The Future of Socialism

Al Whitlock al_whitlock at
Sat Nov 13 16:33:57 MST 1999

In posting Smith's article "The Prospects for Socialism" in response to C.
Brown's posting of Cronin's "the Future of Socialism" I was struck by a
fundamental difference in outlook.

Cronin manifests a confidence that all that has to be done to realise
socialism is to take over the supposed advances in knowledge and technology
that capitalism generated in its rise to acme; "The Marxist vision of a
communist future was, then, not about the abolition of all that capitalism
was building, but about socialising the possibilities manifest in the first
great wave of globalisation 150 years ago."

I believe that Smith is completely opposed to such a mechanical view of
simply 'turning the world upon its feet'; "When the producers of wealth,
those engaged in human creative life-activities, take conscious control over
their productive powers, the free development of each individual will become
the condition for the free development of all".

Simply speaking, the scientists, technologists, the "thinkers and doers" by
which capital sets such store, as it seems does Cronin, are not only
themselves a part of alienation, but so too are the products of their

To imply, as Cronin does, that both the social-democratic and (how coy) "The
other, largely in the East and South, [which] took inspiration from the 1917
Bolshevik revolution" were 'socialist projects', thwarted by the "increasing
globalisation of production", could be seen by many as a thorough misuse of
the word 'socialism'.  To follow this by "The future of socialism lies in
joining with a wide array of progressive forces - with those concerned about
the environment, or global inequality, or preserving and deepening
democratic institutions, or overcoming gender oppression, or with those who,
perhaps from religious conviction, are alarmed at the commercialisation of
social relations and the loss of human solidarity", is simply a repetition
of the Popular Front policies of the Comintern in the 1930s.  A "shared
project of human civilisation" sound to me rather like a joint venture
between capital and socialists!

I am not saying that Smith is wholly correct, indeed a much deeper piece
from him would be needed to see just what he is getting at.  However, it is
clear that Cronin is one the 'Marxists" of whom Smith speaks.

I am somewhat intrigued by Cronin's view that capital now focuses on the
"Third' (more like two-thirds) World as a source of super profits, when in
fact it seeks completely to abandon whole sectors of that rather idly
defined sector of humanity.  Of course, capital's plight being "one of
several long cycle (as distinct from shorter business cycle) downturns in
the world capitalist economy" opens up the possibility for Cronin of  an
upturn - not far short of the economic commentaries that we see every day of
the week in the WSJ or FT.

Al Whitlock.

Get Your Private, Free Email at

More information about the Marxism mailing list