How did Marxism influence Fabian socialism?
Part One (November 1952)
Ted Grant: Marxism versus New Fabianism (Left Wing in the Labor Party)
Part One (November 1952) 1
A political and philosophical foundation for the left wing 1
The leadership is holding back. 1
Has capitalism been transformed? 2
Is the crisis over? 3
Effect of armament. 3
Class contrasts intensified 4
Part two (May 1953) 4
Two kinds of morality juxtaposed 4
Mechanism confused with materialism. 5
Definition of morality 6
Social Morality 7
America - a contrast 8
A political and philosophical foundation for the left wing
The publication of the "New Fabian Essays" with an introduction by Attlee marks a stage in the development of the labor movement in Great Britain. It aims to draw on the experience of the last 50 years through the intellectual elite of the Labor Party including Crossman, Crosland, Strachey, Mikardo, Denis Healey, Austen Albu, Jenkins and others nationally and internationally can be summarized.
The old Fabier program, largely implemented by the Labor government between 1945-50, is recognized as inadequate or out of date in solving the problems of creating a socialist society. At the same time there is fermentation within the ranks of the labor movement; the grassroots seek a theoretical and practical explanation of the inadequacy of the 1945-50 government to introduce policies that pave the way for socialism.
The publication of Bevan's book [In Place of Fear], the publication of the new Socialist Union, and the new Fabian essays are all symptomatic of the awakening and the search for fresh politics. The Bevan controversy, which rocked the movement from top to bottom, is the best indicator of this quest for a policy and program that will serve the needs of socialism.
To adequately analyze and criticize all the arguments in the New Fabian Essays would require a different book that would be long or longer than the essays themselves, especially since the essays contradict each other on many fundamental issues and do not form a harmonious, philosophical, theoretical, or political whole represent. Despite the mixed views and somewhat healthy criticism of bureaucratized nationalized industries (from the standpoint of pushing for greater democracy and greater worker participation in the control of these industries), there are a few basic threads of thought that underlie all essays: the idea that the The structure of British society was fundamentally changed by the nationalization of some of the basic industries and the creation of the "welfare state", the rejection of Marxism, which is equated with the doctrine of totalitarian Stalinism, and the theory that this was the epoch of the so-called "managerial revolution" is.
A striking feature of the essays is the rejection, at least in the words of the narrow and provincial view of the old Fabians, who confined themselves to Great Britain and the British problems and ignored world developments. At a time when even capitalist politicians are being forced by the realities of economic development to recognize the interdependence of the world and events have shown the urgency of international problems even from the point of view of daily politics, it is no longer possible to have such a provincial view to maintain. At the same time, when it came to domestic political problems, the Fabian tempo, the snail's pace, was discredited as a method of achieving the socialist goal. Without a drastic overhaul of corporate relations, reaction must begin.
The leadership is holding back
Richard Crossman may unwittingly provide the key to resolving the dilemma faced by workers in the labor movement when he says that “at that time (first months of Labor rule) the British people were ready to accept the peaceful socialist revolution; and if it just got welfare capitalism, the blame was on the politicians, not the public. ”Thus lost a golden opportunity of transforming Britain into workers' democracy and shaking the world at its example by the cowardice and short-sightedness of the leadership. A bold and radical nationalization of the whole industry with, possibly, means test compensation, an appeal to the workers of Europe and Asia to unite and establish the United Socialist States of Europe and Asia would have changed world history and the transition to socialism for the people and states around the world started.
The people of Britain and the world will pay in agony and suffering for the failure to complete the overthrow of capitalism, which was within the reach of the Labor government in Britain. The arms race and the undermining of Labor government reforms, even in the final period of Labor rule, indicate that "welfare capitalism" cannot survive for an extended period of time. In the state of British and world capitalism, reforms become inevitable undermined by the dead end of the system itself: Only a fundamental change, economic and political, can stabilize reforms and steadily prepare the way for a new socialist society.
The new Fabians are frightened by the experience of Stalinism in Russia, China and Eastern Europe. This leads them to the dangers of “concentration of power in their hands either of industrial management or of the state bureaucracy ". Crossman says:
“This task was not even started by the Labor government. On the contrary, in the nationalized industries, the old management was kept almost intact, and appointments to national, regional and advisory bodies were made as if they had the express intention of reaffirming that no change was intended. The government's stance on central planning was simple. Until 1947, no serious attempt was made to construct even a central mechanism for determining the resources and requirements of wealth and manpower and assigning them to the various necessities ... no attempt was made to encourage popular participation in the new welfare state ... the impression was made given that socialism is a matter for the Cabinet, which acts through the existing civil service. "
Crossman and the other Fabians could have added that capitalist power largely remained as it was. During the period of Labor rule, the profits of the capitalists actually increased, while the state machine: army, police, civil bureaucracy, remained in its uppermost layers the prerogative of the loyal members and supporters of the ruling class. In the structure of rule, the power of the ruling class thus remained practically intact. This is, at least in part, what the new Fabians recognize and require the active and direct participation of the masses in industry and, we may add, in direct government from top to bottom if enthusiasm and activity are to be generated .
