Human Liberation Ought To Be The True Goal Of Socialists

January 2023 Forums General discussion Human Liberation Ought To Be The True Goal Of Socialists

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  • #235838
    ErikTheRed
    Participant

    I used to be a member of the SPGB. I know the SPGB case. I still agree with it in principle, but I think certain conditions have to apply for it to actually work in reality. Without acknowledgement of those conditions, we’re left with something that does not account for all the factors in human nature that affect group and individual behaviour.

    Most on here may disagree, but as I see it, the SPGB is making a non-Marxist (or pre-Marxist) case for socialism (which I see no issue with by the way). It is the idea that socialism can simply be abolished, it does not have to be struggled for, and possibly it cannot be struggled for, and any such struggle is futile and always leads back to capitalism or some similar system. In other words, socialism can only be achieved by democratic means in the sense of people voting for it.

    I agree with this, but I would go one step further and posit that the goal of socialists should not be socialism but the negation of socialism. This seems contradictory at first glance, so I will explain. For it to work, socialists would not only have to abolish capitalism, they would have to abolish themselves. This is really about the liberation of all Man from political authority. As I see it, it’s not ‘socialism’ at all. Or maybe a better way of putting it is that socialism itself is but one step and a necessary formality so that society can be re-set. There is a next immediate step that must be taken to complete the liberation of Man, a way of ensuring that there can be no going back to the previous system, or at least that it would be enormously difficult to do so.

    I think society could work on a completely non-political basis, even anti-political, without any sort of political authority, at any level. In other words, once capitalism has been formally abolished out of existence, the various parliaments and assemblies captured by socialists would then take the final step of abolishing themselves. From that point, there would be no ‘world socialism’, as such, in the shape of a political authority. Instead, there would be a more complex post-socialist system – really a complex of systems – made up of individuals and groups making purely industrial decisions, probably at a very small scale, and mostly self-directed. In some respects, it would resemble a classical market system because production would be in response to both use/need and demand, except there would be no ‘market system’, as such. There would be capital (there has to be, otherwise industrial capacity is limited), and people would have private possessory property, including homes they live in or use, but there would be no property system, as such, in that there would be no means of enforcing property rights beyond simple force or moral pressure.

    This final capping process of abolishing socialism preferably should happen immediately after socialism is achieved, which is possible if in the transition to socialism much of the repressive infrastructure of capitalism has already been dismantled and decommissioned. I call it human liberation rather than human freedom because freedom, as such, is not a concrete goal: nobody can guarantee it because freedom is a subjective concept. Liberation is achievable in the sense of formally abolishing all repressive mechanisms in society, including parliaments and assemblies and other nodes of political authority taken over by socialists, and is the final necessary step and goal.
    This must include the abolition of any socialist facsimiles of capitalist institutions – for example, workers’ assemblies, formal workers’ councils and what not – where these serve no actual industrial function.

    If socialists do not take these steps and instead continue with political governance under the justification that they are acting with mass democratic consent, then this will just create another system of disguised repression. The ‘democratic’ justification is grounded in belief rather than fact. Unless there is some technological process available to confirm the dynamic consent of the overwhelming majority of people from one day to the next, it is impossible to assert that workers’ delegates or representatives continue to act with consent, and all such mechanisms must eventually devolve into repression.

    #235840
    DJP
    Participant

    “It is the idea that socialism can simply be abolished, it does not have to be struggled for, and possibly it cannot be struggled for, and any such struggle is futile and always leads back to capitalism or some similar system. In other words, socialism can only be achieved by democratic means in the sense of people voting for it.”

    This isn’t the Socialist Party case at all, more like a caricature version of it. Of course socialism has to be struggled for! The capitalists aren’t just going to hand it over, this means action outside of parliament will be just as important as that inside it, if not more. This is why majority understanding is crucial; if the parliamentary route is blocked (I have no doubts that there would be attempts to do this) the effect would be a further loss in the legitimacy of the capitalist class and a further empowerment of the socialist majority who wouldn’t just be sat about passively.

    #235841
    DJP
    Participant

    “From that point, there would be no ‘world socialism’, as such, in the shape of a political authority. Instead, there would be a more complex post-socialist system – really a complex of systems – made up of individuals and groups making purely industrial decisions, probably at a very small scale, and mostly self-directed. In some respects, it would resemble a classical market system because production would be in response to both use/need and demand, except there would be no ‘market system’, as such.”

    How is this different to the federalist ideas of the anarchist communists?

