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What is Socialism? An Attempt at a Brief Definition June 19, 2003 by RedStar2000


This is a far more complicated matter than defining communism...because the word has been used by so many different groups and individuals to mean so many different things. I will attempt to define the word coherently, and you shall judge whether what I have to say "makes sense"...or not.

Socialism is a form of class society in which all or at least all of the important means of production are owned and managed by a "central public authority" or state. The people that control the state make up the "ruling class" of such a society.

In such a society, goods and services may be produced for use (freely distributed to the population) or as commodities for sale in a market. Most if not all labor is wage-labor, and surplus-value may or may not be extracted from workers. That's another way of saying that state-owned enterprises may be operated to generate a "profit" or not. The circulation and use of currency (money) prevails. Differences in standards-of-living are normally far less than that which prevails under capitalism...but are still significant.

So far, so good, I trust. Now it gets tricky.

The "communist" regimes of the 20th century actually never claimed to be anything but "socialist". Their argument was that "socialism" was "necessary" as a "transitional stage" to communism.

They further claimed that the working class "was" the ruling class in their countries...even though it was self-evident that ordinary workers had little or no input into any important decisions but were rather expected to obey their leaders.

This suggests that "socialism", far from being a "transitional stage to communism", is rather a method by which an old ruling class (usually a landed aristocracy with a small and weak "colonial" bourgeoisie) can be overthrown and replaced with a more vigorous native ruling class...that over time becomes openly capitalist.

At least, this is what we have seen happen in the USSR, China, eastern Europe, and even now in Vietnam.

Why then the confusion? Why do people think that "socialism" is "progressive", a stage on the way to communism?

One reason, of course, is that Lenin and all his followers (Stalin, Trotsky, Mao, etc.) said so...and their prestige in the 20th century made disagreement difficult and rarely heard in public.

Another part of the difficulty must be attributed to a certain terminological "laxness" on the part of Marx and Engels in their old age. Both were inclined to give shoulder-shrugging approval to the decision of the early "Marxist" parties in Europe to use the less "inflammatory" term "socialism" instead of the more "dangerous" word "communism" in the attempt to win votes for those parties.

On a few occasions, they did speak out publicly against the confusion between state-owned enterprises and their own goals...but mostly, they just let it slide. Unfortunate.

One can certainly imagine a version of socialism that might be transitional to communism. What would it look like?

The state would still "own and manage" everything of importance in the economy. But the state itself would have to be "ultra-democratic"...every public official in a position of authority subject to more or less "instant" recall. Central economic plans would have to be subject to frequent referendums. Many independent groups of workers would have to have access to the mass media and criticism of the central authority would have to be encouraged.

There would have to be a more or less conscious plan to gradually reduce the power of the central public authority and the privileges of the political elite...it would not be sufficient to just sit back and wait for those things to happen spontaneously.

In particular, the "police powers" of the central public authority would have to be carefully overseen by large collectives of workers...we have far too much sad evidence from the 20th century about what happens when "the state secret police" get out of hand.

The production of commodities would have to be phased out in a more or less deliberate fashion and the production of goods and services for use phased in.

People defend this idea of a "transition stage" (different from now but not "too" different) on the grounds that workers who successfully overthrow the capitalist system "still" carry many capitalist ideas and habits in their heads...and are really incapable of "leaping" directly into communist society.

I am suspicious of this assumption; the tiny number of brief examples that we have had thus far in history suggest rather that class-conscious workers show a marked ability to innovate communist practices immediately following their revolution.

So the problem that faces communists and those who want to be communists is: do we go for a formal "transitional stage" called "socialism" or do we press for communism from day one after the revolution?

The latter seems like the way to go, in my opinion. But I have to confess that I could be wrong.

In any event, any "version" of "socialism" that fails to meet the criteria I outlined above is just a waste of time and not worth fighting for at all.


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I guess you folks can see why I called it an "attempt" to define "socialism"...it's a far fuzzier term than communism.

quote:

I'd say you have to forget about designating any particular political organisation and drop the absolute insistence on 'common ownership'...


But those two things really have been core to the meaning of the word as it has been used over the last century. Granted a small amount of room for limited private enterprise, granted that the market can continue to function after a fashion, granted even that the constititional forms of the old order can be retained (though with very different functions and accountability)...the only coherent definition of "socialism" that makes sense to me and is true to the historical tradition is the one I offered.

quote:

'Socialism' without any clarfying prefix or suffix means to me a society run for the people.


