Did I ruffle a few feathers? :)

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Thu Sep 21 19:41:13 MDT 1995

On Thu, 21 Sep 1995, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:

> 	I still believe however, that many ecological problems could be
> addressed in the context of the rule of law, rather than the rule of a
> planning board.  If corporations have to PAY for their pollution, and pay
> dearly, they will be compelled to try other means for either cleaning up
> their pollution, or, for non-polluting methods of production.  It is
> after all, a technological problem, and markets are pretty good at
> responding to technological problems IF market participants are forced to
> take into account costs -- that is, market "failure" can become market
> success if externalities are internalized in the property rights
> structure of law.

MIM replies:
1. Figuring out what should cost what is not much different
than planning. Of course you will argue that if you privatize
everything including the air, then people won't destroy the air and
it won't involve as much "bureaucracy." However, you still have to
figure out what it is you have to sell in the air? Is it the right
to put up sulfur dioxides bothering you? Maybe carbon monoxide? Etc.
To some extent this has been done already--but by the government
and very incompletely, because of an Anglo-Saxon superstructure
matching a settler-imperialist political economy.
You make it sound like we could just privatize the air in a few
thousand cardboard boxes and we'd all be fine.
That brings me to my second point.

2. Life is not so simple as in settler times: grow things on a farm; commit
genocide against natives. It's not just public parks or even global
warming. Unless we take up the Unabomber's route, we are going to
have to take scientific endeavor via the environment as a given.

The only question is what will motivate all the scientists, experts
and consultants and the people themselves when it comes to
environmental science. You can posture all you like, but I doubt you'd
be willing to eat meat that was not inspected; drink water untested or
take it upon yourself to know what kind of drugs you should
use to combat various micro-organisms.

Personally I don't want to take on the burden of being an
all-knowing consumer in these areas. Most people want to rely
on an authority with a public interest to do these things. You
could argue that we should all pay consultants to do our own
private bidding, to inform us of what we need to buy.
Most people probably would rather form a consumer's union
and purchase that service from their government, thinking
that they would gain leverage and knowledge from collective
struggle. Mao thought the masses should form their own
organizations and overthrow folks in their government
from time to time, thus honing the skills of the masses
to wield power.

Ironically, unless you take up a straight, 100% pure
Marxist instrumentalist approach to the state, there
is no way that you can argue the state would be completely
corrupted by the individual polluter.

On the other hand, in a world where we are all asked
to be God-like consumers, we have to hire consultants
to tell us what to do, and we have to have the God-like
knowledge that these consultants aren't in bed with the
industries they give advice on.

Under a dictatorship of the proletariat, the possible
avenues of corruption in general are reduced. If you can't
make millions screwing over other people, you won't have
people so motivated--especially if you have stiff
penal penalties for white-collar corruption, profiteering
and speculation. Currently, such criminals have little to hold
them back, because the bourgeoisie recognizes that there is
little difference between white-collar crime and legitimate
cut-throat competition. The U.S. imperialists complain
all the time that state-capitalist China is stifling Anglo-Saxon capitalism
with its vague and overweening sense of punishing enterprise
directors for crime.

You can say people will substitute pursuit of state power for
pursuit of huge wealth. I don't think it's the same thing,
especially when polluters cannot profit from polluting
directly and have no incentive to bribe the government.
However, even if you were correct, such pursuit of power
is more visible and accountable to the people than
the power exercised by powerful individuals in boardrooms
in the name of the invisible hand. We'll take visible oppression
over invisible oppression any day. Isn't it a great thing
Perot ran for President, and is in the light of day now?

It is Maoism that seeks to unleash the scientific initiative
of the people as a force like the "atomic bomb." Ironically
it is again Maoism that points toward the utopia of
competent and well-organized individuals in an economy of
free trade. The critics almost always fall back on the streak
of aristocracy in capitalist "democracy." They simultaneously
criticize Maoism for lacking their form of democratic
institutions but they recoiled at the
institutions of the people that arose
in the Cultural Revolution, and declaimed mob violence just
as the aristocracy opposed the French Revolution of 1789.

Pat for MIM

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