in defense of planned socialism (and just a little science fiction)

wesley david cecil wcecil at
Sat Nov 5 20:37:41 MST 1994

On Fri, 4 Nov 1994, Justin Schwartz wrote:
> You shouldn't put too much weight on the Paris Manuscripts--unpublished
> notes written by a very young man on his honeymoon. Nice stuff in them,
> but not worked out. The section on Private Property and Communism, which
> you quote, is interesting and puzzling, but he doesn't stick with the
> schema he sketches there (a primitive "capitalist" communism giving way to
> the developed form). I have a line on this passage is anyone is
> interested, and maybe Marx ought to have followed up his treatment of
> crude communism, but he didn't.

I rather like the economic and philosophic manuscripts and see no reason
why I should not put a lot of weight on them.  His discussion of private
property, wages, and Hegel seem coherent to me.  I think it is rather
un-productive to play the 'my texts are more canonical than yours game'
and shold stick more with the question of the moment which was wether or
not Marx would support a socialist regime.

> Incidentally Marx did not call himself a socialist, a term he associated
> with utopians and middle class reformers. He called himself a communist,
> which was supposed to indicate a connection to proletarian self-activity.
> At least it was by 1845, when the German Ideology is written.
> > And wages, in the following passage, are linked directly to the notion of
> > private proerty.  So, if by socialism you mean a society without wages
> > and without private property then ok, marx was interested in socialism.

> Well, he certainly was interested in such a society.

Right, and this is my question, is socialism generally the pursuit of a
society which eliminates private property and wages?  I understood it to
be more interested in the just distribution of goods and services that
did not require the elmination of private property.

> Marx is an ardent democrat. He has contempt for mere democrats, who think
> you can solve social problems through political reform alone, but he is
> firm on representative institutions, competitive elections, universal
> suffrage, and extensive social and political liberties. Hal Draper wrote
> four fat books on this (Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution. Monthly Review),
> but you can just read Marx's praise of the democratic institutions of the
> Paris Commune in The Civil War in France.
> Depends on what you mean by socialism. What _I_ mean by socialism is
> linked to democracy--a shorthand expression might be the democratization
> of the economy--but definitely involves the elimination of wages and
> private property. But perhaps you are thinking of European social democracy.
> --Justin Schwartz
I don't argue that Marx implicitly and explicitly supports democratic
instituions in many places in his work.  Rather, I question wether
democracy however radical can lead to the elimination of private property
or wether it is not rather a political from that grows directly out of
bourgeois idealism and hence the logic of private property.  I see no
necessary link between socialism or communism or whatever and democracy
and many points of conflict.



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