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

From: Paul Bullock <>
Date: Wed May 11 2011 - 10:17:54 EDT


there is always a danger here of a sort of mechanistic approach to this.
The masses of the poor have nothing to oose, and everything to gain
from overthrowing the existing society.... but they are handicapped by
being at the bottom of the pile in terms of most resources, including
literacy (even in 1973, the Portguese had an illiteracy rate nearing
30%, and the rate of illiteracy in India is still quite stunning). The
most aware and articulate organisers of change have thus tended to come
out of the educated working class (self educated especially) and their
allies in the 'middle classes' or much more rarely the upper classes,
who have serious concerns for social justice and humanity. In general
however the 'middle' class and the 'labour aristocracy' (the nature and
composition of which changes as capital accumulates) have an ambiguous
role. Historically they have been subject to, and prepared to respond
to, bribery from the ruling class(es) to abandon progressive steps
alongside the masses. In Britain we saw how once one in seven the middle
class males had the vote after 1832 the 'professional' support for
extension of the franchise by the Chartists collapsed, it took
more[prosperity and a growth in the 'middle' and unskilled and semi
skilled classes to get the next small extension after 35 more years (
after which many men and all women still did not have the right to vote)
, and so on.

Lenin summarised a series of observations about the development of a
privileged section within the working classes (diversely made by those
like Mosca, Engels etc) but from a Marxists standpoint, when he showed
the reactionary role of this well maintained group of 'workers' - but
'workers' whose material conditions lifted them above and away from the
conditions of the masses, and so created a conservative, often
dangerously romantic trend acting against interests of the broad
masses. What is always required is a close practical and material
analysis of given circumstances. As so many of the 'middle class' fall
now into serious difficulties, so their poiltical attitudes will evolve,
even rapidly change; but out of this we certainly cannot expect a
progressive trend to appear without a political party rooted in the
poorer sections of society which explains clearly what has to be done
to transform their lives. Intellectuals - preferable worker
intellectuals with their feet on the ground and not an eye to promotion
ladder, or next research grant - must have a role here. Being a 'worker'
in the limited way you express it tells us nothing, for the working
class has to have a clear *consciouness*, and objective view of its
position within modern imperialism to achieve anything. The issue is
intention as well as position.

Paul B.

On 03/05/2011 06:34, B.R.Bapuji wrote:
> Paul,
> If it is not wrong on my part to take out a sentence like this from
> your comments, you said:
> "and this is only to be discussed, by the working class itself, as
> they create such
> societies."
> I would like to know who constitute 'working class'? Are we [those who
> are engaged in mental occupations of teaching, research or some such
> activity not part of working class, though the upper stratum of it?
> I hope you won't misunderstand me that I am diverting the debate.
> Bapuji
> B.R.Bapuji, Professor ,
> Centre for Applied Linguistics & Translation Studies [CALTS] ,
> University of Hyderabad, Central University post office,
> HYDERABAD-500 046. (Phone: 040-23133655,23133650 or 23010161).
> /Residence address: /
> 76, Lake-side Colony, Near Durgam Cheruvu, [End of Road opp:Madapur
> Police Station] , Jubilee Hills post, Hyderabad-500033.
> (Phone: 040-23117302)
> *From:* Paul Bullock <>
> *To:* Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
> *Sent:* Mon, May 2, 2011 9:40:44 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [OPE] market - and other kinds of - socialism
> 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.
> On 02/05/2011 14:24, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> >> now back to me: i take it that the discussion is really centering on
> >> the third of these ideas. however, i just do not understand the use of
> >> the noun, socialism, here. there is nothing socialist about china: the
> >> state is operating as a capitalist. like any capitalist, it has
> >> various uses for the surplus that its capitalist production generates:
> >> some is expended, some is accumulated. and like any capitalist, it
> >> seeks to use (other arms of) the state to advance its own interests:
> >> eg, infrastructure-building stimulus packages. i know that the term
> >> 'market socialism' is still used by the leadership, but that's
> >> placating the masses (especially those older folk who thought that on
> >> balance mao was pretty good for ordinary people).
> >
> >
> > Michael W:
> >
> > Thanks for your clarifications via 'Wikipedia' of the different
> meanings of
> > market socialism.
> >
> > In so far as China is concerned, I was specifically referring to the
> > Deng Xiaoping 'socialist market economy' experience - which had a lot of
> > similarities to the Right Opposition's proposals in the
> > industrialization debates in the USSR in the late 1920s (which were
> > advanced by Bukharin) and the proposals to restructure the Soviet
> > economy under Gorbachev (perestroika). One could similarly identify
> > similarities - and differences, of course - between what happened in
> > China under Deng and the Lange-Kalecki conception of market socialism
> > and the experiences with market socialism in Hungary under the NEM, the
> > former Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other Eastern European nations
> > (especially those which were part of COMECON). [NB: AS I explicitly
> noted
> > in the last sentence, there are similarities *and differences* in these
> > experiences: e.g. there was workers' control of enterprises in
> Yugoslavia
> > under Tito whereas the managers who directed enterprises in the NEM in
> > Hungary were state-appointed. Some of the institutions and their role in
> > China, such as the influence of the PLA, were also distinct.]
> >
> > In solidarity, Jerry
> >
> >> That's why I originally in this thread raised the subject in terms of
> >> economic history (including the experience of market socialism in
> >> the former Yugoslavia, China under Deng Xiaoping, Hungary
> >> under the NEM beginning in 1968, etc.).
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> >
> >
> >
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