Has capitalism been transformed?
Nevertheless, the result of full employment in Great Britain as a result of the post-war boom appears the illusion of a change in the capitalist economy which has turned into a post-capitalist "manager" or "controlled" economy, in which the laws of the capitalist economy no longer work and the crisis and boom are eliminated. This is given its final expression in the essay by Anthony Crosland.
He begins with a complete skew of Marxist analysis, mainly because he is ignorant, to put it mildly, of the economic and philosophical teachings of Marx. It is a pity that he did not heed Engels' advice, “Anyone who intends to discuss scientific questions should above all learn to read the works of the author he wishes to study, just as they are written, and especially in them nothing to be found that they do not contain ". For example the idea that" capitalism would collapse of its own accord ". An idea alien to the method of Marxism would be difficult to imagine. And a few paragraphs after claiming that the Marxist prognosis is wrong (how do the revolutions in China, Russia and Eastern Europe explain on this basis?), He claims “the resistance to change has also been weakened by the fact that the capitalist bourgeoisie is no longer as self-assured as it was in its heyday. "And again," Massive income and property taxation and the nationalization of private industries have hardly aroused more opposition than measures to limit child labor a hundred years ago. "
It never occurs to him that it is the dusk of capitalism nationally and internationally that has undermined the confidence of capitalists; the development of capitalism beyond the framework of private property, forcing the capitalist class to swallow limited nationalization measures to keep the economy going. It is in the industries ruined by capitalism, which are too costly to regenerate with the old methods, in which the capitalists swallow nationalization as a necessary evil. But when an opportunity arises, profitable industries such as steel and road transportation are returned to big business at a bargain price.
This makes the satisfaction of Crosland and others in the Labor Party so dangerous, who, like him, think that the capitalists inevitably swallow other reforms as tame as they were in the last Labor term. Myopia could not go further in analyzing the capitalists' response to reforms. A tiger's claws can be pruned, but its dangerous strength remains, especially when its teeth are untouched. It goes badly for the careless person who surrenders his body to the mercy of wild animals of high finance.
After World War I, capitalism in Western Europe, especially Germany, accepted many reforms in order to ride the revolutionary wave and save the system from total collapse. It did not prevent them from later financing and supporting Hitler out of desperation. In 1936, after the factory occupation strike, the French capitalists agreed to many reforms for fear of the masses. This did not prevent them from going back on the attack and trimming reforms once the mass upsurge was over. After 1918, many reforms were achieved in Britain that did not later prevent Baldwin from launching a general attack that sparked the 1926 general strike.
Under Crosland's nose and while he was writing, Churchill's Conservative government cautiously truncated the gains made by workers in 1945-49. And this while "full employment" continues!
In a formulation that would undoubtedly have a humorous streak if Crosland had even a superficial acquaintance with Marxist doctrine, he says that “the owner class has lost its traditional capitalist function - the exploitation of production technology with its own capital - and with that Disappearance of function slips away power. "Aside from the mistake in the last few words, Marx had already observed the process and predicted the outcome about a century ago. The" modern "Crosland is a bit behind! And as if the need to change from one social system to another is not signaled by the loss of the function of the old ruling class in production (as Marx explained a thousand times)! Such was the loss of function of the feudal lords, who became parasites before the Cromwellian and especially the French Revolution, as even Carlyle observed. And as if the socialization of labor under capitalism, the centralization of capital, the creation of joint-stock companies - had not been analyzed by Marx and Engels. The consistent transformation of entrepreneurs from a necessary function in production to complete parasites and drones has also been shown as an inevitable result of the capitalist production process:
“Joint stock companies in general - developed with the credit system - have a tendency to separate this administrative work as a function more and more from the possession of capital, be it own or borrowed; Just as with the development of bourgeois society, the judicial and administrative functions are separated from the property of which they were attributes in feudal times. On the one hand, however, by confronting the mere owner of capital, the money capitalist, with the functioning capitalist and, with the development of this credit, this money capital itself assumes a social character, is concentrated in banks and is no longer lent by them, not by its immediate owners; But since on the other hand the mere conductor, who does not own capital under any title, neither on loan nor in any other way, performs all the real functions that are assigned to functioning capital as such, only the functionary remains and the capitalist disappears as a superfluous person from the production process. " (Capital, Volume 3, [Marx Engels Works, Volume 25, Page 401])
Ironically enough, it is precisely Crosland and his colleagues who believe that capitalism automatically collapses by transforming itself into something else as soon as the entrepreneurial function is gone! On the contrary, Marx referred to the need under these conditions for the proletariat organized in the labor movement to consciously overthrow the dying system of capitalism. Reacting to these conditions, despite many mistakes and lost opportunities, would generate the party and leadership that would eventually destroy capitalism. For a Marxist, the existence of such conditions would only prove the extreme collapse of capitalism and the maturity of the social system for socialist revolution.
