“socialism in one country”

September 2021 Forums General discussion “socialism in one country”

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 49 total)
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  • #89986
    ALB
    Keymaster
    robbo203 wrote:
    if you even bothered to read what I wrote.

    I just have again and this is what you wrote:

    robbo203 wrote:
    These are hugely important theoretical questions which, as far as I know, the SPGB has not yet come up with an answer to.  It needs to do that  if it is to make its whole electoralist strategy more credible in the eyes of skeptics.

    To describe the issue as “hugely important” and making our “whole electoralist (!) strategy” less “credible” is a gross exaggeration. It’s an interesting subject for speculation, I agree, but having a definite policy on this, at this stage, is not that crucial.You’ve just gone over the top again in your reply to Steve:

    robbo203 wrote:
    If you cannot do that then there is no hope for socialism

    In any event, as the extract from the Questions of the Day pamphlet shows, we have faced and discussed the issue and come up with something, ie (1) that it’s not very likely to happen, (2) that if it was going to, the decision would be up to the World Socialist International to decide. What’s wrong with that? No need to go into details about ISRs and RCSs or whatever which anyway begs the question by assuming that it is likely that the socialist movement would win political control in just one minority part of the world while the rest will be unaffected. More useful to begin by discussing whether or not this is a realistic assumption. So why do you think that the socialist movement will be more advanced in one part of the world than the rest, and where and why?

    robbo203 wrote:
      I could just as easily retort the Party’s insistence that political power needs to be democratically captured is an equally “hypothetical” matter which we should not really make a fuss about now but wait till the socialist consists of tens of millions of people rather than a few thousand  to decide.  But does the party think that the need to democratically captured political is something best left to when socialism is more or less on cards?  No it does not .  To the contrary  I believe that one of the questions on the current membership application  form is “Why do socialists maintain that democratic methods such as parliamentary elections, must be used to capture political power for the achievement of socialism?

    Good debating point, I concede. But surely that socialism can only come about democratically is a basic socialist principle and that if there’s not a majority in favour of socialism then socialism cannot be established. That’s the key point.  Yes, it is theoretically possible that once a majority wants socialism they could decide democratically not to try to take political power out of the hands of the ruling class and set about trying to establish socialism while leaving them in control it. However, this would be such a stupid decision that I can’t see it being decided: any dogmatic anarchists proposing it would simply be ignored.Incidentally, this principle (and question) does not say that parliament must be used, but only that political power must be won, democratically. This leaves open the possibility that political power could be won by some other means, as long as they were democratic. This is in fact a hypothetical situation that we have faced, eg in the event of the ruling class suspending political democracy. Once again, what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances. It is not something we can lay down now, though we can speculate about what they might or could decide to do. But would it help our case or add to our credibility if we decided now that the answer must be, say, a general strike?But, surely, you don’t want to include in the membership questionnaire, a question like this: Why do socialists maintain that an initial socialist region must be established if the socialist movement is in a position to win political control in just one country?” Do you?

    #89987
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Here I go, please don’t savage me if I appear to have got anything wrong. We should be aware this is a public forum and our behaviour reflects on the movement and could put people off.So imagine if I am discussing the SPGB (and companion parties) goal of capturing political power from the capitalist minority using parliamentary democracy.So I say this is needed in order to take the power away from the pro capitalist state, legitimizing the movement, using their own institutions of democracy against them, reducing the ability for the capitalist minority to be able to fight back etc. So I am asked about the possibility of one or a handful of countries arriving at this point earlier than the rest. Is my response to be that, we will need to leave it up to the socialists then to decide what course of action to take?While I fully accept the idea that if that were to happen the exact circumstances would dictate the approach, but if I were to simply come out with a weak answer such as that, I know I would be laughed at.In my discussions over the years I have never made it that far. It is hard enough trying to get people to grasp the idea of a world without money, borders and leaders in the first place. But if I had, it now appears to me that I would have been left looking like a stereotypical hippy, “Wow man, don’t get too heavy, it will all work itself out in the end man, the people will find a way.”I am keen to learn, as I am sure many others are. 

    #89988
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    ALB wrote:
    Incidentally, this principle (and question) does not say that parliament must be used, but only that political power must be won, democratically. This leaves open the possibility that political power could be won by some other means, as long as they were democratic. This is in fact a hypothetical situation that we have faced, eg in the event of the ruling class suspending political democracy. Once again, what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances. It is not something we can lay down now, though we can speculate about what they might or could decide to do. But would it help our case or add to our credibility if we decided now that the answer must be, say, a general strike?

    I don’t understand this hangup that some folk have about the use of parliament.  OK, one expects objections from those on the ‘left’ who regard the use of a bourgeois institution by revolutionaries as ‘revisionist’ or whatever, but some of our own members are clearly diffident about its use.Parliament inside capitalism is representative of a democratic process in that ‘parties’ can enter the field and be able to express any manner of views legitimately. The strength that capitalism has over people in countries that could be described as liberal democracies is that capitalist politicians, organisations and businesses with all the tools at their disposal have been able to foster a belief, or at the very least an acquiescence, in the ideas that capitalism encourages us to believe in. Two ideas prominent to liberal democratic political ideology are that we live in a society which is both democratic and free. We live in a society where there is a semblance of democracy and freedom, so what better way is there to challenge that ‘democracy and freedom’ than by using the accepted legitimate channels and thereby being able to call its bluff?Once there is an organised, determined majority (and how better to know that there is a majority except by the counting of votes at an election?) the success of the socialist revolution is assured, one way or the other. It is then a question of the best tactic to pursue to ensure that this takes place as rapidly, smoothly and peacefully as possible. In my view the best way to proceed is to start by obtaining a democratic mandate via the ballot box for the changeover to socialism. The tactical advantage of doing this is that, when obtained, it deprives the supporters of capitalism of any legitimacy for the continuation of their rule. This could be important should some of the pro-capitalists think of staging a coup: any wavering elements, especially in the armed forces, would tend to side with those who have the undisputed democratic legitimacy, i.e. in this instance those who want socialism.

