Fw: Re: facts in the minds/Stalin, commodity production

JOEFREEMEN at aol.com JOEFREEMEN at aol.com
Mon Dec 17 09:36:51 MST 2001

On Sat, 15 Dec 2001, Jim Farmelant wrote:

> Part of the problem here is that Mark and Nestor are both right.
> The October Revolution was ultimately doomed to failure, if
> it could not lead to revolution in the West.  But it is also
> true that Stalin made a number of errors that helped
> to seal the fate of the USSR in the decades following
> his death.

>What about the election in Germany in 1933?

>The way I see it, much
>of the present muddle of the left in the core is due to the petty
>bourgeois nature of the radicalization of the '60's. The cold war witchunt
>eliminated effective working-class leadership; and student intellectuals
>were turned off by the crimes - real and imagined - of Stalin.

>I was willing to put up with their romanticization of communalism back
>then - almost anything was preferrable to the claustrophobic intellectual
>climate of the '50's - but I think it's way past time to put the science
>back into scientific socialism.
>Joan Cameron

    The historic victory of the October Revolution consisted in the overthrow
of the power of capital as ruling class. "Ultimately doomed to failure" means
"historically inevitable."  "Ultimately doomed or historically inevitable"
are profound theoretical constructs. The development of commodity production
in human life is historically inevitable. Without question a victorious
German Revolution would have tremendously aided the proletarian revolution in

It is my contention that victory of the counterrevolution and the destruction
of the multinational state authority of the workers as ruling class in the
Soviet Union were not historically inevitable - ultimately, but a result of a
combination of factors whose fundamentality weighs on the side of the
internal conditions of the Soviet Union and its profound cultural

    German fascism was the direct result of the victory of Sovietism and the
defeat of the Spartacist League, marked by the brutal assassination of Rosa
and Karl. The death of Mr. Lenin coincided with the decline and defeat of the
long awaited direct revolutionary support from Europe. For those who wanted
to put public ownership of the productive capacity into action, Russia was
perhaps among the worse places to begin such a policy. For the Bolsheviks the
destruction of the economy and the petty bourgeois character of their economy
combined with an intense theoretical and ideological struggle based on the
question, "what do we do now."  It was the same old question posed to
billions of people throughout the ages, "now that we found love what are we
going to do with it?"

    Petty bourgeois character of the economy means the absence of an
intensive and extensive machine industry; absence of an industrial
infrastructure and modern communications (according to the standards of 1920)
and the predominance of agricultural production organized along the lines of
private small scale production. Small scale production means a horse and a
plow and those who lacked a horse used dad to draw the plow and the wife and
kids in the rear. The material basis for what was called Soviet socialist
construction had to be built from agriculture. Stated another way, the
development of commodity production on the basis of an industrial
infrastructure - without private owners of factories, mines, distribution
networks, etc., had to be based on rescuing the country from hunger, building
farm equipment, offering exchange rates to peasants to inspire productivity
in order to feed the population. This was not possible because you cannot
build farm implements - tractors, without an industrial infrastructure. Thus
speculation in the agricultural sector flourished.

    This speculation arises as the result of the development of commodity
production, not ideology as the primary driving factor. Yet, political groups
must first fight out the battle in the realm of ideology and ideas about
"what to do next." What unfolded in Russia and later the Soviet Union was an
intense political struggle and a quest for ideological purity. This might
appear as a tragic comedy eighty years later, but it was not funny to the men
and women living the moment.  German fascism and Sovietism developed as the
leading expressions of the antagonism between labor and capital on the world
stage and within each of the political territories a level of adherence to
authority - the leader, was demanded. Bolshevism and the party of Mr. Lenin
assumed a more intense military posture.

    Antagonism means violence in our language and there most certainly was a
level of violence and terror in the Soviet State that matched and exceeded
the terror of the Southern states of North America in the wake of the defeat
of the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, or rather the terror of
the German State. However, this is not the meaning of antagonism in
contradiction and the center of Soviet power understood the meaning of

Antagonism is a specific form of development of a contradiction.
Non-antagonistic contradictions develop different.  Antagonism means that in
the process of development of a contradiction, a "movement" takes place
wherein the polarity that constitutes a unity forces the poles to emerge as
relatively external entities to one another and the previously dominate pole
has to be destroyed - abolished, in order for the previously dependent pole
to develop according to its internal logic. Labor has to abolish the factors
that give life to capital. Men and women do not represent an antagonistic
contradiction or all the fellow would have to be abolished - a proposition I
am not willing to accept, even when the wife is angry with me - again.

    It gets tricky. You cannot abolished the factors that give life to
capital because its life is conditioned on the basis of the development of
the means of production, or rather a stage of development of commodity
production. What is the condition for the transition from commodity
production based on exchange to universal production and reproduction of all
the factors of social life, no longer based on exchange or rather labor? The
fundamental condition for the transition from commodity production to
universal production is realized as the amount of labor in the production of
commodities reach relative zero. This is true and the computerization and
digitalization of the infrastructure is slowly driving the amount of socially
necessary labor in the production of commodities towards zero - "towards!"

    The Soviet communists were trapped by history and Hitler, but I am
unaware of anything in history, which is the development of commodity
production that says the proletariat - even under conditions of massive
bureaucracy, cannot hold on to state power. What unfolded was massive
bloodletting and what appears to us as an absurd quest for ideological
purity. Bloodletting is not a unique phenomenon in human history, to state
structures or the medical industry. Political bloodletting is the conscious
mind - aware of its relative consciousness and relative limitation, but
sensing its discomfort and literally bleeding itself in an attempt to release
from the organism the source of discomfort. The source of discomfort appeared
as "unreliable elements" in the Soviet Union and every political struggle
became an assessment of who had "wrong policy" and "wrong policy" meant
support to capital, which appeared as an external agent to Soviet power. This
external agent was within the country and consolidated in the world market.

    My ideological bent and view of history leads me to the conclusion that
the rise of Khrushchev and his policies began to disorganize the centralized
economy. First in agriculture, then the relationship between heavy and light
industry. This was not an abstract struggle but took place after the
development of the industrial infrastructure, which allows socialism to be
built on industry. Was Stalin politically, theoretically and historically
wrong in the path to socialism he fought for? Let us assume that he was. Here
is the complexity. How could generations of "doctors" under medieval
conditions "know" that bloodletting, as a cure to a disease is insanity?
Millions of ordinary citizens were slaughtered by the backwardness of the
medical establishment, which believed that bleeding patients could cure them
of disease. Expelling blood from the patient was understood to mean releasing
the disease from the organism.

I do not deny the role of ego in history or the importance of individual's
as/to the historical process. However, at this very moment I understand
myself to he historically wrong because of all the limitations in life I am
unaware of and my relative cultural backwardness. I am compelled by ideology
to be generous to the past and it makes no difference whether it is the
slaveholder Thomas Jefferson or Mr. Stalin. I am fortunate because I will not
have to face the economics and politics of slavery as living questions or
building an industrial infrastructure. Other questions will face us and 50
years from now someone will shake their head in amazement at our
shortsightedness. The ghost of Jefferson and Stalin haunts me.

    The political space for petty bourgeoisie socialism is being expelled by
history and the logic of development of commodity production. Proletarian
socialism - real communism, sits on the distant horizon. I can see it in my
imagination and its beautiful and filled with human frailty.

Thanks for the kind words


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