socialism and consumers goods

marquit at physics.spa.umn.edu marquit at physics.spa.umn.edu
Sun Jun 25 15:45:26 MDT 1995


Chris Burford  writes that the yardstick of success is efficiency in
producing competitive commodities for the world market.

Perhaps a better criteria is socialism's ability to produce a
better quality of life. The extent that production of commodities
is the decisive factor in a given society's quality of life is something
that is historically conditioned. Here it is necessary to distinguish
between commodities that are necessary and those that are available
on the store shelves. I am not downplaying the importance of consumers
goods, but arguing that other things involving social relations
can also come to the fore. The German philoospher, Hans Heinz Holz,
in his book "The Downfall and Future of Socialism," argued that
the unrealistic projections of overtaking the West
in the production of consumer goods in the USSR contributed
to the alienation of the people when economic
difficulties arose. While not advocating abandonment of the
goal to produce more consumers goods, Holz stresses the
need to strengthen other elements in the system of values. I think
that this is what has enabled Cuba to survive economic difficulties that are
much harsher than those that were experienced in the USSR and Eastern
Europe. The role of national independence in the Cuban system of values
is an essential part of their survival. During a visit to Cuba last
year I asked a Cuban acquaintance what was the most important
difference for him be between life before the revolution and life
after the revolution. He pointed to the skin of his bare arm and
another element in his system of values: "It it better for the
black skin."

Erwin Marquit



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