    #89989
    steve colborn
    Participant

    Parliament or, Parliaments, are merely a way to judge when a majority to change society has come about. At the moment, to me at least it is our only term of reference.
    One more thing, do people really expect a spread of socialist ideas to spread in one country alone? In isolation?
    Ever heard of the internet. Ideas spread fairly quickly there. It would be absurd to think that one could have a majority of workers reach this level of political consciousness in one country but not in others.
    When this level of consciousness has indeed been reached say, for instance, in the UK, it will be mirrored in many more.

    #89990
    robbo203
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    if you even bothered to read what I wrote.

    I just have again and this is what you wrote:

    robbo203 wrote:
    These are hugely important theoretical questions which, as far as I know, the SPGB has not yet come up with an answer to.  It needs to do that  if it is to make its whole electoralist strategy more credible in the eyes of skeptics.

    To describe the issue as "hugely important" and making our "whole electoralist (!) strategy" less "credible" is a gross exaggeration. It's an interesting subject for speculation, I agree, but having a definite policy on this, at this stage, is not that crucial.

    No, you are confusing quite different things here. We can speculate  about some things such as the extent of spatial imbalances in the growth towards socialism.  I have already suggested that there would be a number of factors that would tend  to work towards it being reasonably  balanced  –  telecommunications , convergent economic developments and, of course, the pro-active interventions of the worldwide socialist movement itself to help promote such balanced growth,   However, with the best will in the world, it is pretty inconceivable that every socialist party in the world would grow exactly in lock step with every other to be in a position  be able to capture political power simultaneously; there are inevitably going to be lags, perhaps quite significant lags.  There are, in other words, other factors that work against balanced growth such as global inequalities and cultural legacies.  It would be naive to just  assume that the growing socialist movement would be like some great tidal wave that removes all obstacles in its pathFrom here on – once you accept there is going to be some degree  of spatial imbalance  – the discussion shifts from the realm of speculation to a question of having to make a definite choice and formulating a definite policy .  Assuming some socialist party somewhere in the world is the first to democratically capture political power  it has basically only two options and about this there can be no "speculation":  it is a matter of simple logical deduction1) Does it establish socialism straightaway in the area in which has just captured political power?   This would mean this initial socialist region (ISR) having to come to some kinds of arrangement with the surrounding  residual capitalist states.2) Does it wait until other socialist parties elsewhere have also captured so that together they can all simultaneously introduce socialism?  This would mean this first victorious socialist party having to assume the role of a government of some sort to administer capitalism in the meanwhileI repeat again – there can be no "speculation" about this,  There is no third option,  Assuming you have captured political  (there is one other possibility which is NOT to capture power even though you are a majority though I don't think this is plausible for reasons already explained) you  HAVE to choose one or other of these two options. There are no ifs and no buts here. Refusing to come to some kind of decision  in principle as to which one of these is the best option to choose  does indeed make your electoralist strategy less credible for the very obvious reason that workers are naturally going to ask what is the Socialist Party going to do when it democratically captures power .  What could you and the SPGB say in response?  Absolutely nothing it seems. How is this going to enhance your credibility?Talking of which – what counts as a majority as far as the SPGB is concerned?  Here too all is vagueness with the SPGB  and vagueness is the enemy of credibility. I've come across statements to the effect that what is needed is a "significant majority" but what exactly does that mean?  Perhaps this is implying the possibility that socialists will not capture power even though they are a majority and that they need to be more than must a simple majority of 51%.  But have you even begun to figure out the consequences that would result from allowing a  capitalist government to keep hold of reins of power even though you are a majority?   Nope.  I don't think so.  On this as on so many other things the SPGB remains silent   where even a smidgeon of healthy speculation would help raise your credibility a little

    ALB wrote:
    You've just gone over the top again in your reply to Steve:

    robbo203 wrote:
    If you cannot do that then there is no hope for socialism

    I don't agree that it "over the top" at all.  I was making a general point  about the importance of going beyond a pat formulaic responses – not just specifically to this question but about the nature of socialist society in general.   You need  for instance to be able to demonstrate how socialism could specifically utilise existing resources to produce for the needs of the population in practical terms –  not just utter ex cathedra type claims  about the merits of socialism,  People will  quite rightly just dismiss you as daydreamers otherwise.  To be fair, the SPGB has made some effort in this direction but still you get this silly argument being rolled out that it is "not for us now to speculate" which is to totally miss the point.  You need to put meat on the bare bones of your model of socialism and if you cannot excite peoples imagination and get them to think of socialism as a realistic  and solid empirically-grounded proposition  rather than just an collection of cosy sentiments that brushes aside any probing question on the grounds that you cant write "recipes for  cookshops of the future" – Marx's famous gaffe – then there is indeed no hope for socialism.  So I fully stand by my statement

    ALB wrote:
    In any event, as the extract from the Questions of the Day pamphlet shows, we have faced and discussed the issue and come up with something, ie (1) that it's not very likely to happen, (2) that if it was going to, the decision would be up to the World Socialist International to decide. What's wrong with that?

