Mark Jones on PEN-L

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Tue Jun 19 14:47:29 MDT 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Brown [mailto:CharlesB at]
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 12:51 PM
To: marxism at
Subject: Mark Jones on PEN-L

Mark Jones is really writing brilliantly on PEN-L. I have got to rejoin that


I agree, and of course Mark always, IMHO, writes with real substance and
back-up to what he writes and says. In the material quoted, deleted for
purposes of space economy, this brings up the issue of differentiating "mode
of production" from "social formation" and the practical and theoretical
implications for doing so.

If we see a specific mode of production as a system/complex of
characteristic, dynamic, interacting and defining/differentiating forces and
relations of production/distribution, contradictions, modalities of surplus
production/use/extraction/distribution, superstructures, institutions etc,
and social formation as a dynamic system of interacting modes of production,
remnants of modes of production and embryo forms of emerging modes of
production--under the hegemony of one particular mode of production that
names/defines the whole social formation, there are practical and
theoretical implications for doing so.

Even where the dominant or hegemonic mode of production is monopoly
capitalism, this mode of production often interacts with, dominates and
utilizes remnants of other modes of production within the overall social
formation. In the U.S. for example, remnants of feudalism (e.g. peonage
systems/institutions/relations), slavery and even "primitive communalism"
(among some traditional Aboriginal) still survive and often interact
with--and are harnessed and subordinated to--the dominate monopoly
capitalist mode of production; this is true throughout monopoly capitalist
social formations all over the world.

Monopoly capitalist social formations can be distinguished globally, not
only on the basis of imperial versus sub-imperial versus dependent monopoly
capitalism, but also on the basis of the extent to which--and
which--non-capitalist modes of production survive and the characteristic
interactions/modalities of domination of the non-capitalist modes of
production with/by the dominant monopoly capitalist mode of production of a
given social formation.

Where embryo forms of emerging modes of production act as "subversive
elements" in social formations dominated by earlier modes of production
(e.g. emerging capitalist relations within the womb of feudal social
formations), so elements/remnants of older modes of production act as
retardants/subversive elements in social formations dominated by newer and
historically more progressive modes of production. This leads to the
conclusion that socialism is not simply another "mode of production" with
its own unique and defining relations of production, modalities of surplus
production/use/extraction/distribution, institutions, superstructure etc, or
even simply some nominal "dictatorship of the proletariat", but as a whole
historical process involving the systematic uprooting, suppression and
extinguishing of remnants capitalist and other non-socialist modes of
production that continue for some time, as "weeds in the garden" within
social formations defined as "socialist" on the basis of the real or de
facto--as opposed to de jure--nature of the state and core relations of
production/distribution, contradictions, etc. And further, socialism then
becomes not only uprooting the elements of non-socialist and antagonistic
modes of production, but replacement of those elements with genuinely
socialist relations, institutions, values etc, and, putting in place,
institutions, power structures and relations that act as social prophylaxis
against the return of the elements of the non-socialist modes of production
and/or importation of the same from hostile and non-socialist centers
outside of the social formation. Hence the need for ongoing
revolution--cultural, political, economic--after the formal de jure and de
facto assumption of state power by the working class. Hence also the
possibility of social formations that are "socialist in name, and capitalist
or bureaucrat capitalist in essence."

Just some thoughts.

Jim C

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