Sunday, May 17, 2009

The True Nature Of Socialism

I posted this originally as a comment on the blog of Trotskyist Renegade Eye, but realized it would make a good blog post in its own right. I would be very interested in seeing what others think about it.

To put it in perspective, Ren had a post concerning the nature of Maoism versus Trotskyism, and this led to a very lengthy comment thread between he and the Maoist CelticFire and some others, notably a conservative Brit known as The Sentinel. Ren ended his remarks by declaring that The People's Republic of China, in creating an industrial working class, had sewn the seeds of its own inevitable destruction, much like the feudalistic system did by creating the capitalist class, which itself has sewn the seeds of its own inevitable destruction by creating the working class.

The following is my response to the thread-

Wow. You just jolted me with something you said about China, and its like a fog lifted. You should be able to see it for yourself. Socialists, I think, for the most part assume that time and history moves in a linear fashion. I think it moves in more of a circular fashion, like the universe itself. But there are disruptions, due to the chaotic nature of the universe. Because of this, time and history, if charted on a graph, would have sharp peaks followed by drops, followed by more peaks.

That's why no system will last forever, without interruption. It is simply unsustainable on a permanent basis. There will always be periods of chaotic upheaval, followed by periods of adjustments. We tend to refer to them as "Dark Ages".

Nothing lasts forever, but it always reaches out and drags you right back in, eventually. There was never a more capitalist system than ancient Babylon at its absolute height. It, like Britain, was a nation of shopkeepers.

Also, I think socialism, not in theory but in practice has much, much more in common with feudalism than it might be comfortable for socialists to acknowledge. That seems to be the history, and it fits it well, only without the veneer of a titled nobility. Even at that, it is not too far removed.

So when you say that China is creating the seeds that might eventually destroy it by creating an "industrial working class", it is just following the formula of feudalism creating capitalism. So the good news for capitalists is, we can pretty much look forward to that being the case with Cuba, and Venezuela, etc.

After all, were those nations themselves ever truly capitalists, or were they feudal in nature?

More to the point, could socialism and it's bratty, obnoxious little brother communism be viewed more accurately as the natural phase between feudalism and capitalism?

I say yes. I'm sure of it. Look at it this way. Socialism is a method to phase over between feudalism and capitalism, and can go in either direction, from or to feudalism from or to capitalism.

Communism, the obnoxious, bratty little brother of socialism, is a temper tantrum thrown as a means of keeping to or returning to the feudal state.

Well, nuff said. Socialists will of course virulently disagree with this assessment, and they are welcome to make their case here as to why I do not deserve the Nobel Prize for this piece of brilliance.


Renegade Eye said...

You're way off the mark.

Socialism models itself after the Paris Commune of 1871. The idea of the state, militia etc. flow from that. That took place when capitalism was developing in France.

Capitalism was the first system with equal exchange. This much money buys this thing, based on supply and demand. Feudalism is based on I'm hungry and you have a chicken, and you're cold and I have a bearskin. I don't know if a bearskin is worth a chicken.

Pricing under socialism will be based on supply and demand for probably decades.

Marxism recognizes the difference between simple and compund labor. The more skilled you are, the higher you are paid.

Socialism is based on the working class. That is a creation of capitalism.

I can go on, but it would be ridiculous.

The Pagan Temple said...

Okay, I'll tell you first off what I am trying to do here, though I'm afraid I'm wasting my time. I would like to see a discussion involving real, honest to Gods bona-fide socialists, for the benefit of my regular readers, most of whom you should be aware are by no means social or economic conservatives. They tend to be social liberals and libertarians and/or economic moderates, many left-of-center, and educated. One is a graduate student of history at an American university, with a minor in French.

I think he and all my readers would be interested in your perspective.

That being said, prove me wrong with history, not hopes and theories. Every country that ever went or veered/are veering socialist was more feudal than capitalist. That is including Czarist Russia, China, Venezuela, and even Cuba, to say nothing of Eastern Europe. Does Vietnam or Korea strike you as advanced capitalist states before changing over to communism?

I say in the case of almost all these nations, the adoption of communism or socialism is a reaction formation to the encroachments of capitalism. The aristocracy is dispossessed and expropriated and you have new leaders, but beyond the free health care and emphasis on industrialization and other such surface changes, the real lives of real people who live under either system sees little change. As for the revolutionaries, well, people do prefer the devil they know. What do they really end up doing aside from a conducting few tweaks and minor adjustments to the old system?

What is the difference in the life of the average citizen of a communist country compared to two hundred years ago. In any case of major social or economic advances, it always follows with capitalist reforms. Communism or socialism never seems to have much to do with it. China and Vietnam are both sterling examples of this phenomenon.

Socialism is a pipe dream-no offense, that is just my honest opinion-and I understand why you don't want to play the piper here, and that's your choice. I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but on the other hand, bear in mind that I do have about as of now an average of sixty unique readers a day, in addition to a small cadre of regular readers.

I was hoping for a real discussion of these issues, again for their benefit. They would be a more attentive albeit relatively smaller audience than you ever would have on Facebook, and would probably like to take part in the discussion themselves.

