[OPE-L] 'socialisms' that shouldn't be supported?

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue May 09 2006 - 09:16:19 EDT

This issue of course has nothing to do with Marcel's book, it's something I
raised... I meant not just socialist societies but socialist movements. In
the modern era of socialism, there was a major split between the official
communists and the social democrats, each espousing their own kind of
socialism - each opposed to the socialism of the other. Beyond that, there
have been many sectarian socialisms. Then you have the socialist imperialism
of e.g. Russia and China, destroying national minority cultures and forcing
the migration of whole peoples. And finally you have strongly despotic
socialisms such as Khmer socialism. All of these variants laid claim to
socialist ideas and traditions, and many referred to Marx's legacy.

"Orthodox" marxists like to introduce a dividing line between revolutionary
socialisms and reformist socialisms, but this is of course a crude
simplification, since there has existed a very wide spectrum of socialist
beliefs and practices from christian socialism, Fabianism and
communitarianism, to social democracy, Nasser-type or Sankara-type
socialism, to bolshevism, Maoism and Stalinism etc.

Hal Draper was IMO one of the top ten Marxian scholars that ever lived, and
his book "The Critique of other Socialisms" is certainly worth reading
(Incidentally, a posthumous fifth volume of his magnum opus has also been
added by E. Haberkern on "War and Revolution"). The academic response to
Draper's work was mainly one of stunning silence, and he is rarely cited.
Perhaps that is because Draper systematically exposed the whole tissue of
academic lies about Marx and Engels.

Draper's early essay on the "two souls of socialism" is interesting, because
implicitly he recognises that there isn't just one kind of socialism, but
many, motivated by different ideas about progress and the routes to human
emancipation. That is a very progressive, pluralistic thought which honours
the real beliefs that people may have about socialism. The main distinction
in his text seems to be, between a socialism which organically grows out of
the struggles of people to free themselves from the conditions that oppress
them, and a socialism which seeks to *impose* a new social order on people
by law or by force. It's a suggestive idea, but analytically it does not go
very deep, because it does not explicitly come to grips with the ideas of
freedom and power that define the contrast - in fact, by using the
theological metaphor of "souls", he runs together a whole series of
dialectical polarities, such as:

- elitism vs egalitarianism,
- revolutionism vs reformism,
- gradualism vs direct action
- negotiation vs forcible action
- compromise vs principles
- self-emancipation vs emancipation by others,
- progress vs regression,
- freedom vs equality,
- cooperation vs competition,
- autonomy vs dependence etc.

His implicit aim, like many others writing on this subject, seemed to be to
define a "true socialism" as a socialism from below, but this intention
would appear to conflict with his own admission that there are many
different socialisms, which may be inspired by many different motivational
complexes and historical situations. Which socialism is "true", may be known
only after life has been lived, and some socialisms may by nature not be
liveable at all, existing only as a hope, dream or ideal.

As for Prof. Alex Callinicos, he went on record as saying that souls don't
exist, because there is no scientific evidence for them (sic.). Tough luck,


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