I don't think anyone would know what you meant by that. Every society claims to be run "for the people", including the one we live in now.

quote:

Personally I feel the emphasis on 'worker' is misplaced. In a socialist state everyone is a worker or a non-citizen. We would need to eliminate the capitalist class (which just means eliminating the laws protecting individual interests in capital anyway), not capitalists - who are just people who happen today to be in the capitalist class by virtue of what they actually do and 'own' anyway.


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but there's nothing in my definition of "socialism" that suggests that workers "must" have the upper hand; I'm just saying that whatever class (small or large) that controls the state and, through the state apparatus, controls the economy, is the "ruling class" in that form of class society. It could be workers; it could be some self-conscious political elite; it could even be peasants. What do you think Khrushchev and Mao were?

The point is that, unlike communism, socialism is another form of class society...like capitalism. Which class runs it is a different question. The only thing intrinsic to the definition is that the old capitalist class is removed from power.

quote:

The anarchist movement as a whole can be described as socialists, but not all of them are communists.


I wouldn't describe them as socialists and I've never heard anarchists describe themselves that way. It seems to me that the coherent versions of anarchism are much closer to communism than they are to socialism.

Indeed, it seems to me that a "non-statist" socialism would be a contradiction in terms...or perhaps simply a misappropriation of terminology.

quote:

The type of socialism enacted over the Spanish civil war in Catalonia and Barcelona being an example.

Even at the very beginings of the October revolution, when the slogan 'all power to the soviets' actually meant something, it's not accurate to say that they were under anything resembling 'state' ownership, as the industry began to come under the control of the soviet workers' councils and some began to independently confederate.


It seems to me that you are illustrating what I was getting at in the closing paragraphs of my post. What the workers in those situations were actually doing was taking communist initiatives...they had no intention whatsoever of erecting a new state apparatus to run things "for" them. They were not interested in a "transition period" between capitalism and communism.

(I recognize, by the way, how difficult it is to distinguish between "communist" initiatives and "anarchist" initiatives...because in practice, both would be hard to tell apart, and both would be opposed to any kind of enormous new centralized state-economy.)

I'm not sure that a system that was mostly composed of democratic cooperatives would be stable...that is, if such cooperatives produced goods and services for use, then they'd be communist by a different name; but if they produced commodities--goods and services for sale in a marketplace, then the laws of capitalism would "kick in" and transform them into capitalist enterprises more or less quickly. In neither case would I see any use for the word socialism at all.

Of course, in all this, I realize that I will have no effect on the actual use of the word at all...people will continue to use it as a "feel good" word without the slightest interest in any kind of clarity or coherency.

Marx and Engels actually chose the word communism because they wanted a word that was not part of all that "warm, fuzzy" stuff, but a word that would be clear.

They should have stuck to their first choice.
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 19, 2003
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quote:

I cannot stress enough the unusualness of your post, Comrade RedStar2000.


It was but an attempt to try and be clear about what the possibilities really are...not an effort at advocacy or endorsement.

For all the differences that various versions and tendencies of "socialism" have had and still have, it seems to me the core around which they've gathered is: 1. It is a form of class society; 2. The means of production are owned by and part of the state apparatus; and 3. Whoever controls the state apparatus is "the ruling class" in that society.

Had the German Social Democrats been victorious in 1912, they would have introduced some version of "socialism". Had the French Communist Party been victorious in 1936, some version of "socialism" would have followed. Had the left-wing of the British Labour Party been in control of things after the end of World War II, some version of "socialism" would have resulted.

All of those people shared a common assumption...that some additional form of class society was required to make an effective transition to communist society.

On the other hand, had the early Soviets or the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists been victorious, there would have been no "socialism" at all, no enormous state apparatus, etc. They were sufficiently class conscious to at least awkwardly stumble towards the construction of a classless society.

quote:

You should know that the state will require some form of hierarchy (which you indirectly acknowledge). It is simply too big to do so otherwise. A state will also be more easily to break down, since the 'core' is all that is needed to take control of, or destroy. A decentralised state does not 'register' with me. I do not see how such a thing could exist. Yes, it could be ultra-democratic, but how do you know ALL of the inside workings of any public official? You CAN'T.


