serious possibility, and inordinate decentralization would present a vulnerability. For these reasons, democratic centralism with a party charter is the most effective organizational model.

Furthermore, direct democracy is not necessarily desirable in and of itself. It seems to me that the vast majority of people would prefer to delegate decisions to suitable candidates due to simple issues of time and expertise. Most people would refrain from the drudgery of everyday politics, and this mentality would likely carry over into a post-capitalist society, no matter how participatory its governing institutions.

The anarchists were the only ones to establish socialism. And such socialisms were destroyed by the bolsheviks.

Even if I were to grant that Nestor Makhno's social experiments were socialist in nature, you are misrepresenting history and idealizing the Free Territory of Ukraine. For one, only a small minority of the population in the Makhnovist region lived in the communes (Peter Arshinov, a principal author of Makhno's legacy, describes only four in History of the Makhnovist Movement), perhaps a few thousand in an estimated population of seven million—less than 0.1 percent. The vast majority of peasants were unaroused by his radicalism, and as a result, the project can hardly be considered of much political significance. Two, the Makhnovshchina was scarcely the libertarian beacon that its sympathizers maintain. The Makhnovists abrogated all laws and state functions in the areas they ransacked, but in their own domain, they recreated what can be reasonably regarded as a state, with monetary policy, a regulated press, and a legal system. They imposed military rule, proscribed the election of parties to "prevent those hostile to our political ideas from establishing themselves" (Makhno quoted in Colin Darch, "The Makhnovshchina," p. 92), and otherwise utilized their military might to suppress opposing organizations.

Anarchists often censure the Bolsheviks for the harsh military policies introduced during the civil war, but they overlook the fact that Makhno retained veto power over decisions made by his army, appointed close friends to senior positions, and as Darch notes, "although some of Makhno's aides attempted to introduce more conventional structures into the army, [Makhno's] control remained absolute, arbitrary and impulsive" (Makhnovshchina, p. 328). Makhno also instituted a secret police akin to the Bolshevik's Cheka, which subsequently conducted torture and summary executions. The "voluntary" character of this army is also largely in question, as the following Makhnovist bulletin describes:

"Some groups have understood voluntary mobilization as mobilization only for those who wish to enter the Insurrectionary Army, and that anyone who for any reason wishes to stay at home is not liable…. This is not correct…. The voluntary mobilization has been called because the peasants, workers and insurgents themselves decided to mobilize themselves without awaiting the arrival of instructions from the central authorities."

Quoted in Michael Malet, Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War (London: Macmillan Press, 1982), p. 105.

The conclusion to be drawn from this information is that for all the vilification of the Bolsheviks by anarchists, Makhno's forces resorted to the same methods. As a materialist, I can infer that the inimical conditions imposed by the brutal civil war and Russia's economic backwardness made such a state of affairs inevitable. The difference between the Bolsheviks and the Makhnovists, however, is that the latter did not possess a comprehensive vision of the future nor a general revolutionary programme capable of transitioning to a complex socialist society. It was not a revolutionary force but an expression of reactionary peasant malcontent in response to the policies of war communism. Makhno never conceived of a sober (no pun intended) plan to solve modern problems of production and transform society in a revolutionary direction.

Finally, your trite argument that the alliance deteriorated because the Bolsheviks were opportunistically vying for power ("quenched socialist rebellions in blood," as you put it) is specious. There was mutual animosity from the very beginning, with Makhno's recalcitrant army proving unreliable in dire circumstances.

Main source: ISR Issue 53, May-June 2007

If you are peasant who's working his land, either on your own, or in a communistic obshchina, and the state comes, confiscates your land and tells you you must become a part of the "army of labour" and work as you're told, I call that enslavement.

The peasants had no right to the land, even according to Proudhonist theory (certainly not legally, since land was nationalized in 1917). If they wished to remain in primitive enclaves as individual farmers while the towns starved, the workers' state was fully justified in intervening. The peasants had no interest in developing modern socialism but merely wished to insulate themselves and their ancient practices. However, many peasants did in fact form voluntary agricultural cooperatives in opposition to the wealthy landlords, the kulaks. It is doubtful whether rapid industrialization was possible without collectivization, and the graphs of economic simulations by Robert C. Allen that I provided in this post indicate that a market driven approach would have sorely failed in this regard.

Peasants were not united in their opposition to collectivization either. One scholar explains it thus:

"Finally, what about the other 90 percent of peasants who did not rebel? Some peasants did not reject collectivization and even supported it. In March 1929 peasants suggested at a meeting in Riazan okrug that the Soviet government should take all the land and have peasants work on it for wages, a conception not too distant from the future operation of kolkhozy. An OGPU report quoted one middle peasant in Shilovskii raion, Riazan okrug, in November 1929 to the effect that 'the grain procurements are hard, but necessary; we cannot live like we lived before, it is necessary to build factories and plants, and for that grain is necessary' [Viola et al., 1998: 14, 81]. In January 1930, during the campaign, some peasants said, 'the time has come to abandon our individual farms. It's about time to quit those, [we] need to transfer to collectivization.' Another document from January reported several cases of peasants spontaneously forming kolkhozy and consolidating their fields, which was a basic part of collectivization [Viola et al., 1998: 120, 121]. Bokarev's analysis summarized above suggests a reason why many peasants did not rebel against collectivization: the kolkhoz in certain ways, especially in its collectivism of land use and principles of egalitarian distribution, was not all that far from peasant traditions and values in corporate villages throughout the USSR. In any case, this example, and the evidence that the vast majority of peasants did not engage in protests against collectivization, clearly disproves Graziosi's assertion cited above that the villages were 'united' against collectivization."
Tauger, Mark. “Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930-39: Resistance and Adaptation.” In Rural Adaptation in Russia by Stephen Wegren, Routledge, New York, NY, 2005, Chapter 3, p. 75.

I dismiss your charge of "enslavement" on the grounds that you are distorting the real situation in the USSR and derive your theory of ownership (and consequently, exploitation) from mutualism, not the communist tradition. Communists understand that labor alone cannot determine ownership because it neglects the innumerable social factors involved in the individual labor process, including public infrastructure and the totality of human knowledge.

Maybe Bolshevik system during Lenin could be called state-capitalism,

The NEP's stated purpose was to implement state capitalism in order to placate the peasantry after the forced grain requisitioning of war communism, thereby hoping to restore grain production and trade to respectable levels, which was to restart industry in lieu of comprehensive economic planning. It was a temporary retreat according to Lenin, but it proved inadequate. In response, the Soviet government proceeded to collectivize agricultural production to increase efficiency and terminate the growing influence of land capitalists.

but under Stalinism it most surely was state-slavery.

"Stalinism" is a meaningless pejorative flung about by enemies of Marxism-Leninism. There is no obvious continuity between the theory and practice of the various "Stalinist" camps, and what is more, there is no marked discontinuity between the ideas of Stalin and Lenin, and Lenin and Marx.

Ownership that exist only on the paper.

All property relations require a legal framework and some measure of coercion, so your observation is moot.

How can it be common ownership when, as you yourself just said- workers had no say in the management. It's like I take something of yours and say- it's your ownership, but I control it, and you can use it if I agree, and you can use it only in the way I say you can. What does it matter that I say it's your ownership if you don't decide anything, but it's me who controls it.

I do not acknowledge private ownership in land or the means of production as justified. Unless worker cooperatives are commonly owned by society as a whole, the system merely reduces itself to one of private ownership by collectives rather than individuals, with all of the accompanying inequality.

Further, let us not exaggerate the degree of authoritarianism in Soviet politics and workplaces. Classical interpretations of democracy involve the empowerment of the lower classes in society, which is why most major philosophers and political leaders in history have categorically rejected the idea. In this view, the Soviet Union, which made tangible improvements in the lives of workers, was much more democratic than the United States. Indeed, I would venture so far as to assert that the USSR was at least as democratic as bourgeois liberal democracies. Soviet democracy featured universal suffrage, elections in which candidates were drawn from the Communist Party, trade unions, Komsomol, and other bodies, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet performed a function analogous to the U.S. Congress. Therefore, stable democratic structures existed in the Soviet Union.

Of course, you probably understand that bourgeois democracy is merely a formalism, but you might falsely suppose that Western citizens enjoyed greater liberties than their Soviet counterparts. This would be mistaken, since bourgeois democracy involves the freedom to be unemployed, to starve, to suffer from illness for want of medical treatment, to be denied shelter, and to be barred from access to higher education, amongst other such fine opportunities. The opposite was true in the Soviet Union, where the state guaranteed the necessary means of life to all citizens.

There was considerable worker participation in the Soviet Union, including trade unions, which could influence production goals, dismissals, labor conditions, etc., the use of newspapers and news sources as ombudsmen, soviets—in which 35 million people were involved (Boris Ponomarev, Communism in a Changing World, New York: Sphinx Press, 78)—youth organizations, and other bodies, such as production committees and community assemblies. In 1978, the following facts shed light on political and economic participation: there were 16.5 million Communists, 121 million trade union members, nearly 38 million Young Communists, over 2 million Soviet deputies, 35 million alongside the deputies in the Soviets of People's Deputies, 9.5 million members of People's Control bodies, and 5.5 million members of production conferences in industry [E. Ambartsumov, F. Burlatsky, Y. Krasin, and E. Pletynov, "Real Socialism... for a working class estimate (reprint from New Times)," New York: New Outlook Publishers, 1978]. Soviet workers were not merely subjugated to some abstraction called the "state," and it is profoundly ignorant to claim that workers exercised no control whatsoever.

Nationalization puts property in the hands of the state, not people.

Your idealist twaddle regarding the state is wearisome, but I shall address it further below.

I disagree. I define capitalism by exploitation of the workers, either directly (by there being a boss)

There was hierarchy, but even the most horizontal social relations, if they are to be effective, must feature some authority, so I fail to understand why the mere presence of a boss would distinguish the capitalist mode of production from socialism.

It is important to recognize that we radicals in the West are in a privileged position vis-à-vis the Bolsheviks circa 1917. It is simple for us to extol worker cooperatives and thoroughly democratic institutions as vehicles for socialism, but this is facile. We are the inheritors of a robust economic, political, and cultural infrastructure. Our productive forces are highly advanced, and our working class is both vast and competent. It is only a matter of seizing the means of production and inculcating workers with the principles of self-management. The Bolsheviks grappled with a wholly different reality. They needed to build an industrial base from virtually scratch in an environment of extreme adversity, without the aid of an advanced country and surrounded by imperialist powers. Only a strong central government could achieve the goals of socialism: socializing property, protecting the revolution, rapid technological progress, and heightening the cultural level. (Trotsky argued along similar lines in "If America Should Go Communist.")

or indirectly (by a capitalist renting something to them). Capitalist property existed in USSR with the difference that there was only one capitalist- the state. Being that there was no market and the worker had to work for that one capitalist, and couldn't choose between competing capitalists, their condition was closer to serfdom.

You have completely abstracted from the class basis of the state, focusing upon some idealist conception of power. Simply put, the state is an organ of class domination, not a separate entity unto itself (except under highly exceptional circumstances, such as Caesarism, Bonapartism, and fascism, but even here the state acts to stabilize the class struggle at the behest of the ruling class), and since the mere fact that workers in the Soviet Union received a wage was not a manifestation of serfdom, your analysis is invalid. The Soviet state, at least until the death of Stalin, palpably served the interests of the working class (a minority prior to industrialization), coordinating the social labor process on behalf of workers, socializing production, and reinvesting the surplus generated. The consequences of this commitment by the Soviet state were that literacy increased as dramatically as infant mortality decreased, tens of millions ascended from poverty to lead a dignified existence, formal and material equality for women and ethnic minorities was realized for the first time in history, the USSR emerged victorious in the Second World War, and mankind entered a new era of scientific and cultural progress.

Saint-Simon didn't call himself a socialist, and was not considered as such by first socialists, both state and stateless ones- Owen, Ricardian Socialists, Proudhon, and people following such ideas. He was firstly called a socialist only by technocratic right-marxist, who themselves were not considered socialism by the rest of workers' movement, including left-marxist such as De Leonists, impossibilists and council communist, let alone democratic socialists and anarchists.

Saint-Simon is widely recognized as an early proponent of socialism. Call him a proto-socialist if you will, but he indisputably influenced the socialist movement.

Anyways, I consider technocacy incompatible with socialism. "Bureaucratic collectivism" can abolish indirect exploitation, but it cannot abolish direct exploitation because it by it's existance commits it.

Technocracy is undesirable and, in the last analysis, incompatible with the socialist values I espouse. However, your definition of exploitation is incoherent and unpersuasive.

It by it's existence abolishes direct exploitation. It is also necessary that the worker coop doesn't rent anything to anyone and then it's not capitalistic. A system with all firms being such coops is a socialist system.

No, it does not. A factory can theoretically be governed democratically by its workers, but the surplus may be appropriated by a private owner, thereby rendering it an exploitative institution. The main principle of socialism is collective ownership, and a planned economy that accounts for all social labor in society most closely approximates this, not your market system of socialisms in one factory.

This is all irrelevant.

It is not irrelevant, because it confutes the claim that the state was substituted for the capitalist—a vacuous idea to begin with. There was no capitalist class, but there was a coordinator class (a genuine, albeit unavoidable, defect in the Soviet model), which was far from homogeneous and extravagant. As the work of the two authors in my previous post reveals, the class basis of the Soviet state, at least while Stalin was alive, was far from opposed to the working class.

Social democracy gives this to the workers in a market-capitalist economy, and in a much less oppressive way.

The European welfare states were constructed largely in response to the Soviet example, and need I remind you that capitalists have no interest in supporting generous welfare policies in the long-term, which is why we observe a consistent erosion of welfare in the wake of the collapse of the USSR?

I don't see argument for this kind of reasoning. There existed a state- a centralized power designed to enforce laws. In an environvent where a huge number of people supported emancipation from exploiters, it could be easily used to enforse laws that establish worker self-management and ban all unearned income, there is absolutely no need for centralization of economy, which itself is incompatible with socialism, because it necessitases the existence of central managers which become the new bosses.

As was explained above, the economic and cultural backwardness of Russia during a period of upheaval made centralization necessary.

They were dominated by the Bolsheviks because they gained popular support by saying they're for "all power to the soviets", which they're weren't.

They were in favor of the soviets, but historical exigencies prompted a shift in policy. Soviets are not innately revolutionary in disposition. They are susceptible to reactionary influence without guidance by the class party of the proletariat, and this was precisely the case in Russia after the civil war.

They established state-capitalism

The only remotely convincing argument I have encountered that the Soviet economy (after Stalin) was in any way capitalist is that capital (as self-expanding value in circulation) existed due to inescapable competition in the capitalist world market. This argument is inherently defeatist because it will hold true for any country attempting to revolutionize its mode of production until international socialism eradicates the hegemony of global capital. What is more damning is that it applies directly to mutualism, the system you endorse.

and persecuted groups that really fought for socialism.

Which were those groups again?

I don't accept the marxist view of classes and thereby reject the notion of "petty-bourgeois". If workers own their means of production, and don't exploit anyone, they're workers, not capitalist of any sort (or size).

If you reject Marxist class theory, then you lack a coherent sociological analysis. This is unsurprising, as you have evinced that you are devoid of an analysis rooted in material conditions. The reason I refer to peasants as petit-bourgeois is because their mentality is similar to that of the petty-capitalist—a parochial and self-serving possessiveness of small property. Your posts betray the same petit-bourgeois fetishism.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:22 pm

Rev Scare wrote: Can their organizational structure even be regarded as "directly democratic"?
Yes, being that there is no hierarchy in party organization, all members are equal, and the only "central" body they have is the executive committee, which has only administrative functions.

Direct democracy is not a viable option for a revolutionary organization because proletarians have not attained equal levels of class consciousness and theoretical sophistication.
Educate, agitate, organize. The "vanguard", that is- those that have class consiousness, educate the working people- raise their class consciousness, and then when the mass of working people is the "vaguard", we organize and go trough with the revolution. The only alternative is for a "vanguard" to manipulate the masses into supporting it, which can never bring about socialism, because socialism has to organized and managed by the working people themselves, vanguardism inevitably leads into another class society. As Engels said "The epoch of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organization, the masses themselves must participate, must grasp what is at stake, and why they are involved."

We reside in a revolutionary epoch, and as such, radical movements cannot adopt the full extent of participatory structures that we would expect in a socialist mode of production.
It is impossible to get to the socialist mode of production (which at it core has workers themselves organizing the economy) without such participatory movement. If a "class conscious minority" abolishes capitalism and turn the economy in the hands of the unconscious workers, the system would collapse and a class society would emerge. If a "class conscious minoty" abolishes capitalism and establishes itself as the leader of the workers, that just means they are the new "monopolizers of the means of production", that is- a new ruling exploiting class.

Internal subversion by bourgeois governments is a serious possibility, and inordinate decentralization would present a vulnerability
It is exactly the horizontal organization that preserves against subversion. In a centralised organisation, the reactionaries have only to infiltrate in a few central positions, or pay off, or black mail people in those key positions, and derail the entire movement. In a movement organized horizontally, the only way for it to be subverted would neccessitate that the enemies infiltrate the movement in such a number that they form it's majority, which is ludicrous for two reasons- the revolutionary movement will be a large majority of the population, and two- revolutinary movement implies that the people in it are generally class conscious- the majority cannot vote and change the nature and goals of the movement, that just means that it's not a revolutionary movement.

For one, only a small minority of the population in the Makhnovist region lived in the communes
Communistic organization is only one of four general types of socialistic organization, each having it's varieties. The others are market, mutualist, and collectivist organizatins.

The Makhnovists abrogated all laws and state functions in the areas they ransacked, but in their own domain, they recreated what can be reasonably regarded as a state, with monetary policy, a regulated press, and a legal system.
Being that their system was a popular and democratically organized, that's perfectly in line with socialism.

They imposed military rule, proscribed the election of parties to "prevent those hostile to our political ideas from establishing themselves" (Makhno quoted in Colin Darch, "The Makhnovshchina," p. 92), and otherwise utilized their military might to suppress opposing organizations.
Nothing wrong with that being that the "military" was a democratic millitia of the people themselves, aswering to popular congresses, which included all the people, whether they were anarchist or no. Their main administrative councils had Esers, Menshviks and Bolsheviks in them, not only anarchists.