Is the crisis over?
However, Crosland excels in his analysis of the economic state of capitalism. After lightly dismissing the Marxist thesis of the contradictions of capitalism, he observes that "the 1931 Depression was unusually severe, but not the first depression of such severity - the famous crisis of 1873-7 was at least as severe." That is, the Compare the effects of a cold in youth with pneumonia in old age The crisis of 1873-7 marked a great economic spasm of capitalism, which managed to develop its effects through the intensive expansion of California's gold fields, the opening of Africa and Asia, development of imperialism. These were some of the reasons there was a relative rise in capitalism after the crisis of 1873. Schumpeter says:
"The essential fact of the great steadiness in the long-term increase ... remains both in the sense of the coarse constancy of the slope of the tendency and in the sense of what we can only call the general dominance of the tendency over the fluctuations according to the optical impression ... in no country does 1873 look very catastrophic. In America, 1844 produced almost no case at all. The crises of the early 1990s show only a considerable indentation for Germany. In the long English series it only happens twice that this absolute case extends over two years. In the case of Germany, this only occurred in 1868, 1869, and 1870; in America only once. "(Business Cycles, McGraw-Hill, Vol. 2, p. 494, emphasis added)
But every authoritative capitalist economist and observer was profoundly shocked by the spectacle of the 1931-33 crisis. The period of rising capitalism came to an end in 1914. After 1873-77 there was no depression that rocked the economy from top to bottom. After the collapse of 1929-33 was painfully overcome, only the armament boom and war prevented an even more harrowing return of the crisis. In economic terms, this was what preceded World War II of 1939-45. This is hardly a symptom of the health of the economic system. Periodic wars of destruction that threaten to destroy the cities that people have built, and the technical achievements that have been achieved, are hardly an incentive alternative that capitalism offers to periodic overproduction crises. But here Crosland, Strachey and others are denying, or half-denying, that overproduction or crisis is occurring. They think the full employment that Britain has achieved under the Labor government (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, under the Churchill government) is a consequence of Labor government policies.
This was only secondary. There has been full employment in America, the last stronghold of capitalism, since 1945. In both cases this is due to the boom that usually follows every war.War has the same effect as a crisis where the ruin, destruction, and wear and tear of capital and consumer goods pave the way for recovery, but in an enormously exaggerated form. The capitalist crisis is overcome in war through the destruction of consumer and production goods, through the production of fictitious capital in the form of arms and arms production, which after the war has to be compensated for by the economy. But despite "regulation" and "control" measures, despite the enormously increased role of the state and militarism (predicted by Marx and Engels, by the way) neither overcome the problems of capitalism, yet eliminated capitalism. Where, as in Britain, 80 percent of the economy is privately owned, the laws of capitalism generally continue as before. The capitalists continue to work for profitnot to keep the economy at a high level. Any government spending with so-called "Keynesian techniques" can only worsen the economic crisis, as soon as the overproduction crisis begins.
A simple point that even orthodox capitalist economists can understand is that "money" or "credit" is not made out of nothing. It has to be obtained through taxes, that is, by cutting into the profits of the capitalists or the living standards of the workers, or through "deficit financing", which comes in a roundabout way In either way, a fall in the rate of profit is inevitable, purchasing power is lowered, and efforts of this kind can only exacerbate the onset of mass unemployment and crisis.
Effect of armament
In a sense, global armament has this effect in capitalist countries. The expenditure on arms creates an enormous amount of fictitious capital, which gets its share of the total wealth, of the surplus value created by the working class. It results in an increase in prices and usually a decrease in the standard of living of workers. Injecting another disease element into the already decaying organism of capitalism cannot prevent the outbreak of the crisis, it can only delay it.
It is true that many in the Labor Party, especially some Bevanists, think that an extended "point 4" program can replace armament and avoid a crisis. But even a "plan" (if it, from the European powers and the US), which would be larger in scope than Item 4 [of the Labor Constitution until the mid-1990s], would be tiny in relation to the needs of Asia and Africa, despite the hype. It could even absorb less of the production and potential overproduction in the capitalist world and would not be able to prevent the crisis.