I am not certain that we can assert that position with absolute confidence. It is a case that real democratic socialists (not parliamentary reformists who just use the word) need to argue more effectively for.

I suspect that you are right...but I think the matter needs a lot more investigation and reasoning than has thus far been the case.

quote:

Not every socialist (even those who support the idea of common ownership) would want to see communism without a socialist transition. I would not. Are you going to fight me one day after we have jointly taken power? Good luck.


If you mean are we going to start shooting each other, that's not my intention.

On the other hand, I certainly expect a lot of ideological and political struggle immediately prior to and for many decades after the revolution. And, as I explained above, I do not know how it will "play out".

Even if the communist/anarchist folks have a clear and on-going mandate from the working class to establish a classless society, there will still be many false starts, mistakes, blunders, etc.

This stuff is hard...it doesn't just "fall in your lap" as Lenin implied in State and Revolution.

quote:

It's all well and good talking glibly of eliminating the state, but have you even remotely thought about how impossibly implausible it is that you could do this and still have anything at all run or any form of order maintained?


"Impossibly implausible" is rhetorical "over-kill" here, but I take your meaning.

I think it comes from a misconception of the nature of the working class in a revolutionary period.

I can look at my own personal experience. Whenever I performed wage-labor, I did as little work as possible for as much money as I could squeeze out of the bastards (including anything I could steal without getting caught), and I regarded mistakes and blunders by my co-workers and bosses as "their problem"--it's quitting time and I'm going out drinking tonight.

But when it came to work on the various political projects that I was involved in, my attitude was just the opposite. I exerted myself to the limit and never gave a moment's thought to compensation.

At that time in history, I was exceptional. But I contend that in revolutionary periods, many will have at least some of this attitude and some will have even more of it than I did.

There is "something" about the prospects and shapes of freedom that "makes" people shake off their sullen lethargy and re-engage with social reality. I'm not sure why that is the case, but I've both read about it (the accounts of May 1968 in France are very instructive and even inspiring) and seen it, in smaller ways, with my own eyes.

quote:

...this distinctly won't be true immediately after a socialist take-over, however achieved, there will be literally millions who are virulently opposed to it.


No arguement from me about that; the question is what must we do about that and what is unnecessary and possibly even harmful.

quote:

I find the idea that 'socialism merely appears progressive and changes who is in control' very odd.


Well, it is what we have actually seen so far. Maybe there's "more" to the story and we will see something different in decades to come. I don't rule out that possibility...but I am skeptical based on the historical evidence to date.

It seems to me that a large state-apparatus and a "command economy" possess both considerable inertia and a powerful temptation to the ambitious. I suggested a version of socialism in which these attributes might possibly be "controlled" and "minimized". But it would be a difficult task and "good intentions" are not nearly "good enough".

quote:

To say that this merely the appearance of progress is crazy. It would be an absolutely massive and dramatic alteration to the very fabric of any first world society with huge implications in all sorts of areas.


Actually, it could be both. That is, by virtue of the changes that some version of socialism might enact, it could provoke a far more drastic revolution on behalf of a classless society with outcomes impossible to forecast.

And I noticed your mention of the "market". Don't forget that having a "free market", even under some version of socialism, is rather like washing your dishes with hydrochloric acid...your dishes will be very clean, but your hands and your plumbling are going to suffer.
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 19, 2003
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quote:

So would you consider a market system socialist if private ownership is completly or mostly eliminated from the economy?


Yes, I would. But it occurs to me that any kind of "market arrangement" (the production of commodities for sale, the use of money, etc.) shares the same kind of instability that I attributed to an economy dominated by producers' cooperatives.

Imagine state-owned enterprise XYZ, making a commodity for sale in the market place. If there is no competition, then XYZ can set the price for their commodity based on what it costs to make it (labor and materials) plus a fund for replacing equipment, etc. XYZ "breaks even" and can do so indefinitely.

But if state-owned enterprise ABC makes a competitive commodity, then the "laws of capitalism" have an "opening" through which to enter and begin influencing developments.

Who sells what at what price begins to ripple back through the whole productive process. leading more or less quickly to profits and losses, exploitation, and ultimately to privitization and the restoration of capitalism. I think this is what actually happened in Yugoslavia.

quote:

Bakunin was actually quite clear that he considered himself a socialist.