    #235842
    DJP
    Participant

    “There would be capital (there has to be, otherwise industrial capacity is limited), and people would have private possessory property, including homes they live in or use, but there would be no property system”

    What do you mean by capital here? Things like factories? Or financial capital?

    #235843
    DJP
    Participant

    “Unless there is some technological process available to confirm the dynamic consent of the overwhelming majority of people from one day to the next”

    So you think everybody has to have an opinion about everything?

    #235844
    ErikTheRed
    Participant

    @DJP

    I think you are getting hung up on wording/semantics. I know you have to ‘struggle’/work before socialism can happen – that is obvious – but that is not the sense in which I am using the word ‘struggle’.

    I don’t think everybody must have an opinion on everything. I’m not sure why you think I do or why you had to make that point at all or what you’re trying to tell me.

    Sorry, I assumed prior knowledge on the part of readers and just thought you would be tuned in to what I am saying.

    #235845
    DJP
    Participant

    “but that is not the sense in which I am using the word ‘struggle’”

    What did you mean by it then? Violence?

    “I don’t think everybody must have an opinion on everything. I’m not sure why you think I do or why you had to make that point at all or what you’re trying to tell me.”

    Well you talked about having to measure the “dynamic consent of the overwhelming majority of people from one day to the next”. Sounds like some kind of mass opinion poll to me. What questions would they be asked?

    #235849
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I think society could work on a completely non-political basis, even anti-political, without any sort of political authority, at any level. In other words, once capitalism has been formally abolished out of existence, the various parliaments and assemblies captured by socialists would then take the final step of abolishing themselves.

    We need to be clear what we are meaning by the word “political” in this discussion. The Socialist Party associates the word with the State as the public power of coercion. Once a socialist majority wins control of the State, of political power, then the aim will be to use it briefly to abolish capitalism and then to quickly dismantle it, by lopping off the powers of coercion. What will be left would be an unarmed administrative centre.

    On this definition it follows that in socialism “politics”, as activity involving the policy a State should pursue would no longer exist, only non-political democratic debate would.

    I don’t see any reason why the various elected assemblies would necessarily need to be abolished. It’s just the coercive aspects of the current administrative centre that would need to go. The elected assemblies could continue to exist, no doubt made more democratic. Or they could be replaced by entirely new assemblies. Who knows? We can’t second guess the future course of events or the decisions of those who establish socialism. But there’s no point to start from scratch just for the sake of it.

    But your objection doesn’t seem to be to the central administrative of society being armed (our objection) but the traditional anarchist objection to one existing at all (in fact to define the “state” they wish to abolish as any central administration).

    I don’t think this is realistic. Society needs an administrative centre for some matters (world matters like global warming, research into how to avoid the Earth being hit by an asteroid). Other matters can be dealt with by regional centres, still others, most day to day matters in fact, by local centres.

    I don’t see decisions taken by any of these centres being an infringement of the “right of the individual” or the “tyranny of the majority” as individualist anarchists do. Obviously there will be limits as to what they can decide and rules on how they decide, but these too can be decided democratically (or even inherited from existing elected assemblies). What’s the problem?

    #235852
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Similar to DJP, I would contest this assertion

    “It is the idea that socialism can simply be abolished, it does not have to be struggled for, and possibly it cannot be struggled for, and any such struggle is futile and always leads back to capitalism or some similar system.”

    The reality as I see it is that the SPGB is simply in no position to struggle for anything. It has the influence against capitalism of a gnat.

    However, when (or if) it grows in number then it will have the ability to wage a struggle (anybody who has been in the middle of a swarm of midges in Scotland understands analogies with gnats)

    The honesty of the SPGB is that we acknowledge our current impotence and do not mislead people and misrepresent of our ability to change things at present.

    We are an educational advocacy group and that is all we aspire to be under today’s situation and conditions.

    Our future role will evolve when the class struggle escalates into an open class war. We will transform much as all other organs of the working people will change.

    Nobody argues the SPGB (or a clone of it) is a pre-requisite for socialist revolution.

    #235853
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    “This must include the abolition of any socialist facsimiles of capitalist institutions – for example, workers’ assemblies, formal workers’ councils and what not – where these serve no actual industrial function.”

    Isn’t this what we all aspire towards – a class-free society?

    When the tools needed to achieve socialism have accomplished their goal, there is no need to retain them and they can be discarded…as an industrial or economic democracy is implemented, the administration of things and not of people.

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