Reply/scattergee

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.

>>Sid  


"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 
revolution."  

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 
category. 

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 
goods production. 

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 
Soviet society. 

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 
proletariat.

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 
of socialism.
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
>glossed over

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 
infrastructure. 

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 
field. 

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 
period. 

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 
stagnation. 

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 
Soviet proletariat. 

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. 

Joe F.

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