[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
>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
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