In particular, Crosland and like-minded people live in Cloud Cuckoo Land when the problems of the world market are considered. A minor economic recession or a drop in production by a few per cent, which would hardly cause a ripple in America, means greater economic turmoil in Great Britain and Western Europe. One can then imagine what the effect of a big case in production would be. This is fearfully recognized even by magazines like the Observer and the Economist.
The market economy still dominates the UK nationally and internationally. In his confused way, even Crosland has a glimpse of the problem. He says that “under the post-war Labor government, the pace of change has accelerated enormously and Great Britain had ceased to be a capitalist country in all its essentials in 1951"(my emphasis). And already on the next page he contradicts himself unconsciously." It ("welfare state" "mixed economy") is capitalist to the extent that private ownership of industry predominates, most of which is production for the market, and many of the old class divisions remain. " To what extent? Where 80 percent of the economy is private property, capitalism, its economy and its laws prevail. The public sectors, like the postal authority in the past, function in favor of the private sector. No financial juggling can overcome this crucial fact. Until the prevailing heights and proportion of industry is nationalized, the laws of the capitalist economy will dictate government, whether Labor or Conservative.
The mistakes and dreams of Crosland and other Fabians flow from this fundamental mistake. No more Jarrows and Ebbw Vales [= centers of industry and class struggle]. "Both the scope and the bitterness of social conflict are greatly diminished ... no clearly delineated ruling class, no clearly defined class struggle."
Class contrasts intensified
In reality, however, the strikes of steelworkers and miners in America and the wage demands of metalworkers, miners and other workers in Britain are the faint thunder of the coming storm in the face of the ever-increasing cost of living. The capitalists are carefully preparing for battle. If a period of relative calm followed in the post-war period in Great Britain and America (note: not on the continent), it was because of international relations, class relations within the countries themselves, the mighty strength of the organized labor movement, the fear of the ruling class, but mainly, because the ruling class could afford crumbs of concessions from the festival of profits in the post-war boom.
But this period is now drawing to a close. Far from the foolish dream of class reconciliation, threatens a period of bitter, irreconcilable class conflict in all its harsh horror. The "new" Fabier may think that their subjects are really "modern", "realistic" and "new". In fact, every boom in one form or another has seen the spread of these little comforters and utopias, from a change in capitalism, a new stage, the serene, friendly and tolerant alleviation of class antagonisms, a rosy period of gradual change for the better, the great reforms all of which ended in disaster. Based on the themes of the new Fabier, the labor movement could only find a catastrophe.
Two kinds of morality juxtaposed
The second main thread in all "New Fabian Essays" is a criticism of the totalitarian regimes in Russia, China and Eastern Europe and the equation of Marxism with Stalinism. Here it is necessary to stay on course between two deadly mistakes. One is embodied by the mixed Group of fellow travelers and various pro-Stalinists active in the Labor Party who kept a long and discreet silence on the crimes of Stalinism, with only the faintest trace of "criticism" (criticism that sounds like an apology); and those who cannot distinguish between the political regimes of Stalinism and the fundamental economic revolution on which the Stalinist bureaucracy and its satellites rest. Both mistakes can be fatal to the developing left wing in the Labor Party.
The New Fabier's attitude is most sharply expressed in Crossman's essay. Events have forced him (and the new Fabians) to reject the comfortable optimism of the Victorian Fabians, with their illusion of gradual evolution, of inevitable slow progress towards an ever better world. A 50-year epoch of wars, crises, upheavals, fascism and Stalinism has brutally shattered this dream of peaceful development. (Incidentally, Marx predicted exactly such an epoch of turbulence for capitalism). The possibilities of a terrible reaction and even a plunge into barbarism through nuclear war have forced their way into the consciousness of all who try to determine the future course of social development.
Crossman and the other new Fabier recognize that the lack of theory within the movement has driven them into their current impasse and crisis. But while they reject the former empiricism of the old Fabier and the current leaders of our movement, they do not replace it with a coherent and elaborate philosophy. The prejudice against Marxism is, after all, just a prejudice of ignorance and lack of study. Theory is the summing up of past and present experience of society and the labor movement to reveal the laws of their evolution and to provide a guide for the movement's politics; in order to avoid past mistakes as much as possible and prepare an easier transition to future society.
The philosophy of the new Fabians, summarized by Crossman, is by no means superior to that of the old and current leaders of the Labor movement in Britain. Pieces of ideas are borrowed from everywhere, a pious adaptation of Christian morality mixed with some socialist ideas, loans of the hues of liberalism, crowned with all the pessimism of the philosophers of decadent capitalism. This is the half-baked stew of ideas presented as an alternative to "old-fashioned" Marxism.
