[Marxism] RE: USSR, Democracy, and the Environment

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Sun May 16 08:20:58 MDT 2004

In a message dated 5/15/04 7:33:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com writes:
I would really appreciate it if anyone could respond to me concerning a 
problem I am thinking over. The question I am considering is 'was the 
environmental degradation in the USSR (like chernobyl, sulphur pollution, 
air pollution, environmentally costly  mining, etc.) the result of 
undemocratic politics'? Was environmental devastation a result of the 
dictates of the Soviet planned (or I think better) command economy? I have 
been reading over Mark Jones' excellent writings, some of which seem to 
suggest that the 'law of value' was still fully in operation in the USSR, 
and that it was impossible thus, without greater socialist democracy at any 
rate, to properly control the rate of exploitation of natural resources.


Next week I will try and give full account to the thesis of the late Mark 
Jones from the standpoint of political economy and the law of value as it 
operated or did not operate as a fundamental factor of reproduction. 

Currently I am in Detroit on a military operation to extract my wife from 
Highland Park. My planning was terrible, which has had zero impact on the law of 
reproduction. The plan was to arrive under the cloak of dark, leap from the 
taxi and extract her and a couple of items and leave town. Her planning was also 
poor and we have to many items to fit in the car. Her bad planning combined 
with mine has no material impact of the law of reproduction. 

The dispute from the standpoint of political economy calls into question the 
meaning of socialism as described by Karl Marx. Socialism is not an economic 
system or mode of production for that matter. Socialism is a political form of 
property relations while the mode of production in our material life is the 
industrial system or the industrial production of commodities. This industrial 
system evolved from the manufacturing process - not political feudalism as 

Much of the environmental pollution in the Soviet Union - in my opinion, was 
the result of ignorance, including reckless disregard, the law of unknown 
impact and the inevitable result of industrial production itself. The point is 
that the political form of property - as a category of political economy, speaks 
specifically to the process of reproduction and how the law of value operates. 

It is my contention that the law of value operated in the Soviet Union 
because it was a value producing system. The task of political economy is to 
describe how this operation took place as opposed to the political and ideological 
struggle within Soviet society as it grappled with restricting the law of value. 
However, the law of value was restricted by the enactment of political laws 
that prohibited the private ownership of capital. That is to say that no 
individual could convert their possession of money (capital) into ownership of means 
of production. 

>From this standpoint Mark Jones thesis and presentation of the impulse 
driving and which the laws of thermodynamics operate within contains a fundamental 
misunderstanding of political economy - from the standpoint of Marx. Marx 
maintains that each distinct system of production - say manufacture as opposed to 
industrial production, contains its own distinct laws of operation. 

This was alluded to in the previous statement concerning the law of extensive 
and intensive development. Under manufacture the law of extensive and 
intensive development is driven by a somewhat different - actual unique law system. 
Marx describes this difference in painstaking detail in Capital where he 
discloses the "law of cooperation" with the industrial facility. 

There of course can be no comparison between the seventy years of pollution 
under the Soviet Regime and the destruction that bourgeois property has cause 
to the environment and man, beginning with the injection of money into a 
natural economy and the resultant dislocation of humanity. 

Mr. Jones is not among us to further clarify and improve his thesis and this 
presents some problems because this form of exchange on the Internet takes 
place at a breath taking pace where ones right to "improve" is a given. 
Nevertheless, very important categories of political economy clarified by Karl Marx are 
missing and ignorned in Comrade Jones thesis. 

Here what is being referred to is how the bourgeois property relations 
creates specific and unique "needs" that in turn become the basis of its self 
reproduction and these artificial needs are what constitutes the greatest source of 
consumption of fossil fuel. This is to say that the current crisis of "energy" 
is fully solvable, but requires a change in the form of property that creates 
the unique set of needs that in fact consume the bulk of energy in our 

Socialism as a political form of property could not and cannot solves 
problems that are categories of political economy. Politics and ideology cannot and 
will never defeat an economic law. It simply is not possible. 

I am not sure if a different form of political democracy in the Soviet Union 
could have overcome historical ignorance and most certainly the "law of 
unknown impact." Could a different form of political democracy prevent "Three Mile 
Island" - which by no means was as destructive as Chernobyl. I believe that the 
advance of knowledge, science and then political will can solve the impact of 
ignorance. I also believe that ideological and what one believes cannot 
disclose the law of political economy. What is required is an independent study of 
the law system under consideration. To unravel the law of reproduction one has 
to study the law of reproduction and not the politics and proclamations of 
leaders - no matter how clever or ignorant they might be. 

This is why there is a Pen-L. 

This concept of a "command economy" is really not fitting of political 
economy and indicates we have not properly describes the internal law systems unique 
to the industrial mode of production with various forms of property within. 
All industrial economies are "commanded" from the "top." Old man Henry Ford and 
General Motors Alfred Sloan commanded the most important sector of America's 
industrial economy for many, many years. 

An industrial economy cannot be run from the "bottom" because of its scale 
and Marx describes how this scale develops and evolves. A massive "organization" 
- the "B" word, is required no matter what the property form. I very well 
remember when General Motors has a massive office with 14 stories of 

Melvin P. 

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