Re: [OPE] Putting humans back into socialism

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Dec 07 2010 - 17:51:22 EST

On 2010-12-07 23:10, David Laibman wrote:
> Socialism, the entire tradition, has been about nothing if not human beings. No need
> to "put them back." Did 20th-century socialism fail in some crucial
> ways to meet human needs? Undoubtedly. Mike Lebowitz, however, has not
> (yet?) been tested in the same way as was the leadership of (say) the
> CPSU; nor have most of us western Marxist intellectuals. I have always
> found it strange how people raised among the relatively privileged
> strata in the heartlands of capitalist imperialism come to possess the
> unique capacity to form moral judgments and set the standards for
> everyone else in the world.

Well said David!

I've for some time been struck by the repeated collapse into
historical-idealism among some Western Marxists when it comes to
socialist revolutions. Surely it is impossible to understand their
trajectories unless one takes into account the set of options available
determined by the political-economic conditions and the dynamics of the
emerging system.

Projecting ideals onto Soviet-socialist societies will do us no good;
one needs to ask what could have been done differently in terms of
practical policies within the set of constraints, that would have been
more likely to attain goals of the socialist tradition? The leadership
of CPSU may have put the development of productive forces and the
reproduction of the state at 'the center of its focus'. But just suppose
for a minute that it had put 'humans at the center of its focus'; how
would its political-economic priorities have differed during the period
1917-1950, given the economic backwardness, political isolation and the
unimaginable brutality of civil and world wars? What does that 'focus'
effectively mean?

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Tue Dec 7 17:53:08 2010

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