[OPE-L:2211] Re: socialism in a single moon?

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Tue Jan 18 2000 - 12:29:50 EST

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Re Paul C's [OPE-L:2207]:

> On the question of excessive demand. This was certainly a characterisitic
> feature of the east european economies, but it does not need to characterise
> a communist economy. If the state allows some price flexibility and raises
> sufficient taxes to finance its expenditure the surplus cash balances
> that were characterisitic of the socialist economies can be eliminated.

Price flexibility led, in the case of the USSR (e.g. in the NEP) and in
various E. European economies (e.g. Poland in the 70's and early 80's) to
a change in the *terms of trade* between the working-class and the
peasantry (or between the working class and firms that produce means of
consumption as was the case in Hungary during the NEM in the late 60's
and Yugoslavia in the 70's). I.e. without some time of state restraint on
consumer prices, the living standard of workers can be reduced (witness,
in more recent years, what happened in Russia when price controls were
removed). So, I think that we have to recognize that "price flexibility"
is not a class neutral policy.

Furthermore, when you say that the state should "raise sufficient taxes
...", then the question becomes: which class (or class segment) will pay a
greater burden of taxation"?

If we are still talking about a class society (that rules out communism),
then the state (which supposedly will "wither away" by the time we have
reached the Valhalla mode of production) will have to be directed by and
for the working-class (as distinct from some political party that claims to
best know what workers really want). Surely, that state then should be
expected to further the interests of the working class (rather than let
prices on working-class consumption goods increase and/or taxation on
workers increase to the point where the standard of living of the working
class declines).

Of course, one could claim that these issues won't arise under communism.
Quite right -- but that is only because a condition of affluence and the
overcoming of scarcity has been -- by assumption -- accomplished. Yet,
surely that begs the question since, unless this condition of affluence
has already been met prior to the international revolution (highly
unrealistic in my view) how do we get to communism? One possible answer
might be that human needs will have to be re-defined, yet it is unclear
how that process would take place. How can we possibly know from the
standpoint of today how workers will define human needs in the society of
the future?

In solidarity, Jerry

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