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

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Wed May 10 2006 - 08:29:22 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Not much time because I'm still unpacking stuff, but just briefly:

You asked:

Well, was that imperialism?

The Czarist empire was an empire, and originally (under Lenin's leadership)
the USSR was conceived as a FEDERATION of cooperating but politically
autonomous socialist republics. Under Stalin, the federation became a
centralised "Union". Stalin explained the reasons for this change as

"Assistance to peasant farming, the raising of industry, improving means of
transport and communication, financial questions, questions concerning
concessions and other economic agreements, joint action in foreign markets
as buyers or sellers of commodities -- such are the questions that gave rise
to the movement for the formation of a Union of Republics. The exhaustion of
the internal economic resources of our republics as a result of the Civil
War, on the one hand, and the absence of any considerable influx of foreign
capital, on the other, have created a situation in which none of our Soviet
republics is in a position to restore its national economy by its own
unaided efforts." http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/QUNR22.html (for more
detail, see http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/USR22.html - where Stalin adds
military factors).

In other words, the political Union was justified primarily on economic and
military grounds. But this begs the question of why economic and military
cooperation was not possible on the basis of politically autonomous
federated states, which was the original idea. In reality, the Union had
much more to do with imposing centralised rule by the CPSU, strategic
control over resources, and defence considerations. For his modernisation
programme, Stalin needed to bypass all legal and political obstructions.
There's no denying that the republics benefited economically a lot from
participation in the Union, but it is also true that they lost their
political/cultural autonomy and that the nationalities question wasn't
thereby resolved. Whether the move to a "Union" was "imperialist" I suppose
depends on your general definition of imperialism - I had in mind the
domination of one nation or people by another, something which is not
specific to capitalism. But the last word on that issue belongs to the
people actually living there.


Yes.  But didn't Marx and Engels also put forward a sharp "dividing line"
between Utopian socialism and "Scientific socialism"?


Well Engels certainly did in his pamphlet, but generally he and Marx were
more sympathetic to the so-called utopian socialists that the Marxists were.
I personally do not agree with the notion of "scientific socialism" because
socialism is a moral and political stance/movement, and this being the case,
it cannot itself be "scientific", it can only be informed by scientific
insight into social problems and social reconstruction. I draw a sharp
distinction between science and ideology, and I don't believe in "scientific
ideology" or scientism. It is certainly true that science and ideology
influence each other, but they should not be conflated. Marxists want to
freeze what Engels said into a fixed dogma, but this ignores a whole century
of historical development. Why should we adhere to a 19th century conception
of socialism? If anything can be learnt from Marx & Engels, it is that they
viewed the development of socialist thought historically, in the context of
the times.


Couldn't the same be said about the works of Maximillen Rubel?


I'm not sure about that, as I haven't read enough of the French literature


What did you think about the hypothetical "socialisms" that I listed in my
last reply to you?


Well I wouldn't quarrel with that, except that my concern is more with
actually existing movements referring to socialist ideas. And I would
support some, and oppose others.. just like Marx & Engels did in their time.


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