I think I see the difficulty here...an accident of terminology based on (what else?) an accident of history.

Note that Bakunin in that piece refers to "German Communism" (we know who he was pissed at)...even though early German Social Democracy had already begun to use the word socialism for its "strong-state" version of "Marxism". To oppose this, Bakunin used "stateless socialism" and "anarchism" to mean the same thing...and cited the Paris Commune as an example.

But Marx and Engels were already publicly on record as hailing the Paris Commune as the first "dictatorship of the proletariat" in the world.

See what I mean here? Ideally, Marxists should speak of communism; anarchists of one of the variety of anarchisms; and socialists should speak of either Social Democracy (pre-World War I version) or else one of the varieties of Leninism.

But history is "messy" and terminology follows in its wake.
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 20, 2003
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A couple of points I overlooked in my last post.

quote:

I'm sure it wasn't, but it would be my intention if you or anyone else declared on red monday that we were going to immediately institute communism. If you declare on pink Thursday that this is what we are intending to do, you won't get my support on Red Friday. Which leaves you in a bit of a pickle. And by ME, I do not of course just mean I alone, there will be many many others like me (maybe more of us than of you, maybe not, it hardly matters, either way we would both be shafted and achieve none of our ambitions.


Well, here I was speaking of advocacy...that is, should communists advocate the immediate transition to communism "on day one" after the revolution or should we establish a new form of class society--called "socialism"--as a "transition stage" to communism?

As I indicated, I am in favor of the former at this point...though I'm willing to listen to arguments in favor of the latter. But the class itself will decide, of course.

quote:

Unfortunately we are not talking of same type of problem. I'm quite sure that many would be enthusiastic, but enthusiasm and skill in actually managing something as complex as a state (particularly one that would almost certainly have many viciously determined internal enemies) is not the same thing.

What we have now is a very hierarchically organised society and economy; you can't expect to simply remove that hierarchy and see anything at all still function even passably well. It just won't happen.

All large western societies are geared to work within the framework of a hierarchy; remove that framework and you would have a more vernacular sort of anarchy. Even removing one of the dynamics of that framework (individual ownership) is probably going to put a massive strain on it, but this part probably cannot be avoided to an extent. An awful lot of thought needs to go into how to keep the framework remotely serviceable even with 'just' this alteration.


Point taken. Lenin himself said he wanted people who were "both red and expert" and pissed and moaned a good deal about the shortage of such folks.

That was then, this is now...or more precisely, at least three or more decades into the future. The idea of the working class as a bunch of muscular semi-literate ex-peasants is a relic of the distant past. I see no reason to doubt that the working class of the present, much less the future, already possesses the necessary skills for the most part to "run a complex society"...or at least a stripped-down version of same.

Of course, there will be a lot of blunders along the way, unexpected shortages, annoying breakdowns, etc. Revolution is "messy"...especially when there is no "responsible boss" in charge of things.

Is that an "insurmountable obstacle" to the more or less immediate transition to communism? On its face, it doesn't seem that way to me...but perhaps only time will tell.
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 21, 2003
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quote:

The more significant problem is that, if I understand you correctly, you are expecting to do away with the structure through which direction is communicated. This is an entirely different matter. Co-ordinating the security (internal and external), infrastructure, production, and distribution of a hugely complex modern state is not a trivial problem and the mechanism that supports this is today very, very hierarchical. It relies on people following directions they are ordered to follow.


I'm not sure it will be necessary to "do away with the structure through which direction is communicated"...I expect it will have begun collapsing some weeks or months prior to the revolution.

The question is to what extent, if at all, we should attempt to re-create that old structure and what kinds of new structures should we attempt to create. And not just us, of course; history suggests a good deal of innovation will come forth spontaneously from the class itself, both with regard to production and distribution.

The "socialist" perspective, in my view, would seek to "pull all this together", bring it under some form of centralized command (or "control" or "coordination", etc.). The "communist" perspective would not only not try to do that, but would encourage more innovation from the class itself, whatever temporary dislocations and inconveniences that might entail. "Coordination" would have to be justified on its merits in a particular situation, and not used as a "universal excuse" to "justify" the reduction of working class autonomy...and, to be consistent, coordination would have to be voluntary.

