Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Wobbly times number 165
"Today, a vague mood of “anti-imperialism” is back, led by Venezuela’s Chavez and his Latin American allies (Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia), more or less (with the exception of Stalinist Cuba) classical bourgeois-nationalist regimes. But Chavez in turn is allied, at least verbally and often practically, with the Iran of the ayatollahs, and Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as newly-emergent China, which no one any longer dares call “socialist”. The British SWP allies with Islamic fundamentalists in local elections in the UK, and participates in mass demonstations (during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, summer 2007) chanting “We are all Hezbollah”. Somehow Hezbollah, whose statutes affirm the truth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is now part of the “left”; when will it be “We are all Taliban”? Why not, indeed?"
I'm for common ownership of the collective product of labour; the abolition of the wage system and production for use and need,what Marx had called in CAPITAL the "union of free individuals", not State controlled commodity production for sale to producers in bondage to an employing class. Leninists are always on about their 'socialist State'. Marx never wrote about establishing a 'socialist State' because for Marx the State was synonymous with the dictatorship of one class over others. Thus, a 'socialist State' would be a theoretical and material contradiction. The State, as Marx used the concept, was the governing instrument of class rule. Socialism was to be a classless society. Perhaps socialism would flow out of a workers' controlled democratic republic in less developed industrial States, a republic in which the workers would see a need to allow capitalists and peasants to continue to function as separate classes until social ownership of the collective product of labour i.e. socialism, could be effectively established. But such a proletarian democracy was never the reality of Leninist Party political practice. The absolute dictatorship of the Party was its preferred method of rule.
To my way of thinking, "Stalinist" means, above all, setting up a Soviet style wage system, including the sort of equality of wages (a measure Proudhon called for in his brand of anarchist socialism) which existed in Cuba for awhile, of course with upper echelon party bureaucrats getting extra shall we say 'perks'. The Soviet style wage system was more or less copied by all the Marxist-Leninist ( M-L) regimes with slight variations. Tito's Communist Party (CP) led Yugoslavia was an exception to the rule when 'self-management' of their wage system was introduced. The lack of civil liberties was/is ubiquitous in M-L States.
In reality, Lenin's theory failed its own historical test of practice. The apologists for what issued out of the Bolshevik political Revolution are many, varied sects now, some Stalinist, some Trotskyist and all mostly ignored by the working class who see no advantage in changing bosses from one set who allow civil liberties to another who don't. Every M-L State dictatorship has failed to transition to anything but another capitalist system of wage-slavery. Cuban workers only recently were granted the privilege of Internet access. In short, you can't blame Marx for Lenin's theoretical failures.
The Cuban CP has basically ignored Marx's critique of political economy as they believe that the old Leninist dictums concerning the transition to communism via a 'socialist' wage system and CP State controlled commodity production will work. But, as it has become apparent to all that this sort of Idealism only results in a kind of frustrated capitalism, despite the moral suasion of Fidel and his comrades, the whole Leninist ideological edifice of the Cuban political revolution will crash as history has already demonstrated with the USSR and other Leninist States.
Karl Marx's theory of how to establish socialism via the abolition of the social relation of Capital was probably spot on but, it has yet to have been grasped and established through workers praxis. Workers are the only ones who can establish communism. The communist social revolution is a class act. For socialism to work, the collective product of labour must be socially owned and democratically managed by the freely associated producers themselves in a classless society where the wage system has been abolished. This is what Marx was talking and writing about: eliminating the alienation of the product from the producer. The legal, State enforced separation of the product from the producer defines the character of political-economy in class divided political States. The Leninists maintained that alienation via Marxist-Leninist Party control and effective ownership of the social product of labour using their own brand of wage system. Most workers have seen through this failure for expanding their freedom and have rejected it in one way or another, which is why Leninism is dying on the vine the world over.