Mechanism confused with materialism
Instead of thinking things through to the end, Crossman takes a step backwards even in comparison with the Victorian Fabians when he says:
“This materialistic conception of progress was based on assumptions about human behavior that psychological research has shown to have no basis in reality, and on a theory of democratic politics that has been confused by the facts of the past thirty years. There is neither a natural identity of interests nor an internal contradiction in the economic system. The growth of science and popular education does not automatically create an "upward" development in society when "upward" means from servile to democratic forms; and the apocalyptic assumption that a proletarian revolution must achieve a free and equal society after a period of dictatorship is equally inadmissible. The evolutionary and revolutionary philosophies of progress have both proven wrong. Judging by the facts, one can think far more of the Christian doctrine of original sin than of Rousseau's fantasy of the noble savage or Marx's vision of a classless society. "(Emphasis in original)
He tries to find consolation for the cruel and wild world of conflict we face in a supra-historical morality, beyond time, class or place. But this does not explain anything and does not solve anything. Marx was a little too familiar, to say the least, with the various currents of social relations to advocate the naive views ascribed to him by the new Fabians. First, as far as capitalist reaction is concerned, Marx had already analyzed Bonapartism, the forerunner of fascism, in many papers. (Unfortunately, Crossman and other revilers don't bother reading Marx to refute him). In them he showed that under certain circumstances the power residing in the state machine can even be used against the class it represents.
On the other hand, Marx didn't believe that at all the overthrow of capitalism in one country would automatically solve all problems for the working class. On the contrary, he expressly rejected the theory of "socialism in one country" that Stalin would later develop. The developments of the Russian revolution are not at all to be explained by the "morality" or lack of "morality" of the bureaucratic Stalinist rulers of Russia On the contrary, the opposite is the case, the morality of the bureaucracy can only be explained by developments in Russia. And this is exactly in line with Marxist teaching. Crossman says:
“The Soviet Union is the most extreme example of managerism because its Stalinist rulers deliberately reject the primacy of morality over expediency, thus destroying the possibility of an active social conscience that could save them from the corruption of power. The capitalist class never did, and therefore capitalist development did not fulfill Marx's prophecies. No capitalist country was theoretically and methodologically as capitalist as Stalinist Russia is today. This is also the reason why the USA, judged by European standards, is a better form of society than the USSR. In America, liberal and Christian morals, and a constitutional and political tradition derived from them, have hindered the full development of capitalism and still offer strong resistance to totalitarian tendencies. Rejecting America as a capitalist country and treating the Soviet empire as an example of socialist planning makes nonsense of any of our ideals. In reality there are two great examples of the modern managerial state, the one consciously and systematically managerial, the other moving towards the same goal under the pressure of the Cold War. "
There is one mistake on every line of this paragraph, sometimes two or three. Let's try to untangle the main threads, however. The Russian Revolution was started under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky using Marx's ideas and methods. The idea behind it was to establish the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (another name for workers' democracy). It should also be noted that even the freest capitalist democracy remains a veiled dictatorship of the capitalist class because the capitalists, apart from ownership of the means of production , in the words of Crossman, "control means of mass communication and means of destruction (propaganda and armed forces)". According to the Marxist ideas of the leaders of the Russian Revolution, Russia should begin, Germany, France and England should finish the work. However, for many reasons that cannot be addressed here, the Russian Revolution remained isolated. But Russia, one of the most backward countries in Europe, could material basis for socialism not prepare within its limits. The revolution can only be understood as part of the international revolution. The isolation and the rough material factorsThat it comprised did not explain the subjective meanness and immorality of Stalin and his parasitic caste (however repulsive) the development of the Stalinist bureaucracy, including its vulgar morality.
But that is in accordance with Marxist theory and not with theology. Engels explains the rise of the classes in society through the low development of the productive forces and the necessity of the division of labor.
Marxists insist on democracy - real democracy - in the transition to socialism and the full participation of the masses in industry and the state, precisely because "being determines consciousness", because when art, science and government remain in the hands of a few, they inevitably take their position to advance their own interests use against those of the class (and, by the way, create a moral and psychology to justify that) and abuse those of the class they are supposed to represent.
Crossman and the other essayists acknowledge this in a cloudy way when they take stock of the experience of nationalized industries - in their criticism of the bureaucracy and the demand for workers to participate in management and control.
But this does not solve the puzzle. Crossman criticizes those who insist that Russia remains a workers state. He just looks at the "primacy of morality over expediency." Poor chap! Churchill and the capitalists of Great Britain (along with the priests - with conscience and everything) yesterday supported and looked over Franco, Mussolini and Hitler as saviors from Bolshevism Concentration camps in which their opponents were "reeducated". The next day they got into ecstasy (at least in public) of admiration for the "great warrior Stalin" and overlooked such little things as slave camps and other horrors. The American capitalists and the government did the same in spite of the "liberal and Christian morals" the liberal Roosevelt. Christian morality did not prevent Hiroshima or the repulsive treatment of blacks in the south.