    The Questions of the Day pamphlet did not answer the question at all, It was a complete and utter fudge. All it could come up with was this lame piece of  waffle:"the decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time"This is just so wishy washy.  Its a cop out and people are just not going to buy it. It did not even outline the options (see above ) that would need to be looked at before such such a decision could be made

    ALB wrote:
    No need to go into details about ISRs and RCSs or whatever which anyway begs the question by assuming that it is likely that the socialist movement would win political control in just one minority part of the world while the rest will be unaffected. More useful to begin by discussing whether or not this is a realistic assumption. So why do you think that the socialist movement will be more advanced in one part of the world than the rest, and where and why?

    Why?  For the reasons stated above. Personally,  I'm not too concerned with which part of the world would be more advanced – this is indeed the subject of speculation  – but rather with the fact that are almost certainly going  to be some  spatial imbalances and if the SPGB or any other socialist party is to appear more credible it has to work out well in well in advance what it would do under these circumstances  if it captured political power when the rest of the world was somewhat lagging.  You cannot just irresponsibly palm this question off to some time in the indefinite future when hopefully the global  movement is much larger. It needs a long term vision now of what it would do under these circumstances.  

    ALB wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
      I could just as easily retort the Party's insistence that political power needs to be democratically captured is an equally "hypothetical" matter which we should not really make a fuss about now but wait till the socialist consists of tens of millions of people rather than a few thousand  to decide.  But does the party think that the need to democratically captured political is something best left to when socialism is more or less on cards?  No it does not .  To the contrary  I believe that one of the questions on the current membership application  form is "Why do socialists maintain that democratic methods such as parliamentary elections, must be used to capture political power for the achievement of socialism?

    Good debating point, I concede. But surely that socialism can only come about democratically is a basic socialist principle and that if there's not a majority in favour of socialism then socialism cannot be established. That's the key point.  Yes, it is theoretically possible that once a majority wants socialism they could decide democratically not to try to take political power out of the hands of the ruling class and set about trying to establish socialism while leaving them in control it. However, this would be such a stupid decision that I can't see it being decided: any dogmatic anarchists proposing it would simply be ignored.

    Though I think it is unlikely that the state will simply die out as the socialist movement grows, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that statist institutions will tend to weaken considerably  – possibly even to the point of irrelevance – as the socialist movement   reaches the stage  where globally it can count on literally billions of members and supporters.  Who is to say you could not  have a kind of dual power set  up somewhat analogous to the situation with the Bolshevik Revolution in which you had soviets alongside the constituent assembly.  I'm not advocating the soviet model but all IM saying is that you cannot just dismiss the idea.The point I an making is that it is inconsistent on the part of the SPGB to insist that the political power needs to be captured democratically by parliamentary means  and to elevate this principle to a criterion for membership of the party  and yet to dismiss all that follows from this as mere "speculation". There is nothing speculative about the fact that once a Socialist Party has captured power somewhere  and ahead of socialist parties elsewhere,  it will definitely have to  face the two basic options which i gave set out above.  The implications that stem from either of these are hugely important  – despite what you say – and IM just astounded that you cant seem to  figure this out for yourself.  For example,  the option of not introducing socialism immediately  means in effect installing some sort of dictatorship of the proletariat  to administer capitalism which,  in turn, mean seriously  reassessing the parties entire relationship with the Leninist Left.  It means that the Party in some respects  though not all obviously,  would be adopting a position not far removed from that of a  Leninist type organisation.

    ALB wrote:
    Incidentally, this principle (and question) does not say that parliament must be used, but only that political power must be won, democratically. This leaves open the possibility that political power could be won by some other means, as long as they were democratic. This is in fact a hypothetical situation that we have faced, eg in the event of the ruling class suspending political democracy. Once again, what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances. It is not something we can lay down now, though we can speculate about what they might or could decide to do. But would it help our case or add to our credibility if we decided now that the answer must be, say, a general strike?.

    Well what other means are "other mean"s are you talking about by which political power could be democratically  won?  Spell it out.  Don't just leave it up in the air.  Vagueness, I repeat,  is the enemy of credibility.  Be more willing to risk speculating which is far better than saying nothing at all.  You come up with the same old lame excuse  "what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances" but you don't explain what the choices might be out of which a decision might emerge. This is sloppy and unconvincing and conveys the impression that you haven't really thought much about the mechanics of achieving a socialist society.  Do you accept my point above about there any two options which  the first triumphant socialist political party will have to consider if other parts of the world are still some way off from achieving socialist majorities. In which case which option would you chose and why?

    ALB wrote:
    But, surely, you don't want to include in the membership questionnaire, a question like this: Why do socialists maintain that an initial socialist region must be established if the socialist movement is in a position to win political control in just one country?" Do you?

