(fwd from William Mandel) Re: William Mandel on Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela and socialism v. capitalism?

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Tue Dec 31 13:17:43 MST 2002

[ this bounced on Sunday, i don't think i've forwarded it yet. ]

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.
					William Mandel

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