The conclusion to be drawn from this information is that for all the vilification of the Bolsheviks by anarchists
And that information is to be accepted as facts, and not as vilification by the state-capitalist because they were exemplary honest, like when calling for all power to the soviets, and then abolishing them. Other sources give different information ( http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/append46.html#app7 )

The difference between the Bolsheviks and the Makhnovists, however, is that the latter did not possess a comprehensive vision of the future nor a general revolutionary programme capable of transitioning to a complex socialist society
The difference was that the bolsheviks fought for and established state-capitalism, and the anarchists fought for and established socialism.

The peasants had no right to the land, even according to Proudhonist theory
Land belongs to those that work it.

If they wished to remain in primitive enclaves as individual farmers while the towns starved, the workers' state was fully justified in intervening.
Yep, stealing the product of someone's labor and making oneself his boss is bad when today's capitalists do it, but it's totally ok when we do it.

It is doubtful whether rapid industrialization was possible without collectivization
Yep, desire for industrialization justifies establishing ourselves as a ruling exploiting class.

Communists understand that labor alone cannot determine ownership because it neglects the innumerable social factors involved in the individual labor process, including public infrastructure and the totality of human knowledge.
And that's why the society as a whole should be the boss of the individual?

The NEP's stated purpose was to implement state capitalism
NEP was a mix of state-capitalism and market capitalism. Nationalization is state-capitalism.

I do not acknowledge private ownership in land or the means of production as justified.
Private ownership is more them justified in the cases of means of production that take one person to operate, like tools of the artisan, handyman and similar, if the means of production require more then one person to operate, then they must be the property of those operating it. Or simply said- not property, but possession.

Unless worker cooperatives are commonly owned by society as a whole
And the society as a whole (or even worse the managers that control the production "in the name of the society as a whole") become the boss of every individual worker. That's still alienation of labor- exploitation.

the Soviet Union was much more democratic than the United States.
Maybe less undemocratic, which is as good eating excrement with sugar insted of without.

Soviet democracy featured universal suffrage, elections in which candidates were drawn from the Communist Party, trade unions, Komsomol, and other bodies, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet performed a function analogous to the U.S. Congress. Therefore, stable democratic structures existed in the Soviet Union.
Those are all elective oligarchic structures (of more or less oppressive nature).

There was considerable worker participation in the Soviet Union, including trade unions
Yeah right, don't know why that Workers' Opposition was even formed, they fought for something they already had.

There was hierarchy, but even the most horizontal social relations, if they are to be effective, must feature some authority, so I fail to understand why the mere presence of a boss would distinguish the capitalist mode of production from socialism.
Because in socialism the workers themselves control the production, not any feudalist, "enterprenuer", party bureaucrat, or anyone except them.

Only a strong central government could achieve the goals of socialism: socializing property, protecting the revolution, rapid technological progress, and heightening the cultural level
None of that are the goals of socialism. Except if by socializing property you mean workers' control over their means of production, which then is, but other two can be goals of socialists, they are not the goals of socialism being that socialism can existing without having those goals.

The Soviet state, at least until the death of Stalin, palpably served the interests of the working class
Ruling someone "in their interest" is still class society, only with propaganda. Accepting that framework, we could also accept slavery, as long as the slaveowners were to rule "in the interest" of slaves.

Saint-Simon is widely recognized as an early proponent of socialism.  Call him a proto-socialist if you will, but he indisputably influenced the socialist movement.
By capitalists and state-capitalists. He influenced state-capitalist movement, not socialism, so he could be called proto-state-capitalist.

However, your definition of exploitation is incoherent and unpersuasive.
It is the definition of exploitation that socialism is based. No alienation of labor by the boss and no unearned incomes by the usurious parasite = socialistic economy.

A factory can theoretically be governed democratically by its workers, but the surplus may be appropriated by a private owner
Which has nothing to do with I'm talking about. Workers' cooperative is a firm which is in the ownership and under management of it's workers, there is no other owner is a coop except the workers themselves, otherwise it wouldn't be a workers' coop, but a workers' managed capitalist firm.

The main principle of socialism is collective ownership, and a planned economy
If voluntary and horizontaly organized- that's collectivism (if using labor vauchers) of communism (if not using any currecny), if it's not organized voluntarily and horizontaly- that's state-capitalism.

As was explained above, the economic and cultural backwardness of Russia during a period of upheaval made centralization necessary.
Ukraine also was "economically and culturally backward" and in a period of upheaval, that didn't stop them from abolishing the capitalists and political rulers.

Which were those groups again?
Esers, anarchists, libertarian marxists.

If you reject Marxist class theory, then you lack a coherent sociological analysis.
Marxist class theory is the incoherent one, being that it puts workers among the capitalists calling them "small capitalists" (peasants, artisans, workers' cooperatives), and puts the exploitatory class of managers among the workers.

Libertarian socialist class theory is much more consistent, recognising two classes (I will be naming their parts as they exist in capitalism)- the working people, which don't oppress and exploit (wage-workers, peasans, artisans, workers' cooperatives, unemployed, homemakers, students, etc. and latently includes class traitors like police, strikebreakers etc if they leave their line of work), and the ruling class, which exists in economy (capitalist and managment), politics (politicians and bureaucrats), ideology (churches, academia and media managers) and general society (racists, nationalists, sexists).

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Celtiberian on Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:07 am

Rev Scare wrote:Direct democracy is not a viable option for a revolutionary organization because proletarians have not attained equal levels of class consciousness and theoretical sophistication. We reside in a revolutionary epoch, and as such, radical movements cannot adopt the full extent of participatory structures that we would expect in a socialist mode of production. Internal subversion by bourgeois governments is a serious possibility, and inordinate decentralization would present a vulnerability.

I am inclined to agree, comrade. Nevertheless, a participatory structure is vital for the overcoming of what Robert Michels termed "the iron law of oligarchy." After all, a party elite can become corruptible and just as counterproductive to the attaining of communism as affording workers possessing a deficient class consciousness the ability to influence the direction of a revolutionary organization. Somehow a proper balance must be reached.

Even if I were to grant that Nestor Makhno's social experiments were socialist in nature, you are misrepresenting history and idealizing the Free Territory of Ukraine. For one, only a small minority of the population in the Makhnovist region lived in the communes (Peter Arshinov, a principal author of Makhno's legacy, describes only four in History of the Makhnovist Movement), perhaps a few thousand in an estimated population of seven million—less than 0.1 percent.

Indeed. Between December 1918 and June 1919 Nestor Makhno's movement finally had an opportunity to put their ideas into practice. During this brief period of time they organized four agricultural communes with approximately 200 participants in each of them. Reports indicate these Makhnovtsy communes distributed food and other goods on the basis of need, in accordance with the communist dictum. Aside from that, the areas of the Ukraine contained within the Free Territory were primarily populated with artisans and peasants. Makhno loathed urban environments, which is part of the reason his movement failed so spectacularly when it attempted to organize workers in cities like Ekaterinoslav and Aleksandrovsk. As Paul Avrich notes:

"Makhno's utopian projects. . . . failed to win over more than a small minority of workingmen, for, unlike the farmers and artisans of the village, who were independent producers accustomed to managing their own affairs, factory workers and miners operated as interdependent parts of a complicated industrial machine, and were lost without the guidance of supervisors and technical specialists. . . . [Moreover, Makhno] never understood the complexities of an urban economy, nor did he care to understand them. He detested the 'poison' of the cities and cherished the natural simplicity of the peasant environment into which he had been born."
Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 219.

According to Michael Palij, the peasants in the Free Territory understood "free anarcho-communes" to mean individual farms and decentralized, democratic self-government. This caused the anarchist historian Murray Bookchin to conclude that "Makhno's anarchism, in short, was the old peasant volya, recast—with modifications—in anarchist terminology" [The Third Revolution: Popular Movements in the Revolutionary Era, Vol. III (London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004), p. 316]. In this respect, the Ukrainian Free Territory closely resembled the Paris Commune's artisanal socialism.

Two, the Makhnovshchina was scarcely the libertarian beacon that its sympathizers maintain. The Makhnovists abrogated all laws and state functions in the areas they ransacked, but in their own domain, they recreated what can be reasonably regarded as a state, with monetary policy, a regulated press, and a legal system.

In a declaration adopted on October 20, 1919, during a session of the Military Revolutionary Soviet, the Revolutionary Insurgent Army wrote apropos civil liberties: "It must be self-evident that the free organization of society affords every practical opportunity for realization of what are called 'civil liberties:' freedom of speech, of the press, of conscience, of worship, of assembly, of union, of organization, etc." [Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno, Anarchy's Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine, 1917-1921 (Oakland: AK Press, 2004), p. 379]. I'm skeptical of both the anarchist and Bolshevik accounts of the Free Territory's history, so there's no telling to what extent the Makhnovtsy lived up to these lofty goals in practice.

They imposed military rule, proscribed the election of parties to "prevent those hostile to our political ideas from establishing themselves" (Makhno quoted in Colin Darch, "The Makhnovshchina," p. 92), and otherwise utilized their military might to suppress opposing organizations.

The only restriction the Makhnovtsy found necessary to impose on the Bolsheviks and left Socialist-Revolutionaries was "a prohibition on the formation of those 'revolutionary committees' which sought to impose a dictatorship over the people" [Petr Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement, 1918-1921 (London: Freedom Press, 1974), p. 154]. This can be interpreted as either being autocratic or a consistent application of anarchist principles, depending on your perspective.

Anarchists often censure the Bolsheviks for the harsh military policies introduced during the civil war, but they overlook the fact that Makhno retained veto power over decisions made by his army, appointed close friends to senior positions, and as Darch notes, "although some of Makhno's aides attempted to introduce more conventional structures into the army, [Makhno's] control remained absolute, arbitrary and impulsive" (Makhnovshchina, p. 328).

Perhaps, but most sensible anarchists (few and far between as they may be) are of the view that libertarian organizational methods can prove to be problematic when applied during warfare, and therefore favor their suspension in such contexts. For example, Murray Bookchin wrote the following in regards to Makhno's military policy:

"Makhno's movement, in fact, approximated libertarian socialist practices as closely as any effective militia army could have done under the circumstances. During lulls in the fighting the partisans were permitted to elect junior commanders and discuss battle tactics, but no force of 20,000 men can hope to function along strictly libertarian lines. And no scattered 'spontaneous,' and poorly equipped bands of peasants could have hoped to prevail against the trained, organized, and well-armed White and Red armies. 'War anarchism', if such it can be called, required troops to accept a stern measure of military discipline. Nor is it likely that ordinary troopers would have wanted it any other way, for the makhnovtsy trusted the botko implicitly and answered only to him. With the aid of his most trusted officers (whom he appointed), Makhno had to make both tactical and strategic decisions if he hoped to prevail against his opponents."
Bookchin, Op. cit., p. 317.

Leveller wrote:Land belongs to those that work it.

Like the preponderance of neo-mutualists, I don't think you have thought through the implications of this statement. There are varying degrees of fertility within arable land, enabling possessors of superior soil to reap greater yields. If production is organized for market exchange, as it undoubtedly would be within a mutualist mode of production, this alone would foster wealth inequalities so vast that any reasonably egalitarian individual would object.

Honestly, why should people who happen to work with better land or equipment, or who possess superior intelligence or strength, be entitled to a greater share of the social product?

Yep, desire for industrialization justifies establishing ourselves as a ruling exploiting class.

Being that Russia was, by all accounts, a backward country at the time of the Bolshevik revolution, rapid industrialization was the only method it had at its disposal which could provide it with a genuine opportunity to maintain its sovereignty. Furthermore, to successfully execute such a policy, hierarchy in the form of all economic units subordinating themselves to the dictates of a central planning board was indispensable. Terry Eagleton, a critic of state socialism, put the matter thusly:

"The Bolshevik revolution soon found itself besieged by imperial Western armies, as well as threatened by counterrevolution, urban famine and a bloody civil war. It was marooned in an ocean of largely hostile peasants reluctant to hand over their hard-earned surplus at gunpoint to starving towns. With a narrow capitalist base, disastrously low levels of material production, scant traces of civil institutions, a decimated, exhausted working class, peasant revolts and a swollen bureaucracy to rival the Tsar's, the revolution was in deep trouble almost from the outset. In the end, the Bolsheviks were to march their starving, despondent, war-weary people into modernity at the point of a gun."
Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), pp. 19-20.

In the final analysis, Russia's only options in 1917 were to develop along a capitalist or state socialist trajectory. Unfortunately, libertarian socialism just couldn't be achieved under the circumstances the USSR found itself in—for reasons Marx and Engels had predicted decades earlier. But, for all its faults, Soviet authoritarianism at least developed the country's productive forces, therewith increasing the population's standard of living, and at a pace market relations were incapable of replicating. Now, one could persuasively argue that workers should have been permitted a greater degree of autonomy after the state had industrialized and established a military capable of defending itself, but that's a separate issue.

And the society as a whole (or even worse the managers that control the production "in the name of the society as a whole") become the boss of every individual worker. That's still alienation of labor- exploitation.

Alienation of productive activity entails workers being denied control over the conditions of their labor. Thus one could certainly charge state socialism with maintaining this form of alienation, as the system is characterized by coordinator hegemony. When Marx wrote of workers being estranged from the products of their labor, however, he meant it in a collective sense, i.e., that the proletariat as a whole is alienated from the social product it creates. Moreover, these products are confronted in an alienated form when they appear in the market, as a result of consumers failing to understand what the specific conditions were for the workers who produced them—this is what is meant by the "fetishism of commodities" in Das Kapital, Vol. I. So, insofar as mutualism and other forms of market socialism exhibit generalize commodity production, they, too, retain a form of alienation. It is only through directly social labor that humanity can transcend the latter state of affairs.

None of that are the goals of socialism. Except if by socializing property you mean workers' control over their means of production

Considering Rev Scare is a syndicalist, I'm confident that's what he meant.

It is the definition of exploitation that socialism is based. No alienation of labor by the boss and no unearned incomes by the usurious parasite = socialistic economy.

The left-libertarian theory of exploitation, which you espouse throughout this thread, is wholly inadequate because it would render redistributive taxation for the elderly and infirm indefensible, thereby undermining the egalitarian ethos necessary for socialism to flourish. The most suitable theory of exploitation for a socialist to affirm, in my opinion, can be found in Nicholas Vrousalis's essay “Exploitation, Vulnerability, and Social Domination,” Philosophy & Public Affairs, 41:2, 131-157; it can be summarized as an opposition to the instrumentalization of one's relative economic vulnerability for the appropriation of his or her labor. Vrousalis's theory is thoroughly horizontalist in its implications and leaves ample scope for redistributive welfare provisions.

There is an erroneous assumption which underlies the aforementioned left-libertarian theory of exploitation, and it is the notion that labor alone is the source of use-value. As Rev Scare had mentioned, this egregiously overlooks the role of nature and the totality of human knowledge in the creation of goods and services. To quote Karl Marx:

"Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power. . . . The bourgeois have very good grounds for falsely ascribing supernatural creative power to labour; since from the fact that labour depends on nature it follows precisely that the man who possesses no other property than his labour power must, in all conditions of society and culture, be the slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labour. He can only work with their permission, and hence live only with their permission."
Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (Rockville: Wildside Press, 2008), p. 18.

G. A. Cohen further illustrates the fallacy of ignoring nature's contribution to creation of the social product by way of the following example:

"[S]uppose that just one hour of digging creates a well which yields a thousand gallons of water a year, where before there was only a measly annual ten-gallon trickle. It would surely be wrong to infer, from the fact that the digging raised the water yield from ten to a thousand gallons, that the digging is responsible for 99 per cent of the water yielded by, and, hence, of the use-value produced by, the dug land, while the land itself is responsible for only 1 per cent of it."
G. A. Cohen, Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 182.

Marxist class theory is the incoherent one, being that it puts workers among the capitalists calling them "small capitalists" (peasants, artisans, workers' cooperatives)

It does no such thing. Marxist class analysis categorizes the self-employed as practitioners of the ancient (i.e., pre-capitalist) class process; this was the dominant class during what Engels's called the period of "simple commodity production." The petite bourgeoisie, on the other hand, are owners of means of production who additionally exploit a small number of wage laborers.

and puts the exploitatory class of managers among the workers.

Managers are wage laborers and therefore qualify as workers, albeit of the unproductive variety.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Celtiberian wrote:Makhno loathed urban environments

That's a state-capitalist lie. http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/append46.html#app10

Like the preponderance of neo-mutualists, I don't think you have thought through the implications of this statement.

You don't seem to have thought trought the fact that every other alternative means exploitation.

There are varying degrees of fertility within arable land, enabling possessors of superior soil to reap greater yields.

So in a case where there is unused arable land, I come there, start working the most fertile piece of it, I'm not oppressing or exploiting anyone. You come then to that land and start using a piece of it next to me, but it less fertile- I started working the best part of land. So what then- you have the "right" to coerce me into using some other piece of land?

If production is organized for market exchange, as it undoubtedly would be within a mutualist mode of production

Just to note- mutualism isn't anarcho-individualism, mutualism advocates formation of communal mutual banks and agro-industrial federations, which are mutual aid organisations very similar to the bakuninist collective, and advocation of this is what distiguishes it from pure free market socialism (anarcho-individualism).

Honestly, why should people who happen to work with better land or equipment, or who possess superior intelligence or strength, be entitled to a greater share of the social product?

Why should people who happen to work with better land or equipment or possess superior intelligence or strength be coerced into specific forms of organization? I'm all for mutual aid (even involutary if done carefuly, like the state functioning as a mutualist mutual aid commune by raising taxes) but the people must not oppressed in order to garantee absolute equality.

Being that Russia was, by all accounts, a backward country at the time of the Bolshevik revolution, rapid industrialization was the only method it
had at its disposal which could provide it with a genuine opportunity to maintain its sovereignty.

