[Marxism] State capitalism: some quick replies to Joe and Phil

Mahmood ketabchi mekchi at verizon.net
Wed Dec 15 01:32:42 MST 2004

I think there is no easy answer as to how a socialist state will manage its economy.  The challenges posed by Jurrian are real.  But, I am not as pessimistic as he is.  A socialist revolution will throw workers into public life and place them at the helm of their work place.  That is inevitable.  To build on that momentum, organize, and develop worker's control at all levels in the society will be an ongoing process. Worker's control must be at the center of administrative development in a socialist state.  

After the 1979 revolution in Iran, many factories were taken over by worker.  Workers elected their representative in general assemblies.  They set their wages, working conditions, and benefits.  They decided where and how to sell their products.  Leftist and communist workers many of whom were to some extent educated and often were technicians and engineers played a key role in organizing the effort.  In the province (Ghilan) where I lived many many factory councils came together and formed a province wide organization that was able to organize a demonstration and rally of about 45,000 workers against the Islamic ministry of labor.  This was by no means a socialist experiment, but clearly indicates that a great deal of enthusiasm and potential can be generated by a massive and revolutionary upheaval.  Maintaining that will be the key, and I agree with Jurrian that it is a serious challenge.

Worker's control is an important part of building a socialist society. But it is not enough and not even possible without immediate social and economic transformations.  Such a transformation needs to be addressed, and I think this is where the Bolshevik revolution failed. Jurrain says nothing about this. 

What is needed is immediate steps to free workers from the bondage to selling their labor power, improve their standard of life to highest possible level including immediate and substantial reduction in working hours, and guarantee extensive and unconditional political and social freedom. Workers cannot rule and at the same time live in misery and constant want and need. They cannot rule if they have to live paycheck by paycheck.  They cannot rule if they have to work 8 hours or more a day.  They cannot run their lives if the army, police, secret police, and other suppressive capitalist state machinery are over their head, and so on. 

If Stalin boasted about high productivity and steel output in Russia and saw that as a great socialist achievement, a truly socialist society will boast about its citizens' freedom from wage slavery, extensive freedom, highest standard of life, openness and so on. This where I draw the distinction between a socialist society and stagnant, closed, oppressive, reactionary, and exploitative societies that came to be known as "socialists."        


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