Definition of morality
Crossman puts it: “The socialist measures of this advance in social morality through the degree of equality and respect for the individual, expressed in the distribution of power and in the institutions of law and property within a state. Indeed, this is the standard we mean by the socialist ideal. "He fails to see that all these ideas are the reflection of the development of society, which in turn is the result of the development of the productive forces in the past.The "Christian morality" to which Crossman appeals against the immorality of Stalinism was not at all in conflict with the establishment of slavery under the Roman Empire, but on the contrary justified it. Under the feudal regime it found nothing immoral about centuries of bondage by the peasantry It justified and further justifies the veiled slavery of capitalism. [South Africa's Prime Minister] Doctor Malan does not find it at all in conflict with his Christian conscience to support the "godly" oppression of the South African blacks by the whites. With the Pope's blessing, Christian Franco does not find it at all incompatible with the teachings of the Church to maintain his totalitarian regime in Spain.
Christian ethics, therefore, cannot provide a reliable standard of morality for the socialist movement. Crossman's special "definition" doesn't do any better either.
From the point of view of Marxism, what serves the material, social and intellectual development of the masses is moral; what helps this process towards socialism is moral; What helps the organized and conscious activity of the masses to overthrow capitalism is moral. Whatever hinders or binds this process is wrong and immoral. These are the rules of conduct for those who aspire to socialism. But in and of itself such a definition must have a material basis. The class position and interests of the proletariat within capitalist society and in transition to a classless society are the material basis for such morality. This will disappear with the dissolution of class society under socialism. Capitalist morality, or immorality in its various degrees and manifestations, is also a reflection of the class interest of the capitalist class in a class society. Stalinist morality or immorality reflects the interest of a particular caste within the given society.
Although Crossman is unaware of this, the morals he advocates also have class roots. It is not at all a morality of eternal truths, but a variant of the Middle class morality and a reflection of the position of the intellectual and professional elite within the labor movement.
Marxist socialists, beginning with Marx and Engels, have always supported democracy over any form of despotism. So they supported republicanism against monarchism, capitalist democracy against capitalist dictatorship. But they always recognize the limitations of the above. Crossman contradicts himself when he suggests that the democracy he so extols is the fruit of the revolution in Britain and the civil war in America in the past. He says: "Even in Western Europe the destruction of feudalism did not take place under the forms of representative government."
It is true, however, that all the forces of capitalism-imperialism in all their blatant reaction were never fully realized, except possibly in Nazi Germany. But that is in the tradition of Marxism, and does not speak against it at all. The gross mechanical materialism or economic determinism that Crossman and the others attack bears no resemblance to the real teachings of Marx.
The reason capitalism in America took the particular shape it has is because of the history of the country - its wealth and resources, its origins and beginnings, its traditions, the War of Independence, the Civil War, and the way it was developed, the rise of the trade union movement - and all the conflicting forces fight against each other in the given society.
Crossman doesn't think anything through to the end. Some correct ideas are mixed with totally pointless chatter, but never linked to a clear understanding of the historical process or the role of conscious socialists in it. He can rightly say, "We do not live in an age of steady progress towards world welfare capitalism but of world revolution ..." He wants to fight the forces of Stalinism on the one hand and the forces of American imperialism on the other, mightily armed like a modern Don Quixote with ... socialist ethics!
Possibilities of capitalist totalitarianism or socialist democracy are currently contained in the forces underlying American capitalism. In the threatening conflict, the liberal Christian mask is dropped by their masters, as in Germany when trying to save the capitalist system. Christian morality will not prevent the massacre of blacks, any more than that of the Jews by the Nazis in Europe, if the forces of reaction in America gain the upper hand. The constitution and the political tradition derived from it are no more than that of Weimar Germany in themselves obstacles to such a development. In America, as in Britain and the world only the working class is the guardian of democracy and freedombecause these are the vital conditions for their development - for achieving economic and political emancipation. In this crude material fact, proletarian morality is rooted.
According to Crossman, “social morality, freedom and equality do not grow through any economic or political law, but only with the most careful care. So until now we should not see history as an unchanging progress towards freedom, but rather exploitation and slavery as the normal state of man and the brief epochs of freedom as tremendous achievements. "Then where do they come from? Do they fall from heaven or from the generosity of intellectuals like Crossman, who apparently have a mission as guardians of the common conscience? Are these eternal moral laws that strangely received different meanings in different eras for different classes at different times? Religious people at least claim that their morality by Divine Providence is beyond time and place Crossman tells us that his "morality," "liberty," and "equality", like those of Christians, grow not by any law of economy or politics, but only by the most careful maintenance. The only question is who cares and how? And what do they care for? Every farmer tells him that seeds do not germinate on stony ground. The conditions must be there before these ideas can receive powerful support. But the most careful care will not produce any result unless the economic and political conditions are developed, that is, the material conditions are prepared.
