What is uneconomic under capitalism does not become economic under socialism.

Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Dec 14 09:10:59 MST 2002


Jurriaan Bendien:
>
>
> Mark wrote:
>
> "Similarly, in Xanadu unemployment may be seen as intrinsically
> inefficient,
> but this is a subjective value-judgment. It means that Xanadu's economy is
> going to be burdened with artifical make-work schemes producing little or
> nothing of any value and probably subtratcing from the net national wealth
> in all manner of ways, purely to keep headline unemployment down because
> this is another 'social priority'".
>
> I am sorry, but I don't follow this at all. It doesn't have anything to do
> with socialist economics as I understand it.
>

Xanadu is modelled on the sad and contradictory history of
'actually-existing socialism' as the now non-existent socialist bloc states
called themselves. Full employment was both a right and a duty in those
states. But a large percentage of so-called employment consisted of
unproductive labour or labour which simply subtracted from the national
wealth, by wastefully using resources. Sometimes massive projects, such as
the reversal of rivers in Central Asia, fell in this category. Such projects
were almost always catastrophically bad for the environment (wiping out the
Aral Sea for example) and highly unproductive in any terms. They served
several purposes however. First, they provided a justification for
bureaucratic coercion and the police state. They gave jobs and a reason for
being to apparatchiks living comfortably in Moscow. Second, they kept idle
hands busy, thus forestalling the emergence of mass leisure time and a
genuinely emancipated working class conscious of its self-interest and
seeking to build an authentic socilait civil society. Such things were
unconscionable threats to the bureaucracy, of course.

The slogan 'Full Employment', so grand in principle, was the Soviet
equivalent of a similar German slogan: Arbeit Macht Frei. The Soviet people
did not need so-called full-employment it needed genuine mass democracy and
socialist rights. "Full employment" went with other Stalin-era slogans about
'Mastering Nature', 'the Conquest of Nature' etc, which in the end helped
turn Russia into a gigantic ecological slum. I do not believe that a
humanist like you is actually interested in promoting a slogan like 'full
employment' in a  *socialist* society. The correct slogan is: a living wage
to all, in or out of work. That's what _I'd_ call "socialist eocnomics".

Mark


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