    No, quite the opposite. I think the membership questionnaire needs to be whittled down not expanded upon and some of the questions in my view as you know – like the question on of religious beliefs – is quite redundant from a socialist point of view   I accept that fundamentally socialism has to be introduced democratically but I would leave out any reference on questionnaire form on how this is to be achieved or even whether it would involve the need to capture political power since its a moot point whether the state will  even exist as a relevant institution on the eve of the socialist revolution.However I draw a sharp distinction between what to put in a membership questionnaire and what the socialist movement needs to decide on  a matter of such fundamental importance as this. It needs to come to some kind of collective view – even if only provisional – about what it would do under these circumstances if only to show that it has at least acknowledged there is a  problem and is thinking about it.  Saying nothing does nothing to enhance its credibility but on the contrary diminishes it…

    #89991
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    robbo203 wrote:
    ALB wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    if you even bothered to read what I wrote.

    I just have again and this is what you wrote:

    robbo203 wrote:
    These are hugely important theoretical questions which, as far as I know, the SPGB has not yet come up with an answer to.  It needs to do that  if it is to make its whole electoralist strategy more credible in the eyes of skeptics.

    To describe the issue as "hugely important" and making our "whole electoralist (!) strategy" less "credible" is a gross exaggeration. It's an interesting subject for speculation, I agree, but having a definite policy on this, at this stage, is not that crucial.

    No, you are confusing quite different things here. We can speculate  about some things such as the extent of spatial imbalances in the growth towards socialism.  I have already suggested that there would be a number of factors that would tend  to work towards it being reasonably  balanced  –  telecommunications , convergent economic developments and, of course, the pro-active interventions of the worldwide socialist movement itself to help promote such balanced growth,   However, with the best will in the world, it is pretty inconceivable that every socialist party in the world would grow exactly in lock step with every other to be in a position  be able to capture political power simultaneously; there are inevitably going to be lags, perhaps quite significant lags.  There are, in other words, other factors that work against balanced growth such as global inequalities and cultural legacies.  It would be naive to just  assume that the growing socialist movement would be like some great tidal wave that removes all obstacles in its pathFrom here on – once you accept there is going to be some degree  of spatial imbalance  – the discussion shifts from the realm of speculation to a question of having to make a definite choice and formulating a definite policy .  Assuming some socialist party somewhere in the world is the first to democratically capture political power  it has basically only two options and about this there can be no "speculation":  it is a matter of simple logical deduction1) Does it establish socialism straightaway in the area in which has just captured political power?   This would mean this initial socialist region (ISR) having to come to some kinds of arrangement with the surrounding  residual capitalist states.2) Does it wait until other socialist parties elsewhere have also captured so that together they can all simultaneously introduce socialism?  This would mean this first victorious socialist party having to assume the role of a government of some sort to administer capitalism in the meanwhileI repeat again – there can be no "speculation" about this,  There is no third option,  Assuming you have captured political  (there is one other possibility which is NOT to capture power even though you are a majority though I don't think this is plausible for reasons already explained) you  HAVE to choose one or other of these two options. There are no ifs and no buts here. Refusing to come to some kind of decision  in principle as to which one of these is the best option to choose  does indeed make your electoralist strategy less credible for the very obvious reason that workers are naturally going to ask what is the Socialist Party going to do when it democratically captures power .  What could you and the SPGB say in response?  Absolutely nothing it seems. How is this going to enhance your credibility?Talking of which – what counts as a majority as far as the SPGB is concerned?  Here too all is vagueness with the SPGB  and vagueness is the enemy of credibility. I've come across statements to the effect that what is needed is a "significant majority" but what exactly does that mean?  Perhaps this is implying the possibility that socialists will not capture power even though they are a majority and that they need to be more than must a simple majority of 51%.  But have you even begun to figure out the consequences that would result from allowing a  capitalist government to keep hold of reins of power even though you are a majority?   Nope.  I don't think so.  On this as on so many other things the SPGB remains silent   where even a smidgeon of healthy speculation would help raise your credibility a little

    ALB wrote:
    You've just gone over the top again in your reply to Steve:

    robbo203 wrote:
    If you cannot do that then there is no hope for socialism

    I don't agree that it "over the top" at all.  I was making a general point  about the importance of going beyond a pat formulaic responses – not just specifically to this question but about the nature of socialist society in general.   You need  for instance to be able to demonstrate how socialism could specifically utilise existing resources to produce for the needs of the population in practical terms –  not just utter ex cathedra type claims  about the merits of socialism,  People will  quite rightly just dismiss you as daydreamers otherwise.  To be fair, the SPGB has made some effort in this direction but still you get this silly argument being rolled out that it is "not for us now to speculate" which is to totally miss the point.  You need to put meat on the bare bones of your model of socialism and if you cannot excite peoples imagination and get them to think of socialism as a realistic  and solid empirically-grounded proposition  rather than just an collection of cosy sentiments that brushes aside any probing question on the grounds that you cant write "recipes for  cookshops of the future" – Marx's famous gaffe – then there is indeed no hope for socialism.  So I fully stand by my statement

    ALB wrote:
    In any event, as the extract from the Questions of the Day pamphlet shows, we have faced and discussed the issue and come up with something, ie (1) that it's not very likely to happen, (2) that if it was going to, the decision would be up to the World Socialist International to decide. What's wrong with that?

