Closing Comments on Chaos // Critique of Statist Communism
Chris M. Sciabarra
sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Sun Sep 17 19:32:04 MDT 1995
On Sun, 17 Sep 1995, Jamal Hannah wrote:
> The problem with this type of statement is that it's already assuming
> that communism would be about an integrated structure where everyone
> is watching everyone else, or some such nonsense. People have forgotten
> the idea of the "invisible hand". You know, the invisible hand does
> not just apply to capitalism. It _can_, but it can also apply to
> a communist society too.. in fact, it simply would _have_ to for a
> communist society to work. People would do what was in their
> own interests, and from afar it would all appear chaotic. This isnt
> utopian, it's just practical. Is it utopian to expect to not
> be exploited? Maybe we need a broader definition of "utopian".
> This whole stupid notion that the "invisible hand"
> only applies to capitalism helps along the idea that
> individualism and collectivism are somehow polar opposites. They
> are not. Revolution and reaction are, yes.. but to say that
> collectivism is never in the interests to the individual is silly.
> Even capitalists band together in collective structures in order to
> defend wealth. The United states has a tremendous collectivistic
> structure (which is quite hierarchical too): the military. And
> even the most self-proclaimed "individualist" capitalists seem to
> like the military, many were former members of it. (check out the
> pages of "Soldier of Fortune": "individualist" America's homage
> to collectivist militarism.)
> .. my point is that communists can maintain individualistic self-awareness
> while purposefully forming collective structures to counter capitalism.
> People must "volunteer" to resist capitalism, they cannot be forced to.
Jamal argues like a good Gramscian -- Gramsci, I think, was very
good on these issues. He understood more than most other Marxists that
there needed to be a spontaneous cultural, voluntary mobilization prior
to any political change, to counteract the hegemony of forces built up by
the oppressive system he sought to transcend. I just don't know how long
it will take, even under these conditions, before the counter-hegemony
takes control of political forces and falls into the same historical
pattern of statist brutality that has marked just about every socialist
movement in the 20th century.
> We currently live in a capitalist "utopia". This is as good
> as it gets: capitalists can do as they please, with a few nuisances
> of the state to work around. There is no "higher stage" to capitalism..
> technology will advance, but this is _socially_ the best things get.
> Some so-called "anarcho-capitalists" and Libertarian Party members
> tend to have a "utopian" idea of capitalism which is based on the
> wish that humans wont complain or resist when exploited. This isnt
> utopia, it's impossible. They dont accept (or they are denying for
> propaganda reasons) that capitalism is in full swing and cant get any
> "better" then it is now, and has been for a hundred years.
I count myself among libertarians (with a small l), and I would
never argue that this is as good as it gets. Capitalists really don't do
as they please by working around the state; they work WITH the state, and
have been able to attain monopolistic and oligopolistic control of
markets through political controls on market entry.
> Some can argue that capitalism has gotten "Friendlier" over time. No.
> Social Democracy took off the pressure for a bunch more people.. but
> if one hasn't noticed, capitalists are _constantly_ trying to push
> all of this back to stage 1. Back to the Haymarket days.
I don't think ANY corporativist capitalists want the Haymarket
days back; they are content with statist control on markets and the money
supply, and in fact, struggled to achieve such control from the end of
the 19th century.
> I agree. So taking this into account, one could logically shape ones politics
> in such a way that follows anti-authoritarian lines. That is not to say that
> one should reject organization, physical effort, and structure. (or revolution,
> resistance, internationalism or federated bottom-up democracy, where possible)
> The problem is that capitalism, when threatened, will eventually fall
> onto fascism.. an intensely hierarchical and authoritarian organizational
> social alignment in which masses of people all become part of a tremendous
> killing machine. How can communists _possibly_ hope to counter
> this, without compromising principles based on what Chris just said?
> (There isnt just Nazi-style fascism.. there's also McCarthy style fascism
> where "democrats" and "liberals" comply in the slaughter)
> This is frustrating, as you can imagine. You cannot convince the masses
> of people, during peacetime, that they should accept an authoritarian,
> hierarchical structure.. but they will be more receptive to a libertarian
> version, and ultimately it is a libertarian (anarchistic) socialism and
> communism that will be successful.
This is provocative... very interesting.
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET: sciabrrc at is2.nyu.edu
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