[Marxism] Surplus capital - reply to Joe

Octob1917 at aol.com Octob1917 at aol.com
Mon Nov 15 13:30:04 MST 2004

In a message dated 11/15/2004 10:54:46 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
andromeda246 at hetnet.nl writes:
To you this 
question may seem irrelevant, but if your aim is to build a new society, 
innovation is the most important thing. The working class secretes socialism 
like a silkworm secretes silk, but what happens to that socialism? If there 
is anything you can learn from revolutions, it is how much people innovated, 
not just unleashed creativity, but were forced into devising creative 
solutions to solve problems. So you need these innovators, and if you just 
deride these people, disparage them, then you just surround yourself with 
boring whingers who cannot change anything. If you cannot see the potential 
in this world for a better world, then you make a better world impossible, 
because it sure ain't going to fall out of the sky.


I agree with the substance of this, about a need to innovate rather than 
merely imitate or blindly follow what has gone before. However, we must learn from 
the experiences of those who've already dared and understand that, regardless 
of their success or failure, they were right to dare given that we understand 
the savage role of capitalism in the past right up to the present day. 

I don't disparage innovators, Jurriaan. What I have trouble with are people 
who criticise all that has gone before whilst offering no way forward now. This 
doesn't mean that everything Marx, Lenin, et al. wrote, said or did should be 
regarded as sacrosanct and above question. It's how and what we learn from 
them that counts, not how we mimic them.

You wrote:

I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with the profit motive, it 
plays a subsidiary role in socialist economics, what is important is the 
social function of the profit motive. A surplus product is produced in any 
society short of full communism or a survival state, but how the forms that 
it takes affects the allocation of resources, is another story.


The means of production in private hands for the purposes of profiting 
shareholders, investors and a board of directors is inherently evil, which should be 
outlawed. It would be easy here to spout the Marxist dogma of revolution 
which results in the placing of the means of production in the hands of the State 
- or the dictatorship of the proletariat - in the transitional stage from 
capitalism or full communism.

For the purposes of this discussion, that would be too easy. But some 
fundamental, irrevocable change in the nature and direction of society needs to take 
place which, based on what's at stake, will necessarily involve a change in 
social relations on the back of a major upheaval - i.e., revolution. What's 
happening in Venezuela, a revolutionary process rather than a revolution, is 
testament to type of innovation you mention. No socialist experience is exactly the 
same, but all have as a foundation the writings and experiences of those 
which have preceded them.

It is an ongoing process and, as Lenin once wrote, an art rather than a 

Once again, I acknowledge that it is crucial that socialists, Marxists, all 
anti-capitalists, discuss, debate and analyze and critique ideas and every 
received truth, that we do not, blindly follow the writings and actions of the 
architects of socialist thought and theory; that we do not simply deify them and 
their lives. But, that said, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Connolly, Luxemburg, Mao, 
Castro, Guevera (the list goes on) are people who helped to shape and change 
the course of history, whose writings and leadership mobilised millions of 
people around the world, and have continued to inspire generation after generation. 
And with good reason. 

We must be careful that in refuting and railing against dogmatism, we don't 
automatically dismiss those reasons.

And finally, your contribution to the content and level of analysis on this 
list is indisputable, even though I find much to disagree with. However, you do 
make me, and I'm sure many others, think about what I've learned from my own 
experiences and education in Marxism and socialism on a deeper level, which 
ultimately has to be a good thing. 

Keep it up.


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