    The Questions of the Day pamphlet did not answer the question at all, It was a complete and utter fudge. All it could come up with was this lame piece of  waffle:"the decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time"This is just so wishy washy.  Its a cop out and people are just not going to buy it. It did not even outline the options (see above ) that would need to be looked at before such such a decision could be made

    ALB wrote:
    No need to go into details about ISRs and RCSs or whatever which anyway begs the question by assuming that it is likely that the socialist movement would win political control in just one minority part of the world while the rest will be unaffected. More useful to begin by discussing whether or not this is a realistic assumption. So why do you think that the socialist movement will be more advanced in one part of the world than the rest, and where and why?

    Why?  For the reasons stated above. Personally,  I'm not too concerned with which part of the world would be more advanced – this is indeed the subject of speculation  – but rather with the fact that are almost certainly going  to be some  spatial imbalances and if the SPGB or any other socialist party is to appear more credible it has to work out well in well in advance what it would do under these circumstances  if it captured political power when the rest of the world was somewhat lagging.  You cannot just irresponsibly palm this question off to some time in the indefinite future when hopefully the global  movement is much larger. It needs a long term vision now of what it would do under these circumstances.  

    ALB wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
      I could just as easily retort the Party's insistence that political power needs to be democratically captured is an equally "hypothetical" matter which we should not really make a fuss about now but wait till the socialist consists of tens of millions of people rather than a few thousand  to decide.  But does the party think that the need to democratically captured political is something best left to when socialism is more or less on cards?  No it does not .  To the contrary  I believe that one of the questions on the current membership application  form is "Why do socialists maintain that democratic methods such as parliamentary elections, must be used to capture political power for the achievement of socialism?

    Good debating point, I concede. But surely that socialism can only come about democratically is a basic socialist principle and that if there's not a majority in favour of socialism then socialism cannot be established. That's the key point.  Yes, it is theoretically possible that once a majority wants socialism they could decide democratically not to try to take political power out of the hands of the ruling class and set about trying to establish socialism while leaving them in control it. However, this would be such a stupid decision that I can't see it being decided: any dogmatic anarchists proposing it would simply be ignored.

    Though I think it is unlikely that the state will simply die out as the socialist movement grows, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that statist institutions will tend to weaken considerably  – possibly even to the point of irrelevance – as the socialist movement   reaches the stage  where globally it can count on literally billions of members and supporters.  Who is to say you could not  have a kind of dual power set  up somewhat analogous to the situation with the Bolshevik Revolution in which you had soviets alongside the constituent assembly.  I'm not advocating the soviet model but all IM saying is that you cannot just dismiss the idea.The point I an making is that it is inconsistent on the part of the SPGB to insist that the political power needs to be captured democratically by parliamentary means  and to elevate this principle to a criterion for membership of the party  and yet to dismiss all that follows from this as mere "speculation". There is nothing speculative about the fact that once a Socialist Party has captured power somewhere  and ahead of socialist parties elsewhere,  it will definitely have to  face the two basic options which i gave set out above.  The implications that stem from either of these are hugely important  – despite what you say – and IM just astounded that you cant seem to  figure this out for yourself.  For example,  the option of not introducing socialism immediately  means in effect installing some sort of dictatorship of the proletariat  to administer capitalism which,  in turn, mean seriously  reassessing the parties entire relationship with the Leninist Left.  It means that the Party in some respects  though not all obviously,  would be adopting a position not far removed from that of a  Leninist type organisation.

    ALB wrote:
    Incidentally, this principle (and question) does not say that parliament must be used, but only that political power must be won, democratically. This leaves open the possibility that political power could be won by some other means, as long as they were democratic. This is in fact a hypothetical situation that we have faced, eg in the event of the ruling class suspending political democracy. Once again, what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances. It is not something we can lay down now, though we can speculate about what they might or could decide to do. But would it help our case or add to our credibility if we decided now that the answer must be, say, a general strike?.

    Well what other means are "other mean"s are you talking about by which political power could be democratically  won?  Spell it out.  Don't just leave it up in the air.  Vagueness, I repeat,  is the enemy of credibility.  Be more willing to risk speculating which is far better than saying nothing at all.  You come up with the same old lame excuse  "what to do has to be left to those around at the time to decide in the light of the precise circumstances" but you don't explain what the choices might be out of which a decision might emerge. This is sloppy and unconvincing and conveys the impression that you haven't really thought much about the mechanics of achieving a socialist society.  Do you accept my point above about there any two options which  the first triumphant socialist political party will have to consider if other parts of the world are still some way off from achieving socialist majorities. In which case which option would you chose and why?

    ALB wrote:
    But, surely, you don't want to include in the membership questionnaire, a question like this: Why do socialists maintain that an initial socialist region must be established if the socialist movement is in a position to win political control in just one country?" Do you?

    No, quite the opposite. I think the membership questionnaire needs to be whittled down not expanded upon and some of the questions in my view as you know – like the question on of religious beliefs – is quite redundant from a socialist point of view   I accept that fundamentally socialism has to be introduced democratically but I would leave out any reference on questionnaire form on how this is to be achieved or even whether it would involve the need to capture political power since its a moot point whether the state will  even exist as a relevant institution on the eve of the socialist revolution.However I draw a sharp distinction between what to put in a membership questionnaire and what the socialist movement needs to decide on  a matter of such fundamental importance as this. It needs to come to some kind of collective view – even if only provisional – about what it would do under these circumstances if only to show that it has at least acknowledged there is a  problem and is thinking about it.  Saying nothing does nothing to enhance its credibility but on the contrary diminishes it…

     This post makes me wonder if a word limit is needed. This is after all a discussion forum!  Personally, I don't bother reading such posts

    #89992
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    This post makes me wonder if a word limit is needed. This is after all a discussion forum!  Personally, I don't bother reading such posts

    Good point, OGW.  Quite honestly I'm sick to the back teeth reading these long, tedious posts characterized by disputatious and often dubious or specious reasoning.

