Saturday, February 23, 2008

a debate on social democracy and socialist democracy and marxism

Dear friends and comrades,

More than a decade and a half ago the right wing American Ideologue Francis Fukyama had proclaimed 'end of history', that is the final destination of mankind is the American model of liberal democracy. In Marxist connotations this means liberal capitalism, the real fact is imperialism being intact. Fukuyama had not only pronounced the death of history and Marxism but had clearly said there is no alternative to the present capitalist order led by US imperialism. But we Marxists were not fooled by Fukyama, because we have a theory of history and hence we know socialism will be the antithesis to capitalism hence the concrete alternative. Mr Suraj Prasad had proposed Scandinavia as the model and social democracy as the alternative. I had expressed disagreements. I think social democracy is liberal capitalism, whose highest manifestation was Scandinavian countries. This was given up when global capitalism embraced neo-liberalism. Scandinavia is a false model that is nothing but liberal capitalism hence keeping the structural relations of imperialism intact while the 3rd world continues to bleed. Hence Mr Suraj Prasad's proposition is a defence of liberal capitalism keeping the structural relations of exploitation intact which needs the structural relations of imperialism to stay intact. Mr Suraj Prasad has cast aspersions on Marxist politics which I think is ill informed, infantile, cheeky and audacious hence atrocious. Qualitatively it is nothing defferent from the cheap malafide malicious anti-left propaganda of the CIA. I had earlier sent you a draft of my debate (see below). Seeing the importance of the subject I am sending it again for wider debate. Please do send your comments and rejoinders.

With revolutionary greetings,


1) Though sounds good equality of all is not natural only equality of opportunities is correct and then each human will evolve naturally according to his/her ability.
2) It is against basic human nature which works only when there is personal incentives! That is why it failed the world over and there is no reason to repeat the same mistake in India. Besides, Communism is wholly totalitarian and fascist and democratic socialism proposed by Rosa Luxembourg or non-bureaucratic communism purposed by Leon Trotsky are same economically!
3) Non-bureaucratic communism purposed by Leon Trotsky in the form of collectives in farms and trade unions managing factories has failed in USSR and pre-world war Italy respectively. Labourers have failed to be good managers.
4) Stalinist communism is bureaucratic and forms a neo-elite social class who sucks the proleteraiats. Also human want freedom and do not want to live in cage even if made of gold.
5) Lastly, excessive importance is given to labour against capital in Marxism which is incorrect since both labour and capital are required for production. In Marxist State after a certain limit the State fails to provide capital and hence die a natural death like in USSR and other erstwhile communist/socialist countries of the world.

Since, free enterprise liberal policy is here to stay. Only way to moderate the bad effects are social democracy and green policies practised in Germany!

Perhaps the only way for emancipating the masses is in creation of a 'Social Democratic' - Welfare state with positive checks by society/govt on free market!

Along with Social democracy the issues of Green Politics of Europe like Social and Economic Justice, Ecological Sustainability, Respect for Diversity and Grassroots Democracy (Compulsory Panchayati Raj in India) should also be incorporated in a welfare state.

asitmarx sdfdsdf marx < > wrote:

My Dear Surajcap,

The entire tone of the discourse is qualitatively not different from the right wing unscientific, a-historical, banal, counter-revolutionary, cheap anticommunist propaganda trash of CIA and the BJP which had reached its cheapest dissent during the cold war era. In fact the answer to my critique of social democracy was stupid and juvenile compared to the imperialist masters and their bootlicking 3rd world right wing intelligentsia.
My problem is that I have to deal with this mail for which I have to start from scratch the painful descent to kindergarten political discourse. Anyhow, to help some people in their pre-puberty political growth I am willing to undertake this pain. I don't want to get into a debate about literate and illiterate political theorists; if we keep aside the right wing CIA/BJP type of anti left political project, how many of us really know about the real politics of the Marxist project? In an age where inequality, destitution, allsorts of cultural degeneration including brutal structural violence against women, Dalits, coloured people, indigenous people, ethnic and religious minorities had reached its zenith. What is the systemic/structural logic of this process? Whether one likes it or not, capitalism is the fundamental social reality today. In political terms Marxist politics deals with fundamental contradictions under capitalism, of which the principle contradiction is between capital and labour. And resolution of that contradiction will lead to the transcendence of capitalism, and that is the most concrete alternative to the present scheme of things. The giant C20th radical political theorist Ralph Milliband, in his ageless classic "Marxism and Politics" had interpreted the central terrain of Marxist politics; that is 'now hidden, now open, relentless class struggles'. According to Ralph Milliband:

'At the core of Marxist politics, there is the notion of conflict. But this is not what makes it specific and distinct: all concepts of politics, of whatever kind, are about conflict- how to contain it, or abolish it. What is specific about Marxist politics is what it declares the nature of the conflict to be; and what it proclaims to be its necessary outcome.
In the liberal view of politics, conflict exists in terms of 'problems' that need to be 'solved'. The hidden assumption is that conflict does not, or need not, run very deep; that it can be 'managed' by the exercise of reason and goodwill and a readiness to compromise and agree. On this view, politics is not a civil war conducted by other means but a constant process of bargaining and accommodation, on the basis of accepted procedures, and between parties who have decided as a preliminary that they could, and wanted to live together more or less harmoniously. Not only is this sort of conflict not injurious to society: it has positive advantages. It is not only civilized, but also civilizing. It is not only a mans of solving problems in a peaceful way, but also of producing new ideas, ensuring progress, achieving ever-greater harmony, and so on. Conflict is 'functional', a stabilizing rather than disruptive force.
The Marxist approach to conflict is very different. It is not a matter of 'problems' to be 'solved' but of a state of domination and subjection to be ended by a total transformation of the conditions that give rise to it. No doubt conflict may be attenuated, but only because the ruling class is able by one means or another- coercion, concessions, or persuasion- to prevent the subordinate classes from seeking emancipation. Ultimately, stability is not a matter of reason but of force. The antagonists are irreconcilable. And the notion of genuine harmony is a deception or a delusion, at least in relation to class societies.'

(see page no 18-19 ch.2 'Class and Class Conflict', in Marxism and Politics, Ralph Milliband, Merlin Press, London. Now reprinted in India by Aakar books, New Delhi.)

How much serious study have you done of the Marxist project, before passing such irresponsible claptrap and such arrogant/ignorant sweeping judgements against Marxism? Can you define Marxism? Forget that end of history collapse of Soviet Union, post-communism propaganda crap. Marxism has nothing to do with that basically. The relevance of Marxism will be there as long as capitalism exists, and socialism will be the most plausible antithesis to capitalism. Marxism cannot be contested because of what happened in the socialist countries, especially the soviet union. We all know that there were serious problems, but Marxism is something else. It is the science of analyzing capitalism and gives us political tools to transcend capitalism which is known as 'revolution' in the language of radical politics. As the great American Marxist theorist Fredrick Jameson explains in his exulted work 'Five theses on Actually Existing Marxism':

'Marxism is the science of understanding capitalism, or to give more depth to the term, it is the science of understanding the contradictions of capitalism. Therefore, it is incoherent to celebrate the death of Marxism.'

(see the first thesis in 'Five Thesis on Actually existing Marxism' by Fredrick Jameson in Marxism and the postmodern Agenda edited by John Bellamy Foster and Ellen Meiksinswood, monthly review books, New York. Now reprinted in India by Aakar books New Delhi.)

The renowned Marxist scholar Ellen Meiksinswood in her monumental book, says about Marxist politics,

'The original intention of historical materialism was to provide a theoretical foundation for interpreting the world in order to change it. This was not an empty slogan. It had a very precise meaning. It meant that Marxism sought a particular kind of historical movement, and at least implicitly, the points at which political action could most effectively intervene. This is not to say that the object of Marxist theory was to discover a 'scientific' programme or technique of political action. Instead, the purpose was to provide a mode of analysis especially well equipped to explore the terrain on which political action must take place.'

(see chapter 1, in Democracy against Capitalism: renewing historical materialism by Ellen Meiksinswood, Cambridge University Press, London.)

Now coming back to human nature, there is nothing called absolute and trans-historical human nature. There is a distinct Marxist theory of human nature, and there are many other theories of human nature. This is not the space in which to get into a debate on human nature. The Marxist theory of human nature tells us that human nature is historical, structural reasons which include all economic, political, cultural and environmental factors, especially the social mileau shapes human nature. As Marx had said, it is not the consciousness which determines our social existence but our social existence which shapes our consciousness. Hence, a human being is an ensemble of social relationships. If you say mankind is inherently greedy and commercial, then the battle is lost. There is no chance of transcending it. Then let us all commit suicide, the project of man is over and Foulco will have the last laugh. I think there is still hope. My resource of hope comes from the objective fact that capitalism is a historically specific social form. It had a beginning, so it will have an end. This species called homosapiens came to the planet millions of years ago. The history of capitalism is hardly 500 years. Give feudalism some 1000 years, still there are millions of years left. The primitive communism was the longest stage of human history, there was no private property, no markets, and hence, no commercial mindset., money came much later. There are different forms of commerce; barter, and so on, capitalism basically means human relationships mediated by market forces. We can create a society where one human being relates to the other human being only for human reasons.

