[OPE-L:2771] Re: socialism and planning

glevy@pratt.ed (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 04:17:48 -0700 (PDT)

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Paul C asked in [OPE-L:2679]:

> This may seem a naive question, but just what is the use of a further
> understanding of capitalism?

In order to change the world, we must understand the world.

> What programatic political points are currently unspecifiable because
> of a lack of understanding of capitalism?
> I am not denying that such points may exist, I would just like an idea
> of what you they are.

Praxis can't be distilled into programatic political points alone.

Before working people change the world, they must know more than slogans.
They will expect and demand answers to important questions that affect
their lives.

A recent example: when Gary Becker and Co. talk about the economics of
education, the family, discrimination, etc., what do we say? What is our
alternative *critique* (as distinct from our assertions)?

Another example: there's a plant closing. Workers might, under these
circumstances, want to know not only why they lost their individual jobs
but what the determinants of unemployment in our system are? What would
you tell them?

If they were to ask you what the determinants of wages are, what would you
say? Do we have a theory which specifies *all* of those determinants?

Surely international trade and the world market have a profound impact on
the lives of workers today. What will you tell them about these social
processes? Will you only tell them about the internationalization of
capital and say that "Workers of the world (should) unite"? What more
needs to be said to answer their questions?

A year ago next week you started a thread on the marxism list called "I'm
interested in interest theory." Why are you interested in interest theory?

Marx and Engels asserted that workers "have nothing to lose but their
chains." Workers, though, know better. They know that they have their
homes, their car, their TV, their "freedom" etc. and their *lives* to
lose. Before workers will want and be prepared to fight for any
"model" of socialism, they must first understand what capitalism is
about. Then, they will have a lot of questions about alternatives.

We must understand the present before we can better comprehend different
possibilities for the future.

In OPE-L Solidarity,