Make your case, if you really have a case to make. I think you do, or I wouldn't suggest you do so. It is not my intention to turn you into a sideshow attraction. Your views are respected here, and always have been, so there would certainly not be anything "ridiculous" about it.

I and I am sure my readers as well would like to hear also from Troutsky, Celtic Fire, Graeme, Larry Gambone, etc.

For people that seem to have such faith in your ideals, most of your compatriots sure seem to be a squeamish bunch, as a general rule.

Are they really true believers, comfortable in their own skins only so long as no one else can point out the warts?

Shadowhawk said...

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Is Socialism really Evil..I dont think so..

Check out the blog then judge for yourself

Renegade Eye said...

To get other socialists involved, visit their blogs.

Poor undeveloped capitalist states, are different than feudal. Under feudalism there is less importance to production, because it's only for those on the land and the church. Capitalism is about currency, production and the marketplace.

A backward capitalist country is different than a feudal country.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ren, I think you might be comparing feudalism to the barter system. There was a great deal of that to it, but feudalism is more complicated than that. It was basically a system where a titled nobility owned most of the land, which they got from the sovereign, in exchange for which they declared their allegiance. In the meantime, of course they had to have somebody to work the land, so they had serfs, or peasants, who lived and worked on the land in exchange for a share of the crops. Naturally, whatever the lord or knight received, he put a portion in reserve for the sovereign, for whom he also agreed to fight if the need arose.

But there was more depth to the system than just that. You had towns where all manner of townspeople were employed at different tasks. You had all manner of smiths, you had cobblers, carpenters, even doctors and accountants. Believe it or not you even had bankers in some cases.

They minted coins and issued promissory notes. They had many elements of capitalism and also bartering, but it was basically a situation where a titled and privileged few owned pretty much everything, including the tens of thousands of soils bound to their lands.

If anything in this mess led to the formation of capitalism it was probably the formation of the Craft Guilds and what made this possible in part was the creation of wealth, which would have been inconceivable under a purely barter type of system such as you have described.

There was also the breakdown of the system due to conflict between the nobility and the clergy, which in many cases also owned a large portion of land holdings. Probably the guiding force behind any further developments away from feudalism was the growth of power and influence of Protestantism. There is always a rallying point to any movement.

Of course the fact that the nobility was at such odds with each other, and the churches were also divided into different factions, added to the impetus for change.

The kind of socialism you describe might not fit into the scenario I have described, but my point is, how long would it be before it devolved into that, given there is really nothing to act as a balance to power?

It's not enough to say well I believe in opposition parties as long as they don't believe in this or that. That's not an opposition party that's just okay let us run things for a while and we promise not to change anything, just run it a little better.

Renegade Eye said...

You are mixing up things that have nothing to do with each other. The issue of dictatorship or lack of opposition parties, is a different discussion than feudalism.

Mao who according to a recent biography, never read Marx. He was interested in building a structure for himself like Stalin had. he put down workers who occupied factories. Only because capitalists fled, did Mao think of having a revolution. He was mostly interested in weaponry. He devised two stage theory, that poor countries should only have nationalist revolutions.

beamish said...

Marx's own model of transition requires the socialization of things built by capitalism.

Socialists don't build a damned thing.

Communists are the "new class" (see Milovan Djilas)

And then no one is building anything, and no one owns anything, and everyone starves to death, until capitalist reforms return food to tables.

It's a merry-go-round of "revolutionary" theft.

Let he who has a gun keep his shit.

Let he who is intelligent shoot socialists.

The Pagan Temple said...

I think the key to all of this is that in any society, the rulers, for lack of a better term, are those who own the most property. That is true of any political and economic system. It is as true of feudalism as capitalism, and it is also true of socialism.

In socialism it always boils down to the state. He who holds the keys to the kingdom opens and locks the doors. They also control the means of production in reality, only evidently not so well, at least not in any case I have ever known anything about.

beamish said...

I take it down to the core.

The means of production isn't a factory or a toolbox.

The means of production is people.

This throws the argument back where it should be - what powers do people possess under each economic model?

Capitalism wins hands down.

Renegade Eye said...

Capitalism is the system of robbery. The worker creates surplus value, while the worker can't make enough money, to buy what is created, creating overproduction.

All products are socially made. My yellow paper clip involved hundreds of people, before it landed in my desk. Hundreds created it. You can call it created socially. The profits were pocketed privately.

beamish said...

Profits were pocketed privately by who?

Everyone from the iron miner to the steel smelter to the wire presser to the paper clip maker to the packager to the inventory stock supply truck driver to the office supply store clerk got a cut.

All of them could afford to buy "your" yellow paper clip from you, if you decided to sell it.

Or is it "the people's" paper clip?

Renegade Eye said...

There was no one yellow paper clip builder. You showed yourself the social cycle of production.

Autos are a better than a single paper clip, of overproduction.

Did Bill Gates build your computer?

beamish said...


My computer was built in a union shop in China overseen by supervisors carrying AK-47s.

That got their cut too.