Ariel Sharon and Stalin

Wed Mar 22 08:33:24 MST 1995

In response to me Paul wrote the following:

 >We now have had a plethora of such experiments
 >since the late eighties. All instances of the
 >establishment of parliamentary government in
 >socialist countries have led to plutocracies
 >that have re-established capitalism.
 >Further, as far as I know, in all of the hundred's of
 >parliament-years that have now accumulated since
 >the introduction of universal suffrage we have
 >never seen it lead to anything but capitalism.
 >The only possible exceptions might be West Bengal
 >and Keralla.

Perhaps we have misunderstood each other.  I thought that the discussion was
about the the political (super)structure of socialist society, not about
strategey.  I was not advocating the "parlimentary road" to socialism.  I'm not
sure what examples you are referring to.  Do you mean social democrcay in the
West (which I agree is bankrupt) or do you mean the fall of "really existing
socialism" in the East?   To blame the introduction of parlimentary rule as the
cause of the latter seems simplistic to me.  These regimes ell when the
majority expressed themselves for complex reasons (not all of which I
understand, I'm sure). These include their inability, due to authoritarianism,
to command the respect of the majority, illusions in the populace about their
ability to achieve Western living standards, and the interference of Western
capital and intelligence operations.

Paul further writes:

 >It all depends upon what you mean by representative. The aristocratic
 >conception is that someone with special political skill will speak for
 >and in this sense represent their constituents.
 >In fact however, on statistical grounds we know that the `elect` with
 >such skills are disproportionately drawn from the upper classes of
 >society, and that an elected parliament is not a representative
 >sample of the population in the statistical sense.
 >If we were to assume that the US senate was representative, the US
 >population would have died out centuries ago for lack of women.

 >I think that it is realistic to assume that a collection of members
 >of the upper classes will always act to represent their own class
 >interests not those of the lower classes they supposedly 'represent'.
 >I do not believe in the miracle of transsubstantiation.

 I suppose my response should be a Catholic one.  Look, there is simle question
that you need to confront.  Will there or won't there be politics after the
revolution.  I imagine a post-revolutionary society, socialist or transitional,
will contain legitimate (not only the "upper class" tryying to assert its
interests) political differences, differences about say trade offs between
development and sustainability.  Citizens' groups will want to organize around
these differences.  This is politics and it's healthy.  To preserve it there
nedds to be some form of majority rule, representation, parlimentary structure,
and the array of liberal freedoms (of assembly, speech etc.).

There has been some good writing about this stuff from a variety of points of
(left) views, for example Pat Devine's "Democracy and Economic Planning", the
4th Internatioanl's "Proletarian Democracy and the Dictatorhsip of the
Proletariat" and several things by Ralph Milliband.

Without such a liberal-democratic-socialist arrangement and vision, I fail to
see how socialism could be described as, marx described it, "the
self-emancipation of the working class."  And equally importantly, I fail to
see why anyone would want to bother to struggle for it.

Darrel Moellendorf
Philosophy Dept.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Email: dmoellendor at
Phone: (909) 869-4754
fax: (909) 869-4434

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