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Socialist Progressives

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Fantastic Anarchist

(7,309 posts)
Sun Nov 15, 2015, 10:57 AM Nov 2015

On the distinction of socialist concepts (i.e. fire department) and 'socialism' [View all]

Last edited Sun Nov 15, 2015, 01:21 PM - Edit history (1)

I've seen this a lot and, being guilty of it myself when arguing with conservatives, reactionaries, et al, and it is a nice rhetorical debate tool - but, is it causing more harm than good in the long run?

I replied to a post in this thread (for context).

X-posting to General Discussion

Public Libraries and education, roads, fire departments are socialist concepts, sure. But it is not "socialism." Saying so undermines, hopefully, one day, a transition, of whatever nature, to a social/political/economic organization encompassing at least the core tenet of socialist philosophy. A tenet that has stood the test of time, and has been generally agreed upon more or less, despite all of the other quibbles, by anarchists, Marxists, trade-unionists, and other agitators for workers' movements - that is a socialist society is based on the working class being in control of the means of production and a right to the fruits of their labor.

So, public libraries, education, roads, fire departments, etc., while nice socialist concepts, don't meet the core tenet of socialist philosophy, in theory, or in practice of being "socialism" (to be sure, there is disagreement on the other tenets by various tendencies). They're just comment sense which actually prevents capitalism from self-destruction. In advanced capitalist societies, people who are illiterate, are unable to transport themselves, products or services, are unable to prevent mass bankruptcies due to contracting private entities to put out our fires or transport us to the hospital should we fall ill (whose services we still have to pay for as some contracted entities are still private and only part of public funds are used to supplement such services), is a disadvantage, so enough industrialists and management, acquiesced to such calls for publicly funded services in order to create a larger labor market from whose surplus value they could use to generate more profits for themselves. This was a rational, for the most part, deal to accept. The New Deal and similar such "bargains" helped save capitalism from itself. It was business afterall! After the golden age, those who were smart, made some adjustments. It was strategic.

Else, we can call the whole world "socialist," pat ourselves on the back and call it a day.

Or, we can know and learn from socialist history - anarchists brought us the 8-hour workday at terrible cost to their lives. They fought, lost, fought harder, and finally won, after many in their ranks were brutally suppressed for daring to ask for better working conditions. They fought for child-labor laws, and for a larger share of worker input. These are very nice socialist concepts, and I am grateful for them. But, make no mistake, these fought for instruments for a more tolerable society, are not to be misconstrued as "socialism." The socialists of whatever stripe who fought for these things knew that that wasn't enough, and some actually advocated against accepting these mil-que-toast antidotes to prop up a naturally self-destructive philosophy, and instead opted for revolution, precisely because the above were not "socialism," and they predicted quite accurately, that we would become complacent with these crumbs from our wealthy parasitic upper class.

You can be sure that due to globalization, these rationally accepted crutches to provide the capitalists with the continued theft of our surplus value of labor, ours - not to be mistaken, will go unimpeded, but now that the workforce has been pitted against each other more so than at any other time, and that under globalization's rules, capital can transcend national boundaries, and even dictate policy, while labor unions, often-disorganized, and in the United States, actively suppressed, would not have a similar advantage of internationalization of Labor (a socialist tactic that was successfully co-opted by the capitalists, ironically). And so, we see the race to the bottom. Domestically, do you really think that we would need publicly funded fire departments (part of the bill is put back on the citizen by municipal contractors that already receive public funds), roads (that are falling apart), education that has withered an outright assault from not only conservatives and reactionaries, but from some liberals, as well, if they could seek workers from other places at a significantly reduced wage? You see, from globalization, or if you want to be honest, our race to the bottom, the capitalist has, as his labor market, the entire world, most of which never went through the struggles, and if they had, were brutally smashed, again ironically, by the Leninists and Stalinists, as well, as your Pinochets, and your Latin American death squads. When they look at their balance sheets, and see the cost of the domestic labor market against that of say, India, China, Brazil, who are just now becoming industrialized, is it any surprise that over the past thirty years, you've seen a trend for more and more exportation of labor needs?

Words mean things, and when you say these things are simply "socialism," you actually hamper a movement that is working toward so much more.

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It's "tenet" not "tenant" 3rd paragraph Demeter Nov 2015 #1
I wrote this really early. As you can see, there were other areas where I spelled it correctly. Fantastic Anarchist Nov 2015 #3
How to explain socialism to liberals though? Cheese Sandwich Nov 2015 #2
Yeah, but the greats did it ... Fantastic Anarchist Nov 2015 #4
Yeah Cheese Sandwich Nov 2015 #5
Yes, it is and I agree. Fantastic Anarchist Nov 2015 #6
+1 nt F4lconF16 Nov 2015 #7
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