Science and Society

jbm7 at jbm7 at
Mon Nov 15 16:15:57 MST 1999

Perhaps some might be interested
Jim Monaghan

Marv Gettleman, an editor of SCIENCE & SOCIETY, brings this
announcement of a forthcoming special issue of what may be
the world's oldest Marxist publication still in existence to
the attention of H-LABOR folk. We would welcome theoretical
considerations on the role labor can play in a renewed socialism.
Please feel free to forward this call to others who might be
interested. Thanks.                                  Marv


     In the face of capitalist triumphalism, with its seemingly
endless vistas of polarization, poverty, alienation, crisis and
ecological catastrophe, we think the classical Marxist theory of
socialism and communism remains the only credible alternative vision
for human development.  Yet the experience of the post-capitalist
societies of the 20th century, inspired by Marxism, was clouded by
the narrow technical, political and cultural foundations on which
they were built.  Their genuine achievements were marred by au-
thoritarian and repressive qualities, qualities that were in turn
aggravated by continuous external isolation and aggression.
     In this context, recent Western literature on socialism has
been dominated either by a retreat to a minimalist "market social-
ism," alone thought to have a future in a world whose horizons are
dominated by capitalist values and realities, or by a return to
the stirring but imprecise imagery from the classics of Marxism -
viz., calls for the "abolition of the law of value" and for a "so-
ciety of freely associated producers."  Unsatisfied with either of
these alternatives, we believe there is a deep need for renewed
work on socialist theory that has a firm basis in both historical
experience and Marxist political economy, work that faces up to
the difficult challenge of outlining the actual structures and
institutions of a possible future socialist society.  Thus, we
call for contributions to a special issue of SCIENCE & SOCIETY,
with the working title "Building Socialism Theoretically: Alterna-
tives to Capitalism and the Invisible Hand."
     An evident premise of this endeavor is that socialism, unlike
all earlier modes of production, including capitalism, must be
visualized; it does not develop spontaneously, fully grown, within
the old society, requiring only a political revolution to confirm
developments already in place.  Socialist movements, in turn, can-
not ask their adherents to struggle and sacrifice for a new form
of society only on the basis of vague appeals to the values of
equality, solidarity and democracy.  The hard questions concerning
what might be built to replace capitalism must be confronted di-
     Our starting point is the salutary advance by Marx and Engels
away from the Utopian Socialisms of their time to the adoption of
a scientific foundation for socialism, which places it firmly in
the train of social evolution and seeks to identify its material
basis in the actual development of capitalist society.  In insist-
ing upon the need to visualize socialism, we distinguish forceful-
ly between utopian and scientific visualization.  Put another way,
the utopian moment is negated by scientific socialism, but it does
not disappear.  Rather, it is incorporated as a source of the
"passionate possibilities" (Marx) on the basis of which the scien-
tific visualization of socialist reality can proceed.
     The focus of the issue will be on models of socialism that go
beyond the general principles developed by classical Marxism, in
the sense that they are structurally and institutionally well-
specified.  Authors are encouraged to discuss how the institution-
al frameworks they envisage address: a) the issues of calculation,
motivation and discovery that have been identified in the experi-
ence of the Soviet model of administrative command planning and in
the socialist calculation debate; b) the classical socialist prin-
ciple of replacing the ex post coordination of the invisible hand
under capitalism with ex ante coordination through economic plan-
ning under socialism; and c) the traditional socialist objectives
of equality, non-alienated social relationships and self-govern-
ment.  Papers on the historical materialist conditions of differ-
ent stages in possible transitions from capitalism are also wel-
     The Guest Editor of the issue is Pat Devine.  Working dead-
lines are: proposals, July 1, 2000; papers, October 1, 2000.  An-
ticipated publication date is: Fall 2001.  Proposals, inquiries,
abstracts and papers should be sent both to the Guest Editor - Pat
Devine, School of Economic Studies, University of Manchester, Man-
chester M13 9PL, UK - and to the S&S Editors at Room 4331, John
Jay College of the City University of New York, 445 West 59th Street,
New York, N.Y. 10019/USA.


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