Maintaining the sovereignty of a nation justifies violating the sovereignty of the individual? Sorry, but I disagree, being that sovereignty of the individual is the only legitimate sovereignty that is.

Unfortunately, libertarian socialism just couldn't be achieved under the circumstances the USSR found itself in

It is beyond ludicrous to claim this, being that it was achieved in the same time at the same place- in Ukraine.

But, for all its faults, Soviet authoritarianism at least developed the country's productive forces

Yeah, well, at least that. That's like saying- nazis were bad, but at least the invented the highway. Who fu(king cares? Not [libertarian] socialists.

Alienation of productive activity entails workers being denied control over the conditions of their labor.

Precisely what is the case when the society as a whole or menagers "in the name of the society" manage the production instead of the workers in the production themselves.

When Marx wrote of workers being estranged from the products of their labor, however, he meant it in a collective sense

Wow. I'm already an anti-marxist, but this really makes me really despise it, like that's-just-some-reactionary-bullshit-despise it.

So, insofar as mutualism and other forms of market socialism exhibit generalize commodity production, they, too, retain a form of alienation.

Actually, no, they do not, being that workers own their means of production, manage their productino and get the ownership over the products of their labor, there can be no talk of any alienation there.

The left-libertarian theory of exploitation, which you espouse throughout this thread, is wholly inadequate because it would render redistributive taxation for the elderly and infirm indefensible thereby undermining the egalitarian ethos necessary for socialism to flourish.

One- I disagree (I'm a state-mutualist, not a stateless one), two- even if that were, I don't think that would undermine solidarity, being that it would form voluntarily. It is my view that is state-mutualism would to be establishem, a bunch of people would voluntarily form bakuninist collectives and kropotkinist communes, and I support that.

There is an erroneous assumption which underlies the aforementioned left-libertarian theory of exploitation, and it is the notion that labor alone is the source of use-value.

The only erroneous assuptiom here is that "use-value" is not a purely abstract concept that cannot have normative application.

"Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power. . . . The bourgeois have very good grounds for falsely ascribing supernatural creative power to labour; since from the fact that labour depends on nature it follows precisely that the man who possesses no other property than his labour power must, in all conditions of society and culture, be the slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labour. He can only work with their permission, and hence live only with their permission.

This quote, as you have presented it (I don't know what's in the "....") makes absolutely no sense. If the labor is the source of wealth the only logical conclusion and normative applicatino of that fact is to abolish all unearned income (boss-profits, rents of anything considered property) and put all the wealth to those that create it- the workers.

[S]uppose that just one hour of digging creates a well which yields a thousand gallons of water a year, where before there was only a measly annual ten-gallon trickle. It would surely be wrong to infer, from the fact that the digging raised the water yield from ten to a thousand gallons, that the digging is responsible for 99 per cent of the water yielded by, and, hence, of the use-value produced by, the dug land, while the land itself is responsible for only 1 per cent of it

So what, the laborer uses something of nature should be given only a promile of the product of his labor and the rest should the sacrificed to the god of nature?

It does no such thing. Marxist class analysis categorizes the self-employed as practitioners of the ancient (i.e., pre-capitalist) class process; this was the dominant class during what Engels's called the period of "simple commodity production." The petite bourgeoisie, on the other hand, are owners of means of production who additionally exploit a small number of wage laborers.

IDK, virtually every time I saw a marxist mention the petit bourgeois, he meant workers that own their means of production (a condition that by destigushing them from the proletariat as a rule makes them somewhat despisable in marxist eyes) no matter if they employ wage-labor or not (or rent anything to anyone or not).

Managers are wage laborers and therefore qualify as workers, albeit of the unproductive variety.

Politicians and bureaucrats also work for a wage. As I said, I see them all as parts of the ruling class, that should be abolished.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Celtiberian on Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:22 pm

Leveller wrote:That's a state-capitalist lie. http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/append46.html#app10

The sources I cited when writing that remark were books by Murray Bookchin and Paul Avrich, both of whom were libertarian socialists and scholarly authorities on the history of anarchism, so you would do well to check before accusing me of being deceived by "state capitalist" propaganda. Frankly, I doubt that historians as objective as Bookchin and Avrich would have consulted exclusively Bolshevik literature while studying the Free Territory, let alone use such work as the sole basis for their claim that Nestor Makhno was dispositionally averse to urban settings.

As much as I appreciate Iain McKay's AFAQ, the source he most heavily relies upon to refute those who suggest that Makhno detested cities is Peter Arshinov's History of the Makhnovist Movement, which, suffice it say, contains rather dated material (it was published in 1921, after all). What's more, he even concedes that "some Makhnovists may not have liked the city nor really understood the complexities of an urban economy." Regardless of whether or not Makhno himself can be included in that group, the Makhnovtsy's aforementioned failure to organize an appreciable percentage of urban workers speaks for itself.

You don't seem to have thought trought the fact that every other alternative means exploitation.

...According to your ill-conceived, left-libertarian definition of exploitation. The syndicalist proposal of socializing property, implementing workers' self-management, and democratically planning production cannot be said to be 'exploitative' in any meaningful sense of the term.

So in a case where there is unused arable land, I come there, start working the most fertile piece of it, I'm not oppressing or exploiting anyone. You come then to that land and start using a piece of it next to me, but it less fertile- I started working the best part of land. So what then- you have the "right" to coerce me into using some other piece of land?

Arable land is a scarce resource which no man played any role in bringing into existence. As such, it should be regarded as our common property.

The only morally relevant factors to consider when determining how the social product is to be distributed is how long one worked and how onerous the conditions were while performing that labor. I defy you to think of a more just remunerative principle.

Just to note- mutualism isn't anarcho-individualism, mutualism advocates formation of communal mutual banks and agro-industrial federations, which are mutual aid organisations very similar to the bakuninist collective, and advocation of this is what distiguishes it from pure free market socialism (anarcho-individualism).

Proudhon's Bank of the People was based upon an eccentric theory of finance. I simply don't understand why anyone would put their money into a banking institution if they didn't receive interest on their savings. What would be the incentive? And how could banks provide a monetary incentive without earning a profit by way of loaning their clients' savings to consumers and businesses at interest?

The only tenable method for providing worker cooperatives with interest-free investment funds I've encountered is David Schweickart's model. It would function as follows: a capital asset tax would be levied on each enterprise (which are technically nationalized) in the economy, the revenue of which is thereafter distributed to regional public banks on a per capita basis. The banks proceed to then allocate those funds to existing (profitable) cooperative firms and promising new ventures. As you can see, this system requires taxation, which most mutualists I've read consider tantamount to theft.

Why should people who happen to work with better land or equipment or possess superior intelligence or strength be coerced into specific forms of organization?

Why stop there? Why should capitalistically inclined individuals be coerced by socialists and communists into giving up their right to accumulate capital or sell their labor power to an entrepreneur? Why should people be denied the right to sell themselves into chattel slavery, if they so choose? Simply put, there are egalitarian principles which radicals value more highly than mere voluntaryism—the freedom from exploitation and the right to equitable remuneration being chief among them.

Maintaining the sovereignty of a nation justifies violating the sovereignty of the individual? Sorry, but I disagree, being that sovereignty of the individual is the only legitimate sovereignty that is.

The sovereignty of the individual (depending on how you define that term, of course) was going to be violated regardless of whether it was the Bolsheviks, the Tsar, or bourgeois politicians in control of the state apparatus. At least the Soviets could boast of bringing their country into modernity at a faster pace than the existing alternatives.

It is beyond ludicrous to claim this, being that it was achieved in the same time at the same place- in Ukraine.

It wouldn't have lasted in the Ukraine, that's the point. If a libertarian socialist commonwealth had been declared in Russia instead of the Bolshevik regime, it wouldn't have been long before foreign and domestic counterrevolutionaries succeeded in overthrowing the state, which is why I argued that the only options before Russia were capitalism or state socialism. The reason libertarian socialism was at a comparative disadvantage to state socialism in early 20th century Russia is because it would have been just as ideologically threatening to the international bourgeoisie as Bolshevism, but it lacked the capacity to rapidly industrialize the country's productive forces that state socialism possessed. Absent such a rapid industrialization, the country's military would have been manifestly inferior to the armies of the Western bourgeois republics.

You may inquire as to why I'm suggesting libertarian socialism couldn't have developed Russia's productive forces as fast or faster than state socialist methods, and the answer is really quite simple: technologies conducive to decentralized economic planning didn't yet exist for workers to utilize, and market relations would have taken far longer to industrialize the Russian economy than state-directed planning—as Robert C. Allen's research aptly demonstrates.

Yeah, well, at least that. That's like saying- nazis were bad, but at least the invented the highway. Who fu(king cares? Not [libertarian] socialists.

Anyone concerned with people's material well-being should care. To be clear, I'm not arguing that state socialism is a laudable mode of production. But none of the realistic options Russia had during that period were.

Precisely what is the case when the society as a whole or menagers "in the name of the society" manage the production instead of the workers in the production themselves.

You're just paraphrasing what I wrote in my subsequent sentence..

Wow. I'm already an anti-marxist, but this really makes me really despise it, like that's-just-some-reactionary-bullshit-despise it.

Do elaborate.

Actually, no, they do not, being that workers own their means of production, manage their productino and get the ownership over the products of their labor, there can be no talk of any alienation there.

Incorrect. While workers would admittedly be liberated from the alienation of productive activity, they would continue to be alienated from the products of their labor. The reason being, in their role as consumers, workers would remain ignorant of the conditions required to produce the goods and services they purchase. To overcome this, worker and consumer councils would need to be established which could deliberate and agree upon a comprehensive economic plan.

One- I disagree (I'm a state-mutualist, not a stateless one), two- even if that were, I don't think that would undermine solidarity, being that it would form voluntarily. It is my view that is state-mutualism would to be establishem, a bunch of people would voluntarily form bakuninist collectives and kropotkinist communes, and I support that.

That's irrelevant. If your theory of exploitation cannot justify redistributive taxation—which is necessary to compensate the individuals whom brute luck did not favor in the proverbial genetic lottery—it's inadequate from a socialist perspective. Charity and other forms of voluntary mutual aid are even upheld as legitimate practices within propertarian political philosophy. Socialists and communists, however, ought to be concerned with making the case that people possess an intellectually defensible right to a dignified exist, not that sheer pity will compel sentimental individuals into voluntarily providing for the needy. In other words, reason must be the foundation of our egalitarian ethic, not appeals to emotion.

The only erroneous assuptiom here is that "use-value" is not a purely abstract concept that cannot have normative application.

We're discussing whether or not workers are entitled to the undiminished proceeds of their labor, which is a normative question.

To recapitulate, nature and knowledge are indispensable factors in the creation of goods and services (your apparent dislike for the term 'use-value' is inconsequential), and those elements are utterly neglected when one defends the principle of providing individual workers the right to keep the product of their labor. The justification frequently invoked for that principle is that 'labor is the sole source of wealth,' which is demonstrably false. Within market relations, labor is indeed the source of exchange-value (provided you accept the labor theory of value), but certainly not of use-value—hence the distinction.

This quote, as you have presented it (I don't know what's in the "....") makes absolutely no sense. If the labor is the source of wealth the only logical conclusion and normative applicatino of that fact is to abolish all unearned income (boss-profits, rents of anything considered property) and put all the wealth to those that create it- the workers.

You didn't comprehend what Marx was saying. He explicitly wrote that "Labour is not the source of all wealth," further adding, "Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature. . . ."

So what, the laborer uses something of nature should be given only a promile of the product of his labor and the rest should the sacrificed to the god of nature?

Since land (like knowledge) should be regarded as humanity's common inheritance, everyone should have a share in the wealth that's derived therefrom.

IDK, virtually every time I saw a marxist mention the petit bourgeois, he meant workers that own their means of production (a condition that by destigushing them from the proletariat as a rule makes them somewhat despisable in marxist eyes) no matter if they employ wage-labor or not (or rent anything to anyone or not).

Be sure not to uncritically accept what various "Marxists" write as being reflective of the thought of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Politicians and bureaucrats also work for a wage. As I said, I see them all as parts of the ruling class, that should be abolished.

There are also workers employed in socially harmful industries, e.g., lumbering. Since they have a material interest in the perpetuation of the destructive labor they perform, they can possess a relatively reactionary consciousness. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be regarded as proletarians, however. And while your idealistic theory of class may contain some valuable insights, it doesn't have the explanatory power Marx's materialist conception does.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:20 pm

Celtiberian wrote:What's more, he even concedes that "some Makhnovists may not have liked the city nor really understood the complexities of an urban economy."

Quote mining a little.

"While some Makhnovists may not have liked the city nor really understood the complexities of an urban economy, they did recognise the importance of encouraging working-class autonomy and self-organisation within them and building links between the rural and urban toilers. While the lack of a large-scale anarcho-syndicalist movement hindered any positive construction, the Makhnovists at least tried to promote urban self-management. Given Bolshevik authoritarianism and its various rationalisations, it would be fairer to say that it was the Bolsheviks who expressed "hostility" to the city workers by imposing their dictatorship upon them rather than supporting working-class self-management as the Makhnovists did."

Also, Makhnovists isn't the totality of the anarchist in Ukraine, it's just the name used for those in the militia, the Nabat was a separate organization.

According to your ill-conceived, left-libertarian definition of exploitation.

According to the only meaningfull notion of exploitation.

The syndicalist proposal of socializing property, implementing workers' self-management, and democratically planning production cannot be said to be 'exploitative' in any meaningful sense of the term.

If imposed instead of voluntary, it sure can.

Arable land is a scarce resource which no man played any role in bringing into existence. As such, it should be regarded as our common property.

Non sequitur. The only correct conclusion is- it is to be regarded as no one's property. Thereby, if I start using it, you have no right to stop me, being that it's not your property, likewise the society doesn't have that right either, if I'm not oppressing or exploiting anyone.

The only morally relevant factors to consider when determining how the social product is to be distributed is how long one worked and how onerous the conditions were while performing that labor.

The only morally relevant factor is that the workers are inalienable owners of their labor, and are thus to be the managers of their production and proprietors of the products of their labor.

Proudhon's Bank of the People was based upon an eccentric theory of finance. I simply don't understand why anyone would put their money into a banking institution if they didn't receive interest on their savings.

Look up "LETS"- that's mutual banking. Also look up "building society".

The only tenable method for providing worker cooperatives with interest-free investment funds I've encountered is David Schweickart's model. The only tenable method for providing worker cooperatives with interest-free investment funds I've encountered is David Schweickart's model. It would function as follows: a capital asset tax would be levied on each enterprise (which are technically nationalized) in the economy, the revenue of which is thereafter distributed to regional public banks on a per capita basis. The banks proceed to then allocate those funds to existing (profitable) cooperative firms and promising new ventures. As you can see, this system requires taxation, which most mutualists I've read consider tantamount to theft.

I know about Schweickart, I suggest a similar system, without hierarchical organization and without banks except the central bank, but I have no problem of taxes [in the transitional period towards statelessness]. I think that a socialist state should have the monopoly on money, print fiat currency (not exchanged for other currencies), and generaly keep it at the same amount- don't print new money, except in order to give interest-free development loans for projects that are unlikely to fail.

Why should capitalistically inclined individuals be coerced by socialists and communists into giving up their right to accumulate capital or sell their labor power to an entrepreneur?

Stopping oppression and exploitation isn't coercion, so questions like this are nonsensical.

The sovereignty of the individual (depending on how you define that term, of course) was going to be violated regardless of whether it was the Bolsheviks, the Tsar, or bourgeois politicians in control of the state apparatus.

Or the people could have been left the option to follow in the footsteps of the anarchists and not violate anyone's sovereignty, which was viable, having in mind the populairty of Eser ideas which were, as oppossed to the bolshevik ones, socialistic. In fact the bolshevik only gained popularity by fraudelently using socialist slogans like "factories to the workers", "land to the peasants" and "all power to the soviets" when in fact they were for "factories, land and all power to the state, which we will control".

It wouldn't have lasted in the Ukraine, that's the point.

Pretty convenient that the Bolsheviks destroyed it before we could see that.

The reason libertarian socialism was at a comparative disadvantage to state socialism in early 20th century Russia is because it would have been just as ideologically threatening to the international bourgeoisie as Bolshevism, but it lacked the capacity to rapidly industrialize the country's productive forces that state socialism possessed. Absent such a rapid industrialization, the country's military would have been manifestly inferior to the armies of the Western bourgeois republics.

This sounds like you're implying that socialism must emerge in russia and nowhere. Of course, socialism is certainly less likely to emerge if you establish a state-capitalist regime, persecute socialists, destroy socialist international organization and conduct world-wide propaganda that your state-capitalism is socialism. If Russia would have established socialism, maybe socialism would have spread into the western european countries, the workers being bolstered by the success in Russia. But being that socialism wasn't established, not only then by definition it could not spread, but was positively made less likely to emerge, both because of the vile actions of the bolsheviks that I just mentioned and also by the demoralizing effect that the workers of the world surely experienced when seeing an attempt of revolution ending up in producting an oppresive class society.

Anyone concerned with people's material well-being should care.

Anyone concerned with people's well-being should care about abolishing oppression and exploitation. People can produce enough to meet their needs ever since they exist, there was no one starving in tribal society, nor in slave, feudalist or any society- as a consequence of people not being to produce enought to satisfy it's needs, but everywhere where someone starved- it was because oppression and exploitation. The concern of the state-capitalist about he well-being of the people is pretty clear from the death toll of their oppressive system, and their fight for oppression and exploitation.

Do elaborate.

If that's true, that means that Marx was plain and simple for tyranny of the society over the individual, based on a false view about property.

While workers would admittedly be liberated from the alienation of productive activity, they would continue to be alienated from the products of their labor.

If the workers own their means of production (, they are not renting anything), manage their production, and when they make a product, it is their to do with it whatever they want (as long as they don't oppress or exploit), there is no alienation of labor or products of labor happening there.

The reason being, in their role as consumers, workers would remain ignorant of the conditions required to produce the goods and services they purchase.

Why do I need to know about the production of the goods I'm buying? All I need to know is that there was no oppression or exploitation.

