March 24, 2021 at 4:36 pm #215938
Socialism in one fortress. It’s a novel idea. It might work … for a few months.
A classic argument between Marxists and anarchists (those who want common ownership, that is) has been about when a viable communist society could be established. Anarchists (and “Utopian Socialists”) argued that it could have been and could be established anywhere and at any time in history. Marx argued that one of its conditions was productive forces capable of providing plenty for all.
This is no longer an argument today since that condition has been met, meaning that a communist society could be established tomorrow if that’s what a majority of workers wanted. That was the situation in 1921 too.
But should socialists try to establish oases or islets of communism now alongside capitalism or should they work to help get a majority of workers to want and act to achieve worldwide communism?March 24, 2021 at 6:52 pm #215947
socialism in one fortress: you know as well as i do that kronstadt was merely part of a wider movement within russia at the time. as i said earlier, if you think that russia needed development of productive forces you must give lenin and stalin all the retroactive support they require. especially the tanks. lend-lease spgb tanks with special wheels to crush sailors. drive them through the time portal now.
socialism is more than simply “free access”. it depends on the workers having the ability to exercise democratic control in a more than nominal fashion. therefore, in today’s terms, whatever strengthens that ability should be promoted. although sitting on one’s arse in the woods drumming is also good.March 24, 2021 at 8:18 pm #215950
I never said that industrial development in Russia was needed under capitalist conditions and certainly not in the form it took under Stalin. If socialism had been established in the rest of the world in 1917 or 1921 or before, any industrialisation of a part of the world in the same condition as Russia then was could have taken place under the quite different conditions of socialism.
My argument was, given that world socialism wasn’t established (because the great majority of the workers of the world didn’t want it), then industrialisation under capitalist conditions was inevitable in Russia. It was going to happen, though it could have taken a different form, with more private capitalism, than it did. So there was some historical leeway.
But could some sort of non-capitalist society have been established in Russia on its own if a majority there had wanted it? It’s a bit of an academic question now since it didn’t happen so there’s little point in asking you what it might have been like. But I doubt it.
What isn’t academic is the situation today. Is further capitalist industrialisation needed in the the largely non-industrialised parts of the world? I say No. But how to avoid it? By world socialism or by some attempt to establish some sort of non-capitalist society in one country or region? What should revolutionaries like us be aiming for the workers to do?March 24, 2021 at 11:21 pm #215951
mmm…that there was some desire for something other than state capitalism or private capitalism in russia during that time is surely incontestable. one wouldn’t like to say majority, but local majorities? sure. was it physically possible? we’ll never know because the leninists made sure their way was the only way. more private was unlikely since all the cappies had run away to america to write trashy porn (“oh mister roark you hunk of entrepreneurial dobadness, do me hard over this heap of share certificates”). however, enough with the historical speculation.
part two: interestingly indeterminate. you’re mister spgb. you’re supposed to have all the answers. i guess my answer is the same as previous. start how you mean to go on. the grand scheme is fine but it depends on people being able to act independently at a local level. democratic control don’t mean nothing if there’s the old managerial structure. this has the possibility of encouraging people to break out of consumerist dependency. plus i wanna walk around in a muumuu.March 25, 2021 at 6:51 am #215968
Yes, Marxism is rather less voluntaristic than anarchism. There are economic laws out there and they cannot be overcome by acts of will. The sad fact is that as long as capitalism is the dominant world system there is no way out on a national scale for people anywhere, not even in the capitalistically developed parts of the world and certainly not elsewhere. This means that people in parts of the world in the same position as Russia was in 1917 are going to have to suffer capitalist development. There is nothing they can do to avoid it; the most they can do is to try to ensure that this takes place in conditions of political democracy. “Think global, act local” sounds ok at first sight but, when you analyse it, it doesn’t turn out to be that sensible. Not that some local acts can’t bring some relief within the system for some.March 25, 2021 at 8:55 am #215980
although since you were originally peddling a voluntaristic line (russians didn’t want socialism, therefore they have to have capitalism), calling anarchism voluntaristic is a bit rich.
