JOEFREEMEN at aol.com
JOEFREEMEN at aol.com
Mon Feb 18 04:33:17 MST 2002
>Thanks for your self-criticism. At the present moment of time, Marxist
>theory is faced with a deep crisis, which is not being acknowledged but
>glossed over; i.e., . . . an apparent inversion of the
>principles of historical materialism laid down by Marx and Engels.
>That is, a higher form of development has degenerated to a lower form
>, which violates the law of development of history and nature. Please note
>that it is not simply a temporary restoration (like the monarchial
>restorations in Europe) - it is a wholesale regression back to an earlier
>decadent mode of production. If capitalism can arise out of socialism (for
>which hundreds of millions fought and many millions gave their lives) - a
>profoundly demoralizing and pessimistic concept, then what hope can
>socialism offer to the world working class? Unless a true explanation can
>be offered for the failures of the 20th century revolutions, there is not
>much hope for progress and empiricism will flourish ('Without
>revolutionary theory, there cannot be a revolution' - Lenin). The
>Trotskyists lay the blame on the 'Stalinist bureaucracy' and the Maoists
>blame the rise of 'revisionism' for the reversals but these are not really
>explanations but denunciations. What was the *material* basis of this
>revisionism - this is the chief question to which an answer has to be
>sought. And for that, we will have to look at the *stage* of development
>of the productive forces in the socialist societies (both of which were
>products of the two-stage revolutions which idea was first formulated by
>Marx and Engels). The stage of development of productive forces (which
>grows spontaneously) is hardly emphasized in current Marxist theory.
>Second, what is the likely trajectory of world capitalism in the light of
>the revolutionary significance of the TPRF? In the western countries, a
>new stage of development of the PF can be glimpsed on the horizon, and
>which you have pointed out extensively in your previous posts. This new
>stage is the stage of automation of the PF and will have profound
>consequences - decrease of value of commodities, and a consequent decrease
>of total surplus value, which will lead to a crisis of profitability. Is
>this the direct/classical road to socialism as Marx and Engels had
>forecasted for the industrialized countries as opposed to the
>indirect/two-stage road in the developing countries?
>And what is the connection of imperialism in the advance to socialism by
>both of these two groups of countries.
"What is a mode of production in its quantitative and qualitative
dimensions?" "What is capitalism as a social system in its qualitative and
quantitative dimensions?" "What is industrial society as a productive
relations based on electrical-mechanical processes?" "Was the Soviet Union a
society based on electromechanical industrial processes?" "Do property
relations constitute the fundamentality in mode of production?" "What is
socialism?" "What is Marxism as an 'ism' ?"
Acknowledging the half-century dissension in the ranks of "Marxism"
concerning definition and specificity over the above terms and concepts, the
emergence of a new qualitative development in the production process makes a
quantitative and qualitative determination easier. Certain terms must be
defined to guarantee we are speaking the same language. Under different
conditions (definable quantitative boundaries and qualitative
configurations), different concepts arise that have the same name and
commonly used concepts acquire increased definition. Karl Marx and Frederick
Engels coined a series of terms and theoretical concepts that are referred to
as the doctrine of the science of society by some revolutionaries in North
America. Marx summarizes the basis of this doctrine:
"In the social production which men carry on they enter into definite
relations that are indispensable and independent of their will: these
relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of
their material powers of production. The sum total of these relations of
production constitutes the economic structure of society - the real
foundation on which rise legal and political superstructure and to which
correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production in
material life determines the general character of the social, political and
spiritual processes of life. At a certain stage of their development, the
material forces of production in society come into conflict with the existing
relations of production, or - what is but a legal expression for the same
thing - with the property relations within which they had been at work
before. From forms of development of the forces of production, these
relations turn into their fetters. Then comes the period of social
Marx uses the terms productive forces, relations of production and the mode
of production throughout much of his work. In the past half-century some have
preferred using a formulation in his Capital Volume 3, chapter 47, sect 2.
In their efforts of some revolutionaries using the concept "science of
society" to popularize the doctrine of Marx, the above paragraph is
summarized as follows: Society is constituted on the basis of the unity of
productive forces and productive relations. Productive relations embrace the
laws defining property and the relationship of people to property in the
process of production. The constant, spontaneous development of the
underlying technology of the productive forces creates new qualitatively
different method of production that cannot fully develop in the old framework
of society and this incompatibility disrupts the unity of society or tears
society from its old foundation. A period of history opens where society
fights to broadly implement the new qualitative features of the technology
and reorganize itself around its usage.
"Then comes the period of social revolution . . . At a certain stage of their
development, the material forces of production in society come into conflict
with the existing relations of production." The technology of a specific era
and the culture level indicated in its usage constitutes the fundamentality
of "the material forces of production."