If your theory of exploitation cannot justify redistributive taxation—which is necessary to compensate the individuals whom brute luck did not favor in the proverbial genetic lottery—it's inadequate from a socialist perspective.

I personally am not against such taxes, but I disagree that someone who opposses any involuntary solidarity isn't socialist, because that would mean that no anarchist thinker was a socialist. Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and every thinker in line with their though supported the right of people to not participate in any form of mutual aid organization in the society, as long as they don't oppress or exploit anyone.

We're discussing whether or not workers are entitled to the undiminished proceeds of their labor, which is a normative question.

They are entitled to the products of their labor. In case of tangible commodities, they are entitled to the commodity itself, in case of intangible commodities (services) they are entitled to the full conpensation they have agreed to recieve from the customer.

You didn't comprehend what Marx was saying. He explicitly wrote that "Labour is not the source of all wealth," further adding, "Nature is just as much the source of use values

Which is simply not true, being that whenever something is removed from the state of nature, the action to do so is labor. When I pluck a berry from a wild bush- it is mine, and no one has the right to take it from me, being that I have acted (exerted labor) to remove it from it's state of nature. And nothing has "use value" unless removed from the state of nature by some action of man.

Since land (like knowledge) should be regarded as humanity's common inheritance, everyone should have a share in the wealth that's derived therefrom.

That's pretty much an arbitrary view. The only conclusion that could logically follow from the view that the worker isn't entitled to the full product of his labor because he has used land or knowledge which aren't a product of his labor is that the worker should have to sacrifice a piece of the product of his labor as a tribute to nature or ancestors.

And while your idealistic theory of class may contain some valuable insights, it doesn't have the explanatory power Marx's materialist conception does.

Explanatory of what?

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:35 am

Leveller wrote:Quote mining a little.

The full context of the quote doesn't negate the point I was making in the slightest, nor does it disprove Paul Avrich's claim (which I quoted approvingly) that Makhno—on a personal level—considered urban life to be 'poisonous.'

Also, Makhnovists isn't the totality of the anarchist in Ukraine, it's just the name used for those in the militia

I never suggested otherwise.

According to the only meaningfull notion of exploitation.

Your theory of exploitation cannot withstand serious scrutiny, and you don't even understand the inegalitarian implications that logically follow from an acceptance of it.

If imposed instead of voluntary, it sure can.

Coercion is justifiable if employed for ethically defensible purposes, such as redistributing resources in order to provide for those who cannot acquire them through no fault of their own.

Non sequitur. The only correct conclusion is it is to be regarded as no one's property. Thereby, if I start using it, you have no right to stop me, being that it's not your property, likewise the society doesn't have that right either, if I'm not oppressing or exploiting anyone.

Your exclusive control over that resource impacts the lives of others. The following thought experiment will illustrate why that is. Let's say there are 10 acres of unclaimed land, 9 of which are arable. Two savages happen upon it and one (man 'A') takes possession of 8 acres, 7 of them being arable. That leaves the other savage (man 'B') with only two acres, both of which are arable. The mere difference in the land's quality ensures that—all else being equal—man 'A' will have more food and a higher degree of security than man 'B.' Notice that in this scenario it doesn't matter if either man takes formal ownership of the land. Indeed, the allocation would be considered fair on mutualist grounds because each man would be occupying and using the land without exploiting wage laborers.

Ultimately, the Proudhonist theory of land acquisition is no less arbitrary than Lockean, Georgist, or communist conceptions of thereof. The only difference is the consequences that follow from an adherence to one of them, and, as a communist, I consider the inegalitarian outcomes that the mutualist (Proudhonist) theory would engender to be objectionable.

The only morally relevant factor is that the workers are inalienable owners of their labor, and are thus to be the managers of their production and proprietors of the products of their labor.

You provided no basis for the view that workers should be the "inalienable owners" of the product of their labor. In fact, the only deontological theory of inalienability that would be pertinent to our debate is John Locke's labor theory of property, but it requires being conjoined with the juridical principle of imputation in order to normatively lead to socialism. And even then, it can only logically justify a form of socialism that retains markets and private property, like the Ellermanian model. The anarchism of Bakunin or Kropotkin certainly cannot be defended by recourse to such a theory. Regardless, an opposition to exploitation (defined as domination of the relatively vulnerable for self-enrichment) coupled with the tenets of luck egalitarianism provides radicals with a more robust and rigorous ethical justification for socialism and communism.

No one, least of all me, is arguing that workers should be denied control over the conditions of their labor, and even to participate in the manner by which their tax dollars are spent. But to argue they ought to be considered the sole "owners" of the product of their labor is, again, to ignore the roles of nature and knowledge in the creation of that product—which is precisely what bourgeois ideologues do when they rail against taxation. Gar Alperovitz demonstrates the folly of this view by pointing out:

"A half-century ago, in 1957, economist Robert Solow showed that nearly 90 percent of productivity growth in the first half of the 20th century alone, from 1909 to 1949, could only be attributed to technical change in the broadest sense. The supply of labor and capital—what workers and employers contribute—appeared almost incidental to this massive technological 'residual.' Another leading economist, William Baumol, calculated that 'nearly 90 percent. . . . of current GDP [gross domestic product] was contributed by innovation carried out since 1870.'"
Gar Alperovitz, “How the 99 Percent Really Lost Out—in Far Greater Ways Than the Occupy Protesters Imagine,” Truthout (29 October, 2011).

He then poses the question: "If most of what we have today is attributable to knowledge advances that we all inherit in common, why, specifically, should this gift of our collective history not more generously benefit all members of society?" This is what mutualists, individualist anarchists, and anyone else who believes that workers are entitled to the undiminished proceeds of their labor, need to ask themselves.

I have no problem of taxes

The problem, however, is that the political philosophy you espouse is entirely at odds with it. Being that you affirm the right of workers to the product of their labor, any claim on a worker's income must be rejected as coercive and illegitimate. It doesn't matter if the revenue would be used to build schools, provide for the elderly and infirm, or subsidize cooperative enterprises. Logical consistency demands no less. (This is what happens when one naïvely recites revolutionary slogans without contemplating their implications.)

Stopping oppression and exploitation isn't coercion, so questions like this are nonsensical.

The use of force to prevent people from doing anything is technically coercive; it's inconsequential if the behavior or action being proscribed is oppressive or exploitative. So you're deceiving yourself if you think the prohibition of wage labor or voluntary slavery wouldn't qualify as coercion.

Pretty convenient that the Bolsheviks destroyed it before we could see that.

If you can persuasively explain how libertarian socialism in early 20th century Russia could have rapidly developed the country's forces of production, I'll withdraw my statement denying its long-term viability.

This sounds like you're implying that socialism must emerge in russia and nowhere.

I explicitly stated that the prospects for libertarian socialism succeeding in Russia were nonexistent.

Of course, socialism is certainly less likely to emerge if you establish a state-capitalist regime, persecute socialists, destroy socialist international organization and conduct world-wide propaganda that your state-capitalism is socialism.

I never said libertarian socialism couldn't have 'emerged,' only that it couldn't endure the counterrevolutionary assaults that would have inevitably ensued. Even without Bolshevik repression, the forces of reaction would have decimated such a project—as occurred in the Paris Commune, Bavarian Soviet Republic, Shanghai commune, and anarcho-syndicalist Spain. History has shown that a well-developed economic infrastructure, reliable trading networks, and a formidable military are indispensable if socialism is to be sustained within a country. None of those conditions existed in Russia during that period of time.

Karl Marx put the matter rather succinctly when he wrote, "This development of productive forces. . . . is absolutely necessary as a practical precondition [for communism] for the reason that without it only want is made general, and with penury the struggle for necessities and all the old crap would necessarily reappear" [The German Ideology (New York: International Publishers, 1939), p. 24].

If Russia would have established socialism, maybe socialism would have spread into the western european countries, the workers being bolstered by the success in Russia.

I repeat my request for a persuasive explanation of how libertarian socialism in early 20th century Russia could have rapidly developed the country's productive forces.

People can produce enough to meet their needs ever since they exist, there was no one starving in tribal society, nor in slave, feudalist or any society- as a consequence of people not being to produce enought to satisfy it's needs

The Bolshevik regime managed to transform an illiterate, backward peasant country into one capable of providing its citizenry with a standard of living rivaling that of the First World bourgeois social democracies (modern health care, education, decent housing), and within a remarkably short time span. The libertarian socialists who refuse to acknowledge that fact, or who minimize its importance, are simply dogmatists.

If that's true, that means that Marx was plain and simple for tyranny of the society over the individual, based on a false view about property.

Rolling Eyes Marx was making an uncontroversial observation: that the division of labor atomizes workers in such a way that, when those workers confront the social product in a market setting, they haven't the faintest idea of what it took to get it there. Such a form of alienation can only be redressed by a system of democratic planning. How you can interpret Marx as being 'tyrannical' in this context is beyond me.

If the workers own their means of production (, they are not renting anything), manage their production, and when they make a product, it is their to do with it whatever they want (as long as they don't oppress or exploit), there is no alienation of labor or products of labor happening there.

I beg to differ. One might argue that it's a relatively benign form of alienation (though I'd disagree), but to deny that workers are estranged from the product of their labor when producing for market exchange is disingenuous.

Why do I need to know about the production of the goods I'm buying? All I need to know is that there was no oppression or exploitation.

Because even if you're not being exploited, the conditions of your labor might be appalling nonetheless. Mining in a coal cooperative, for instance, wouldn't be exploitative, but it would still be dreadful. Society ought to be able to deliberate upon these matters and collectively determine whether or not it's humane to continue certain practices after capitalism—that's what directly social labor entails. Such cannot be accomplished within a market setting (including a socialist market) because workers are subordinated to the law of value.

Which is simply not true, being that whenever something is removed from the state of nature, the action to do so is labor. When I pluck a berry from a wild bush- it is mine, and no one has the right to take it from me, being that I have acted (exerted labor) to remove it from it's state of nature. And nothing has "use value" unless removed from the state of nature by some action of man.

Refer to the G. A. Cohen quote I cited earlier.

The only conclusion that could logically follow from [this] view. . . . is that the worker should have to sacrifice a piece of the product of his labor as a tribute to nature or ancestors.

A simple tax would suffice as recognition that labor alone is not the sole source of use-value, yes.

Explanatory of what?

How class struggle has functioned throughout history.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Rev Scare on Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:18 am

Leveller wrote:Yes, being that there is no hierarchy in party organization, all members are equal, and the only "central" body they have is the executive committee, which has only administrative functions.
There is no hierarchy in the organization, but a central committee performs "administrative functions"? Rolling Eyes 

Explain how direct democracy could feasibly organize and coordinate a party whose membership numbered in the tens of thousands, not a dead-end group such as the SPGB, which can claim a couple hundred dedicated members at most and has wielded zero political influence for over a century.

Democratic centralism does feature democracy, hence the first word in the term. Executive bodies are elected, and decisions are made by majority rule. A party charter could assist in checking abuses of power and preserving fidelity to the guiding principles of the organization. You seem to be under the impression that Lenin's conception of the vanguard party mirrored Hitler's Führerprinzip, which is patently absurd.

Educate, agitate, organize. The "vanguard", that is- those that have class consiousness, educate the working people- raise their class consciousness, and then when the mass of working people is the "vaguard", we organize and go trough with the revolution. The only alternative is for a "vanguard" to manipulate the masses into supporting it, which can never bring about socialism, because socialism has to organized and managed by the working people themselves, vanguardism inevitably leads into another class society. As Engels said "The epoch of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organization, the masses themselves must participate, must grasp what is at stake, and why they are involved."

"Manipulate the masses into supporting it"? As in, dispel false consciousness and instill a revolutionary fervor in the mass of the working people?

You continue to effuse incoherent nonsense while evading my central arguments. Are you in favor of a vanguard party or not? If not, offer a practicable alternative. Also, why are you quoting Engels? He was Marx's close collaborator, and you apparently despise those who follow in that tradition. You have extricated that quote from its proper context. Engels wrote it in his 1895 introduction to Marx's The Class Struggles in France, and had you read it, you would know that he was clearly referring to the fact that previous revolutions were carried out by small minorities of one class displacing another ruling minority. He was also waning his contemporary activists of the futility of attempting to overthrow the bourgeois state apparatus by isolated insurrectionary activity. Lenin never advocated such a strategy. He always firmly maintained that only the proletariat could emancipate itself.

It is impossible to get to the socialist mode of production (which at it core has workers themselves organizing the economy) without such participatory movement. If a "class conscious minority" abolishes capitalism and turn the economy in the hands of the unconscious workers, the system would collapse and a class society would emerge.

Where did I mention a class conscious minority abolishing capitalism in place of the working class? The purpose of the vanguard party is to lead a mass action political movement, not to dominate a herd. There are varying degrees of consciousness and theoretical understanding amongst the proletariat, however, and this reality must be factored into organizational structures.

If a "class conscious minoty" abolishes capitalism and establishes itself as the leader of the workers, that just means they are the new "monopolizers of the means of production", that is- a new ruling exploiting class.

False, merely exercising the powers of the state on behalf of the working class does not translate into the theory of exploitation Celtiberian described above: namely, the instrumentalization of one's relative vulnerability for the purpose of self-enrichment. Abstracting from the class foundation of the state is invalid.

It is exactly the horizontal organization that preserves against subversion. In a centralised organisation, the reactionaries have only to infiltrate in a few central positions, or pay off, or black mail people in those key positions, and derail the entire movement. In a movement organized horizontally, the only way for it to be subverted would neccessitate that the enemies infiltrate the movement in such a number that they form it's majority, which is ludicrous for two reasons- the revolutionary movement will be a large majority of the population, and two- revolutinary movement implies that the people in it are generally class conscious- the majority cannot vote and change the nature and goals of the movement, that just means that it's not a revolutionary movement.

Where is your evidence that completely decentralized bodies are more immune to subversion, let alone viable? Grassroots and horizontal movements can easily be co-opted by forces of reaction. If they lack clarity of vision and mobility, they stagnate, form splinter factions, or become the tail-end of reaction for other groups. I am also skeptical that the revolutionary movement will necessarily involve the vast majority of the population. This seems unlikely for various reasons, including structural constraints on workers and the sheer pervasiveness of bourgeois ideology.

Communistic organization is only one of four general types of socialistic organization, each having it's varieties. The others are market, mutualist, and collectivist organizatins.
This is vague, and I find it difficult to discern its relevance.

Being that their system was a popular and democratically organized, that's perfectly in line with socialism.
Of course, so long as a nominally anarchist clique imposes authority, using a figure who approximates a military dictator, it is perfectly acceptable.

Nothing wrong with that being that the "military" was a democratic millitia of the people themselves, aswering to popular congresses, which included all the people, whether they were anarchist or no.

Did you not read the facts I presented? Makhno's army was far from a "democratic militia."

"[T]he Insurgent Army of the Ukraine, as the Makhnovist forces were called, was in theory subject to the supervision of the Regional Congresses. In practice, however, the reins of authority rested with Makhno and his staff. Despite his efforts to avoid anything that smacked of regimentation, Makhno appointed his key officers (the rest were elected by the men themselves) and subjected his troops to the stern military discipline traditional among the Cossack legions of the nearby Zaporozhian region."
Paul Avrich, "Nestor Makhno: The Man and the Myth," Chapter 7 of Anarchist Portraits, 1988.

Paul Avrich was an anarchist historian and sympathizer, so he can hardly be regarded as partial to the Bolsheviks.

Their main administrative councils had Esers, Menshviks and Bolsheviks in them, not only anarchists.

They banned factions opposed to their interests, exactly as the Bolsheviks did. The primary difference, as I stated above, was that the Bolsheviks were not inconsequential, whereas Makhno's peasant rebellion was.

And that information is to be accepted as facts, and not as vilification by the state-capitalist because they were exemplary honest, like when calling for all power to the soviets, and then abolishing them. Other sources give different information ( http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/append46.html#app7 )

I cited relatively neutral sources. On the other hand, you seem to be relying exclusively upon Iain McKay's An Anarchist FAQ—a wholly unbiased source, correct?

The difference was that the bolsheviks fought for and established state-capitalism
No, the Bolsheviks fought for communism under the assumption that revolutions in a few industrial nations would succeed. They did not, and Russia was left a poor, backward, and embattled state. In order to salvage the revolution, the Bolsheviks were forced to adapt to material conditions.

and the anarchists fought for and established socialism.
The anarchists established a form of primitive communalism that possessed little potential—actually, they merely modified existing peasant collectives.

Land belongs to those that work it.

Land belongs to the entire people. You have failed to present a cogent argument as to why the mere exertion of one's labor on land should entitle one to it. I reject arbitrary claims to land and natural resources. To the flames with all such theories of land acquisition.

Yep, stealing the product of someone's labor and making oneself his boss is bad when today's capitalists do it, but it's totally ok when we do it.

Nobody stole from the working class. Your very definition of ownership and exploitation is flawed, and you have yet to justify it except to repeat mutualist platitudes ad nauseum. You can consider the appropriation of a portion of the peasants' surplus by the state a particularly heavy tax. Unless you can dismantle the case for taxation, you have no grounds for argument.

Communists understand that labor alone cannot determine ownership because it neglects the innumerable social factors involved in the individual labor process, including public infrastructure and the totality of human knowledge.
And that's why the society as a whole should be the boss of the individual?
No, that is why society as a whole is justified in curtailing the liberties of individuals in order to further egalitarian principles. Whenever two or more people interact, compromises must arise for stable relations to continue. Only the most vulgar and infantile libertarians believe otherwise.

NEP was a mix of state-capitalism and market capitalism.
Capitalism must involve a market, irregardless of how laissez-faire it is. Now you have betrayed both an ignorance of history and political economy.

Nationalization is state-capitalism.
Not necessarily. Once again, the underlying class basis of the state must be considered. Under capitalism, nationalization typically furthers the interests of the national bourgeoisie, but even in a democratic socialist commonwealth (provided it retained market mechanisms), it would be prudent to nationalize critical industries so as to insulate them from the harmful vicissitudes of the market.