There is nothing mysterious about the fact that slavery and human exploitation have been the "normal" state and the epochs of "freedom" have been short. It arises neither from the lack of nor the necessity of excessive morality, but from the Class structure of society. This is so, although at certain periods a balance between the classes could be maintained (without overt oppression and violence) because that was temporary enough and the balance of power of the classes allowed it at a certain time.
This constant riding around on an informal social conscience that seems to exist in the stratosphere leads Crossman into the very mistake for which he condemns Stalinism. After strong moral condemnation of the Stalinist elite society, he finds the guardians of his morals ... only in an "elite"!
Society, says Crossman, must "... monitored by the police (Our emphasis) are driven by social morals, which can only be found in a minority of citizens. "Here we have the ultimate confusion of thought. Crossman exacerbates this by stating that" school, press, radio, party machine, army, Factory, all instruments are through the people (what kind of people?) Exercise power over the thoughts of their fellow men, if they are not controlled by a social conscience armed with sanctions. " Which sanction and which person? Which morality and how and by whom is it determined?
Immorality is nothing new in history. It usually takes shape in a period of collapse of the old social system and transition to a new social system. With the loss of function of the old ruling class, the moral codes that govern their rule also collapse. Similarly, in a period of transition, the new morality based on new production relationships also needs time to develop.
So atrocities, like those of Hitler and Stalin, took place in the period of the decline of the Roman slave system and the transition to feudalism. Who hasn't heard of Nero and his court? In the transition from feudalism to capitalism, despite the glory of the Renaissance, we have again the drama of the Borgias. So we don't need mystical theories to explain these events, we can only explain them on a materialistic basis.
But understanding them justifies neither the Borgias nor the modern Borgias in the courtyard of the Kremlin. It doesn't mean not to judge them. History, said Marx, is a cruel goddess with piles of human skulls attached to her chariot. Stalin, the modern day Genghis Khan, surpassed all of his predecessors. Regardless of all this, and despite Stalinism, there has been an unprecedented development of the productive forces in Russia. This, in turn, because of the contradictions that it inevitably develops during the period, prepares the time when this proliferation will be removed in a powerful movement of the Russian proletariat and all the ugly and repulsive qualities that distort the regime will disappear with the regime itself and be replaced by a regime of workers' democracy, this time on solid economic foundations because of the material progress that has been made.
Similarly, in spite of all wars, massacres, conspiracies, blood and cruelty, the Renaissance was a period of preparation for progress in all areas of human endeavor - industry, art, science, technology and ... morality! Finally, the nineteenth-century progress of which Crossman speaks and his attitudes towards democracy and freedom, were prepared by the enormous rise of the productive forces in the ascent period of capitalism. This gave the illusion of infinite progress under the private enterprise regime.
Although Crossman is throwing America and Russia together, he says, “We can work with the Americans as allies and influence their policies despite their superior strength. It would be folly to expect such a relationship with the Soviet Union. Coexistence, yes. Mutually beneficial agreements, yes. But never cooperation. "Where does Crossman find the reason for this? In his socialist morality or in the Christian ethics of America? He forgets that Britain and America did not find it impossible to cooperate with Stalinist Russia during the war - when he was serving the interests of those Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia also worked together in the Nazi-Soviet Pact for a while when it suited the bureaucracy in Russia and the Nazi imperialists in Germany. In reality, neither of the agreements with "morality" or "freedom" had to do, but all with the interests of the classes and castes involved at the various stages. The present co-operation between capitalist Great Britain and capitalist America is no different. It is the interests of Wall Street, not Christian morals, that determine American morality make the difference between imperialist politics.
The interesting question arises, who is Crossman's mind when he speaks of "us". Who is this "we"? Is it the capitalist class or the working class? Is it a mystical national interest, separate and apart from these classes? It is precisely this lack of precision that is typical of this whole mishmash (Christian ethics and everything) that Crossman tries to sell us instead of the clear ideas of Marxism.
He says the managerial society (including America and Russia) are civilized in democratic socialism can. How? By the power of his "socialist ethics" perhaps? Like his ethics, the question hangs in mid-air with no material basis.
America - a contrast
In America, despite the freedoms, the productive forces have in fact stagnated in the contradictions of private property since 1929. There was an important development of the productive forces there only temporarily on the basis of war, war production and preparation for war.
But sooner or later the crisis will intervene and we will see that Christian morality (of the capitalists) will fall off as a thin layer and the ugly inner essence of imperialism will be exposed. Then either the workers will recognize the problem and take power and nationalize the means of production, or they will face a new slavery and a new barbarism on the part of capitalism.