Perhaps stated so baldly, the thing looks deeply impractical. People "are used to following orders" and in the absence of an "order-giver" will do nothing...or what they do decide to do will be ineffective or worse.

On the other hand, a class that has just committed the greatest possible act of "disobedience"--revolution--may be far more willing to undertake responsibility for self-direction than the class as we know it today.

Since we have no way at this point of knowing how things will play out, what do we have to lose by advocating what we really want and letting the chips fall where they may?

If a "strong-state socialism" is a truly inevitable transitional stage to communism, then that will happen no matter what we say or do. We can always fall back on the position that such a state must be as ultra-democratic as possible...and we can vigorously attack those who want to reduce or eliminate working class autonomy "in the name of the revolution".

But it seems, well, wrong for communists to advocate another form of class society...even if a more benevolent form. If it takes another century or two for our message to "make sense" to the class as a whole, then that's what it takes.

The general rule of human politics seems to be: the more you try for, the more you ultimately get.
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 21, 2003
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quote:

It's pretty clear in Marx that by socialism, he's talking about a classless society.


Yes, in the terminological confusion of the late 19th century, Marx and Engels did interchange the words rather too freely (in my view) and so did everyone else. Bakunin, for example, referred to his version of anarcho-communism as "stateless socialism".

But in my opinion, the "strong-state" versions of socialism seem to be what most people comprehend when they try to put together a coherent definition. One can be a Leninist (Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist) or one can be a Social Democrat (pre-World War I model) or one can even be, as I suggested, an "ultra-democratic socialist" who wants a centralized state but one that would be permeated with mechanisms of working class control.

It is quite possible that something like that third option is really what Marx and Engels had in mind when they were in the mood to speculate about "transition", but we know that on the single occasion when they had the opportunity to observe an actual proletarian revolution--the Paris Commune--they passed up the opportunity to criticize the Communards for their "failure" to establish a "strong state" and went so far as to amend the Communist Manifesto to make it explicitly clear that the working class must smash the old bourgeois state machinery.

quote:

Your definition of socialism, with the "ruling class" business and so forth, seems a little bit like the "socialism is bad, let's jump straight to communism, somehow, by fiat" doctrine of some (ex?) Maoists and others, rather than something that might be generally agreed on.


If your characterization of their views (whoever they might be) is accurate, then I agree, of course. Nothing useful is ever done "by fiat"...the Maoists in general have always suffered from an exaggerated conception of the "powers" of their "great leader" of the moment.

What "communism from day one" would actually mean in practice would depend on the initiative of the class itself, which in turn might be reflective of what we communists had spent several decades or longer telling them prior to the revolution.

If we've told them "you need a strong state with us running things on your behalf", communism is unlikely to result...to put it mildly. If, on the other hand, we've told them to take direct control of everything in sight and run things in a cooperative fashion with your fellow workers, different kinds of initiatives will result...with consequences impossible to predict from where we stand now.

The "communism from day one" option doesn't mean that a magic wand is employed...it means that your conscious goal is to establish communism as quickly as possible and that all of the initiatives that you take are guided by that purpose. It might still take many decades or longer to really "nail it down"...that's as may be.

The "strong state" version of socialism--the only version that still has credibility in my opinion--has not served us well, again to put it mildly. Perhaps it still has some utility in pre-capitalist countries, but in the "first world", its appeal seems to have "withered away" (to coin a phrase).

Perhaps a sufficiently well-thought-out ultra-democratic version could revive that appeal; I frankly do not know. But my "gut feeling" is that it's time to put "socialism" in the museum.

It's time for communists to be communist.
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First posted at Che-Lives on June 22, 2003
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quote:

I'm talking of what happens after a democratic revolution which we precipitate, possibly combined with a fairly short struggle to ensure that the democratically mandated change actually occurs. A revolution that occurs while the existing state is still functioning.


Yes, that is a very different "scenario". It's my hypothesis that the ruling class has learned that it's "too dangerous" to allow things to "reach that point"; that is, direct repressive measures will be taken against the "genuinely socialist" alternative long before a "democratic mandate" will be possible.

I know that many 19th and early 20th century socialists (including, on occasion, Marx and Engels themselves), had "great hopes" in the utility of bourgeois democracy as a means of more or less "peaceful" revolution.

I don't "blame" them for this view; revolutions are bloody and messy affairs under the best of circumstances; why not, if possible, avoid them?

