Mark Jones on PEN-L

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Jun 20 11:49:50 MDT 2001

>>> jcraven at 06/19/01 05:02PM >>>

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Brown [mailto:CharlesB at]

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.


CB: Yes, I took Jim's point a while ago when he mentioned the distinction between
social formation and mode of production commenting on an exchange Julio and I had.
All development has always been combined and uneven especially in that no society is
totally isolated from other groups.


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.


CB: This is an important element of the spiritual dimension of Marx and Engels' guide
for our action ( yes , "spiritual"). They make the claim , as Jim does I think here,
that socialist revolution, unlike previous revolutionary  changes in modes and social
formations, means ending all class exploitative relations. In other words, this is
going to be The Big One, as far as  revolutions. Tis the Final Conflict. Seems to me
that this historical uniqueness of the communist revolution adds to the esprit de
corps of we communists, adding to our inspiration to action. By the way, this is one
aspect of Marxism which Ellen Wood's model of capitalism as arising as totally
historically unique and contingent, unrelated to previous class exploitative societies
, loses in contrast with Marx and Engels approach.

I wonder if Jim has any thoughts on the idea of communism combining modes in the sense
of preserving within it areas which provide for living in some form of ancient modes
such as foraging and gardening, although it would be overly economist to ignore that
the unique cultural traditions of groups are not preserved by merely preserving their
econmic modes. Unique sacred land locations and accompanying legends, kin systems ,
etc., are essential aspects of the many ways of life that peoples have had. I think a
communist education system should seek to have children experience directly the whole
range of modes from human history, however little this would be able to recapture the
way it really has been.


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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