Re: [OPE] winning the battle of democracy

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Wed Mar 16 2011 - 22:47:33 EDT

Hi Paula,

As I mentioned, I called the last chapter of the book Capital as a Social
Kind, "Winning the Battle of Democracy." I don't spend those pages
writing about bourgeois democracy. In Value, Price and Profit Marx said
that "Original Accumulation" meant the "decomposition" of the "original
union" between labor and its tools. He continued, "Separation . . . once
established, such a state of things will maintain itself and reproduce
itself upon a constantly increasing scale until a new and fundamental
revolution in the mode of production should again overturn it, and restore
the original union in a new historical form."

Hmmm. But he does not mean restoring the shoemaker to his last. The means
of production have been socialized. If the original union is to be
restored, then, the new historical form must be a union that is social; it
has got to be one where associated workers together take the means of
production under their common control. But if this is to be real, not
formal, it can only mean that forms of association must be found that are
democratic -- at the point of production associated workers must exercise
democratic control over the means and conditions of production in the
process of production.

The phrase, winning the battle of democracy, comes from the Communist
Manifesto, of course. M and E give there a summary definition of
communism -- in a word, they say, it's the abolition of private property.
Some in the socialist tradition have more or less made this a matter of
legal title. If the state established what it called socialist ownership,
that was it. But
ownership in a legal sense is always formal. What is really at issue is who
exercises actual control over the instruments and materials of production.
Again, if the original union between labor and its tools is to be restored,
but associated rather than individual workers are to make effective use of
them, then the new historic form we're after must be democratic -- if you're
able to say that associated workers actually control democratically the
appropriation of nature to social need, then you can say you've abolished
private property. Association has been substituted for capital's
separations. That's winning the battle of democracy.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Paula" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 8:07 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] winning the battle of democracy

> Claus asked:
> "when you talk of democracy, do you mean 'bourgeois democracy'?"
> There is bourgeois democracy (eg national independence; freedom of speech)
> and workers' democracy (eg right to strike; bargaining rights). Socialists
> IMO must be 100% in favor of both. When Marx and Engels talked about the
> proletariat winning the "battle of democracy", they were talking mostly
> about bourgeois democracy. The reason, very simply, was that the main
> political struggles of the time were fought around issues such as voting
> rights, freedom of expression, etc. Today such struggles are still going
> on.
> But countries that call themselves "socialist" or "communist" often have
> neither bourgeois nor workers' democracy. In today's China, for example,
> there's neither freedom of expression nor the right to strike. The same
> was
> true, throughout most of its history, of the USSR. And Cubans are denied
> many rights. When the left make excuses for this sort of thing, they can
> no
> longer be said to be engaged in a battle for democracy; if they are
> fighting
> at all, they are fighting on the other side.
> I'll deal with the other points separately.
> Paula
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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Received on Wed Mar 16 22:49:34 2011

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