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well, i would first start with some of the 'anarchist' writers like kropotkin, bookchin, and even the old catholic worker peter maurin and his companion dorothy day.  i will explain more later.  but i think beyond ecological destruction, serious maldistribution of wealth we can focus on issues around technological organization of our society, a la ellul.  and to how society lives and breathes in its own image someone like guy debord.  first; we must understand who and what we are and then dialogue about how and what can be done.  and that takes much (prayer and reflection!) to know let alone understand.  that is where someone like thomas merton and thomas berry enter into the fray.  just food for thought and hopefully dialogue.  pq


Date: Sun, 15 May 2011 21:38:58 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: socialism in other countries
To: [log in to unmask]

Hi Paul,

Well if there's a social system NOT called "socialism" and that's not based on private ownership for profit of production, that could be interesting -- but I don't know of any. Do you?

If not, that's why ecosocialism -- is very much worth discussing, I reckon.

Mitchel

At 09:26 PM 5/15/2011, Paul Quinlan wrote:

why are all of you it seems carrying on arguments about socialism that died long ago?  can you look into alternative ways of understanding and developing technology, community development, and education.  otherwise; it seems you are just talking to yourselves.  and that is a dialogue which can get boring and self referencing after a while.  reach out and talk to people about their concerns.  why is our social system so riddled with problems of addiction, unhappiness, and violence?  those are the problems people face in the streets of our world today no matter where they may live.  from the ghetto to the gated communities; first world to third world.  paul quinlan

Date: Sun, 15 May 2011 16:19:15 +0200
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: socialism in other countries
To: [log in to unmask]

I will leave it to other list members to enter this discussion if they like, but want to follow up on just one point David raises: Whether non-socialist parties should be allowed. The problem here is that someone has to decide whether such parties are indeed non-socialist or not. Did not Stalin brand all Trotskyist parties and individuals as counter-revolutionary, and have not most Communist parties in the world followed suit even after Stalin's death?

This is what bothers me and many other people. Even if one could justify suppressing a party that is openly capitalist, can one ever justify banning a party that claims to be socialist, whether or not the majority agree that it is? It's just so easy for Communists to call people they don't agree with counter-revolutionary, to put them in jail, and to kill them. I doubt that many people in the world will ever again be persuaded to give them that power.

MB

On Sun, May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM, David Westman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Mr. Balter asks me whether multiple socialist parties should be allowed in true anti-revisionist socialist societies, but he does not ask whether non-socialist parties should be allowed.    I detect in this the realization that he understands the possibility of counter-revolution and recognizes the need to guard against it.     I think that this issue has not yet been worked out and I cannot give a definite answer.    I think that the working class would be stronger if the vast majority is united behind one single party, but if it becomes fragmented into several parties, that would be a weakness that must be overcome by non-coercive, democratic means.    Democracy is a way of reaching a decision, and a decision means that consensus is recognized at some point and a collective path forward is agreed on.   If a society remains stuck at a crisis point, where a decision cannot be reached and unity is impossible, then this could prevent some necessary actions and the conditions which brought about the crisis would only get worse.    So whether formal parties or factions of a single party or other means to recognize these disagreements are provided for, is not the real issue.   Coercion, administrative measures, or bureacratic restrictions should not be allowed unless the society is faced with a grave threat of destruction.   If this is the case, then we should answer the question - which is more important, the survival of the collective or the principle of multiple parties?   I don't know the answer to this question, and it troubles me as well.

When it comes to oppositional parties, one can classify them in three categories:  loyal, subversive, and ineffectual.   Loyal oppositions really present little danger, because there is an agreement that the same societal framework should be maintained and it is merely details of policy and implementation that are at issue.    Subversive oppositional parties are organizations of the class enemy, and every sort of society has means to prevent those from forming and becoming organized; this is true of the USA and any other country that has existed or will exist.   An ineffectual oppositional party can be tolerated even if it is potentially subversive, only so long as it is ineffectual or marginal.   Here in the US there are many ineffectual parties of this sort, and as long as they do not have a mass following, the government is content to spy on them and harass them, but it does not seek to wipe them out completely (maybe at some point they will, that is conceivable).    But if one of these parties begins to grow and develop a mass base, then I would expect things to change, even in the most "democratic" of societies.   So I am really throwing this open for more discussion, because I do not have complete answers here.

David Westman

On 5/15/2011 6:41 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
When I joined Progressive Labor Party in 1968, we were just about to brand Mao Tse-Tung as a revisionist, and indeed went on to do so. Thus I have a reasonably good understanding of the concept. The main issue, of course, is whether we want to go back to those Marxist-Leninist principles, back to the drawing board in effect, or move on to a different conception altogether of what socialism means--a conception that is, for sure, anti-communist but pro-socialist.

In that context, I would like to ask David whether he thinks multiple socialist parties should be allowed in true, anti-revisionist socialist societies he envisions, or whether he would on one party only representing the interests of the working class. Kamran provide us yesterday with a detailed history of this issue in the Communist movement, which I found very interesting and informative.

Meanwhile, in France, accusations are already surfacing that Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest was a frameup either by agents of Nicolas Sarkozy or by his rivals in the Socialist Party. There is no doubt many in France would like DSK out of the way, so such rumors may have legs. If the maid turns out to be French, watch out.

Mitchel, what do you say, could this be a new conspiracy? I will be in New York for a few weeks beginning Monday night so perhaps we can take this one on together. :-)

On the other hand, we might want to believe the victim...

MB

On Sun, May 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM, David Westman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Mr. Balter is raising, in his own confused way, the question of "how do you tell fake socialism or communism from the real thing?".   And he acknowledges, at least implicitly, that mere labels do not help you here.   What he has not yet done is recognize that the issue of revisionism, Marxism which has been revised at its core to expunge revolutionary politics, is key here.   This is connected to his stance as a "left anti-communist" which provided no room for exploring this issue.    But if he took up the politics of anti-revisionist Marxism, he would see that there is a way out of his quandry, and I would hope he could recognize that.    Genuine socialism (as opposed to the social-democracy practiced by the European parties which are socialist in name only, and capitalist in practice, with a "human face" that is becoming increasingly downcast in the last few years), rests on building a revolutionary party that practices the politics of class struggle, and has as its goal the ultimate transition to communism.    This path was aborted by the Stalinists, and their fellow revisionists in the Trotskyist and Maoist camps have persisted in this erroneous path for the entire 20th century and up to the present day.    So what needs to be done here is to repudiate the bankrupt politics of the social-democrats of Europe (who also have followers in the USA among left-wing Democrats, Greens, and other groups), and the modern revisionists (also including Castroists and the faux socialists of Latin America such as Chavez and Morales).    The Augean stables must be cleansed of this filth of the past century, and anti-revisionism is the only way to go about this.

David Westman


On 5/15/2011 12:38 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
Larry asked yesterday about the situation in countries that are "socialist" rather than Communist, if indeed any such exist. Last night the leading presumed candidate for president on the French "Socialist Party" ticket, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid. DSK, as he is known, is also head of the very capitalist I.M.F.

So yes, we need a democratic socialism of the type Larry refers to, one that suffers neither from the authoritarianism/totalitarianism of so-called "Communist" states and parties, nor the "capitalism with a human face" outlook of the so-called socialist parties one finds in Europe.

MB

--
******************************************
Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
******************************************

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith




--
******************************************
Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
******************************************

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith




--
******************************************
Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
******************************************

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith





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