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View Diary: To those who freak out about "socialism" (45 comments)

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  •  Because everyone knows how societies that (0+ / 0-)

    called themselves socialist ended up. You could argue that it wasn't true socialism but it ends up pretty close to 'no true Scotsman' fallacy.

    Northern Europe is not socialism. It's mixed economy just like pretty much every other country in the world. You could legitimately argue that higher taxes combined with better safety net lead to a more equal society and that's beneficial for the society as a whole. But that's not socialism.

    •  State capitalism? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, aliasalias
      You could argue that it wasn't true socialism but it ends up pretty close to 'no true Scotsman' fallacy.
      Sorry, but the "no true Scotsman" fallacy applies to individuals, not to societies.  Start here:

      http://www.marxists.org/...

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 04:32:49 PM PST

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      •  Why then the societies that start supposedly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        socialist ended up as a state capitalism? Seems to be a trend. It's just too easy for people in power at the moment to grab total control and start using supposedly joint property for their own purposes. That's not to say that socialism the way you describe it is impossible. Small communities existed this way for centuries and quite a few businesses operate this way. But up to now it hasn't worked on larger scale.

        •  I have to imagine -- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2020adam, isabelle hayes

          that part of the reason has to do with the fact that the capitalist powers-that-be engaged Russia in a civil war.  Woodrow Wilson sent 50,000 US troops to battle the commies.

          "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

          by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:40:27 PM PST

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          •  This is certainly true (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG

            but it is hardly sufficient to explain the disastrous failed experiment that was the Soviet Union. Neither do I think that the degeneration of the Chinese revolution can be dismissed by referencing the hostility of international capital.

            The refusal to to take a hard, unflinching, critical look at the manifest failures of statist socialism is an abdication of responsibility that no movement aiming transforming the world can afford to indulge in.

            If Socialism is to have any future as the force for human advancement that it once promised to be, it cannot turn a blind eye to the historic crimes and atrocities committed in its name.  

             

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:52:57 AM PST

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            •  then maybe it was the embargo thereafter? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves

              As I suggested before:

              1) The Soviet Union and the PRC dupicated, in large extent, the authoritarianisms of earlier regimes.  Lenin himself admitted at the end of his life that the Soviet bureaucracy duplicated the Czar's police forces.  Mao was a Chinese Emperor.  The one factor that compounded this authoritarianism appears to have been modernization -- keeping people in line while making them consumers is something the emperors of old didn't try.

              2) Said "socialist" systems didn't exist in isolation from the larger world-system -- they offered, as Wallerstein suggested, a "mercantilistic semi-retreat" from the world-system as a whole for a system developing independently of global capital.  It's not as if the Soviet Union could have avoided participation in a breakneck modernization path when its rivals in Nazi Germany and the United States were busy developing armies of global conquest and (in the case of the US) atomic weaponry -- and it wasn't likely that the Soviet Union was going to agree upon breakneck modernization democratically, given the international isolation of the USSR and the complete lack of a democratic tradition after 400 years of Romanov rule.  

              Given all that, the Russian revolutionaries were, as Boris Kagarlitsky argues, mere "Jacobins," and the version of "socialism" they offered was a complete failure by any metric we might establish through the writings of Antonio Gramsci (as Kagarlitsky also points out).  So much so that the Soviet Union's bad end was established in reality before its de jure end when the leadership switched sides and declared themselves to be capitalists.   They missed their two big chances to do anything positive with socialism by crushing the revolts, both socialist, in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968.  The formal structure was abolished more or less because Gorbachev was not the capitalist Deng was in China.

              What I find bizarre is the whole matter of why the capitalists still feel free to point fingers at the Soviet Union and the PRC when their own backlog of atrocities was quite immense.  See, e.g. the Middle Passage, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, Guatemala, and so on.

              "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

              by Cassiodorus on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:44:34 AM PST

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              •  Cass (0+ / 0-)

                The arguments above suffer from anachronism. The Bolshevik regime had been in place for 15 years prior to the Nazi assumption of power Germany. During this period there was no build up of military forces in either Germany or the US and certainly no A bomb program. Yet the degeneration of the Bolshevik regime was even then apparent to many observers.

                Accelerated industrialization of the Soviet economy was first proposed in the early 20's but was rejected by the Bolsheviks and it's proponents silenced. This policy was suddenly reversed at Stalin's behest in 1928, leading to the forced collectivization and "super" industrialization he'd previously opposed. This reversal led directly to the massive famine in the Soviet Union of '32-'33.

                Again, these events all preceded German and US military build-ups. They could hardly be the cause of the Bolshevik's drastic policy change since they hadn't yet occurred.

                Arguing that the crimes and atrocities of Capital justify or excuse the crimes and atrocities committed in the name of Socialism isn't going to be very convincing to anyone whose concern is the well being of themselves and their families rather than historical comparisons.

                While I've long been an admirer of Boris Kagarlitsky, I have to point out that being schooled in Soviet style history wasn't the best preparation for assessing that history. That said, the Bolsheviks made no secret of considering themselves the inheritors of Jacobinism. They saw no contradiction between Jacobinism and Bolshevism.

                For myself, I think the best chance for the Soviet Union came and went far earlier.      

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:40:24 AM PST

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              •  One further point (0+ / 0-)

                The Cordon Sanitaire of the Soviet Union was effectively broken by the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. Ironically, this resulted in Germany becoming the USSR's economic window to the west and greatly aided that country's military development.

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:49:42 AM PST

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          •  No, it happened even before the civil war started. (0+ / 0-)

            And it was primarily a civil war. International involvement didn't change the nature of the Soviet government.

    •  And -- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, aliasalias
      Because everyone knows how societies that (0+ / 0-)

      called themselves socialist ended up.

      They ended up repeating the absolutism of the previous regime.  Oh, sure, we should be rightly concerned that, should the US become socialist, the national security state won't go away, and the government will continue to spy on everyone while declaring continuous war on the world.  But a whole lot of us don't seem to care a whole lot about that happening under capitalism now, and it is happening now.

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 04:45:56 PM PST

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