    #89993
    steve colborn
    Participant

    My eyes glazed over after the first citation. Quite honestly I ask, where does this get this thread?

    #89995
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    "Talking of which – what counts as a majority as far as the SPGB is concerned?" Robbo askedThe question what constitutes a majority is one i have previously debated on libcom and here is what i delared.Does it mean majority of the population ? i think not . Does it mean a majority of votes of those on the electoral register,? i think not (It was the 1979 Scottish referendum that had the 40% rule which required not simply a majority of those who voted to support devolution but that it needed 40% of those on the electoral roll to support it . And of course due to the accuracy of the records it meant the dead , the dying and the exiled and not just the apathetic all suddenly had political power by the mere fact of not voting.) A majority of MPs ? I think not – its not bums on the seats in the House of Commons which is important .A Socialist Standard article has this comment:    "….The ICC attributes to us a caricatured position of seeing “the development of consciousness as an accumulation of individual socialists”, as the conversion of workers one by one to socialism until there’s a “mathematical majority”…. If we use terms such as “majority” and “majoritarian” this is not because we are obsessed with counting the number of individual socialists, but to show that we reject minority action to try to establish socialism – majority as the opposite of minority….a majority (yes, but in the democratic rather than mere mathematical sense)…."    http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/aug04/icc.htmlThe SPGB was formed in 1904 when women had no vote and when many men perhaps a much as a third did not meet the registration requirements to get the vote.The majority it called for was the majority to acquire political power.I think what we must do is talk about an effective majority , not simplistic number counting. If it was, we could do it with just a phone-in poll, or use a Gallop opinion poll . What we need to counter the trend towards formalism and maintain a class struggle position. It may be acknowledging that there is an already established world majority of socialists who have, to some extent, voted with their feet – re-organised their jobs, freely distributed food and goods, refused to go to war, or whatever. We won't just sit on our arses for Jon Snow declare the success of the revolution on a swingometer.In the fall of the Communist Party governments of the Eastern Bloc no-one waited around for a massive vote of millions of people since the malaise of state capitalism was plainly evident , allowing individual revolts in each of the countries or individual Soviet republics. Though they were the subject of competing elite groups as well, in general they were mass movements. Legitimacy was established after the fact in the following elections. This of course raises the question if you can have the revolution first, and count the ballots afterwards, what price the parliamentary road to socialism? We usually argue or imply that parliament is the engine of change, whereas in reality it might be nothing but a rubber-stamping exercise. The SPGB position should be one that we do not rely on Parliament but that we use it if we can.We think it is the most effective way to get socialism with the minimum of violence. Elections are an useful expedient, when the alternative is bloody failure on some barricade.But we're not legalists – if the capitalists withdraw the franchise or change its rules we'll have to act without it. Being dependent on the bourgeois offering us a voting opportunity for socialism is not the party case.Most revolutions of the past that have succeeded have, it is considered required no more than quarter to a third active support – which would be enough for an election of any capitalist party. If 25-35% of the population actively supporting the revolution outweighs active opposition sufficiently to achieve its goals, with the rest of our class either passively support us or just only keeping their heads down below the parapets to see what comes out of whatever crisis and comes to pass. That constitutes a sufficient majority of socialists. It should be defined as "functional majority", or such terms, and also not put in thrall of the capitalist process. Capitalist politics, when they interact with our class at all, are fraught with ballot rigging and gerrymandering. The franchise, even when considered "universal", always excludes large sectors of our class. We should also allow for the large possibility that any transition will not be that orderly – by the time we have succeeded there will be no need for such a ballot because the outcome will be obvious and have been the result of class warfare.It is essential for the revolutionary process that this majority is suffice to make socialism work as a system of society. I suspect the deciding factor on the 'majority' is going to be how many of the population will be willing to make socialism actually work.We cannot assume that all of our class will want to be actively involved – many for purely personal social or health reasons but for whatever reason will not want to stick their heads above the parapet. Also lots of our class will be in organisations that have interpreted the situation differently, whether , anarchists, even Trots or whatnot , and would be as likely to cooperate in many aspects of a revolution . We should have a revolutionary model which refers to socialism being brought about by a sufficient majority of socialists – sufficient in their political willingness and awareness, not a 100% at the polls or even a 51% active support.We tallk of as in a 1955 EC Statement: of "The overwhelming mass of the people will participate, or fall in line with, the process of reorganisation "[my emphasis] . Class societies only persist because a majority support or acquiesce to the social system. Once these start to be withdrawn we can expect a revolution.Given previous revolutions, 25-30% of the population actively revolutionised is sufficient to overthrow a government. The SPGB are not utopian bean-counters.Some members have argued if we have 25-30% support why not be patient and wait a couple or