What the hell do you know about totalitarianism? Have you heard of the holocaust, General Franco, Idi Amin, Marcos Battista, Pinochet? The wars, the colonial plunder, bloodthirsty imperialism, tortures, rapes, abughraibs, the sexual slavery of South East Asian women of yankee armed forces during and after the second world war? What about Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, Palestine, Sub-Saharan Africa? Occupation and colonization of Iraq, millions of murders in Afghanistan? In Iraq, five million Iraqi children dying of starvation, the vandalisation of the Bahgdad museum? The fate of the Mexicans, the coloureds, religions and ethnic minoroities, the great leader of the free world? What about racism, violence and commodification of women? What about the blacks? Lets not forget the entire extermination of the indigenous people known as Red Indians. And now, the biggest structural violence on the 3rd world and all the working people all over the world by the policies of neoliberalism implemented by the imperialist master. You'd better start reading Lenin's 'Imperialsm: The highest stage of Capitalism'.

Now honey, don't give me that German green party bullshit. The German green party was sharing power when Yugolslavia and Afghanistahn were being ruthlessly bombed. Now the German big bourgeoisie is greedily eyeing for its share in Iraq. Germany has been an imperialist country, it had its own contradictions with American imperialism. It made the best out of the post war boom, and dear, most of the time the social democrats were ruling Germany. Social democracy was capitals weapon of bailing out the crisis ridden global capitalism after the great depression, f;lagged off by the new deal in the US. Social democracy has been managing capitalism, co-opting the working class. It is an out and out reformist ideology, blunting the evolutionary consciousness of the working class. Same is the story of Labour in the UK and the Socialists in France. It was the Keynesian age, now they are showing their real colours. Coming back to your great Social Democratic paradise of Scandinavia, which you are parading as an alternative: these countries of advanced capitalism and out and out imperialism. Their fa├žade of neutrality is a cruel joke on the bleeding and strifed on world. After extracting super profits from the bleeding third world, they throw some crumbs to keep their population happy and co-opted, depoliticized zombies controlled by the media and the gadgets. These so called peaceful, neutral nations which include Switzerland, are extremely opportunist and their hand are also dripping with blood. How can you be neutral in a conflicted world? That is abdications of ones historical duty. Hence opportunist. The Swedish teach peace while selling Bofors guns to India. They simply don't protest the violence American imperialism has done all over the world for the past 20 years, and all their social democratic prosperity and peace comes from the exploitation where at least two thirds of humanity face hunger, starvation, malnutrition, wars, rapes, occupations, stolen childhoods, coexisting with patriarchy, fascism, caste oppression, 'ethnic cleansing' and so on. This is not to discount the rights won by the heroic struggles of the working class in advanced capitalism countries. Do you know what totalitarianism is? Capitalism is the most totalitarian system. Capital basically is a social relation, it is how a human being relates to another human being. As Ellen Meiksinswood says,

'Capitalism is constituted by class exploitation, but capitalism is more than just a system of class oppression. It is a ruthless totalizing process which shapes our lives in every conceivable aspect, and everywhere, not just in the relative opulence of the capitalist North. Among other things, and even leaving aside the direct power wielded by capitalist wealth both in the economy and the political sphere, it subjects all social life to the abstract requirements of the market, through the commodification of life in all its aspects, determining the allocation of labour, leisure, resources, patterns of production, consumption and the disposition of time. This makes a mockery of all our aspirations to autonomy, freedom of choice, and democratic self-government.'

(Ellen Meikinswood, 'Democracy Against Capitalism')

How much seriously do you know about the Marxist project? It is a project of freedom, (see Marxism and Freedom, Terry Eagleton) as Fredrick Jameson puts it, ' Socialsm is a collective vision of freedom, freedom from unavoidable needs' (see the third thesis in 'Five theses on actually existing Marxism'). Engels, speaking at the funeral of Marx had said that the greatest thing Marx taught us was that mankind first needs food, clothes, and shelter before it can pursue religion culture and art. Marxism is about the unleashing of inmherent potential in every human being and that's the essence of real freedom. Freedom just cant be an abstract concept.

Now darling, coming back to praxis, there's something called state which maintains all social political power relationships, guarantees bourgeoise property rights, the real Marxist politics smashing the bourgeoise state machine, and that battle sweetheart is a knockout battle. That's what Marx taught us years ago. Have you read anything original of Marx? How do you pass such sweeping judgements? It will be too harsh to call you a joker. Billionsa of pages have been written for and against Marxism, Titans have clashed; you stand no-where.

Long live Socialist revolution.

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