Re: [OPE] Putting humans back into socialism

Date: Wed Dec 08 2010 - 08:52:04 EST

Hi David L and Dave Z:
I am reminded of the slogan of the Alexander Dubcek government in 1968 in
Czechoslovakia: "Socialism With a Human Face" (a slogan which - decades
later - Gorbachev embraced).
While remembering that slogan, I can't help but also be reminded of what
happened to that government and people on August 21, 1968 when 2,000 tanks
and 200,000 Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia and ended the Prague
Once that happened, then socialists from other nations responded. Some
denounced the invasion; others (following an argument similar to that of
David L) refused to criticize the USSR for an invasion of what was
supposed to be a sovereign socialist nation.
It is at times such as those when the internationalism of socialists is
tested. Does internationalism mean uncritical support of the actions
of socialists in other nations or does it mean - as I think it must - a
critical stance towards the actions of other socialists and - where
necessary - denunciation of those actions?
There would be no need for Mike L to talk about "putting humans
back into socialism" had it not been for the bitter experience of
what happened historically in other 'socialist' nations.
In solidarity, Jerry
> 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?
ope mailing list
Received on Wed Dec 8 08:53:28 2010

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Dec 31 2010 - 00:00:02 EST