three months more and lessen the possibility of violence , because then the chances are that we would have 40-50% of workers revolutionised, but i'm willing to leave that up to the revolutiuonary period to decide.There are a wide variety of potential scenarios for revolution. We would be fools if we limit ourselves to what is theoretically perfect – and thus highly unlikely – rather than asking the question "what do we actually need to make a revolution?" and proceeding on that basis. The problem is not getting people to think "socialism is a good idea" but transforming that into mass social action. We need to be able to act in an imperfect world rather than waiting for a perfect one. Revolution is not merely an announcement of a successful ballot, it is a process, and the process itself will draw our fellows into the struggle. The revolution makes the mass party – the actual date that power can be seen to shift to ourselves is not the beginning, but the beginning of a different phase.The revolution has snowball effect . The more change is imminent the faster and bigger it grows and rolls , without conscious direction of leaders , as many vanguardists and social democrats have often found . You cannot stop an idea when its time has come ,as is frequently said. The Iron Heel couldn't maintain Marcos in Manila , the Shah in Tehran nor the party apparachiks in Moscow , Berlin or Warsaw when people decide to move. Nor in Tunis or Cairo.The State is the form taken by the centre of social administration without which modern industrial society couldn't function. We want the working class to take it over and convert it into an unarmed democratic administration of things. We want to see an end to capitalist class rule not the breakdown of society. The workers en masse don't need create a different and more democratic decision-making structure from the ground up. What they need to do is to take over and perfect the existing, historically-evolved structures. we don't need to construct socialist society from scratch; this is not the way social evolution works; there will be a degree of continuity between what exists now and what will exist in socialism as there always has been between one system of society and another. We are not utopian system-builders like Parecon or Zeitgeist.You don't abolish the state, getting rid of your control of your society at the point of actually having won the thing, and then play at utopias. You grab it and hang on against anything the capitalist class, nationally and internationally, throws at you. During this process also you are transforming the institutions you hold from capitalist into socialist ones.Many here will disagree with what i have written , many in my own party may have a different view. I want to use both fists to fight for socialism , not rely on only a right hook or be just a south-paw boxer . James Connolly recognise for the workers it will be both parliament and non- parliament means to socialism. Sinn Fein engage in the electoral process quite successfully, and even the Bobby Sands seat was held, with an increased vote, by Sinn Fein, who were never legally excluded from participation in elections(not so sure about the early 60s and the formation of the Republican Clubs). Successes convinced the Republicans that they should contest elections and led to the armalite and ballot box phase of their politics and a resurrection of the old Sinn Fein boycott of the London parliament strategy for elected MPs and eventually lead to their integration fully with parliamentary democracy in Northern Ireland.Too many of us fetishise the vote or the abstention. It is the democratic result that we want. Our case for Parliament is that it is the most efficacious application of the workers will to establish socialism, the alternative outcome is described by Murray Bookchin .    "…human beings cannot be free – except under very rare conditions , such as during revolutions and for limited periods of time ; even then , they must still leave the barricades and return to work to satisfy their needs and those of their families. They have to eat , if you please……In May 1937 in Barcelona , the workers had to conquer the Stalinist counterrevolution then and there. But they delayed , and after four days they had to leave the streets to obtain food…"We seek the least disruptive method of revolution and in the UK at this moment in time, parliament is that route. On a personal level, i had to re-appraise my romantic notions of street-fighting and rebellion when a fellow comrade developed diabetes, his concern was that during any revolution, his supply of insulin will continue. Later in life, with a mother in an old peoples home, it is brought home how dependent people are upon the maintenance of the day to day supply chain when they are physical incapable of acquiring it themselves. Often during city wide general strikes, Seattle, Winnipeg , the necessity of supporting the hospitals and the old and young with food and medicines undermined any opportunity of victory. It is the arrogance of the young and the fit that make the role of insurrection a requirement, for they have the least to risk and less to sacrifice.Simple fact is that for many at some part of their lives, other more personal events in their life take precedence over the social side of existence. We have those who will unfortunately have health problems and that illness will be their main concern .We will have those who will have emotional feelings, falling and falling out of love that will appear more pressing to them . We will have immediate family matters, sick parents, new born babies, and we will have the pure simple hedonistic concentrating on new found pleasures. I mention those because of experience of involvement in trade unions . A strike vote , or show of hands in an unofficial action may present the mandate , but follow up required for success ie a strong picket line, demonstations and protests and continued meetings were often ill-attended . The Chartists called the plans for a general strike, The National Holiday.  I am afraid to say in the everyday struggle i have been involved in, because of the work pressures of capitalism, a strike was treated by many as just that, a much needed holiday – to be with the kids, to re-decorate the house rather than stand on a picket line with your fellow worker. 

