William Mandel replies ( wasRe: William Mandel on Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela and socialism v. capitalism?)
farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Dec 30 06:53:03 MST 2002
There is no such thing as market socialism, Oskar Lange and others to
the contrary notwithstanding. Yugoslavia was an attempt to institute it,
and it resulted, quite literally, in workingclass imperialism vis-a-vis
the Albanians in Kosovo. Economic entities in Yugoslavia (factories,
wholesale and retail enterprises, utilities) were owned by their
personnel ("workers' control"). They accumulated capital from profits
(the difference between all costs, including wages and taxes, and gross
sales), and sought to invest it where it would bring the most profit.
That meant, exactly as under capitalism, where wages were lowest. That,
in turn, meant Kosovo, whose Albanians, first a minority and then a
majority, accepted lower wages exactly as do Mexican immigrants to the
U.S. And that meant that the investing worker-owned enterprises threw
their political weight against making Kosovo a republic of Yugoslavia,
on the specious grounds that Yugoslavia was the country of the South
Slavs, and the Albanians were not Slavs.
Of course capitalism has proved its general superiority over
socialism. Show me a country where the opposite is the case. That does
not mean that capitalism is the least bit better than Marxists think,
but only the Marxist socialism is a Utopia that works even for brief
historical periods only under burocratic dictatorship. That is why I, a
lifelong Marxist until the first two years after the Berlin Wall came
down demonstrated the truth of the preceding sentences in this
paragraph, now regard myself as a humanist reformist. I have to conclude
that Hayek was right.
History will not end, but solutions must be sought by trial and
error, generally one issue at a time, because one size does not fit all,
and what works in one country does not work in another.
Lenin was right in introducing NEP, and Stalin, a doctrinaire
Marxist, wrong in dismantling it, a process completed when I was there
in 1931. After the failure of war communism, Lenin wrote: "We must
revise our entire concept of socialism." Would economic growth under NEP
have been enough to stop Hitler at Moscow in 1941, as Stalin's
industrialization did? We have no way of knowing, just as we have no way
of knowing whether developments in Germany in response to a NEP Soviet
Union would have brought Nazism or another war party to power.
Jim Farmelant wrote:
> I was rather surprised when I read those remarks
> by Mandel, and I am not at all sure exactly whait it is
> that he intended by them. For instance I am not
> all clear what he means by the term "market economy"?
> Is he referring to capitalist economies, to market
> socialist economies, both? If he is arguing for the
> general superiority of capitalism over socialism,
> then that to my mind is not a defensible thesis.
> On the other hand it is possible that he is arguing
> that socialism in developing countries has not
> availed itself of the use of markets and thus
> has suffered disappointing economic results.
> That would take us back to a discussion of such
> matters as NEP in the Soviet Union and of the
> adoption of NEP-like policies in various socialist
> countries including China and Cuba. It also
> might take us into a discussion of the socialist
> calculation debate including the arguments
> between Oskar Lange and F.A. Hayek over
> the theoretical fesisiblity of a rational socialist
> economic planning, etc.
> Right now as things stand though, I am rather puzzled
> by William Mandel's remarks.
> Jim F.
My autobiography, SAYING NO TO POWER (Introduction by Howard Zinn),
includes 200 pages on the Truman-McCarthy era, 1946-1960. I was called
before all three witch-hunt committees. Those pages describe how we
nullified the laws of that day corresponding to the Patriot Act and
Homeland Security operations today. You may hear/see my testimony before
the witch hunters (used in six films and a play) on my website,
The book is available through all normal sources. For an autographed
copy, send me $24 at 4466 View Pl.,#106, Oakland, CA. 94611
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