Re: [OPE-L] SV: [OPE-L] Che's/martinez's Economics

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue May 08 2007 - 07:02:27 EDT


Paul wrote:
Why is this idea naive?"

Most people would associate the "failings of hitherto existing
socialism" more with party dictatorship, political repression and
censorship - not so much the (presumed) existence of the wage form. I
thus agree with Juriaan that the statement is pretty naive.
I don't need to be told that 'most people' would put this down to party dictatorship and political repression. Of course they would, that is what you are taught in politics 101 in any bourgeois university, this is what the US state dept foundation for democracy teaches you. I would say that acceptance of what one is taught in such courses is na´ve.

I accept that the political form of Leninist party dictatorship, whilst able to establish socialism, is unable to maintain a proletarian state, and would put forward specific proposals on that which differ radically from the liberal critique of the USSR, but these are secondary unless you can solve the basic problem of the nature of the socialist mode of production and its specific laws and contradictions.

Why do you say 'presumed' existence of wages in the USSR, do you think workers were not paid money wages?

It appears to me to be a direct attempt to apply the marxist method to
analysing the mode of production in the USSR Marx said that the key to
any society was its mode of surplus extraction, to understand hithertoo
existing socialist society one first has to discover its specific mode
of surplus extraction.

Marx in my opinion was a very complex thinker, and I do not think such a
reductionist approach to analyzing society in his name is possible.
Sure, how the surplus is distributed in any society is a key feature,
but it is not the only one. If you make it so, you would not be able to
tell any difference between different forms of capitalism for example.

This issue is not how the surplus is distributed but the specific mode in which it is produced and extracted from the direct producers. This is the key to distinguishing modes of production. It does not tell you the difference between national variants of capitalism for example, but it does tell you how capitalism differs from feudalism for example. If you don't understand the extraction of surplus value by the buying and selling of labour power and the production of relative surplus value, you don't understand the first thing about capitalism. Unless one has this most basic feature of socialist economy understood, one will be in no position to look at variations between socialist countries.

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