[Marxism] Forwarded from Yoshie

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Aug 14 13:32:44 MDT 2006

On 8/12/06, Sayan Bhattacharyya <ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com> wrote:
>what argument should
>be advanced to US workers to win them to socialism? (Of course, this
>is 2006, not 1992, and things have probably gotten a lot worse now.)

Now that we have a better picture of the extent of income mobility in
the United States (see my previous posting titled "Income Mobility
(was Re: Millionaire mullahs)") -- i.e., income mobility is very
limited, though hardly non-existent -- let's think about the
interesting and important question you posed.

IMHO, we can't sell socialism to workers of rich nations by saying
that people will enjoy better living standards (in terms of quantities
of goods and services consumed) through it.

* That socialism will unleash greater forces of production than
capitalism is a myth.  It theoretically can, but it is not guaranteed
to do so, nor is it clear if it is desirable to do so, as far as goods
are concerned, given environmental concerns.  Socialism even in a
poorest nation, however, does have a decent record of providing basic
services to all, such as health care, education, and so on, and that
fact alone is a reason enough to go for socialism in a majority of
nations, but in rich nations, it is not clear if socialist services
will be better than social democratic services of the sort provided by
Western European governments.

* The period of transition from capitalism to socialism is usually
chaotic -- it often entails a civil war, capital flight, brain drains,
and so on.  In the period of transition, living standards may very
well go down below what workers were used to under capitalism, and it
usually takes some time to recover from losses entailed during the

The selling point of socialism, therefore, would have to return to the
spirit of Marx and Engels's original thought: socialism allows us to
practice democracy.

Here, we have a big historical baggage: formerly and still actually
existing socialist countries have not practiced democracy at all, and
populaces under them have tended to become as depoliticized as their
counterparts in capitalist nations.

Venezuela may begin a new chapter in history: participatory democracy
as socialism, socialism as participatory democracy.  It is not clear,
however, if Venezuela can maintain its unique revolutionary process,
in which multiple political forces contend with one another, forever,
especially when the government moves to socialize more means of
production (as it probably will during the next political or economic
setback).  E.g., can the Venezuelan government allow an economically
crippling strike of oil workers?



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