LTV, Working class (fwd)

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Mon Oct 31 08:16:10 MST 1994

On Mon, 31 Oct 1994, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> On Sat, 29 Oct 1994, Justin Schwartz wrote:
> > Even if markets are bad that is no argument aginst them if planning is
> > worse.
> Louis Proyect:
> Is this another way of saying that capitalism might be bad, but socialism
> has turned out worse?

No. Planning is not the same as socialism. And Stalinism CERTAINLY isn't
the same as socialism. If socialism means workers' power and economic
democracy, Stalinism--what they had in formerly existing "socialist"
countries--wasn't socialist at all. Was it worse than capitalism? Depends.
Worse than capitalism where? Worse than W. Germany, Sweden, even the U.S,
or Britain, certainly. Worse than El Salvador, Indonesia, Zaire? Certainly

Anyway, workers in the advanced capitalist countries are not going to
be interested in any kind of socialism unless they think is will be better
than what they've got. This should not be news.

 One of the problems I have with all the references
> to "markets" is that it leaves out the larger socio-economic context.
> Margaret Thatcher is for markets, but so is Gorbachev. Thatcher is for
> capitalism, however, and Gorbachev was for socialism.

Or what he thought was socialism. Yes, well, so?

> Justin, the last sustained assault on the labor theory of value on this
> list was part of an overall rejection of revolution and socialism. It
> seemed like warmed-over Edward Bernstein to me, but that's just my opinion,

I don't see how the questions are connected. Whether socialism is
desirable depends on whether it might be better than capitalism and I do
not see what the truth or falsity of the LTV has to do with that, unlike
the calculation problem. Whether revolution is necessary to get
socialism--by "revolution" here I mean extraparliamentary mass action with
armed defense--seems a question about political sociology, and the status
of the LTV doesn't seem relevant there. The question is: under what
circumstances will capitalists try and be able to stand and fight against a
mass workers' movement? And under what circumstances could they be made to
go quietly?

In case you want my views, I think that labor-managed market socialism is
better than capitalism and worth fighting for. (I have yet to be
convinced about planned socialism.)  I would prefer to
win it without violence, but I'm not a pacifist or committed in principle
to parliamentary means alone. I think Bernstein was overoptimistic about
the likelihood that capitalist markets will grow socialist enterprises and
naive about the law-abiding character of the bourgeoisie when threatened.
Still, in the collapse of Stalinism we have a case of the more or less
pacific abdication of a notably lawless ruling class, so the possibility
is not to be ruled out.

> Anyhow, you don't ever seem at a loss for words, so I'm looking forward
> a Justin Schwartz manifesto.

A little less than that, I hope.

--Justin Schwartz


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