market socialism and all that
Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Mon Nov 13 06:24:56 MST 1995
On Sun, 12 Nov 1995 ROSSERJB at vax1.acs.jmu.edu wrote:
> 2) How do you (Uncle Lou) explain why Slovenia
> has the highest per capita income of any socialist or formerly
> socialist economy? It is ahead even of the Czech Republic which
> had severe command central planning in contrast to the market
> socialism of Slovenia. The Czechs along with the GDR were the
Louis: I am looking for answers to a whole different set of questions.
How will the planet survive when the market system, whether private or
state-based, is destroying human, animal and vegetable life at a tempo
unseen in history? When we are facing extinction, the issue of whether
Slovenia or the Czech republic had a better growth track-record seems
What does market socialism mean for the vast majority of the world's
population living in the third world? Markets mean competition. How will
Bengla Desh fare under global competition from a vast network of
Mondragons in the former imperialist nations, if such an implausible
event were to actually transpire?
Market socialism might address questions of on-the-job performance,
profits, etc., the sort of stuff that Burns calls "incentivization", but
there's more to economics than the viability of individual firms.
Housing, education and health-care are three of the most pressing needs
facing humanity today. Market socialism puts forward the idea that a
socialist government will address these needs while allowing the free
flow of commodities in the market-place. You will, in effect, be able to
have your cake and eat it too. Top-flight medical care and blue jeans
that look and fit just right. The problem is that global competition is
the enemy of the welfare state. Sweden and other "socialist" nations
are cutting back because the market system is driving down the cost of
labor. In order to compete, each nation will have to dump excess baggage:
Medicare, public housing and schools, etc. During the recession of the
1970's, Mondragon cut wages as well, as Whyte and Whyte clearly point out.
Finally, what you and Burns don't seem to understand is that I don't
oppose decisions made by worker's states such as the Soviet Union in the
early 20's or Cuba today to make accomodations with the market system. As
long as imperialism dominates the world economy as it has done throughout
the 20th century, there is no other choice. What I do think is snake-oil
and utopian is the notion that any capitalist nation will become
socialist through the gradual encroachment of worker's cooperatives into
the private sphere. If the fascist dictator thought that Mondragon had
been a threat to Spanish capitalism, he would have destroyed it in the
1940's or 1950's. Mondragonism is a form of utopian socialism, so are the
Kibbutzim in Israel. The Kibbutzes gave Israel a socialist cachet, but
the real character of the Israeli state was capitalist. In later years,
the Kibbutzes began to exploit Palestinian labor as the "socialist"
vision in Israel gave way to the realities of class society.
Socialism only comes through class-struggle. Every instance of genuine
socialism in the 20th century has been produced through revolution. When
a new state power emerges as it did in the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cuba,
etc., decisions about the strategic direction of the economy will have to
be made within the context of objective national and international
conditions. When guerillas seize power, they are not likely to be
carrying around Schweickart or Roemer in their back-packs. Revolutionary
Nicaragua gave birth to large state-owned enterprises and peasant
cooperatives while allowing the non-Somozaist private sector to function.
Our job is not to lay out a blueprint for a future socialism in the
United States, it is to wrest political and economic power from the
ruling class that is methodically destroying the planet.
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