i’d go by the original deterministic spgb line (russia is not properly capitalist, therefore it can’t be socialist). except the logical conclusion from that is gulag. followed by poisoner putin.
capitalism only leads to more capitalism should be what we learn from history.
what’s more, development makes socialism less likely to be achieved. you only have to look at the working class in britain or america to see that. totally brainwashed. incapable of taking positive action.March 25, 2021 at 9:29 am #215984
I’m surprised that an anarchist should object to being described as “voluntarist”. I thought this was what anarchism was all about. Traditionally, they have accused Marxists of being “determinist”.
Incidentally I never argued that Russia had to develop capitalism just because workers there didn’t want socialism. It was because socialism isn’t possible in one country, and especially not in an industrially backward one. Capitalism would have had to develop there even if a majority had wanted socialism. There’s determinism if you !
I am not sure that the development of capitalism in parts of the world where elements of pre-capitalist class societies survive is necessarily bad for socialism. At least capitalism will spread education and lessen the oppression of women in those parts of the world. But that’s a matter for another thread.March 25, 2021 at 6:56 pm #216039
“oppression of women”: you going all idpolly too?March 25, 2021 at 10:24 pm #216048
Of course not. In countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran women are clearly oppressed. It’s the law. In time the development of capitalism will undermine this just as it did here where there is now no longer any state oppression of women.March 26, 2021 at 12:14 am #216049
ho ho ho!March 26, 2021 at 12:20 am #216050
well i believe women are now allowed to drive in saudi. But since the status of women is now much worse in afghanistan and iran than it was 40 years when the economies of those countries were much less developed, would it not be fair to conclude that the case for capitalism brings social change is much more tenuous than one might expect.March 26, 2021 at 1:23 am #216051alanjjohnstoneKeymasterMarch 26, 2021 at 7:13 am #216056
“would it not be fair to conclude that the case for capitalism brings social change is much more tenuous than one might expect.”
No, not unless you regard regard Whabbism, Ayatollahism, the Taleban and ISIS as capitalist ideologies whereas self-confessedly they are imposing a legal code from pre-capitalist times.
What is a tenuous, faced with such pre-capitalist ideologies, is the social change that capitalism brings.
I am not (of course) arguing for the further development of capitalism in those parts of the world but merely pointing out that the “progress” of capitalism there is not entirely negative as you suggested, to the extent that it undermines the pre-capitalist ideologies and practices that still survive there.
Capitalism is only concerned with exploiting wage-labour and is not bothered about the skin colour, sex, nationality or language of the bearer of the labour-power they purchase. In this sense it is naturally and logically secular and non-discriminatory, as is now reflected in the legal systems in the capitalistically-advanced parts of the world.
Incidentally, I think you are wrong about Afghanistan, at least in the areas controlled by the government.March 26, 2021 at 7:39 am #216058
not kronstadt but linking the woman question back to that time period. when i visited berlin for the centenary of rosa luxemburg’s death (i skipped the vigil – too damn cold) there was a city wide exhibition about the revolution. an especial emphasis was put on the granting to women of the rite (sic) to vote. sod the fact that they’d killed a woman. if rosa had been pretty, like sarah everhard, the forces of thw state would have raped her first. now that’s what women’s liberation through capitalism looks like. there might be no laws but you bet there’s state oppression. because the rule of law, democracy, civil society is a thin veil over the brutal reign of capital.March 26, 2021 at 8:40 am #216061
”the rule of law, democracy, civil society is a thin veil over the brutal reign of capital.
As an anarchist you would say that, wouldn’t you? That’s an important difference between anarchists and socialists. We recognise that, for all its limitations, the vote is a potential weapon that can (and should) be used in the course of ending capitalism. Also that “bourgeois democracy” provides the best framework within which the working class and socialist movement can develop and so is not to be rejected as a thin veil or useless façade.
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