Private ownership is more them justified in the cases of means of production that take one person to operate, like tools of the artisan, handyman and similar, if the means of production require more then one person to operate, then they must be the property of those operating it. Or simply said- not property, but possession.

And again, that is because you are a mutualist, not a communist, and hence subscribe to problematic normative principles (i.e., self-ownership and the labor theory of property) that are incompatible with the full breadth of the egalitarian ethos.

Unless worker cooperatives are commonly owned by society as a whole
And the society as a whole (or even worse the managers that control the production "in the name of the society as a whole") become the boss of every individual worker. That's still alienation of labor- exploitation.

As a syndicalist, I am fully in favor of workers' self-management, but as a communist and Marxist, I realize that worker cooperatives are not revolutionary per se, nor are they fully compatible with my egalitarian convictions.

Soviet democracy featured universal suffrage, elections in which candidates were drawn from the Communist Party, trade unions, Komsomol, and other bodies, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet performed a function analogous to the U.S. Congress. Therefore, stable democratic structures existed in the Soviet Union.
Those are all elective oligarchic structures (of more or less oppressive nature).

Calling them "elective oligarchic structures" is melodramatic and meaningless. Are you repudiating all representative institutions in typical anarchist fashion while offering no credible alternative?

There was considerable worker participation in the Soviet Union, including trade unions
Yeah right, don't know why that Workers' Opposition was even formed, they fought for something they already had.

I provided you with facts of worker participation in the USSR. You can scoff, but it is a poor substitute for establishing your case via proper argument.

Because in socialism the workers themselves control the production, not any feudalist, "enterprenuer", party bureaucrat, or anyone except them.
Do workers truly control production in your model? A system of individual worker cooperatives subject to the alienating forces of the market is not true workers' control. At least central planning, for all its faults, can address the needs and concerns of all workers, unlike parochial factory committees.

Only a strong central government could achieve the goals of socialism: socializing property, protecting the revolution, rapid technological progress, and heightening the cultural level
None of that are the goals of socialism. Except if by socializing property you mean workers' control over their means of production, which then is, but other two can be goals of socialists, they are not the goals of socialism being that socialism can existing without having those goals.

Developing socialism in the Soviet Union without industrialization, collectivization, and education was impossible. Protecting the revolution a self-evident aim of socialism. To reiterate, a strong central government was necessary to achieve the aforementioned goals.

Ruling someone "in their interest" is still class society, only with propaganda. Accepting that framework, we could also accept slavery, as long as the slaveowners were to rule "in the interest" of slaves.
Slaves and slavers represent two antagonistic classes due to their differential relationship vis-à-vis the means of production. The state does not eo ipso function as a class; instead, it is an instrument of the ruling class. If you were to abandon your idealist class theory, you would come to realize this. Now, were you to argue that a coordinator class emerged in the Soviet Union as a result of its structurally privileged position, I would be inclined to agree with you, but to merely assert that the state replaced the capitalist reeks of childish anarchist notions that "power corrupts."

It is the definition of exploitation that socialism is based. No alienation of labor by the boss and no unearned incomes by the usurious parasite = socialistic economy.
No, it is the definition that your "socialism" is based on. Competing for profit engenders its own form of alienation. Hoarding land and natural resources is anti-socialist.

Which has nothing to do with I'm talking about.Workers' cooperative is a firm which is in the ownership and under management of it's workers, there is no other owner is a coop except the workers themselves, otherwise it wouldn't be a workers' coop, but a workers' managed capitalist firm.
Excuse me, but at various points in your babble you seem to stress the importance of workplace democracy and at others merely rail against bosses.

Your comment underscores why cooperatives cease to be progressive the further society advances from capitalism. They instill the same penurious mentality in workers as traditional firms do in capitalists, perpetuate serious inequality, undermine solidarity by enshrining competition, and disallow communities proper input in decisions that affect them. They also hamper collective effort, disregarding the social inheritance that makes private labor possible. There is the added possibility that reactionary attitudes may fester, and in time, successful cooperatives might seek to reintroduce wage labor.

Ukraine also was "economically and culturally backward" and in a period of upheaval, that didn't stop them from abolishing the capitalists

To the extent that capitalism actually existed in Ukraine...

and political rulers.
The Free Territory managed to form a handful of updated peasant communes under military rule.

Celtiberian wrote:
Rev Scare wrote:Direct democracy is not a viable option for a revolutionary organization because proletarians have not attained equal levels of class consciousness and theoretical sophistication. We reside in a revolutionary epoch, and as such, radical movements cannot adopt the full extent of participatory structures that we would expect in a socialist mode of production. Internal subversion by bourgeois governments is a serious possibility, and inordinate decentralization would present a vulnerability.

I am inclined to agree, comrade. Nevertheless, a participatory structure is vital for the overcoming of what Robert Michels termed "the iron law of oligarchy." After all, a party elite can become corruptible and just as counterproductive to the attaining of communism as affording workers possessing a deficient class consciousness the ability to influence the direction of a revolutionary organization. Somehow a proper balance must be reached.

Robert Michels posited an idealist "law" with no basis in reality (he also forsook his syndicalist values in favor of Italian fascism). It is but a rehash of the clichéd expression that "power corrupts." If power is in and of itself a recipe for corruption, why is it that the bourgeois state, whether in the form of a fascist dictatorship or a liberal democracy, is always loyal to the capitalist class?

In any case, you and I have discussed this matter to some extent in the past, so I am convinced that our positions are not dissimilar.

Two, the Makhnovshchina was scarcely the libertarian beacon that its sympathizers maintain. The Makhnovists abrogated all laws and state functions in the areas they ransacked, but in their own domain, they recreated what can be reasonably regarded as a state, with monetary policy, a regulated press, and a legal system.

In a declaration adopted on October 20, 1919, during a session of the Military Revolutionary Soviet, the Revolutionary Insurgent Army wrote apropos civil liberties: "It must be self-evident that the free organization of society affords every practical opportunity for realization of what are called 'civil liberties:' freedom of speech, of the press, of conscience, of worship, of assembly, of union, of organization, etc." [Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno, Anarchy's Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine, 1917-1921 (Oakland: AK Press, 2004), p. 379]. I'm skeptical of both the anarchist and Bolshevik accounts of the Free Territory's history, so there's no telling to what extent the Makhnovtsy lived up to these lofty goals in practice.

That may be true, but my intent was to counterpoise Leveller's vulgar analysis of the Bolsheviks with some historical facts about his exalted Free Territory. My sources are not without bias, but they are thoroughly researched. Alexandre Skirda's Anarchy's Cossack, on the other hand, reads like a tribute to Nestor Makhno.

They imposed military rule, proscribed the election of parties to "prevent those hostile to our political ideas from establishing themselves" (Makhno quoted in Colin Darch, "The Makhnovshchina," p. 92), and otherwise utilized their military might to suppress opposing organizations.

The only restriction the Makhnovtsy found necessary to impose on the Bolsheviks and left Socialist-Revolutionaries was "a prohibition on the formation of those 'revolutionary committees' which sought to impose a dictatorship over the people" [Petr Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement, 1918-1921 (London: Freedom Press, 1974), p. 154]. This can be interpreted as either being autocratic or a consistent application of anarchist principles, depending on your perspective.

There is ample evidence that Makhno utilized military repression to secure dominance, but I do not care to press this point further, as I have already exposed the many shortcomings of the Makhnovschina.

Anarchists often censure the Bolsheviks for the harsh military policies introduced during the civil war, but they overlook the fact that Makhno retained veto power over decisions made by his army, appointed close friends to senior positions, and as Darch notes, "although some of Makhno's aides attempted to introduce more conventional structures into the army, [Makhno's] control remained absolute, arbitrary and impulsive" (Makhnovshchina, p. 328).

Perhaps, but most sensible anarchists (few and far between as they may be) are of the view that libertarian organizational methods can prove to be problematic when applied during warfare, and therefore favor their suspension in such contexts. For example, Murray Bookchin wrote the following in regards to Makhno's military policy:

"Makhno's movement, in fact, approximated libertarian socialist practices as closely as any effective militia army could have done under the circumstances. During lulls in the fighting the partisans were permitted to elect junior commanders and discuss battle tactics, but no force of 20,000 men can hope to function along strictly libertarian lines. And no scattered 'spontaneous,' and poorly equipped bands of peasants could have hoped to prevail against the trained, organized, and well-armed White and Red armies. 'War anarchism', if such it can be called, required troops to accept a stern measure of military discipline. Nor is it likely that ordinary troopers would have wanted it any other way, for the makhnovtsy trusted the botko implicitly and answered only to him. With the aid of his most trusted officers (whom he appointed), Makhno had to make both tactical and strategic decisions if he hoped to prevail against his opponents."
Bookchin, Op. cit., p. 317.

This is precisely why anarchism is a confused and largely impotent political philosophy.
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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:53 pm

Celtiberian wrote:Your theory of exploitation cannot withstand serious scrutiny, and you don't even understand the inegalitarian implications that logically follow from an acceptance of it.

It is the only theory of exploitation that withstrands serious scrutiny, and you don't seem to realize that the inegalitarian implication that could follow for the acceptance of it (could, they don't "logically") are so minor that it is basically ridiculous to point them out. Everyone owning their means of production and all land being free leading to some relevant ineqality is a far-fetched connection to say the least.

Coercion is justifiable if employed for ethically defensible purposes, such as redistributing resources in order to provide for those who cannot acquire them through no fault of their own.

Using force is only ethically defensible if directed against oppression and exploitation, and the example tha you gave here is oppressive.

Your exclusive control over that resource impacts the lives of others. The following thought experiment will illustrate why that is. Let's say there are 10 acres of unclaimed land, 9 of which are arable. Two savages happen upon it and one (man 'A') takes possession of 8 acres, 7 of them being arable. That leaves the other savage (man 'B') with only two acres, both of which are arable. The mere difference in the land's quality ensures that—all else being equal—man 'A' will have more food and a higher degree of security than man 'B.'

The man B could go to some other plot of land and start using 8 acres of arable land (or as much as he can without using wage-labor), or he could wait for the man A to abandon some of the land so he can expand, or he could persuade the man A to abandon it, or he could come to an agreement with the man A to split the use of land equally, or to till it cooperatively.

Ultimately, the Proudhonist theory of land acquisition is no less arbitrary than Lockean, Georgist, or communist conceptions of thereof.

Except for being non-oppressive and non-exploitatory.

You provided no basis for the view that workers should be the "inalienable owners" of the product of their labor.

Because I didn't say that. We are inalienable owners of out labor, but alienable owners of the products of our labor, being that our labor is inalienable, and the products of our labor are alienable/ tranferable.

In fact, the only deontological theory of inalienability that would be pertinent to our debate is John Locke's labor theory of property, but it requires being conjoined with the juridical principle of imputation in order to normatively lead to socialism.

If not seen in the light of that principle (that is, it's trait of inalienability), it is meaningless in itself, therefore, the only meaningful labor theory of property is the socialistic one.

And even then, it can only logically justify a form of socialism that retains markets and private property, like the Ellermanian model.

It justifies socialism, in whatever form- market, mutualist, collectivist or communist, as long as there's no oppression and exploitation.

he anarchism of Bakunin or Kropotkin certainly cannot be defended by recourse to such a theory.

It certainly can, like people voluntarily pooling their labor and products together, which is what Bakun and Kropotkin saw their systems as functioning, neither of them advocated forcing anyone to participate in their system.

But to argue they ought to be considered the sole "owners" of the product of their labor is, again, to ignore the roles of nature and knowledge in the creation of that product

Which is firstly irrelevant because nature and knowledge can produce without labor exaclty as much as capital can- nothing, and therefore deserve the same compensation- none; and secondly, even if we were to ignore that fact, it's irrelevant bacuse the workers cannot give a portion of the products of their labor to nature or knowledge, or their owners (there being none).

Being that you affirm the right of workers to the product of their labor, any claim on a worker's income must be rejected as coercive and illegitimate

Except if to maintain a mechanism that preserves the very system that secures that that right will not be violated (except in that case). Simple and sound minarchist argument.

The use of force to prevent people from doing anything is technically coercive

English is not my first language, I thought that coercion is synonymous with aggression.

If you can persuasively explain how libertarian socialism in early 20th century Russia could have rapidly developed the country's forces of production

I disagree that the such rapid development was needed.

History has shown that a well-developed economic infrastructure, reliable trading networks, and a formidable military are indispensable if socialism is to be sustained within a country.

I don't know which socialism you're talking about, being that there was't any that wasn't destoyed by capitalists (market or state ones). Telling libertarian socialists "you can't survive with that system of yours, you're going to be destroyed by reactionaries, that's why we have to destroy you ourselves and then we'll defend against reactionaries" sounds pretty nonsensical to me, and this is, if I understand correctly, your justification of bolshevism.

The libertarian socialists who refuse to acknowledge that fact, or who minimize its importance, are simply dogmatists.

Yes, we are dogmatically against oppression and exploitation, and refuse any justification of class tyranny based on some benefits it provides (or any other justification for that matter).

How you can interpret Marx as being 'tyrannical' in this context is beyond me.

I undestood you as saying that his view was that the product that the individual workers makes doesn't belong to that worker, but to the society.

I beg to differ. One might argue that it's a relatively benign form of alienation (though I'd disagree), but to deny that workers are estranged from the product of their labor when producing for market exchange is disingenuous.

You can differ all you want, but alienation means taking something away from someone, it means transfer of ownership or possession. Alienation of labor is when the labor of the worker is considered the ownership of someone other then that worker, and alienation of the fruits of his labor is when someone takes the products of his labor by force or fraud (exploitation by rentiering is a type of fraud, likewise is direct exploitation/ alienation of labor itself). When the workers are their own bosses, and own the products they make- there's no alienation happening.

Because even if you're not being exploited, the conditions of your labor might be appalling nonetheless.

Then I change the conditions of my work, or I change my line of work.

Mining in a coal cooperative, for instance, wouldn't be exploitative, but it would still be dreadful.

And presumably, very small people would want to work in a coal cooperative. That being the case, supply going down would make the price go up. That means that in market-socialism, there being no exploitation, those working the least desirable jobs (for which there is demand) would have the highest earnings. And I don't see how would communism make coal mining not dreadful.

A simple tax would suffice as recognition that labor alone is not the sole source of use-value, yes.

And that tax is to be sacrificed to nature and knowledge? The use of nature and knowledge in labor doesn't mean that workers isn't the owner of the full product of his labor, saying that makes sense as much as saying that because of use of capital, the workers owe the capitalist some part of their fruits of labor, or because of the use of money the workers owes the usurer interest. Being socialist, I logically consider all such views wrong.

How class struggle has functioned throughout history.

I don't see how, it's economic reductionism just ignores the political, ideological and social class struggles that existed before capitalism, just like it ignores the ones in capitalism.

Rev Scare wrote:There is no hierarchy in the organization, but a central committee performs "administrative functions"?

Yes, purely administrative positions are hierarchical positions as much as cleaning the party officies. They have no authority over other people.

Democratic centralism does feature democracy, hence the first word in the term.

No, it doesn't feature democracy, and the first word in that term is as meaningful as when calling today's state "democratic", neither is democratic, but oligarchic.

Executive bodies are elected, and decisions are made by majority rule.

Elected bodies have no decision making power, but only execute them? That's (direct) democracy, something the bolsheviks never implemented nor said that they did, or want to.

You seem to be under the impression that Lenin's conception of the vanguard party mirrored Hitler's Führerprinzip, which is patently absurd.

Yes, the difference being the membership elected their fuhrers.

Manipulate the masses into supporting it"? As in, dispel false consciousness and instill a revolutionary fervor in the mass of the working people?

If socialists dispell false consciousness and instill a revolutionary fervor in the mass of the working people, then that mass of the working people become the "vanguard" along with them.

The purpose of the vanguard party is to lead a mass action political movement, not to dominate a herd.

If the mass of the working people is revolutionary, there is no need for any "vanguard" at it's head, it can simply organize and go trough with the revolution.

False, merely exercising the powers of the state on behalf of the working class does not translate into the theory of exploitation

If the powers of the state are used to violate worker self-management, it does, being that exploitation in it's direct form is having a boss.

Grassroots and horizontal movements can easily be co-opted by forces of reaction. If they lack clarity of vision

Horizontal movement can have clarity of vision, and should.

I am also skeptical that the revolutionary movement will necessarily involve the vast majority of the population.

Then there will be no socialist revolution, being that socialism needs to be managed by the population itself, and it is thefore neccesary for it to be understood, wanted and brought about by the vast majority of the population.

On the other hand, you seem to be relying exclusively upon Iain McKay's An Anarchist FAQ—a wholly unbiased source, correct?

Yes.

No, the Bolsheviks fought for communism under the assumption that revolutions in a few industrial nations would succeed.

That's simply a lie, being that they persecuted socialists (including communists) and established state-capitalism. They could have established socialism and hope that their success would have an influence of the workers in western europe that would then establish socialism themselves, instead they established state-capitalism, destroyed an entire socialist society and persecuted all genuine socialists.

actually, they merely modified existing peasant collectives.

By abolishing oppression and exploitation, thereby making their society socialistic.

Land belongs to the entire people. You have failed to present a cogent argument as to why the mere exertion of one's labor on land should entitle one to it. I reject arbitrary claims to land and natural resources.

Then reject the nonsense that land belongs to the entire people. Why would it, did they make it? Do they make the products of the peasants? No they don't, the peasants do, therefore, anyone wanting to be their boss and expropriate the products of their labor, no matter if a minority or the majority of the people, is just another oppressor and exploitator. Also, to be precise, I don't consider that the land belongs to those who work it in the sense that they have property over it when they start working it. It belongs to them in the sense they have possession over it- that is- a right to exlusive use during that use, but when they stop using it (/abandon it), it is no longer theirs, it's not property, but possession.

Nobody stole from the working class.

The bolsheviks that established themselves as the new ruling class did.

Unless you can dismantle the case for taxation, you have no grounds for argument.

The only taxation that can be justified is a minimal tax collected by a directly-democratic state.

Capitalism must involve a market,

Not true, capitalism can be marketless, as in pure state-capitalism, where the economy is planned.

