Mark Jones on PEN-L

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Wed Jun 20 13:44:59 MDT 2001


Charles wrote (Hi Charles):


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.

(((((((((

This is an extremely important point IMHO that Charles raises; I should note
that at times, I have some conflicts--or some conflicts are
expressed/alleged to me--living as a traditional Blackfoot while seeing the
world and interacting with it as a Marxist.

Socialism, relative to previous historical modes of production and social
formations is indeed unique in human history in many ways. For example,
Social Formations dominated by the mode of production known as so-called
"primitive communalism" have often been progressively eroded and overtaken
by the fundamental productive relations and institutions of the mode of
production of slavery as the contradiction between Humankind versus Nature
and between Forces versus Relations of Production caused the taking of
prisoners and turning them into "productive"--even commoditified--slaves.
Social formations dominated by Slavery have been progressively eroded and
overtaken by feudal productive relations and institutions as the
contradiction between Forces versus Relations of Production were expressed
in/exacerbated by the contradiction between the brutal relations of
production and institutions of slavery (designed to maximize productivity
and surplus production of slaves) causing the destruction of the principal
force of production--the slaves themselves. Capitalist relations of
production progressively eroded and overtook/dominated Feudal social
formations as the old feudal relations of production and institutions
(including modalities of surplus production/extraction/use/distribution)
retarded further development of productive forces necessitating
progressively breaking down the feudal ties and forms of tribute, productive
relations, institutions etc and the introduction of widening markets and
commodification of every aspect of life, "free" wage-labor,
ultra-reductionism in society and education (breaking society down into
political, economic, social, cultural, technological etc realms--little
boxes), the further development of the State as an organ of class rule and
hiding its essential functions from the general populace etc etc.

But Socialism is entirely different. Rather than embryonic forms and
elements of the socialist mode of production progressively eroding
capitalist relations and institutions, within the womb of overall
capitalism, gradually transforming a social formation from one dominated by
the capitalist modes of production to one dominated by the new and emerging
socialist mode of production--often capturing and co-opting the older
structures--Socialist social formations, unlike previous social formations
begins, with the essential smashing of Capitalist state power and taking
State power and utilizing it--in the traditional sense--as an organ of class
rule; this time as dictatorship of the proletariat (not dictatorship
"for/over" the proletariat or dictatorship "in the name of" the proletariat,
but rather dictatorship "of" the proletariat).

What the uninformed call "socialism"--more "State" intervention, regardless
of the nature of the state, reforms, welfarism etc--rather than being
embryonic forms of socialism progressively eroding capitalist social
formations, they are indeed designed to serve and serve as palliatives
designed to retard or prevent the development of real socialism (This does
not mean I am against reforms that make peoples lives easier and indeed
expose the limits of reformism). So indeed, the development of socialism
involves "going for it all rather than gradualist reforms and erosions of
elements of older modes of production within the overall social formation.
But the taking of State power is just the beginning. What is the real nature
of the State? Do the representatives and institutions of representation
really represent and serve the working class and their oppressed allies? Are
the old reactionary forces and their relations/institutions being suppressed
and eliminated with as much ruthlessness as they would employ were they in
power? Are new forms of socialist consciousness and socialist
relations/institutions being protected, expanded, and reinforced at the
expense of the older and reactionary forms of consciousness, relations etc?
Is socialism being protected against hostile and reactionary external
forces? Are socialist allies being cultivated and protected? These are but
some of the questions to get to the issue of what is genuine socialism and
where is it being developed--de facto not simply de jure. Socialism, then,
may been seen as a protracted process, continuing revolution, involving not
only the taking and consolidating of State power and the dictatorship of the
proletariat, and expanded reproduction of socialist relations and
institutions, but also the progressive elimination of all antagonistic and
subversive non-capitalist relations, institutions, forms of consciousness,
values etc--"weeds in the garden"--and, setting up conditions, institutions
and relations that prevent their return from any source.

This is highly abbreviated and I am not preaching unidirectional "stageism",
or ultra-teleology etc. Indeed history records social formations "leaping
backwards" to "objectively" more progressive dominant modes of production
being taken over and dominated by earlier modes of production or indeed
"leaping over" the ususal historical succession of modes of production.

Now as a Blackfoot, there are some Blackfoot traditions that are inherently
non-capitalist--even anti-capitalist--that I respect and practice and that
could survive within the womb of socialism and communism that would enhance
rather than sabotage socialist and communist construction. There are others,
that would be inherently antagonistic to socialist and communist
construction. But Blackfoot "traditions" are just like any other traditions:
Some are "traditions" because they work and serve to protect the People and
Nation against hostile forces while others are "traditions" because the will
and wisdom to eliminate them has been lacking. I favor the former kind of
traditions, and hopefully will continually eschew the latter kinds of
traditions. For example, in Blackfoot tradition, "Adultery" by women was
punished by cutting off the nose of the woman, while "Adultery" by males was
punished by cutting off braides of the male; obviously I would not favor
keeping that tradition alive and that is but one example.

Well, enough for now eh? Comments and critiques welcomed.

Jim C





More information about the Marxism mailing list