January 2014


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Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:07:24 -0600
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Kamran Nayeri:

No Mitchel, I did not. It may be an editing issue. But the second group of
questions are really important to grapple with. We tend to blame everything
that is wrong on the ruling class assuming that the "99%" or "the
proletariat" or "the humanity" would take the right decisions and actions.
But where is the proof for that assumption? Or at least, some historical,
empirical basis for such claims?


A few observations.

1. I agree that the Idea of Progress is false; it is a crucial part of
capitalist ideology, grouned (I think) in (a) technological 'progress' in
the 19th-c and (b) the great success of British Imperialism. I don't believe
_either_ Marx or Darwin accepted the Idea, but they were Victorian Gentlemen
and couldn't avoid "progressive" phrases creeping into their texts. Rosa
Luxemburg was the first Marxist explicitly to deny the concept: Socialism or
Barbarism was not a mere slogan but a serious statement of two realistic
possibilities. (Barbarism, we now know, is the more likely.)

2. "Blame" is not a good verb to bring in to political analysis; it
substitutes subjective moralism for history. Capitalist relations of
production generate barbarism _regardless_  of the behavior or intentions of
capitalists. Capitalism isn't evil; it is history.

3. Our goal has to be _democracy_, not some specific set of policies.
Luxemburg in 1898 argued that the final goal was not some vague socialism
but state power for the SPD. Her statement was limited by actual  conditions
in 1898, but if we substitute Democracy for the SPD, her point is still

4.  And since our goal is Democracy, WE CANNOT DICTATE THE POLICIES WHICH
THAT DEMOCRACY WILL CHOOSE. For example, the phrase "Eco-Socialism" is not
acceptable. Perhaps humanity, set free of the shackles of capitalism, will
choose to live it up for the next couple centuries. That is their choice.
All we can fight for is to create freedom (some form of direct democracy).

4a. So of course there is no proof (or even good probability) that a
democratic society would make the right decisions. We have no crystal balls.
But we do know that capitalism is destroying us and that within capitalism
we do not have the freedom even to attempt  alternative organizations of
human activity.