[Marxism] Re: Marxism Digest, Vol 24, Issue 59

Bill Lynch billlynch970 at netscape.net
Mon Oct 24 11:25:04 MDT 2005

Marvin Gandall wrote:

> In this sense, socialism "is no longer on the
>agenda" but I don't overlook that it could be again if the economy ceases
>functioning under private ownership and conditions abruptly deteriorate.
>Whether people choose to call themselves socialists at that time or not,
>they'll almost certainly have no choice but to look to the state to restore
>lost production, jobs, and income and will support those parties they view
>as committed to using the state for these purposes.

In my view, "looking to the state" is a very misleading way of 
understanding socialism. In the crisis leading to the Russian 
revolution, the workers did not "look to the state," but formed 
independent working class institutions that were designed to meet 
practical needs within the crisis and that also instantiated direct--not 
representative--working class power that governments and parties could 
more or less facilitate or obstruct. One can expect that the same would 
happen when working people are faced with crisis unsolvable by the 
current configuation of capitalism, though factories may not be the 
focal point in advanced economies. In any event, the conception of 
socialism as some kind of bland, technocratic "planning" that meets our 
needs via a party or government that claims to represent our interests 
is a recipe for the next round of bureaucratic "betrayals." I do agree 
with Marvin's comments about leadership, however. To live up to this 
list's avowed antisectarianism will require that we stop thinking of 
party "leadership" of the working class and take our cue from the 
solutions "spontaneously" (though not in fact spontaneous) developed in 
struggle and build upon that basis (i.e. analyze how emerging socialist 
institutions come about when the old ways are no longer adequate). I 
won't discuss the issue of how the factory committees and soviets were 
subordinated to party control, in essence destroying the laboratory for 
socialism, an issue obscured even by the language of the list ban on 
debating "Trotsky vs. Stalin" ...

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