"Then comes," implies . . . not before . . . the "then" comes into
existence. "At a certain stage" begs the question "what is a certain stage?"
What are its quantitative and qualitative configurations? How can a person
independently determine "then" and the "certain stage?" The mode of
production is the unity of the productive forces and relations of production,
but without specific qualitative features this is just a generalization.
Today we can be more specific about the interactivity of the social process.
Mode of production contains a specific technical state of development of the
productive forces, serving as the axis riveting (social) relations of
production as an organized system of production. Productive forces are not
separate or isolated from and independent of property relations but as a
theoretical category - abstraction, contains the fundamentality that allowed
the aforementioned revolutionaries to create and examine what is called the
quantitative boundaries of capital.
The Soviet Union did not make a retrogressive qualitative development (leap)
backwards, but was overthrown and property relations changed. As a rule,
processes can stagnate, decay - in which case development cease, or mutate
but not evolve backwards. After the quantitative expansion that establishes
the predominance of a technology (new qualitative configuration) in the
productive of material values in society, going back to a previously existing
mode of production cannot happen. The underlying technology of a societal
infrastructure (industrial basis in this instance) cannot evolve backwards or
go backwards - outside of a catastrophe that destroyed the sum total of
existing productive forces and the infrastructure including the intellectual
framework of society.
Not so much retrogression in the mode of production whose fundamentality is
defined on the basis of a "certain" technological development in the
infrastructure and its tools, but stagnation and polarization. Without the
fundamentality of "technological development in the infrastructure and its
tools" Marx description of "a certain stage" and "then comes" remains a broad
Private property relations can exist wherever commodity production takes
place on the basis of an industrial infrastructure, but in the broad
historical sense, private property relations are absolutely incompatible with
electronic-digitalized processes because the basis of buying and selling are
undermined by the technological development of the infrastructure itself.
"Then comes a period of social revolution."
More than twenty-five years ago, the question of stagnation in the Soviet
economy, eventually leading to its overthrow, was posed from the standpoint
of the "tinkering" with the economy, which meant misallocation of the "total
social capital" or apportioning "capital" to the wrong sectors of the
economy. Wrong sector was defined as those industries that did not service
the expansion of the industrial infrastructure or whose inherent working
drove industrial expansion. In the ideological sphere of communism this was
called the fight over "heavy industry" versus "light industry" or consumer
This was not an abstract question of economy or ideology. All leaders face
the same questions; on what basis are the productivity of labor raised and
the production of commodities and services increased? The policies adopted
are formulated as ideological declarations but are never simply ideological
categories outside material factors. From my perspective the leaders in the
Soviet Union - since Khrushchev, altered the previous investment ratio in the
Soviet economy or "favored the development of light industry over heavy
industrial" in the industrial infrastructure.
Stated in the language of this article, Khrushchev and the succession of
failed leaders behaved as if intensive development of the consumer industries
("light industry') could drive the quantitative development of the industrial
infrastructure. It is understood that the massive Soviet military apparatus
most certainly drained immense quantities of mental and physical labor of
What has become rather clear a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union is
it's overthrown under the pressure of aggressive North American imperialism
after the economy had been disorganized and stagnated by the politicians
understanding nothing about political economy or elementary dialectics. A
process cannot face transition until all its stages have been exhausted,
which meant extensive development of "heavy industry" - expanding the
industrial infrastructure at all cost as the basis for the all round
mechanization of agriculture. Agriculture in America was mechanized on the
basis of the gigantic expansion of heavy industry, not light industry
(consumer product production) and produced the last reform movement in
capital called the Civil Rights Movement in our country. To make tractors you
have to have an extensively developing industry that make the machines that
makes the machines that makes the parts that become the tractor.
Khrushchev and the succession of leaders that followed, adopted economic
policy promising the people of the Soviet Union a revolutionary increase in
public baths, gardens, consumer luxuries, etc., at the expense of heavy
industry and by decentralizing the economy, which basically created a
political base among amongst the thieves stealing the wealth of the Soviet
proletariat. The result was that the working class in Soviet society got more
of nothing in more than less, equalized shares.
The agricultural policy of Khrushchev was to overturn the previous policy of
collectivization as a strategy to combine scattered, individualized
production ("farming") into a framework of social production based on the
extensive development of the industrial infrastructure. For agriculture the
plan was to sell tractors to the collective farms as a basis to increase the
hiring of labor in order to "increase productivity" and the fiasco of the
Virgin soil program. Khrushchev economic policy was so bad that hardly anyone
left in the "Marxist" movement remembers what it was!
