[OPE] Heinz Dieterich's General Program for Transition Towards XXICentury Socialism in Latin America

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 14:25:06 EDT


Don't get me wrong, I am an internationalist, I am in favour of a united Europe, I am in favour of a united world, indeed I am in favour of open borders (at least to the extent it is feasible - and, provided people stick to the law, a lot more is feasible; many of the problems have to do with bad legislation and people trying to dodge laws and norms, the perceptions of the carrying capacity of the local population are often not very accurate). But I am cautious in my treatment of Venezuela because I don't know thoroughly what's behind the image.

But internationalism I think is "inter-nationalism", the concept is meaningless and vacuous, unless you understand what a national culture is about, and it is meaningless if you have one policy at home and another policy for "foreigners". Incidentally old Lenin had a similar intuition - he argued (paraphrase) we try to develop a correct policy where we are, for the different peoples we are dealing with, and we recommend this policy abroad (obviously his original idea of a federation was turned into a "union" of a type which, although many resources were put into it, caused resentment in many places and finally collapsed; Western socialists often rejected his exemplars). We can push ourselves to the limit, but we try not to recommend things to others we cannot actually operate ourselves. It's elementary.

I do not talk about socialism much normally. Partly, I got way behind with my research inquiries; I am, through circumstances, less sociable than a socialist ought to be; if I go to a workplace and say "Hi, I am a socialist" most people will say "Big deal, now solve my problem" and they want that problem solved, whether you believe this or that is mostly irrelevant. It would only become relevant perhaps insofar as I do solve a problem, and can say "that's because my approach is socialist". Abstruse theoretical reflections often don't solve any problem, they only try to reframe what the real problem is and make it more solvable. It's only a meeting of minds between scholars of similar bent, no more or less. I'm in process of plotting a new direction, for the better I hope. If I had all the answers to all of the problems I would gladly share them, but I haven't.

Researchwise I'm very interested in a multi-disciplinary approach to economic issues. My experience is that "economic" gets identified with "commercial" and that "commercial" gets identified with prices, so that economics is about prices, and markets are about price movements. I do not deny that prices are part of economics, they obviously are, but my experience is that as soon as you deal with real people then such an approach to "economic" matters will fail, much more needs to be considered. The same type of product market functions completely differently under different social, political, cultural, legal etc. conditions.

There is a certain tradition of thought according to which a centrally planned economy is incompatible with market allocation, and a tradition that markets are intrinsically evil things. This sort of idea is in my opinion crippling for the purpose of developing better theory, and for the purpose of dealing with a real economy and its social relations. Fact is that we cannot stop people from trading, and they have to trade. Once we have that clear, we can inquire into its social organisation and what the alternative allocative methods are, and whether those would do a better job, whether you get better social behaviour, or a better life. The approach is far more modest perhaps than the Red Revolution, but there are more real gains there.

There's all kinds of groups in society who have a certain "way of doing things" and a certain way of getting things done (if you like, an "organisational form"), they persuade to the extent that they solve problems for people, they have their own "clientele" if you like. To the extent that I as a monad don't solve any problems in that sense, well, I just don't have a lot to say, I have my ideas, I shoot my mouth off a bit on the list about scholarly things or actualities, but that's nothing yet in itself. But okay if you have to work for a living, and don't have the opportunity to work fulltime on your own research all day, then you are limited in what you can do, you try to discuss with people trying to figure out these things. To the extent you do anything interesting, you can also attract a lot of attention you weren't really looking for, it can become a real problem. It can throw your life out of sync, and you end up having to do a lot of things on the hop, build your boat while sailing it as it were. It can feel a bit like Antonio Gramsci writing the Prison Notebooks.

I could expand into more detail based on my previous thinking and reading, but I am unlikely to do it because I've learnt now that there's a time and a place to say things, you can be sorta like Gorbachev, and somebody else goes off with your whole country (maybe an extreme exaggeration, but just to illustrate). Best not to be so open that your brains fall out. The same things that you thought about for forty years cascade through your mind regularly, but in the course of time some things become less significant and others more, you also have to re-evaluate things, not try to solve everything at once. You have to prepare some things very well, before you present them, not go off half-cocked, that's the art of life. I've made plenty mistakes there. Nowadays if I don't follow through on particular things, I get real complaints. When I was a young student layabout, I didn't have that so much, "ton of ideas and ounce of practice" sort of thing, there was more freedom, but it's something to reckon with now.


      Watch the man on theleft walking, crossing the road where there is no car.

      It is so definite that the coast on the left is clear, and safe to cross.
      Any person would see it is safe... .
      Take nothingfor granted, not even for a split second! Be grateful for every livingminute




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Received on Fri Oct 24 14:51:13 2008

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