in defense of planned socialism

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Fri Nov 4 09:28:02 MST 1994

On Fri, 4 Nov 1994, Andrew Hagen wrote:

> note: "and just a bit of science fiction" removed from subject line.
> Andrew Hagen writes:
> > > our choice is rapidly shifting from "socialism or
> > > barbarism" (we already have barbarism.), to "socialism or death."
> Justin Schwartz writes
> > You know, sometimes I feel as if I am out of touch, When Rosa Luxemburg
> > talked about socialism or barbarism she was thinking about world war as
> > barbarism. Now there is real barbarism, in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, etc.
> > But I sit in my comfortable home office with my son sleeping down below,
> > thinking about going to a good law school next year if I don't find an
> > academic job, and this is barbarism? Give me a break. Of course in the
> > inner cities life for many people is extremely hard and the working poor
> > find it harder and harder to make ends meet. But we do not live in the
> > fear that the army will demolish our homes, that the sound of helicopters
> > means the death squads are coming, that we will end up dead in a ditch by
> > the side of the road, raped and tortured. You insult the people who live
> > under real barbarism if you think that we have it in the industrialized
> > Things are not rosy. They are bad and getting worse. We do face the
> > catastrophes you mentioned if things go on as they are. That's why we
> > have to fight. But we have to be realistic about our situation. As well as
> > our proposals!
> Capitalism sows the seeds of discord, hate, and greed from which later
> sprouts war. Oftentimes, the needs of capital call for wars to be fought,
> so as with Iraq. How can you comntrast capitalism against wars,
> particularly the world wars of this century, when capitalism made those
> wars, as it will others?
> How can capitalism not be regarded as barbarism? Alientation.
> Imperialism. Racism. Murder. Militarism. Why do you have to wait until
> tanks roll into your neighborhood to call it barbarism?
Don't cry "wolf." It's not barbarism in your neighborhood unless the tanks
roll in. You need a sense of proportion, in part to recognize how bads
things are where they are very bad. I don't mean you shouldn't care about
what's not in your neighborhood. But you should recognize the problems we
have and not get hysterical until and unless hysteria is actually called
for. The fact is that two reasons the left is weak and marginal in the
advanced capitalist countries are (1) things are not so bad here, and (2)
the perceived alternative--Stalinism--was worse. In the third world it is
a different story.

Incidentally capitalism is not solely responsible for all wars, although
it obviously plays a role in most conflicts today. But there are other
sources of war, not all of which would be removed even by socialism. And
we cannot understand existing conflicts if we persist in thinking that
they are simply reflexes of imperialism. Which isn't to say that
imperialism has nothing to do with them.



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