The Mandel vs. "socialism" debate -- a good way to hidefrom reality

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Thu Jan 2 06:41:59 MST 2003

Greetings All, Hello Mark,
I'd like to reference my understanding of bureaucracy a little bit.  For
example one divides an administration into sections one could call
departments, or bureaus.  There is work to be done.  In the old days for
example file clerks like I have frequently done in the past would take
papers that were generated and put them away or fetched them for further
use.  How that paper work was actually set up was policy.    So a department
might be called social security.  Or in Russia some similar division of a
field of government work would entail doing paper work.    Or in
universities an academic department would be born as a new field is
realized.  African American studies during the sixties.

I'm thinking about how I've read about how the party functioned in China and
how the party applied itself to various political problems.  I can't say I
know well how the party did Brain work there, but from reading various books
like Fanshen I get a sense that the party divided the work up for cadres and
administered how ordinary members of the organization did work.

To put this in the context I am now familiar with though.  In a very large
corporation administrative work, which is what a file clerk is more or less
called now in places like where I work now,  can work with a staff
distributed across several states and countries.  So I might work on a help
desk in Ireland, India, etc for the U.S.  That is what a bureaucracy looks
like to me now.  So how am I to understand dividing up this labor so that we
can build a socialist movement?  In particular, I would like to get at how
to think about ordinary political work would be like where I am using
computers most of the time.  At one time for example when I was in a little
tiny sect we had to sell these abominable newspapers.   The work itself had
it's virtues.  I met people on the street.  I learned basic economics of
keeping track of sales.  Any organization now though could simply make a web
site with lower costs, and easier distribution.  I don't have to worry about
putting the files away in metal cabinets, so the kind of bureau work or
department work I am familiar with is being affected.  The way things are
divided up into departments is being affected.  There are still divisions of
brainwork, but I may work with someone I never personally meet.  I may be
paired with someone somewhere for an hour on a job, and then re-assigned to
something else on another spot geographically elsewhere.  And if I talk on
a phone with a group makes a difference also.  Some of the work is typing
work, and some of it is vocal.

So I've described a crude picture of what bureau work seems to me.  Why is a
bureau a significant tool of advancing capitalist systemic relationships?  I
think Henry is a brilliant writer about economic issues.   And also you have
a tremendous insight into the old Soviet system.   If we got to the point
where we had enough political support what would our left do to make that
sort of work socialized into a good marxist system?
Doyle Saylor

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