Reply to Mike Ballard II

Mike Ballard swillsqueal at
Fri Dec 13 19:03:07 MST 2002

--- Jurriaan Bendien <J.Bendien at> wrote:
> Mike wrote:
> But commodity production wouldn't exist, nor would
> wage-labour, classes or the State.  A free
> association
> of producers would socially own and control the
> product of their collective labour and plan it's
> distribution on the basis of use and need, thus
> ending
> 'alienation'.

--- Jurriaan wrote:
> That is the general aim, but the real question is
> how you get there. This
> requires a theory and strategy of socialist
> transition, and without it we
> are just engaging in utopianism in the bad sense.

We live in a transitional era.  Capitalism is
outmoded.  The signs of its decay are everywhere to be
seen and pointed out quite frequently on this list. As
to when the first "soviets" will spring up, as they
did in Russia in 1905, that's at least partially up to
us, the people who know what we want to replace
capitalist social relations with.

As for how best to make a transition to socialism, I
think Marx had it quite right when he suggested that
workers would need to organize classwide solidarity
and unity.  To the extent that they had achieved this
goal, they could exert the power which would flow from
their class conscious organization to wrest control of
the social product of labour (roughly known today as
the GDP) away from ruling class control and ownership,
so that it could be put to use for the producers
themselves.  By employing those kinds of tactics and
continuing to organize a classwide union, they could
eventually have the power to impliment their strategic
goal:  the abolition of wage-slavery and all that that
implies--see above.  The "Critique of the Gotha
Program" contains hints as to how that abolition could
be finessed.

> Since the majority of
> Marxists are unwilling to tackle the problem of
> socialist transition, they
> are utopians in the bad sense. Good critics of
> capitalism perhaps, loyal
> oppositionists, but that is where it stops. Which is
> why left social
> democrats appear more credible, as I said.

To me, it appears to be just the opposite, Jurrian.
The left-social democrats seem stuck in the capitalist
mode.  They're not going anywhere.  They seem to
accept that working for a nicer, gentler form of
wage-slavery is all that can be realistically done.

> Mike wrote:
> If the government is not under the direct control of
> the producers, the social product of their labour
> will
> appear to them as things (commodities) which they,
> as
> employees of the State, buy with their wages.  Thus,
> the social relation of capital is reproduced.  In
> the
> eye of the wage-labourer, the things out there for
> sale are seen "camera-obscura", as if something
> other
> than they themselves produced the wealth around
> them.

Jurrian replied:
> Whether the social product appears as commodities,
> has nothing to do with
> whether the government is under direct control of
> the producers or not. It
> has to do with whether production is market
> production or not, and on
> property relations. As long as capital employs
> wage-labour, wage-labour
> reproduces the capital relation (cf. Marx's
> discussion of simple
> reproduction in Cap. Vol 1). In any capitalist
> economy, some workers are
> employees of the state, others are employees of
> private enterprise, and yet
> others are self-employed or unemployed.

Hmm.  Guess I wasn't being clear here.  I was
responding to the notion you had put forward which
implied that State ownership of the means of
production (abolition of private ownership) was
sufficient to abolish capitalism.
Now, it seems you are saying the same thing with:

In any capitalist
> economy, some workers are
> employees of the state, others are employees of
> private enterprise, and yet
> others are self-employed or unemployed.

My point is that for socialism to exist, to see the
end of the alienation from the product of labour which
the workers experience under both capitalist and State
ownership of both the means of production and the
wealth they create, workers have to socially own and
democratically manage production and their product for
themselves.  In such a system, there would be no need
for commodities, as exchange-value itself would have
been sublated.  Production of goods and services for
use and need would be the norm.  There would be no
class division in society.

All the best,
Mike B)

"Man first begins to philosophize when the necessitites of life are supplied."  Aristotle

"determinatio est negatio"  Spinoza

"There are no ordinary cats."  Colette

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