1980s >> 1988 >> no-1001-january-1988

Letters: Hierarchical?

 Hierarchical?

Dear Editors.

In an otherwise interesting and informative article on “Computers in a Socialist World” in the November Socialist Standard, George Marcelo makes the strange statement that in a Socialist society “it is likely that the system will be hierarchical”. He further states that “bigger decisions . . . would be decided on higher up the hierarchy”.

Strange indeed, because the last thing a socialist society will be is “hierarchical”. It will, by its nature, be a society of freedom from compulsion where people will work together cooperatively without having to take orders from anyone above them. A society of common ownership, free access and democratic control could not work in any other way. It is the present society that is shot through with hierarchy reflecting the power given by ownership of wealth.

George Marcelo’s reference to “hierarchy” in Socialism may of course just be an unfortunate use of words. Since he uses the word in the context of decisions being made according to their importance at local, regional or world levels, perhaps by it he means a system of decision-making according to the number of people the decisions will affect. But. whatever the case, it should be made clear that the notion of hierarchy, with its associations of leadership and minority decisions from above, could have no place in the organisation of a socialist society.

Yours for Socialism.
Howard Moss
Swansea

The SWP and Russia

Dear Editors.

It was inevitable that, sooner or later, the SWP would nail their colours to the mast and declare in favour of Leninist state capitalism — Russia 1917 model — in their literature. Despite this, when confronted with the anti-socialist nature of their case, SWP members and supporters continue to claim that they want the same society as the socialist — eventually.

But as the article, Leninist State v World Socialism in the October Socialist Standard points out, the socialist is as opposed to the state run by the SWP as to the Russian or any other state. Any doubts as to how socialist criticism in such a state would be judged may be dispelled by reference to the Russian state’s attitude to similar criticism of its system. This is indicated in a pamphlet published by Novosti Press Agency entitled Socialist Economics Today. The writer, an economist of Moscow University called Professor Margarita Bunkina tells us.

The essence of socialism has become the subject of keen debate in the course of which, the opponents of the new social system [Russian State Capitalism – W.R.] frequently pose as supporters of socialism — not of that which has actually existed in the world for 60 years, but of some other kind of socialism which they claim has still to be built

So Russian workers criticising Russian state capitalism from a socialist viewpoint are regarded, correctly, as “opponents of the new social system” attempting to propagate “some other kind of socialism”. As such, they become victims of that state’s corrective institutions. Can anyone believe that socialist criticism of the state run by Lenin’s political heirs in the SWP would be dealt with differently in view of that party’s clear support for Bolshevik tactics and aims?

Yours fraternally,
W. Robertson
Brighton

Socialism v Anarchism

We have received two letters which raise some points about the above article (Socialist Standard, October 1987). We hope to publish these, with our comments, in the February issue.
Editors