Re: [OPE] market - and other kinds of - socialism

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Mon May 02 2011 - 14:47:45 EDT

Hi Paul

> The point to remember is that capitalist societies will have a common
> structure of exploitation and reproduction. Socialist societies that are
> this able to run the show , ratehr than having the show run them, will
> show a very great variation in structure and experiment, and this is
> only to be discussed, by the working class itself,  as they create such
> societies.
> We can't have the answer before the answer, and we have to build it.

I think your view is common but I don't think it makes sense, and (to
be frank) I also think it creates a material barrier to the
development of socialist consciousness.

When working people are confronted with Marxist ideas they naturally
ask what we intend to replace capitalism with. Answering along the
lines of, "the class as a whole will work it out in practice during
the revolution", isn't very convincing, even if some comments of
Marx's seem to support it.

The view seems to rely heavily on a black-and-white (non dialectical)
categorization of historical time into non or pre-revolutionary
situations and the revolutionary situation. Only when the situation is
deemed to be revolutionary (by who?) is the issue "to be discussed"
because -- presumably -- only in this situation can the theory be put
into practice. But adequate theory is essential to good practice (and
vice-versa). And plenty of practical activity can be organized today
around ideas and projects of alternative economic organization.

I have (in practice) always found this view deeply problematic. For
example, as a member of the working class I have thought about and
discussed alternative economic organizations (including learning from
prior history and practice). I have been told by (some) socialists to
basically shut up and stop thinking about it. I am certainly not alone
in this. For example, whole generations of activists associated with
certain socialist parties in the UK have been trained to *not think
about these issues*. I think it's a crippling philistinism.

In contrast, if socialist activists were theoretically armed with good
answers to these kinds of questions (e.g., what will we place
capitalism with? How will we organize an economy? Who will get what?
etc.) I think they'd get a lot more traction with the working class.

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Received on Mon May 2 14:48:43 2011

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