LOV and socialism - Neil

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Oct 13 13:27:47 MDT 1996

Dear Neil,

Thank you for your comments. In reply..

1. I do not get the argument that because the law of value
operates in China, it is not socialist. I know the place of
the law of value under socialism has been debated periodically
but I do not recall the answer being so simple. What then
in this context do you mean by the law of value?

2. On South Africa, I am very aware that capitalism is triumphant.
The anti-apartheid struggle was technically a bourgeois
democratic revolution, which in fact is not even yet fully
completed. To overthrow the racist Afrikaner ruling class
it was necessary to compromise with those sections of capital,
more English speaking, that are more a part of international
capital with its neo-liberal agenda.

3. I take the point that marxists can take part in struggles
for reforms with a revolutionary perspective or a reform*ist*
perspective, but I do not see such a distinction that divides
campaigns into revolutionary=involving mass struggle -
reformist=not; because for a rare event like a revolution
to occur there must be a whole range of struggles and conflicts
and it is inevitable this will involve a wide variety of
phenomena, including probably nowadays, the propagation of
numerous reforms, until the ruling class realise they can
no longer go on ruling in the old way.

4. About the UN and other international structures like the
IMF, I detect an old line of demarcation on this list, which
surfaced in strong exchanges over Yugoslavia. Yes the UN
is a capitalist organisation, including imperialist thieves
(but NB NB NB capitalist exploitation is not robbery.
It is a human relationship which appears fair, but
redistributes value in the hands of the owners of capital)
But the United Nations is also a forum which starts to embody
the question, what do the people of the world want?
It is true that question is posed in non-class terms.
Marxists can strive to persuade people of the relevance of
posing it in class terms.

5. Yes the goal is to take over the bakery. And yes the
working class needs its organisations. But this century
has not been short of people calling themselves socialists.
If we knew a way forward, it would not be short again.
But your proposal that now people can be induced to take
over the bakery in order to have free access to bread,
ignores the triumph of commodity exchange in the hearts
and minds of workers all over the world, and it ignores
the problems of command economy socialism, to name but one,
bread queues.

Don't imagine there is no market in
command economy socialism, it is mediated by how long
people queue for what limited number of commodities.
Until marxists face that challenge about the weaknesses
of actual existing socialism, a new onslaught on capital
will not have conviction even among marxists, let alone
wider number of workers.

Thanks for challenging me on what feel like a number of
very fundamental points.


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