    #89996
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    For those who insist that posts on a discussion list should not be lengthy – damn that Marx ….a critique of capitalism and he never even had the decency to do a word-count so we needn't bother with the long boring stuff !! All those writings and there are still unanswered questions, so why didn't he do a short FAQ and save us all this work of continued debate!!

    #89994
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    For those who insist that posts on a discussion list should not be lengthy – damn that Marx ….a critique of capitalism and he never even had the decency to do a word-count so we needn't bother with the long boring stuff !! All those writings and there are still unanswered questions, so why didn't he do a short FAQ and save us all this work of continued debate!!

    At least Marx's writings are preserved for posterity and didn't appear on a discussion list.  Our arguments crave succintness and subtlety.  Most workers neither have the time nor the inclination to plough through interminable screeds.

    #89997
    ALB
    Keymaster
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    Is my response to be that, we will need to leave it up to the socialists then to decide what course of action to take?While I fully accept the idea that if that were to happen the exact circumstances would dictate the approach, but if I were to simply come out with a weak answer such as that, I know I would be laughed at.In my discussions over the years I have never made it that far. It is hard enough trying to get people to grasp the idea of a world without money, borders and leaders in the first place. But if I had, it now appears to me that I would have been left looking like a stereotypical hippy, "Wow man, don't get too heavy, it will all work itself out in the end man, the people will find a way."

    But is it really such a weak answer?. I've just listened to Ed "One Nation" Miliband being questioned about what a Labour government will do about taxes in their first year in office if they are elected in 2015, to which he replied that this will depend on the circumstances they inherit. Which of course is all he could say since, if he entered into details, he could be giving a hostage to fortune. It doesn't strike me as an unreasonable answer and that's about events in two or three years time.So, how much more reasonable is it for us to reply "it will depend on the circumstances" and "it will be up to the socialist movement to decide democratically at the time" when we are questioned about what we think should happen in a hypothetical situation that may or not arise in say (unfortunately) 30 to 40 years.

    SocialistPunk wrote:
    So imagine if I am discussing the SPGB (and companion parties) goal of capturing political power from the capitalist minority using parliamentary democracy.So I say this is needed in order to take the power away from the pro capitalist state, legitimizing the movement, using their own institutions of democracy against them, reducing the ability for the capitalist minority to be able to fight back etc. So I am asked about the possibility of one or a handful of countries arriving at this point earlier than the rest. Is my response to be that, we will need to leave it up to the socialists then to decide what course of action to take?

    Basically, yes. But you could also question how likely it is "of one or a handful of countries arriving at this point earlier than the rest."  We know that capitalism continues to exist not so much because the capitalist class control state power as because the majority of people are imbued with capitalist ideas. They don't think it possible to have a society without leaders or armies or buying and selling or working for wages. This view is widespread throughout the whole world.How likely is it when people begin to reject this that this will be confined to people in just "one or a handful of countries"? Not very likely, I suggest, especially as even now under capitalism ideas, music, etc spread very quickly from one continent to another.So, I think it quite reasonable to reply, as in the Questions of the Day pamphlet, that the situation is unlikely to occur but that if it did it would be up to the socialist movement at the time to decide what to do.This applies to all sorts of other hypothetical questions such as "what if the ruling class suspend political democracy?". "what if there's only a 50% + 1 majority?", etc. After all, it is not the SPGB that is going to establish socialism but the working class,

    #89998
    Ed
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Basically, yes. But you could also question how likely it is "of one or a handful of countries arriving at this point earlier than the rest."  We know that capitalism continues to exist not so much because the capitalist class control state power as because the majority of people are imbued with capitalist ideas. They don't think it possible to have a society without leaders or armies or buying and selling or working for wages. This view is widespread throughout the whole world.How likely is it when people begin to reject this that this will be confined to people in just "one or a handful of countries"? Not very likely, I suggest, especially as even now under capitalism ideas, music, etc spread very quickly from one continent to another.So, I think it quite reasonable to reply, as in the Questions of the Day pamphlet, that the situation is unlikely to occur but that if it did it would be up to the socialist movement at the time to decide what to do.

    I think the last couple of years have shown this to be the case. With the so called "Arab spring" inspiring occupy and protest movements within harsh dictatorships everywhere. The bourgeois certainly took the idea of revolutionary spirit spreading across the world seriously. With Iran and China taking a preemptive clamp down on possible uprisings. The spread of class consciousness and ideas also spread quickly and widely during the enlightenment era. Which in turn inspired Marx and Engels. What we need is a sort of proletarian enlightenment, a sort of paradigm shift.

    #89999
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Ed wrote:
     I think the last couple of years have shown this to be the case. With the so called "Arab spring" inspiring occupy and protest movements within harsh dictatorships everywhere. The bourgeois certainly took the idea of revolutionary spirit spreading across the world seriously. With Iran and China taking a preemptive clamp down on possible uprisings. The spread of class consciousness and ideas also spread quickly and widely during the enlightenment era. Which in turn inspired Marx and Engels. What we need is a sort of proletarian enlightenment, a sort of paradigm shift.

     I have always thought that socialist consciousness will come like a 'gestalt shift' in perception. All the information the working class needs is all there but it is the way the information is perceived. As Gestalt showed,  perception can change instantaneously. Socialism could be closer than we think :)

    #90000
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    That's fair enough, can't see any reason to disagree in general, after all I do not wish to argue for the sake of it. There can exist no way to predict the exact circumstances of a socialist revolution.I have reservations about the idea that socialism will come about globally in equal measures. There already exists huge differences in the likes of organized socialist groups, parties etc. Why should this tendency change in the future?

    ALB wrote:
    After all, it is not the SPGB that is going to establish socialism but the working class,

    Obviously the SPGB are part the working class, and therefore must take part.

    Ed wrote:
    What we need is a sort of proletarian enlightenment, a sort of paradigm shift.

    I thought that was the historical self appointed role of the SPGB and companion parties? To educate, and in a sense be the agents (not leaders) of change, because it wouldn't materialize out of thin air?Was I wrongly informed all those years ago, or has there been a change in the way the movement views its role? 

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