On a method of discussion that answers all questions

clyder at gn.apc.org clyder at gn.apc.org
Mon Sep 29 15:42:16 MDT 2003

Quoting Jurriaan Bendien <bendien at tomaatnet.nl>:
 > As regards Poland, Solidarity grew into a mass workingclass movement, and as
> far as I know the Poles were very glad to get rid of the Communist regime
> and Jaruzelskism, and I don't think that many people there would like to go
> back to ways of the past. Poland has been invaded by more other countries
> than practically any other country in Europe, historically speaking. At the
> same time, I've met many Poles who aren't very happy with the amount of
> poverty in Poland today either. Which is to say they are looking for a
> positive alternative, that transcends their historical experience, but it is
> not yet really forthcoming.

Solidarity was a mass working class movement with a Thatcherite
neo-liberal leadership, whose program could only be capitalist

> The Solidarity movement in Poland really wanted to get rid of the regime,
> but they had little idea of what might replace it - in the sense of some
> kind of democratic socialism that could really work, economically and
> politically and culturally. That was the real problem, and I consider this
> the main problem of socialist theory. How could you combine planning,
> markets and democracy in a way that really worked well, without foreign
> interference stuffing things up ? You have written on it, Samary, Kornai and
> Itoh have written on it etc., but obviously we ought to do much more
> thinking about it, and get much more specific. 

I think the result was overdetermined by:

1. The absence of any political tendancy arguing for a credible
   socialist political economy.

2. The absence of any clear understanding of the program for the
   democratic revolution both by the opposition intellectuals who
   were irredemiably reactionary in their conceptions, and by
   the communist intellectuals who were totally imobile.

> It's all very well to argue
> that socialism can only emerge in the context of a war, but even if this is
> true (I don't think so) then the war still has to have aims, specifiable in
> terms of cultural, political and economic values people have, and the
> implementation of those values.

Socialist revolution always has come out of war, but most often out of
a war started by the ruling class :
 The commune
 1919 Hungary
 the transition to socialism after 48 in eatern europe
 1975 Portugal

The exceptions have been wars started by the revolutionaries
 Cuba, Vietnam, perhaps China

> Now why say all this ? Because the debate about capitalist restoration is so
> confused. History in the Eastern bloc just didn't develop as many Marxists
> thought it would, and then the dillemma seems to be either Stalinist-type
> communism or else capitalist restoration, and people work up a froth about
> issues of historical justification, or get lost in dogma's about some or
> other market socialism. It was clear, that in the Eastern Bloc nationalist
> feelings, hatred of the Stalinist regimes, the intellectual discredit of
> Marxism, and the inability to organise a revolutionary party under
> totalitarian conditions played a big role in the outcome. But given that the
> old socialisms have been wiped out (apart from Cuba, where most people
> probably realise they are better off with Castro than with imperialist
> murder and poverty), the real job is to discover the tendencies of the new
> socialism within market society such as it exists today.

Well that is obviously the case but it could hide a multitude
of different political positions

>  Ernest Mandel went there
> again late in his life, and gave a university paper about the Marxist theory
> of social classes, I think Ralph Miliband also gave a paper at that time,
> but whether this addressed the real problems of concern in Poland I am
> doubtful about.  

I agree that the work has to be done by marxists in these countries.
I have contacts with a Czech group who have published my and allins
stuff in czech. We tried to get it published in russian and hungarian
in 1989 but the circumstances were then not ripe.


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