The Soviet Union was polarized from top to bottom and its state system
dismantled and overthrown and the perception that change was needed within
the Soviet Union was based on the stagnation of the economy, due to wrong
policy. Not backwards evolution but its overthrow as various political
sectors fought for state authority and to confiscate the wealth of the Soviet
A full twenty-five years ago - and longer for the older comrades, the
question was posed as the defense of public property relations in the
industrial sector of the economy and a policy of expansion based on the
extensive development and expansion (quantitative dimensions) of the
infrastructure (heavy industry) as opposed to a policy shifted to the
intensive development of consumer (light) industry.
Unraveling and deciphering the complexity of the class struggle in the Soviet
Union remains difficult. The intensity of the class struggle at every stage
occurred in the context of:
a) Working to reestablish the proletariat as a class, which had become
declassed - torn from industry, as the result of war, civil war and social
revolution and the consequent dislocation of industry.
b) Constructing what the revolutionaries in Russia called the material basis
c) Creating an organized drive to construct an industrial infrastructure.
d) Creating a plan to construct the quantitative dimension of the industrial
infrastructure and transform peasant economy into agricultural production on
an industrial basis.
There of course were hundreds of other questions, but the question of how to
build an extensively developing industrial infrastructure and its formulation
into a policy with a specific allocation of "capital," guided the exponential
development of public property relations - after the defeat of reaction and
the counterrevolution was fundamental.
It is easy to understand a physical reaction resulting from a physical
attack. Transition from one quantitative stage to another takes place on the
basis of "intensification" within any process involving matter. But this
question becomes much more complex in the struggle involving the material
survival of classes, where a particular political act and policy may not have
any direct result until years later. In as much as an industrial
infrastructure was built, suffice it to state that the leading sector of
Soviet society grasped the trajectory - nodal line of process development,
and built an industrial infrastructure based on driving each quantitative
stage to its conclusion, then organizing the subjective factors of society
for a transition to the next quantitative configuration.
How people are organized to use a given technology in the production and
reproduction of daily life - the economy, is the fundamentality to look at in
any society or historical period as opposed to the politics, ideological
proclamations and modes of expression. When one dismisses all the
proclamations "it the economy." Public property relations prevailed in the
industrial infrastructure and a body of literature exists - from all
ideological perspectives, which allow one to examine the various stages of
quantitative growth, from October 1917 up to the years of stagnation, begun
during the Khrushchev era.
>At the present moment of time, Marxist
>theory is faced with a deep crisis, which is not being acknowledged but
I agree with this and the crisis express the boundaries that mirror and
express transformations in capital, political doctrines of classes and the
ideological basis on which political groups and classes are organized. What
is new today is the crisis is unfolding on the basis of the new qualitative
features in the productive process, which the bourgeoisie also faces.
Philosophy tells us that qualitative change is not simply tipping the balance
of forces back and forth. Qualitative change comes about when something new
enters into a process. The process is then disrupted; the definition of
crisis is disruption in a process. The basis is laid for the destruction of
the process, as it had existed, because the new quality means no more
quantitative stages exist in the old process extensive development and
transition is at hand. The slow but increasing development and adoption of
electronic-digitalized applications and productivity tools, as distinct from
electromechanical process base infrastructure, demand a qualitative
reconfiguration of the infrastructure and the energy source that drives the
Society is not being torn from its foundation in the abstract. Marxism isn't
being torn from its foundation in the abstract, but being torn from doctrines
of an era based on an old quantitative configuration and consequently could
not take into account the new quality before it emerged. Whatever question
faces the bourgeoisie faces us, in as much as we are on the same playing
For instance the Bush, Jr. administration is unfolding a new war doctrine
that conforms to the new features in the production process. Our task are
remarkably similar to that of George Bush, Jr. in the sense that he has to
always fight to win over important sections of the capitalist class to the
new doctrine and through them decisive sections of the American people. We
are still fighting within ideological frameworks and modes of expression from
the doctrine of an era-gone bye. Twenty years from today there will be no
debates in American society about the existence of a new qualitative
configuration in the productive forces.
What then is socialism? Socialism was defined as the transition stage to
communist society and characterized as political authority in the hands of a
body politic that develops the industrial infrastructure without private
owners of the properties that constitute the infrastructure. This definition
leaves a whole lot of space because history and development varies
dramatically worldwide and the "space" measures the distance from the lowest
development to the highest. To cover the "space" the doctrine of the
two-stage revolution emerged on the basis of the historic conclusion of
defeating lingering feudal social and economic relations. These were the
cards history dealt everyone - not just the communist.
Communist could complete the bourgeois democratic revolution by overthrowing
the lingering feudal social and economic relations, politically defeating the
bourgeoisie and building the industrial infrastructure: creating the material
perquisites for "socialism."