As a syndicalist, I am fully in favor of workers' self-management, but as a communist and Marxist, I realize that worker cooperatives are not revolutionary per se,

Neither marxism, nor imposed communism are revolutionary. As Malatesta said- imposed communism would be the greatest tyranny a human mind can concieve.

Calling them "elective oligarchic structures" is melodramatic and meaningless.

If you consider correctness melodramatic and meaningless, that's your problem. Democracy means "rule of people" that is- not a rule of one group over the people- oligarchy, or a rule of one person over the people- autocracy. Also isocracy is pressumed in democracy, negating tyranny of the majority.

A system of individual worker cooperatives subject to the alienating forces of the market is not true workers' control.

There are no alienating forces of the market, alienation is unfree labor- having a boss.

At least central planning, for all its faults, can address the needs and concerns of all workers

Guess you never heard of economic calculation problem.

Developing socialism in the Soviet Union without industrialization, collectivization, and education was impossible.

No, it wasnt. Socialism can exist everywhere and any time, all that people have to do is abolish oppression and exploitation and they have socialism.

Protecting the revolution a self-evident aim of socialism.

There first needs to be socialism so that it can be defended. The only socialism in Russia was in Ukraine, and it was the Bolsheviks who destroyed it.

The state does not eo ipso function as a class

Only if it is directly democratic. If it is not, that it in itself is a political ruling class. If you would to abandon your nonsensical theory of class, you would see that.

but to merely assert that the state replaced the capitalist reeks of childish anarchist notions that "power corrupts."

It doesn't corrupt, it is in itself corrupted, and I am, like anarchists, adamantly against all hierarchies (among people with capacity).

No, it is the definition that your "socialism" is based on.

No, that is the definition that socialism when it was defined (by Ricardians) was based on and that all genuine anarchists accept.

Competing for profit engenders its own form of alienation.

No, it doesn't, except if by profit you mean the money a boss or a rentier gets. Neither markets not money in themselves engender alienation or exploitation.

Hoarding land and natural resources is anti-socialist.

It can be anti-solidaric, but not anti-socialist, being that socialism doesn't imply imposition of solidarity, in fact, it against it because that is oppressive.

Your comment underscores why cooperatives cease to be progressive the further society advances from capitalism. They instill the same penurious mentality in workers as traditional firms do in capitalists, perpetuate serious inequality, undermine solidarity by enshrining competition, and disallow communities proper input in decisions that affect them.

The profit-driven mentality they instill is encased in a socialist mentality by which they are formed and sustained as non-oppressive and non-exploiatory entities, and as such there is nothing wrong with it. Solidarity, if not voluntary, is not solidarity, it's oppression. Communities are to be disallowed from meddling in any decisions made by non-oppressive and non-exploitatory inviduals or organizations.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Celtiberian on Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:34 am

Leveller wrote:It is the only theory of exploitation that withstrands serious scrutiny
And yet it hasn't, as any reasonably intelligent and impartial observer of our exchange would surely confirm.

and you don't seem to realize that the inegalitarian implication that could follow for the acceptance of it (could, they don't "logically") are so minor that it is basically ridiculous to point them out. Everyone owning their means of production and all land being free leading to some relevant ineqality is a far-fetched connection to say the least.
Once again, redistributive taxation cannot be justified within your model. Your response to that glaring injustice has simply been to invoke voluntary, mutual aid societies as a hypothetical means of satisfying the needs of the elderly and infirm. Mutual aid, however, requires a significant amount of trust and interaction between people to functional optimally, and, within the context of a complex, modern economy, I question whether the conditions conducive to its thriving could be realized. More importantly, its basis in sentimentality renders it inferior to theories of justice based upon reason (e.g., luck egalitarianism).

Your deficient theory of exploitation also leaves space for massive disparities of wealth to develop. Workers who owned and operated an oil rig and produced for market exchange, for instance, would be vastly wealthier than individuals involved in agricultural production. The difference between them wouldn't owe to exploitation, but rather to other factors utterly undeserving of remuneration (e.g., equipment and scarcity).

Using force is only ethically defensible if directed against oppression and exploitation, and the example tha you gave here is oppressive.
So, to clarify, it's your position that redistributing resources from the working population to the elderly and infirm, by way of levying a tax on the former, is 'oppressive'?

The man B could go to some other plot of land and start using 8 acres of arable land (or as much as he can without using wage-labor), or he could wait for the man A to abandon some of the land so he can expand, or he could persuade the man A to abandon it, or he could come to an agreement with the man A to split the use of land equally, or to till it cooperatively.
You're violating the parameters of my thought experiment by introducing the idea that arable land could be acquired elsewhere. Furthermore, of course man 'B' could attempt to persuade man 'A' into behaving in a more conscientious manner, but the point is that 'A' would retain the freedom to reject whatever terms 'B' proposed under the Proudhonist model. This would produce an easily preventable, and morally unacceptable, inegalitarian outcome.

Except for being non-oppressive and non-exploitatory.
The communist theory is neither oppressive nor exploitative, and it possesses the additional benefit of preventing egregious disparities in wealth from emerging.

We are inalienable owners of out labor, but alienable owners of the products of our labor, being that our labor is inalienable, and the products of our labor are alienable/ tranferable.
But for workers to possess the right to the product of their labor, one must argue that labor is the sole source of use-value, which I've disproved by demonstrating the necessity of knowledge and nature in the process of production. Locke's labor theory of property, which you're unwittingly channeling by arguing that the act of mixing one's labor with nature is sufficient grounds for claiming it for oneself (with the Proudhonian proviso that it's utilized for active, personal use), has been conclusively refuted by G. A. Cohen (in Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality) and C. B. Macpherson (in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke), among others.

I encourage you to study this subject further.

It justifies socialism, in whatever form- market, mutualist, collectivist or communist, as long as there's no oppression and exploitation.
No, I'm afraid it doesn't. If workers possess the right to the product of their labor, it follows that they ought to also possess the liberty to dispense with the income said product generates however they see fit—provided they don't violate the narrow, left-libertarian theory of exploitation you espouse, of course (that is certainly the way in which mutualists like Benjamin Tucker interpreted the phrase, anyway). Thus, nothing could prevent a market from forming or workers from establishing privately owned cooperative enterprises under that arrangement. Indeed, for a commune to declare such practices illegal would be an infringement upon the self-ownership rights you implicitly consider people to have.

Which is firstly irrelevant because nature and knowledge can produce without labor exaclty as much as capital can- nothing, and therefore deserve the same compensation- none
There's a mutual dependence between nature, knowledge, and labor in the production of material wealth—for goods and services cannot be produced absent natural inputs and the totality of human knowledge (as is obvious to anyone who has ever pondered the subject objectively for a few moments). A similar dependency does not exist in the labor-capital relationship because use-value can, in fact, be produced sans private property and wage labor.

and secondly, even if we were to ignore that fact, it's irrelevant bacuse the workers cannot give a portion of the products of their labor to nature or knowledge
Of course they can, in the form of land, income, sales, and inheritance taxes. The fruits of humanity's common inheritance (nature and knowledge) can then be shared more equitably.

Except if to maintain a mechanism that preserves the very system that secures that that right will not be violated (except in that case). Simple and sound minarchist argument.
Which the anarchists you claim ideological fidelity to categorically reject(ed).

I disagree that the such rapid development was needed.
Well, that's a convenient assumption. But I suppose it's entirely reasonable to speculate that peasants on horseback, clutching revolvers and rusty rifles, could have successfully repelled the Wehrmacht in 1941.

I don't know which socialism you're talking about, being that there was't any that wasn't destoyed by capitalists (market or state ones).
I'm talking the about the requisite conditions for socialism to be sustained, none of which existed in Russia in 1917. Ergo libertarian socialism was destined to fail at that point in time.

I undestood you as saying that his view was that the product that the individual workers makes doesn't belong to that worker, but to the society.
That is one of Marx's postulates, and I don't see how one could deny that wealth is collectively produced and privately appropriated in market economies.

alienation means taking something away from someone, it means transfer of ownership or possession.
That is but one meaning of term; there are several others. For example, when Marx speaks of humanity's alienation from its Gattungswesen in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844—which contains the most comprehensive and compelling theory of alienation in the history of socialist thought—he is describing a state of affairs wherein man's true nature is being distorted by an alien force (e.g., capitalism), thereby hindering the full flourishing of his capacities.

When the workers are their own bosses, and own the products they make- there's no alienation happening.
...Except for the previously explained alienation from the product.

Then I change the conditions of my work, or I change my line of work.
If the law of value is operational, disempowering work will persist in the industries which feature it until it becomes unprofitable to continue the practice. In a system of directly social labor, conversely, people have the ability to deliberate upon these matters and consciously determine if the human costs to producing certain goods or services outweigh the benefits, thereafter providing them with the option to adjust production and investment plans. Suffice it to say, it's a far more rational and humane method for organizing production.

I don't see how, it's economic reductionism just ignores the political, ideological and social class struggles that existed before capitalism, just like it ignores the ones in capitalism.
Absolutely not. Marxist class analysis is informed by the materialist conception of history, which provides a framework for understanding those very "political, ideological and social class struggles that existed before capitalism." But that is a subject which is beyond the scope of this thread.

Rev Scare wrote:Robert Michels posited an idealist "law" with no basis in reality.
It is better understood as a law in the sense that Marx's law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit is one, i.e., not a lock, but rather a law of tendency which is simultaneously subject to various countervailing tendencies. At least, that's the only sense in which I believe it possesses any validity—although Michels clearly suggested something rather more fixed in Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, hence his use of the term "iron."

As for its basis in reality, the transformation of Europe's social democratic parties into neoliberal outfits seems to indicate that the theory has some explanatory value. It has also been empirically tested and confirmed to obtain in various instances outside of party politics; see, for example, Hugh Butcher et al., Community Groups in Action: Case Studies and Analysis (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980).

It is but a rehash of the clichéd expression that "power corrupts."
In my estimation, the most valuable contribution the early anarchists made to socialist political philosophy was the warning that, unless socialism was organized horizontally, it would fail to deliver a world in which the exploitation of man by man has been completely eliminated. I do believe that mankind is endowed with a certain propensity for domineering which, if left unchecked, can result in abuse. Thus, I feel Mikhail Bakunin's was fundamentally correct when he argued:

"Nothing is more dangerous for man's private morality than the habit of command. The best man, the most intelligent, disinterested, generous, pure, will infallibly and always be spoiled at this trade. Two sentiments in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one's own merits."
Mikhail Bakunin quoted in Keith Dowding (ed.), Encyclopedia of Power (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2011), p. 46.

Whether this trait is transient or perennial is immaterial, for we are dealing with subjects who are products of the bourgeois era and must adjust our expectations accordingly.

Despite their occasional insights, however, the solution to the dilemmas of organizational structure are not to be found in the writings of anarchists like, say, Max Stirner—who believed that institutions, no matter their role or configuration, inevitably oppressed the "ego." The syndicalist tradition, as you're aware, has devised various proposals which ensure that, when the delegation of authority is necessary, representatives cannot exploit the responsibility bestowed unto them. Within the context of the class struggle matters are more complicated, for the reasons you specified (it's a war, after all). But we've discussed this matter extensively in the past, and, as you said, our views are not dissimilar.

If power is in and of itself a recipe for corruption, why is it that the bourgeois state, whether in the form of a fascist dictatorship or a liberal democracy, is always loyal to the capitalist class?
Ernest Madel addresses the issue quite well in the following passage:

"if we consider the actual functioning of bourgeois society through five centuries, especially in mature and late capitalism with its growing bureaucratization of socio-economic life, then the formula which best fits reality has to be substantially different. It should read: Power corrupts. A lot of power begets a lot of corruption. But in the epoch of capitalism, no power can be absolute, because in the last analysis money and wealth rule. Big wealth corrupts as much as, if not more than, big power. Huge sums of money beget huge power and therefore corrupt absolutely. You can eliminate near-absolute power only if you do away both with the strong state and with huge money wealth.
Ernest Madel, Power and Money: A Marxist Theory of Bureaucracy (London: Verso, 1992), p. 188.

Politicians are loyal to the bourgeoisie because the latter share the spoils of exploitation with those state functionaries who best advance their interests. Were this relationship to somehow end, it's conceivable that bureaucrats would pursue different policies; but, as a consequence of the degree of autonomy they presently have, they would remain equally venal in their pursuit of self-enrichment and/or empowerment. When the trade union movement in Europe was at its height, for example, some politicians voted for policies which were positively detrimental to the process of capital accumulation—thereby lending credit to the instrumentalist position vis–à–vis the structuralists in the debate concerning the role of the state under capitalism—but many of them only did so because it advanced their careers.

The best empirical study demonstrating the corrupting nature of power remains the Stanford prison experiment of 1971. And, although anecdotal, I've personally witnessed a marked change in the character of dozens of people who were granted trivial amounts of authority over the years.

My sources are not without bias, but they are thoroughly researched. Alexandre Skirda's Anarchy's Cossack, on the other hand, reads like a tribute to Nestor Makhno.
It more or less is, but the quote I extracted from it was merely a reproduction of a declaration the Ukrainian Military Revolutionary Soviet had adopted in 1919.

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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."
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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:35 am

Celtiberian wrote:And yet it hasn't, as any reasonably intelligent and impartial observer of our exchange would surely confirm.
Any rational observer will see that it the only correct theory of exploitation.

Once again, redistributive taxation cannot be justified within your model.
One, I disagree; two- even if it couldn't, it still does nothing to disprove the correctnes of the model.

Your response to that glaring injustice has simply been to invoke voluntary, mutual aid societies as a hypothetical means of satisfying the needs of the elderly and infirm.
That's the view of all anarchists. Neither Bakunin, nor Kropotkin, nor Rocker, nor any other anarchist thinker was for forcing people into their model of mutual aid organization (collectivism, communism, syndicalism respectively), but everyone was to be free to do (and not do) whatever he wants, as long as he doesn't oppress or exploit anyone. You seem to suggest that the entierty of anarchist thought is not socialist, which is ludicrous.

Your deficient theory of exploitation also leaves space for massive disparities of wealth to develop.
One, I disagree; two- even if does, there's no problem in it, being that such wealth could not be used to oppress or exploit anyone, as the system would be based on abolition of all oppression and exploitation.

Workers who owned and operated an oil rig and produced for market exchange, for instance, would be vastly wealthier than individuals involved in agricultural production. The difference between them wouldn't owe to exploitation, but rather to other factors utterly undeserving of remuneration (e.g., equipment and scarcity).
And what then? The richer workers wouldn't be able to oppress or exploit anyone with their money, so why should it be considered improper that they have it? Out of jealousy and envy? Just no note, I don't think such things would happen, and that a market in a classless society would always oscillate around equilibrium wealth of everyone.

So, to clarify, it's your position that redistributing resources from the working population to the elderly and infirm, by way of levying a tax on the former, is 'oppressive'?
I haven't formed a defintite opinion, I am weighing arguments, I haven't yet decided between the anarchist position that aid ought to be there but volutarily, and philosophical-liberal view of the positive part of the right to life.

You're violating the parameters of my thought experiment by introducing the idea that arable land could be acquired elsewhere.
Which means that I'm adjusting in to reality, being two people can never have only ten acres to use.

This would produce an easily preventable, and morally unacceptable, inegalitarian outcome.
What is ethically unacceptable there, if he isn't oppressing or exploiting anyone?

The communist theory is neither oppressive nor exploitative
If it's voluntary communism, I agree. If not, then I agree will Malatesta's remark that it is the most detestable tyranny that a human mind can concieve.

But for workers to possess the right to the product of their labor, one must argue that labor is the sole source of use-value, which I've disproved by demonstrating the necessity of knowledge and nature in the process of production.
One, there is no need for intoducing any notion of value in this question, it's a theory of property, not of value. Secondly, as I have said knowledge and nature being a part of the process meaning the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor is as meaningless as saying that capital being a part of the process means that the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor, and that he owes some part of it to the capitalist. Only labor produces anything. Natural resources and knowledge, just like capital, without labor are dead- they don't produce.

G. A. Cohen (in Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality)
I diagree that he refuted the Labor theory of property (in it's consistent, ricardian socialist/ libertarian socialist form), but what is interesting is his comment of the "ethical imperative to redistribution" that you advocate, where he gives the example of redistribution of eyes. So, do you support redistrubution of eyes, from those that have two to those who are by pure luck blind?

No, I'm afraid it doesn't. If workers possess the right to the product of their labor, it follows that they ought to also possess the liberty to dispense with the income said product generates however they see fit—provided they don't violate the narrow, left-libertarian theory of exploitation you espouse, of course (that is certainly the way in which mutualists like Benjamin Tucker interpreted the phrase, anyway). Thus, nothing could prevent a market from forming or workers from establishing privately owned cooperative enterprises under that arrangement. Indeed, for a commune to declare such practices illegal would be an infringement upon the self-ownership rights you implicitly consider people to have.
Exactly. Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, and all anarchist thinkers have supported the right of everyone not to participate in their system. Likewise all anarchists have accepted labor theory of property, which is clear from the fact that they rejected capitalism as exploitative- the workers not getting the full product of their labor, and Bakunin and Kropotkin when talking about capitalist exploitation explicitly mention "product of labor" and "fruits of labor" of the workers.

There's a mutual dependence between nature, knowledge, and labor in the production of material wealth
There is also a mutual dependance between capital and labor in the production of wealth, and that doesn't change the fact that the capitalist isn't entitled to any part of the product of the worker, even though he uses his intrument of labor to produce something.

A similar dependency does not exist in the labor-capital relationship because use-value can, in fact, be produced sans private property and wage labor.
You then seem to suggest that nature and knowledge are the ownership of the present society, which is beyond arbitrary.

The fruits of humanity's common inheritance (nature and knowledge) can then be shared more equitably.
It is completely non sequitur to say that because I used nature and knowledge of the past generation I owe something to this generation.

But I suppose it's entirely reasonable to speculate that peasants on horseback, clutching revolvers and rusty rifles, could have successfully repelled the Wehrmacht in 1941.
Maybe if Russia, the important coutry that it was in the world then, would have seen the establishment of (genuine, libertarian) socialism, the workers of Europe would be invigorated by that success to establish it themselves, and there wouldn't at all be a Wehrmacht.

