Re: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas - dem.sentr.

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Tue Dec 08 2009 - 11:38:59 EST

Paul Bullock wrote:
> But Paul,
> 100% consensus is an ideal in anything but smaller groups. Executive
> activity always presumes /requires some form of contingent delegation, so
> in the end one ends up with 'representatives'. It is the manner by which
> representation is controlled and informed that is the central question.
> Immediate recall is the democratic means in effective socialist democratic
> systems.So it is the nature of the electoral process which is key, not land
> ownership!
One must distinguish between

   1. decisions of major importance, which in a democracy can be decided
      by the whole population -- this particularly includes major issues
      of public expenditure and taxation which would remain important
      questions in any socialist economy, I enclose a draft paper
      explaining how this can be done with cell phone voting.
   2. more minor executive decisions for which it is not practical to
      have the whole population involved. In these cases one has to have
      a representative body. But the point I am making is that elected
      bodies are systematically unrepresentative. Any polling
      organisation that polled a population sample like the US congress
      and said it was representative of the US population would be out
      of business. Elections are biased towards those of high social
      status on grounds of class, education, gender and race. Random
      sampling as is done for juries ( without challenges ) is a far
      sounder representative mechanism.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
> To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
> Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 1:20 PM
> Subject: RE: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas - dem.sentr.
>> I think that there is a fundamental contradiction inherent in the label
>> democracy for what is really an aristocratic political form
>> The institution of a small elected leadership group is inherently an
>> aristocratic platonist one. Unless one faces up to this, the debate is
>> circular.
>> ________________________________________
>> From: [] On
>> Behalf Of Anders Ekeland []
>> Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 9:13 AM
>> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
>> Subject: SV: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas - dem.sentr.
>> Hi Alejandro,
>> It was invented by Marxists OK - first used by the Mensheviks (1906?) if
>> my memory does not fail me completely - and certainly not to justify
>> communist dictatorships - which were unknown at that time.
>> Democratic centralism exists in one form of another - as "majority rule" -
>> since without some "discipline" no party can work. The devil here sticks -
>> not in the details - but the fact that this concept - as "democracy" needs
>> to be more precisely defined, not the least historically
>> situated/contextualised. Not to create a relativistic notion, since there
>> are very general democratic (sentralististic) principles that apply to may
>> situations - and that are not respected in most of them.
>> That is why very general statements on the nature of DC is mostly
>> misleading/confusing.
>> Regards
>> Anders
>>> From: Alejandro Agafonow []
>>> Sent: 2009-12-07 09:09:37 CET
>>> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list []
>>> Subject: Re: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas
>>> Democratic centralism is ?Jerry and Anders? an oxymoron invented by
>>> Marxists to justify communist dictatorships. This is the rhetoric devise
>>> which hides the contradiction in Harneckers position respect to Cuba and
>>> Venezuela, and her calls for vague democratic principles. This is also
>>> one of the rhetoric figures in Helen Yaffe?s account of Cuba.
>>> A. Agafonow
>>> ________________________________
>>> De: GERALD LEVY <>
>>> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
>>> Enviado: lun,7 diciembre, 2009 03:47
>>> Asunto: RE: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas
>>>> Historical experience - very indirectly - and that's the problem. Any
>>>> discussion of the ban on factions in the Bolshevik party? Not a word.
>>>> How can you use/discuss the concept of democratic centralism without
>>>> relating it to the existence in the Bolshevik faction (1903-1018)
>>>> later in the Bolshevik party (1918 - 1921).
>>> <LOL>
>>> Anders:
>>> You remind me of many conversations which I had with
>>> anarchists back in the 1970s who, whenever socialism
>>> was discussed, insisted on raising the topic of the
>>> Kronstadt rebellion.
>>> Although I have worked with many anarchists in the
>>> period from 1990 to the present day, I can never
>>> think of a single instance in which when discussing
>>> something akin to "ideas for struggle" the subject of
>>> Kronstadt came up. And why should it? We can go
>>> over ad nauseum our interpretations of past political
>>> struggles or we can map out a strategy forward
>>> which takes into account *in a general way*
>>> historical experiences. Had Harnecker gone into an
>>> in-depth discussion of debates among the Bolsheviks
>>> I would have put her article down and forgotten about it.
>>> Had she done what you ask then it would never have
>>> had the capacity of making an impact on current
>>> struggles because workers and communities in struggle
>>> would have dismissed it with a yawn.
>>> There are parallels in political economy: had Sraffa's
>>> _PCBMC_ been 900 pages long , do you think it would have
>>> had more of an impact? I think not. Would Lenin's
>>> _Imperialism_ have had more of an impact if it was 3
>>> volumes long and was a similar size as _Capital_? I think
>>> not. Lenin understood well the advantages of a "popular
>>> outline". So should we. This is not to say that extensive
>>> historical analyses don't have a place. They do. But, it's
>>> a matter of different horses for different courses. I
>>> think Harnecker chose the right horse for the course that
>>> she wanted to follow. Whether there are failings with
>>> her paper is an open question but what you suggest as
>>> a failing is rather a failing on your part to appreciate
>>> the intended purpose of the article, imo.
>>> In solidarity, Jerry
>>> _______________________________________________
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Received on Tue Dec 8 11:40:51 2009

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