In the absence of the transition from electromechanical industrial production
to electronic digital production, there was no concrete material wherewithal
to measure all the quantitative stages in the completion of the industrial
infrastructure. The emergence of a new qualitative feature establishes the
boundary of and end to quantitative stages in the social process from which
it emerges and begins a new developmental process based on the new
qualitative feature. "At a certain stage . . . the existing . . .comes into
conflict with. …etc. "
Marx and Engels developed the first doctrine of the proletarian social
revolution and went about organizing the subjective unity needed to complete
the bourgeois democratic revolution - where needed, on the basis of public
property relations, once the communist won the struggle for state authority.
Marx and Engels nevertheless spoke in the context of the most developed
capitalist countries - the most technologically developed infrastructures and
productive capacity. A precise delineation of all the quantitative
developments of the industrial infrastructure was not possible.
Roughly half a century later, revolutionaries won over to this doctrine came
to power in Russia and declared their mission the construction of a society
socialist. The socialism would consist in public property relations in the
means of production - the industrial infrastructure. Looking backwards, after
the new qualitative feature has appeared the decisive factor becomes
subjective: grasping the quantitative stages of development as they appear,
create new boundaries and in turn drive and give rise to further quantitative
expansion. Khrushchev did not understand the law system of the transition
Looking forward, the relations of production are critical but the
fundamentality of transition from one mode of production to another requires
the emergence of a new quality, then the fight in the political arena to
build the basis for the growth and universal expansion of a new qualitative
feature takes place. Khrushchev spoke of building communism on the basis of
expanding "light industry" on the basis of itself and not as a byproduct of
heavy industry; increasing the sell and purchase of agricultural implements -
and through this the private sell and purchase of labor power, and definitely
did not understand the law system of the transition period. Meeting the
expanding needs of the agricultural sector means raising their purchasing
power and maintaining the developmental rate of heavy industry. A certain
distortion in cost and prices are unavoidable. The other option is
Nevertheless, the boundaries in which socialism defined itself are gone.
Socialism has always been articulated as a transitional phase between two
different law systems of production. If socialism is by definition the
transition from "something" to "something else" then all of this "something"
begs to be defined in its qualitative features. To define socialism as the
first stage of communism means one has defined "stage" and "communism."
By the word "stage" is understood "one of a series of positions, stationary
points or stations, proceeding from and measurable by a previous
configuration." In the "closed system language" of the doctrine of Marx a
stage is understood to mean a specific quantitative configuration within a
defined qualitative development. Marx and Engels outline a specific
quantitative configuration of the development of the capitalist mode of
production (the specific qualitative configuration examined) in the Communist
Manifesto and all of Capital and scores of their writings.
A qualitative feature in the production of commodities has appeared that is
destroying the mode of expression called commodities (commodity production)
that useful products in human society has taken. And this destruction is
taking place on the basis of polarizing the modes of expression of the
commodity form of useful products.
A commodity is examined as having two properties that distinguish and
identify it as a commodity: a use value and exchange value (price or
cost-price). The emergence of a new qualitative feature in the production
process, which transforms a "reserved army of unemployed people" into so much
superfluous value potential (labor-power seeking a buyer), indicates that the
commodity mode of expression of useful products is polarized, which indicates
we have entered an era of transition to the production of useful products
based on a qualitatively new technology.
The transition to socialism, which is defined on the basis of a quantitative
configuration where the world market was not riveted to a planetary
infrastructure of industrial production, is an era-gone bye! In the era that
no longer exists, the transition to socialism was based on the absolute
defeat of lingering feudal social and economic relations and completing all
the quantitative stages of the industrial infrastructure. Such a world no
longer exists. The transition is to communism because communism was the name
given to the mode of production that emerges with the completion of all the
quantitative development of the industrial infrastructure. However, the
emerging mode of production can be called anything we like.
The Soviet economy and political system was not "degenerate" (a term lacking
qualitative and quantitative determination based on the fundamentality of the
economy) but contained distortions based on the cards history dealt to the
Different individuals and political groups "play the same hand" differently -
not based on the cards one hold, but based on the cards you don't hold and an
assessment of the players at the table.
Then the economy was stagnated by a ridiculous caricature of the bourgeoisie.
Finally the multinational state structure was overthrown. History has shown
what happens when an opportune moment is lost; half a century passes and then
comes "the day" that compresses the "lost time" in a matter of weeks or
months or a few years. In the moment of the Soviet proletariats defeat, many
revolutionaries were disoriented, many simply looked the other way, some
refused to help on any level, pointed an accusing finger at the weaknesses in
the body politic of the world proletariats shock brigade and the world
working class will ultimately pay the price for smugness and betrayal. The
price is turning out to be rather high.
To be continued.
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