That is one of Marx's postulates, and I don't see how one could deny that wealth is collectively produced and privately appropriated in market economies.
By being sane. If I till land and produce wheat, it belongs to me, not to you. There is absolutely no rational reason to think that the product of my labor belongs to you, if you were to take it from me, that's nothing other then thievery, which then doesn't differ from capitalism or any other society based on thievery.

That is but one meaning of term; there are several others. For example, when Marx speaks of humanity's alienation from its Gattungswesen
That kind of view, together with the new left's view is purely metaphisical, and has nothing to do with economy. Alienation has a clear economical and legal meaning, in which it used also e.g. in discussion about inalienable rights.

...Except for the previously explained alienation from the product.
Not knowing how exactly some other producer makes his products it totally irrelevant to me as a buyer of those products, all that I need to know is that there was no oppression and exploitation.

If the law of value is operational, disempowering work will persist in the industries which feature it until it becomes unprofitable to continue the practice.
I don't see what this purely abstract marxist notion has with this quotestion. Also, disempowering work will be a meaningless notion in a society organized horizontally, being that position of "empowering work" will be abolished. If you talk about dirty and dangerous work, as I have said- the fact that the smaller number of people would be willing to do such work compared to other work, that means that the simple mechanism of market supply and demand would produce the result that the dirty and dangerous work would be most profitable work in the economy for those doing it.

Also the notion that people would maximize profit by making worse their own working conditions is just false, being that almost no one is manically profit-motivated like that, being that the examples of present workers' coops show that that isn't happening even though they have to compete with capitalist firms, and being that it is a fact that working in good conditions is more productive then working in bad ones.


Last edited by Leveller on Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:11 pm

I'm trying to find C. B. Macpherson's The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke online, but I'm having no luck, is it somewhere online that you know of, if someone could give me link that'd be great..

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Celtiberian on Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:53 am

Leveller wrote:Any rational observer will see that it the only correct theory of exploitation.
They would realize it's predicated upon a series of faulty assumptions. But let's stop speculating and just defer to their judgement.

One, I disagree
There actually is a way in which redistributive taxation can be reconciled with the self-ownership thesis, and it's by conjoining a theory of joint ownership of natural resources to it. (The case is persuasively advanced by Nicholas Vrousalis in “Libertarian Socialism: A Better Reconciliation between Self-Ownership and Equality,” Social Theory and Practice, 37; 211-226.) You, however, reject such communist conceptions of land ownership—and, in that respect, share more in common with propertarians than you do with left-libertarians.

But self-ownership is an absurd notion, regardless. It contains an intuitive appeal, to be sure; but that's because, in addition to purporting to be theory of autonomy (which people are naturally concerned with), there is a prima facie commonality between it and the categorical imperative. However, the only requirement necessary for one's self-ownership to be respected is consent, which is not a sufficient basis for ensuring that one is also treated as an end in him or herself, as unfair circumstances, ignorance, and/or a lack of options can cause people to consent to actions which egregiously violate the Kantian means-ends principle. Nor can it guarantee effective autonomy, as the disadvantaged could be denied the resources necessary to exercise independence, and the commodification which follows from an acceptance of the theory would result in a world wherein alienation and contract would govern the preponderance of social relations. A more sensible theory of autonomy can be found in Daniel Attas's concept of Original Freedom.

two- even if it couldn't, it still does nothing to disprove the correctnes of the model.
I've demonstrated why the model is deficient throughout our exchange, as you well know.

That's the view of all anarchists. Neither Bakunin, nor Kropotkin, nor Rocker, nor any other anarchist thinker was for forcing people into their model of mutual aid organization (collectivism, communism, syndicalism respectively), but everyone was to be free to do (and not do) whatever he wants, as long as he doesn't oppress or exploit anyone. You seem to suggest that the entierty of anarchist thought is not socialist, which is ludicrous.
I've suggested nothing of the sort. What I've argued is that the classical anarchists' confidence in the ability of mutual aid to provide for the needy may have been misguided—especially when applied in a complex, modern economy—and that the elderly and infirm should possess a fundamental right to the resources necessary to lead a dignified existence. I've also stressed that the anarchists' preference for sentimentality over reason in the justification of welfare is problematic, for reasons I can recapitulate if need be.

even if does, there's no problem in it, being that such wealth could not be used to oppress or exploit anyone, as the system would be based on abolition of all oppression and exploitation.
Exploitation and oppression are not the only morally relevant considerations. There is also the matter of simple equity, which is not attained in any model of distribution which enables factors one has no control over (e.g., their genetic endowment) to influence their share of the social product.

And what then? The richer workers wouldn't be able to oppress or exploit anyone with their money, so why should it be considered improper that they have it? Out of jealousy and envy?
No, out of a basic sense of fairness.

Just no note, I don't think such things would happen, and that a market in a classless society would always oscillate around equilibrium wealth of everyone.
Market economies, regardless of whether they are capitalist or socialist, are incapable of approaching income parity absent massive redistribution schemes.

Which means that I'm adjusting in to reality, being two people can never have only ten acres to use.
By 2039 the global population is going to reach approximately 13 billion people, and there are only 12 million square miles of arable land on earth. That amounts to 0.59 acres of land per person. It is therefore evident that land is a scarce resource, but the Proudhonian model you espouse permits individuals to claim as much of it as they can cultivate without exploiting wage laborers—it doesn't even advocate dividing land evenly among people, which could slightly mitigate the inequalities that would obtain from implementing mutualist property law. So, if anything, my thought experiment is too accommodating to mutualism; the reality of the situation is far worse.

What is ethically unacceptable there, if he isn't oppressing or exploiting anyone?
It's ethically unacceptable to allow differences in life outcome to stem from differential access to resources that should be regarded as our common inheritance.

If it's voluntary communism, I agree. If not, then I agree will Malatesta's remark that it is the most detestable tyranny that a human mind can concieve.
That's ridiculous. First of all, communism cannot be achieved without forcibly prohibiting market relations between consenting adults in a given geographical location, so a truly "voluntary communism" is impossible. (Every mode of production requires coercion to some extent, including mutualism.) Secondly, if communism really is "the most detestable tyranny that the human mind can conceive" people shouldn't be allowed to enter into it voluntarily, just as they shouldn't be permitted to voluntarily sell themselves into slavery.

One, there is no need for intoducing any notion of value in this question, it's a theory of property, not of value.
Use-value is synonymous with utility, i.e., it's a term which describes goods and services for which there is a demand. Hence it's entirely appropriate for the purposes of this discussion.

Secondly, as I have said knowledge and nature being a part of the process meaning the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor is as meaningless as saying that capital being a part of the process means that the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor, and that he owes some part of it to the capitalist. Only labor produces anything. Natural resources and knowledge, just like capital, without labor are dead- they don't produce.
Rolling Eyes I already explained the distinction to you: there is a mutual dependence between labor, knowledge, and nature in the production of material wealth which doesn't exist between labor and capital. Without knowledge and nature, labor would be incapable of producing anything.

Your repeated evasions of the points I raise is becoming tiresome.

I diagree that he refuted the Labor theory of property (in it's consistent, ricardian socialist/ libertarian socialist form), but what is interesting is his comment of the "ethical imperative to redistribution" that you advocate, where he gives the example of redistribution of eyes. So, do you support redistrubution of eyes, from those that have two to those who are by pure luck blind?
Being that I am a luck egalitarian, if eye transplants were a safe and painless procedure, as Cohen postulates in his thought experiment, I would certainly favor a lottery scheme wherein the redistribution of one eye from sighted individuals to the blind would occur. Most people would find such a proposal repellent, of course, but that's because there is something aesthetically off-putting about the notion of losing one's eye. If Cohen was to replace eyes with, say, kidneys in his thought experiment, the idea of a redistributive lottery would likely generate more sympathy.

Exactly. Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, and all anarchist thinkers have supported the right of everyone not to participate in their system.
That's because they each had faith that their particular variety of socialism was destined to become hegemonic without need of suppressing competing models. But they nevertheless implicitly supported coercion, for neither Bakunin, nor Kropotkin, nor Rocker would have allowed workers to privately acquire means of production and engage in commodity production within the communes organized along the tenets they advocated.

Likewise all anarchists have accepted labor theory of property, which is clear from the fact that they rejected capitalism as exploitative- the workers not getting the full product of their labor, and Bakunin and Kropotkin when talking about capitalist exploitation explicitly mention "product of labor" and "fruits of labor" of the workers.
Many Marxists (excluding Karl Marx himself) also defined exploitation as workers being deprived of the full product of their labor. The fact this theory has a long history within the socialist movement doesn't somehow render it defensible, however.

There is also a mutual dependance between capital and labor in the production of wealth
Within the context of capitalism, you forgot to add. Once again: there isn't an inherent dependence between labor and capital, so it's a false analogy.

You then seem to suggest that nature and knowledge are the ownership of the present society, which is beyond arbitrary.
There's nothing arbitrary about the fact that 90% of productivity growth over the last century is directly attributable to technical change, which is a product of knowledge. That doesn't suggest nature and knowledge 'own' society (whatever that means), but rather that they're indispensable elements of wealth creation.

It is completely non sequitur to say that because I used nature and knowledge of the past generation I owe something to this generation.
The logic is fairly straightforward: if knowledge and nature are significant sources of wealth, and society is necessary for their preservation and dissemination, every member of the community deserves a share of said wealth. It's preposterous to argue that workers should individually reap the benefits of our collective history without having to compensate society for providing the conditions necessary for their labor to commence.

Maybe if Russia, the important coutry that it was in the world then, would have seen the establishment of (genuine, libertarian) socialism, the workers of Europe would be invigorated by that success to establish it themselves, and there wouldn't at all be a Wehrmacht.
The workers of Europe attempted revolutions throughout the 20th century (e.g., the Bavarian Soviet Republic and anarcho-syndicalist Spain), all of which were violently suppressed. The material conditions just weren't conducive to the development of socialism in the global north. However, we are currently entering into a historically unique period wherein bourgeois social relations are hindering the further development of the forces of production, and increasingly acute economic crises are intensifying the class struggle. So it appears as though humanity is finally reaching a point in which libertarian socialism (of the non-anarchist variety) is a very real possibility. Rejoice.

By being sane. If I till land and produce wheat, it belongs to me, not to you. There is absolutely no rational reason to think that the product of my labor belongs to you, if you were to take it from me, that's nothing other then thievery, which then doesn't differ from capitalism or any other society based on thievery.
That assumes that the land in which you cultivated wheat is rightfully yours, which is utter nonsense. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of commodities currently on the market can only be produced via an intricate division of labor. Adam Smith illustrated this fact by drawing attention to the staggering number of workers required just to produce one article of clothing:

"The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the woolcomber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen!"
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (New York: Cosimo, 2007), p. 16-17.

Thus we find that even production within capitalist market economies is an expression of (indirectly) social labor. Furthermore, the workers involved in that process desire access to the goods and services their fellow workers produced. To quote Daniel Attas:

"[M]arket transactors want a share of the variety of goods produced by different people (which they get by means of acquiring purchasing power), not only the one good they have produced.

How much purchasing power, how much of the joint product, each individual producer should get is the question a principle of division should address
."
Daniel Attas, Liberty, Property and Markets: A Critique of Libertarianism (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2005), p. 137.

And, contrary to mutualist political philosophy, it's not self-evident that workers' "natural wage" is the full product of their labor.

Not knowing how exactly some other producer makes his products it totally irrelevant to me as a buyer of those products, all that I need to know is that there was no oppression and exploitation.
In order to establish a genuine sense of solidarity and community, it's essential that consumers have access to considerably more information than that and producers are granted the ability negotiate the terms of their labor.

I don't see what this purely abstract marxist notion has with this quotestion.
The profit motive directing production (aka the law of value) is relevant to our discussion because it systematically excludes conscious human agency from being able to determine how to allocate society's resources. Surely the latter method of organizing production would result in more rational and humane criteria being considered.

Also, disempowering work will be a meaningless notion in a society organized horizontally, being that position of "empowering work" will be abolished.
By disempowering work I have in mind rote, repetitive, menial labor. Empowering work, by contrast, consists of stimulating, creative labor. Both will persist into communism, but the former can be minimized by investing in automation (among other things).

I'm trying to find C. B. Macpherson's The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke online, but I'm having no luck, is it somewhere online that you know of, if someone could give me link that'd be great..

Anyway, we've clearly reached an impasse. I reject the theory of exploitation that informs your commitment to mutualism, and you refuse to even contemplate the theory of exploitation I espouse. Our disagreements over the scope and nature of alienation, as well as the history of state socialism, aren't going to be resolved either. Frankly, I believe this thread has outlived its usefulness, but I will leave it open in case Rev Scare or other members wish to further engage with you. You and I, however, are just arguing past one another at this point and you've exhausted my patience.

Good day, sir.

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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."
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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Leveller on Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:07 pm

Celtiberian wrote:You, however, reject such communist conceptions of land ownership—and, in that respect, share more in common with propertarians than you do with left-libertarians.
Yes, by saying that land cannot be owned being that it is not a product of labor I share more with propertarians (which accept as property that which is not a product of labor) then with left-libertarians (which is based on the notion that people have the right to the full product of their labor), that makes perfect sense.

But self-ownership is an absurd notion, regardless.
Which is irrelevant being that I don't propagate such a notion, the closest to it I can get is to, for the sake of some argument, call the principle of autonomy- principle of inalienable self-ownership.

No, out of a basic sense of fairness.
If those that have more cannot use it to oppress or exploit the "sense of fairness" is void, there is no difference from it and the sense of jealousy and envy.

By 2039 the global population is going to reach approximately 13 billion people, and there are only 12 million square miles of arable land on earth. That amounts to 0.59 acres of land per person.
So, we have now went from a 10 acre world with the population of to, to Earth in 2039 with population of 13 billion people, and literally all of them want to be peasants.

It's ethically unacceptable to allow differences in life outcome to stem from differential access to resources that should be regarded as our common inheritance.
What is "life outcome"? So what is unacceptable about inegalitarianism in possessions is that is ignores that resources should be common property. That only begs the question why should resources be regarded as common property? And "because if they are not that will lead to possessions inegalitarianism" obviously cannot be the answer.

First of all, communism cannot be achieved without forcibly prohibiting market relations between consenting adults in a given geographical location, so a truly "voluntary communism" is impossible
Why would it be impossible? What law of physics is preventing it?

Secondly, if communism really is "the most detestable tyranny that the human mind can conceive" people shouldn't be allowed to enter into it voluntarily
I don't see how can quote something and just a sentence in your response to the quote write way past it. It is imposed communism that it the mentioned tyranny, not voluntary communism, as said in the very sentence you were quoting.

there is a mutual dependence between labor, knowledge, and nature in the production of material wealth which doesn't exist between labor and capital. Without knowledge and nature, labor would be incapable of producing anything.
Even if that were true, it is irrelevant, because, as I have explained in the very passage you quoted- knowledge and nature being a part of the process meaning the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor is as meaningless as saying that capital being a part of the process means that the laborer isn't the owner of the full product of his labor, and that he owes some part of it to the capitalist. Only labor produces anything. Natural resources and knowledge, just like capital, without labor are dead- they don't produce.

But it is not true, being that the mutual dependance does not exist only between knowledge/ resources and labor, but also practically exist between means of production and labor. If you have knowledge of how to produce a product and the resources to produce it, but you don't have the means of production to produce it, you're not going to produce it, not only vice-versa.

Being that I am a luck egalitarian, if eye transplants were a safe and painless procedure, as Cohen postulates in his thought experiment, I would certainly favor a lottery scheme wherein the redistribution of one eye from sighted individuals to the blind would occur.
So, basically, you're for state-slavery, or mob-slavery, where people would be considered property of the "society". "Come join us, you don't have nothing to lose except your chains! And eyes."

Most people would find such a proposal repellent, of course, but that's because there is something aesthetically off-putting about the notion of losing one's eye.
No, but because there is everything morally abhorrent to being robbed of your bodily organs, because someone else has decided that you don't need them enough, irrelevant if it were eyes or kidneys.

But they nevertheless implicitly supported coercion, for neither Bakunin, nor Kropotkin, nor Rocker would have allowed workers to privately acquire means of production and engage in commodity production within the communes organized along the tenets they advocated.
No, actually, they all would. If they wouldn't, that means that they weren't for voluntary participation, but for imposed collectivism/ communism/ syndicalism, which they weren't for.

There's nothing arbitrary about the fact that 90% of productivity growth over the last century is directly attributable to technical change, which is a product of knowledge. That doesn't suggest nature and knowledge 'own' society (whatever that means), but rather that they're indispensable elements of wealth creation.
You have said that because of the use of past knowledge and the natural resources one is ought to pay the present the present generation, which is unconnected unless you are to advocate that the present generation is the owner of the past knowledge and the resources, for which claim there is no basis.

It's preposterous to argue that workers should individually reap the benefits of our collective history without having to compensate ...
This statement is just false. Just as capital, knowledge and natural resources without labor produce nothing, and therefore should receive nothing. Your collectivist version of marginal theory is not only, like every marginal theory, unconnected to reality, but is also internally consistent, at least capitalists advocate compensating the legal owners of that which they claim has marginal utility, you make totally arbitrary connections that because I have used something I should compensate someone who hasn't made and doesn't own that something.

That assumes that the land in which you cultivated wheat is rightfully yours, which is utter nonsense.
It assumes no such thing, and I have explicitly denied such a notion. The land belong to no one.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of commodities currently on the market can only be produced via an intricate division of labor.
Which is irrelevant. If I chop wood with an axe that I didn't make, that doesn't change the fact that the timber is my property, because I have payed for the axe, it is now mine, and the timber is the product of my labor.

Furthermore, the workers involved in that process desire access to the goods and services their fellow workers produced.
Existence of desire doesn't justify anything.

you refuse to even contemplate the theory of exploitation I espouse.
You neither have expressed it clearly, not have given concrete arguments for it.