Returning to the problem of Russia, we recognize the case as something different. Despite the waste, chaos and inefficiency of the bureaucratic dictatorship, we still have uninterrupted development of the means of production on the basis of state ownership and planning of the means of production. This is in spite of the setbacks caused by the war and the mistakes and crimes of the leadership, such as the forced collectivization and the great purges. Notwithstanding the existence of slave labor (also a transitional feature of society in the past) and the other depraved characteristics of Stalinist society, we have a steady rhythm and development of the productive forces. The contradictions are the opposite of those under capitalism. The bureaucracy is forced to maintain a totalitarian terror with its immorality etc. not by chance, but because their privileges can only be maintained through this.
Under capitalism, the capitalists were necessary and had a necessary function with private ownership of the means of production and served as carriers of the means of production or, in the words of Marx, as "trustees of bourgeois society".
In Russia the state serves as the carrier of the means of production, and the whole bureaucracy, from the point of view of its economic function in production and the state, is entitled to supervisory and management salaries, like managers and technicians in capitalism. But they consume far more than this and therefore serve as economic parasites on production. This explains their role and their morals.
The cynicism, hypocrisy and lies with which the bureaucracy rules on the one hand while maintaining totalitarian terror on the other are an expression of its role in society. If hypocrisy, cynicism and lies are just so evident under "democratic" capitalism, the methods are different because of the controls and balances provided by the various forces competing within it. Given the organizations and rights created by the generational struggle If the working class were won, you get the result that can be seen in Nazi Germany.The morals of the capitalists in Weimar, the Nazi regime and today, were not really fundamentally different, only the conditions under which the regime worked Lies are just different facets of the need to maintain exploitation and domination over the masses. They are symptoms of a thoroughly contradicting society. This explains the inconsistency and hypocrisy of Christian morality in a society based on class antagonisms the morality of Stalinism is based on the wid argue within Russian society that has not been resolved simply by the destruction of capitalism. Their bestial morality is conditioned by the insecure access they have in Russian and satellite society and the fear that arises from their insecure and artificially maintained self-interests - their privileged access to Russian society.
The mistake of Crossman and the other Fabians is not recognizing this contradiction and everything that results from it. A new revolution will be necessary in Russia, however a political, not a social revolutionbefore any new steps in the direction of socialism can be taken.
From a Marxist point of view of the development of world history, this should not worry us at all. Marx never stated that a system of production only includes a superstructure or state. The most superficial acquaintance with history would show that it was wrong. Each system has a large number political forms possible, depending on a number of basic and secondary factors.
In modern times (with all of the extremely important but secondary results) various forms of dictatorship and democracy have emerged, but all on a capitalist basis. Fascism, military dictatorship, democracy, monarchy, republic and other variants.They were all the same kind of society from the point of view of economic fundamentals in spite of the extreme, sharp and conspicuous differences, "moral" and in every other way.
A real workers' democracy would have the same relationship with Stalinist Russia as Hitler's Germany had with the Weimar Republic or with democratic capitalist Great Britain. So the socialist workers should under all circumstances defend the state ownership of the means of production and the planned economy in Russia, and at the same time wage an irreconcilable struggle against the clique, which usurped control and a workers democracy (with all its limitations and flaws) into a totalitarian one Stalinist state.
The Far East
The attitude towards the colonial revolution in the East is also something else. The new Fabians recognize the progressive nature of the undermining of imperialism in the east and extend half-hearted support to this movement.
Without a doubt, the potential for the future of the Chinese revolution is the greatest event in history since the transformation in Russia in October 1917. It will lead to the modernization and industrialization of China under the capitalist-landlord regime of Chiang Kai-shek stagnated. But Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Stalinists took the Stalin regime as their model, not Lenin's. Given China's backwardness, a similar regime will be put in place in the long term.
If the democracy and freedom of the West is to be maintained, increased and expanded, it can only be accomplished through social revolution at home and internationalism abroad.
In the past, internationalism seemed a utopian ideal. Now it is a vital economic necessity for the workers of Britain, Europe and the colonial world. This is particularly so in the case of Great Britain. With the loss of its imperialist sovereignty over the world, only the disintegration and decline of its standards and rights opens up before the working class on a capitalist and nationalist basis. Only United Socialist States of Europe and the world can guarantee culture, democracy, freedom and a rising standard of living and prepare the way for socialism.
Crossman is correct in saying that the cold war is the dominant factor in world relations at the moment. But socialism, revolutionary democratic socialism, can only find a way out if it supports the expansion of revolution and state property and at the same time rejects the deformation of Stalinism.
Neither Washington nor Moscow has a way out for the working class. Only a militant socialist program and a policy can provide an answer to both. The labor movement in Britain cannot solve the problems of our time by rejecting Marxism, but by basing itself on its fundamental goals.
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