But I think experience has taught us that the "utility" is only apparent, not real. If the Leninists only "succeeded" for a while, all those formations which attempted a peaceful, electoral path to socialism have failed completely. My knowledge of history is not exhaustive, but I can't think of a single example of socialists winning power in a democratic election and proceeding to enact socialist legislation on any significant scale.

Perhaps it will happen somewhere...but I think the practical obstacles are overwhelming. We are talking about a state machine that has been molded and shaped for two centuries to give the appearance of popular sovereignity while making certain that the ruling class remains in firm control of events.

I cannot see any future for we "of the left" unless it is altogether outside of the existing political structures of capitalist society.

quote:

And this last point is, it seems to me, very relevant to progression of any socialist/communist agenda. We are all so wrapped up in our own detailed objectives that a tremedous amount of infighting goes on. We present a much less attractive and effective package because we are so fragmented and even antagonistic towards each other.


A very complicated question, that. One of the reasons for the "infighting" is that people feel passionate about this stuff. It's not a "hobby".

Of course, there's a lot of wretched sectarianism that goes on as well...mainly among Leninist groups and their perceived rivals. But anarchists and democratic socialists can do it, too (one of the nastiest political exchanges I ever had was with some anarchists in Michigan that I was trying to be friendly with.)

My pragmatic response to this kind of thing is to simply move on...people who would rather denounce you as a piece of shit than talk to you as a human being--even a mistaken human being--are simply not worth bothering about. Their views may "technically" qualify them as "of the left" but their practice is actually theological; they're running a church and if a miserable sinner like you (or me!) is unwilling to repent, then you can "go to the Devil and good riddence."

Still, with all that, I wonder sometimes if what we see in the left--I'm speaking here about the diversity and range of ideas--is not a sign of vitality.

Will post-capitalist society be one of more or less "uniform" views...or will it be shaken by immense ideological conflicts, different versions of the future that are well within practical reach (thanks to the technology of that era)? Will it be a "quiet" and "stable" order, or will it be even more "tumultuous" and eventful than capitalism?

It seems to me quite possible that the diversity of views in the left may perhaps be a foretaste of things to come.

Of course, this may be "wishful thinking" on my part...as one who has always marched "slightly out-of-step" in the ranks of revolutionaries. The more diversity there is, the more likely there will be some room for me.

quote:

But we are long overdue to recognise that a united front/movement which stands for significant movement towards what we all have in common is a must.


Well, those things actually exist right now, at least in embryonic form. Both the movement against U.S. imperialism and the anti-globalization movement bring together fairly substantial numbers of people on a "common ground"...however loosely that might be defined by the participants.

Is more possible at this time? Frankly, I do not know. There are still many people trying to operate within the Leninist paradigm...and that's a terrible obstacle to any kind of meaningful unity, except on their terms, of course. I'll pass on that one. I don't imagine you'd be too keen on the idea either.

So...? By all means, there are present-day situations where tactical unity of one sort or another is daily practiced...but, if you listen closely, there's a good chance that those two people on the picket line over there are quietly but vehemently arguing with each other.

It seems to come with the territory.

quote:

...having an eventual aim to achieve much is indeed a great help to achieving it. But insisting that you cut out intermediate steps is not.


Certainly unarguable...as an abstract proposition. But what are the "intermediate steps"? And what about those steps that appear to be progressive but are actually a diversion?

It's not "self-evident".
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First posted at RedGreenLeft on June 23, 2003
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quote:

...if you reject the idea of a transition period that erases the distinction between Marxism and anarchism.


Perhaps it does; the idea of "purity of doctrine", as you know, does not rank high on my list of priorities.

My impression is that anarchist theory makes the "state" an "independent actor" in history; whereas Marxist theory emphasizes the state as an organ of "class rule".

The two conceptions merge, of course, when the state itself owns and manages the means of production; whoever occupies the positions of authority in the "strong state" version of socialism are, at one and the same time, a "ruling class" in Marxist terms and a "political elite" in anarchist terms.

The only exception, if it is a realistic possibility, would be the hypothetical "ultra-democratic" "workers' state".

And no serious person would deny that there would be a "transition period" in any event; the question is what would be the characteristics and features of the transition?

And, of course, within the range of possibilities, what should communists advocate.
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First posted at Che-Lives on June 23, 2003
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