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Re: Two socialisms

Post by Rev Scare on Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:20 am

Leveller wrote:
Rev Scare wrote:There is no hierarchy in the organization, but a central committee performs "administrative functions"?
Yes, purely administrative positions are hierarchical positions as much as cleaning the party officies. They have no authority over other people.
If something is administrative, it is managerial by definition and, as such, involves hierarchy, even if it is accountable. It matters little that they merely implement the decisions of the general membership, as their role invariably entails the coordination of people, or this would become the case were the party to grow (which, of course, will never occur).

In either case, I have no more pronouncements on the SPGB. They have already received far more attention than they deserve in this thread.

Executive bodies are elected, and decisions are made by majority rule.
Elected bodies have no decision making power, but only execute them? That's (direct) democracy,
There is nothing ethically objectionable about representation, so long as it is accountable, and direct democracy is exceedingly difficult if not impossible to implement on a grand scale, although participation should be expanded wherever feasible. To recapitulate: radical consciousness and theoretical understanding are not uniformly distributed amongst the proletariat, and we reside in a revolutionary epoch that, due to the consequences of capitalism's intensifying internal contradictions, threatens the established order and invites backlash from the ruling class. These conditions render direct democracy unattractive; it is unsuited for all but the most localized organizations.

something the bolsheviks never implemented nor said that they did, or want to.
It is apparent in What Is to Be Done? that Lenin's ideal revolutionary party would be transparent and democratic, but at the time, Russia was ruled by a tsarist autocracy whose police state readily disbanded radical organizations, which meant that all left-wing organizations had to act with some degree of secrecy and centralization.

If the mass of the working people is revolutionary, there is no need for any "vanguard" at it's head, it can simply organize and go trough with the revolution.
The proletariat is a revolutionary force in history, but individual proletarians are widely situated on the spectrum of class consciousness. History has shown that in times of acute class struggle, as was the case during World War I and the Great Depression, working class indignation can and does spontaneously flare on a fairly significant scale (albeit it is never preponderant), but it has also demonstrated that revolution is not necessarily imminent. Therefore, it is the duty of the revolutionary vanguard to draw the proletariat in a revolutionary direction. This is accomplished through organization and demystification by those who are, to quote The Communist Manifesto, "practically the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country . . . [and] theoretically, have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement."

False, merely exercising the powers of the state on behalf of the working class does not translate into the theory of exploitation
If the powers of the state are used to violate worker self-management, it does, being that exploitation in it's direct form is having a boss.
The notion that the presence of a boss is a necessary condition for exploitation is problematic. Consider management in a typical corporation, which is involuntarily imposed upon workers. Can managers be said to "exploit" workers? It is difficult to see how, for apart from scattered and subjective gratification associated with the exercise of power, their personal gain is not obvious; indeed, it could be argued that their own labor power is instrumentalized as part of the greater accumulation process. Nor would it make much sense to think of government functionaries, who also wield authority over us, as exploiters, because it is difficult to discern any tangible benefit accruing to them. On the other hand, the voluntary contractual obligation a worker enters into with a capitalist to provide labor in exchange for a wage that is incommensurate with the duration of said labor is clearly exploitative, and the same judgment can be passed on a situation in which an individual submits to chattel slavery of his own volition.

Clearly, your definition of exploitation is crude and wholly inadequate. The most cogent and defensible theory of exploitation, which Celtiberian lucidly introduced to you, can be formulated in this way: A exploits B if A benefits from interaction with B by virtue of B being in a position of relative vulnerability to A.

Then there will be no socialist revolution, being that socialism needs to be managed by the population itself, and it is thefore neccesary for it to be understood, wanted and brought about by the vast majority of the population.
It is purely speculative at this point, and it is not inconceivable that a devastating crisis of capitalism could galvanize a large majority of the population into action against the system, but it does not alter the fact that the ideological mechanisms of bourgeois society have effectively entrenched false consciousness in most of the population while structural constraints (of which market interaction is a part) severely impede the potential for radicalism.

On the other hand, you seem to be relying exclusively upon Iain McKay's An Anarchist FAQ—a wholly unbiased source, correct?
Yes.
No.

No, the Bolsheviks fought for communism under the assumption that revolutions in a few industrial nations would succeed.
That's simply a lie, being that they persecuted socialists (including communists) and established state-capitalism.
It is a matter of fact that revolutions in industrialized countries, especially Germany, were thought to be prerequisites for socialism in Russia. Both the theoretical development of Marxism and the objective conditions of the time made this a plausible supposition. Bahman Azad put it this way:

"The [scientific socialist] theory had predicted that the first socialist revolutions would occur in the advanced capitalist countries of Western Europe and the United States where the forces of production had attained the highest level of development and the socialist consciousness of the working class was then at a higher level. In Russia, however, theory had to adjust to reality. The fact that the first socialist revolution occurred not in the most advanced countries of the capitalist world but in the "weakest link" of the system, necessarily imposed new requirements on the process of socialist construction. Socialism started its life with a burden much heavier than anticipated theoretically and bore much more difficult responsibilities.

. . .

It was the expectation of the socialist leaders in Russia, including Lenin, that other proletarian revolutions would occur in the other capitalist countries of Europe, particularly in Germany, along with or soon after the October Revolution. Russia would then be able to redress quickly its economic backwardness by relying on the material and technical capability of the victorious working class in those countries. But in this case, too, the reality turned out to be different, and the young Soviet state was forced to advance its economic development solely based on its internal resources. The need to advance socialist revolution in one country not only culminated in serious theoretical debates within the leadership of the Communist Party but also added unique features to the process of socialist construction in that country."

Azad, Bahman. Heroic Struggle, Bitter Defeat: Factors Contributing to the Dismantling of the Socialist State in the USSR, pp. 71-2.

NEP, the only "state capitalism" that existed in the Soviet republic, was a deliberate "step backward" to recuperate the economy after war communism.

Land belongs to the entire people. You have failed to present a cogent argument as to why the mere exertion of one's labor on land should entitle one to it. I reject arbitrary claims to land and natural resources.
Then reject the nonsense that land belongs to the entire people. Why would it, did they make it? Do they make the products of the peasants? No they don't, the peasants do, therefore, anyone wanting to be their boss and expropriate the products of their labor, no matter if a minority or the majority of the people, is just another oppressor and exploitator. Also, to be precise, I don't consider that the land belongs to those who work it in the sense that they have property over it when they start working it. It belongs to them in the sense they have possession over it- that is- a right to exlusive use during that use, but when they stop using it (/abandon it), it is no longer theirs, it's not property, but possession
Asserting that land should be held in common is equivalent to stating that it belongs to no one. Rather than having private individuals appropriate this essential resource for their own use, communists hold that the community should decide upon matters of land management, as nature (of which humans are a part) is mankind's common inheritance, and its use affects all people. This is in accordance with the democratic principle of people influencing decisions in proportion to their dependence on the outcome, which proponents of possession cannot uphold.

Unless you can dismantle the case for taxation, you have no grounds for argument.
The only taxation that can be justified is a minimal tax collected by a directly-democratic state.
If you believe that individual workers are entitled to the full product of "their" labor, then the imposition of a tax burden by the state in order to redistribute wealth or finance collective projects, no matter how small, can be construed as nothing short of coercive "theft."

Capitalism must involve a market,
Not true, capitalism can be marketless, as in pure state-capitalism, where the economy is planned.
Absolute nonsense. Capitalism is defined by its indirect mode of exploitation. Unlike feudalism and slavery, where the ruling class appropriates the surplus through direct coercion, capitalism assumes the ability of workers to sell their labor power to capitalists in a, more or less free, market. Without generalized commodity exchange, there can be no money in the conventional sense, which only possesses power because workers are dispossessed of their product (whose final cause is exchange, not use), no commodification of labor (wage labor), and most of all, no surplus value.

Honestly, I cannot single out an authority to quote on this matter. That capitalism presupposes a market is agreed upon by all economic schools. What you are doing is extracting capitalism from its historical roots and presenting it as a universal system of exploitation (explaining the silly categorization of capitalism as "industrial feudalism" in one of your earlier posts), which is reminiscent of how bourgeois (marginalist) economists treat market relations.

As a syndicalist, I am fully in favor of workers' self-management, but as a communist and Marxist, I realize that worker cooperatives are not revolutionary per se,
Neither marxism, nor imposed communism are revolutionary. As Malatesta said- imposed communism would be the greatest tyranny a human mind can concieve
I disagree on two grounds. One, all modes of production require some degree of coercion, as has been repeatedly explained to you. Feudalism necessitates a class of enforcers (e.g., knights, samurai), capitalism depends on the state to protect property rights, and communism would prohibit exploitative social relations, irrespective of their being voluntary or not. Two, all hitherto revolutions were resolved through violence. The expropriation of capitalists is a coercive act—your muddled protestations notwithstanding.

Like Ludwig Feuerbach, Moses Hess, and Marx, I believe that man is fundamentally a social being who is estranged from himself, and to this end, communism—no matter how it emerges—will correspond to his Gattungswesen. In other words, I could not care less for Malatesta's petty remark.

Democracy means "rule of people" that is- not a rule of one group over the people
The etymological roots of the word are uncontroversial, but there is no consensus on how democracy is supposed to operate. Most reasonable champions of participatory democracy do not suggest that people vote on or debate every conceivable issue, and most people would not find that enjoyable in any case. Delegating authority to accountable representatives and experts when necessary is an acceptable condition of democracy. Not even Mikhail Bakunin denied this:

"Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.

If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow, to a certain extent and as long as may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed on me by no one, neither by men nor by God. Otherwise I would repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels, their directions, and their services, certain that they would make me pay, by the loss of my liberty and self-respect, for such scraps of truth, wrapped in a multitude of lies, as they might give me."

God and the State, "What Is Authority?," p. 32.

A system of individual worker cooperatives subject to the alienating forces of the market is not true workers' control.
There are no alienating forces of the market, alienation is unfree labor- having a boss.
Of course there are. Estrangement from one's product is only one aspect of alienation, and it is a derivative of market relations. As I've argued elsewhere, the market engenders alienation through its profit-driven competition. Workers would remain beholden to the law of value, being subject to external forces in their work lives (the very separation of life into "work" and "leisure" is a consequence of man's estrangement from himself). In fact, when workers are their own bosses, they face a dual alienation: one as worker, one as capitalist. Marx spoke of the cooperatives of his day as transforming "the associated laborers into their own capitalists" (Capital, vol. III, p. 431). Bertell Ollman articulated the persistence of alienation into market socialism thus:

"Even if a case can be made that exploitation no longer exists under market socialism because workers, as co-owners of their enterprise, belong to the collective entity that retains the surplus (the alternative interpretation is that the collectivity exploits the individual workers), it is clear that alienated relations of labor would remain substantially intact and with them the mystification and  deification of money. The modifying influence that one would expect to come from workers electing their own manager is more than offset by the regime of production for the market and its pitiless logic of profit maximization.

. . .

By making workers into collective capitalists, market socialism adds capitalist alienation to their alienation as workers, and only modifies the latter slightly. Now, they too can experience the lopsided perceptions and twisted emotions, the worries and anxieties that derive from competing with other capitalists; they too can manipulate consumers and themselves as workers in quest of the highest possible profit; they too can develop a greed for money abstracted from all human purpose; and they too can turn a blind eye to the human needs of others. There is not much room here for acting as one's brother's keeper. Marx aptly characterized competition between capitalists as "avarice and war between the avaricious." The same description would apply to competition between workers as collective capitalists in market socialism."

Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists, pp. 101-2.

At least central planning, for all its faults, can address the needs and concerns of all workers
Guess you never heard of economic calculation problem.
I have extensively studied the so-called economic calculation problem, and I am baffled as to why you would, as a purported socialist, nonchalantly employ it to criticize socialist planning. For the criticism to possess any merit at all, several implausible Austrian School premises must be accepted. Even if we indulge the Austrians in their abstract, ahistorical speculations, Mises, who first proposed the problem, conceded that planners could possibly make use of an "objectively recognized unit of value" to perform calculations. He recognized labor time as such a measure, but he dismissed its utility due to the heterogeneous nature of labor in its concrete form. Fortunately, Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell have provided a defense of the use of labor values for calculation along with an admirable response to the greater argument.

What other Misean rubbish do you subscribe to? You clearly do not share his view that the "experience of a hundred years of cooperative association has clearly proved that cooperatives are not able to take their chances on a free market. They cannot maintain themselves by their own efforts" (Mises, "Money, Method, and the Cooperative Process."), that they are merely "a business outfit that owes its survival to political pressure . . . and is parasitic" (Ibid.). Yet you casually invoke the economic calculation problem that Mises formulated using the same logic as his critique of worker cooperatives. It is shameful that you would renounce Marxism while appealing to a school of thought that is outright reactionary.

Enjoy this witty article by Richard Seymour; simply replace every instance of "capitalism" or "capitalist" with "mutualism" or "mutualist."

Socialism can exist everywhere and any time, all that people have to do is abolish oppression and exploitation and they have socialism.
Primitive communism and agrarian forms of socialism, perhaps, but a nation of peasants in the 20th century was not a viable option for Russia.

Protecting the revolution a self-evident aim of socialism.
There first needs to be socialism so that it can be defended.
Since I come close to categorically rejecting your views on exploitation, alienation, democracy, the state, the market, post-capitalist society, and history, it is pointless to discuss the Bolsheviks any further. The Soviet Union was a socialist state, and it made admirable progress in its efforts to build socialism. It was a project in construction, of course, and much remained unfinished, including the gradual and sensible expansion of democracy. I will leave it to the readers to decide who produced the more persuasive arguments.

but to merely assert that the state replaced the capitalist reeks of childish anarchist notions that "power corrupts."
It doesn't corrupt, it is in itself corrupted, and I am, like anarchists, adamantly against all hierarchies (among people with capacity).
Which is another reason you are not to be taken seriously. I believe that if one acknowledges the need for some authority, he must accept some hierarchical structures. In a most belabored way, the serious anarchist intellectuals tended to produce arguments that agree with this view. If you believe a complex society can function without any restrictions on individual liberties whatsoever, then good day to you, sir.

No, it is the definition that your "socialism" is based on.
No, that is the definition that socialism when it was defined (by Ricardians) was based on and that all genuine anarchists accept.
There is no all-encompassing definition of socialism. I follow in the scientific socialist tradition founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. I couldn't care less for your deference to the Ricardian socialists, whose theories Marx dismantled, nor your condemnation of Saint-Simon.

Hoarding land and natural resources is anti-socialist.
It can be anti-solidaric, but not anti-socialist, being that socialism doesn't imply imposition of solidarity, in fact, it against it because that is oppressive.
Only in your narrow conception of socialism. I believe that man is a social being and that a fundamental aspect of his nature is to work in free association with other men. We acquire self-affirmation through our interaction in a social formation. To disregard solidarity is to disregard a property of humanity's core existence. To estrange man from man is to estrange him from himself.

Celtiberian wrote:It is better understood as a law in the sense that Marx's law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit is one, i.e., not a lock, but rather a law of tendency which is simultaneously subject to various countervailing tendencies. At least, that's the only sense in which I believe it possesses any validity—although Michels clearly suggested something rather more fixed in Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, hence his use of the term "iron."
Michel's iron law basically states that any initially democratic organization would inevitably form an oligarchy as a matter of necessity. According to Michels, oligarchy stems from organization, which ignores the actual relations of power in society as well as their proper historical context. This is ahistorical idealism.

The reason I stress this point with respect to the Bolsheviks is because the curtailment of democracy and strengthening of state was not the result of some abstraction like power but a consequence of the civil war (though, as I've shown, there was a limited democracy in the USSR, which I think was superior to what exists in the United States).

In my estimation, the most valuable contribution the early anarchists made to socialist political philosophy was the warning that, unless socialism was organized horizontally, it would fail to deliver a world in which the exploitation of man by man has been completely eliminated. I do believe that mankind is endowed with a certain propensity for domineering which, if left unchecked, can result in abuse. Thus, I feel Mikhail Bakunin's was fundamentally correct when he argued:

"Nothing is more dangerous for man's private morality than the habit of command. The best man, the most intelligent, disinterested, generous, pure, will infallibly and always be spoiled at this trade. Two sentiments in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one's own merits."
Mikhail Bakunin quoted in Keith Dowding (ed.), Encyclopedia of Power (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2011), p. 46.
There are some valuable insights that can be gleaned from the works of anarchists, but I believe the history of scientific socialism affirms democracy in that its adherents (including Marx, Engels, and Lenin), with few exceptions, viewed socialism as the extension of democracy. The classical anarchists merely emphasized horizontal social relations in what was often an inchoate, contradictory, ahistorical, and idealistic manner, but some of what they wrote is useful for rhetorical purposes, as the above quotes by Bakunin illustrate.

I believe mankind is endowed with a great variety of potential behaviors due to the complexity and plasticity of our brains, but I find it implausible that domineering is the sine qua non of human affairs. The abuse of power is not latent in the human psyche, awaiting to be unleashed: it must itself be conditioned and involves social dimensions.

I do not uphold democracy because of a fear that power will be abused otherwise, whatever that means, but because I believe people have a right to decide on matters that affect them. It is for justice and human liberation, so that man can truly attain his eudaimonia.

The best empirical study demonstrating the corrupting nature of power remains the Stanford prison experiment of 1971. And, although anecdotal, I've personally witnessed a marked change in the character of dozens of people who were granted trivial amounts of authority over the years.
Recent research by Stephen Reicher and Alexander Haslam calls into question the validity of the Stanford prison experiment, concluding that "it is not valid to conclude that people mindlessly and helplessly succumb to brutality," but instead it "suggest[s] that brutality occurs when people identify strongly with groups that have a brutal ideology" ("Questioning the banality of evil," Psychologist, 21 (1), 2008, p.19.). This would suggest that deeper social dimensions must be considered instead of merely the wielding of power.

With that out of the way, I think this thread has outlived its purpose. It has clearly digressed far from its original objective due to our disagreement with him on fundamental issues. I shall close it. If you should have the desire to continue this debate, you have the capacity to do so.

_________________
"Let us finally imagine, for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common." Hammer Sickle
Karl Marx



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