During 1992-1994 I published a nine-issue electronic magazine named Organized Thoughts. In that era when we had the internet but before the "world wide web" existed in its present form, my 'zine was distributed by email subscriptions, dialup bulletin board services, various document archives such as the the University of Michigan etext archive , and it was reproduced in two printed magazines. deleonism.org has local copies of all nine issues, but, for the benefit of those who are following this thread on World Socialism versus De Leonism, I have copied below just those articles that were part of that particular debate. In what follows, assume that any postal and/or email addresses shown are by now obsolete. I will attach calendar dates to the correspondences below if I can locate the original communications on a floppy. Among the participants were Steve Szalai (the General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Canada), and WSP(US) members Harry Morrison and Ron Elbert. For many years Harry was part of the WSP's National Administrative Committee and the primary writer for the WSP's journal. --- M.L.

1993-1994 Debate on De Leonism versus World Socialism

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#5.01 M. Lepore, 02 March 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ From capitalism to socialism: SHOULD THE WORKERS ORGANIZE POLITICALLY, INDUSTRIALLY, OR BOTH? Opinion by Mike Lepore Abstract ________ How should workers who agree with the recommendation, "Workers of the world, unite!", actually set out to unite? Should the organization of the entire working class take place on the political or on the industrial field? This paper defends the thesis of the North American Marxist Daniel De Leon (1852-1914), who argued that a dual political/industrial program will be necessary for success. WHY INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION? ____________________________ The change from class-divided to classless society will require a workplace-based association encompassing all occupations. Since approximately the year 1900, this concept has been called industrial unionism. This statement is given in response to the Companion Parties of Socialism (the World Socialist movement). These fellow workers, who do not see in the industrial union an instrumental role in the revolutionary transition, are welcome to explain why I'm wrong. I view the industrial union theory as a switch-over theory. A new system of industrial planning has to be assembled, at least in it's basic or foundational structure, while capitalism still exists. Only then can we smoothly switch the task of industrial management, from the old class-ruled system, to a new democratic system. This revolution must be enacted without any interruption in the flow of food, medicine, education, transportation, and the other necessities of life. The flow of these necessities requires workplace units to be in close and daily communication, such as designers sending specifications to fabricators, tool operators placing orders for field repair, repair crews obtaining replacement parts, public services sending requisitions to suppliers, procedures prearranged between hospitals and laboratories, an unbroken connection from agriculture to trucking to food stores, etc. Therefore, our preparation for instituting a new economic system needs to be workplace-based, linking up the departments of workers from manufacturing, mining, transportation, health, education, and all other necessary functions, into a network which is intended to provide the substratum for cooperative administration in the future. We need to erect the skeleton of the new system, as the IWW preamble points out, "within the shell of the old". The revolution will mean reidentifying, not some, but all of the workplace connections we have with one another. For example, let's say the working class decides to abolish capitalism next Tuesday at 9:00 A.M. GMT. (This is to be a coherent action, not a fuzzy "transition period".) At that time, we are to discontinue making military weapons, and, in their place, start making useful items such as school books and medicine. This will require new plant and office committees to meet, new communication lines installed, machinery relocated, specifications written, blueprints requested, shipping instructions changed. We're talking about a class revolution. In nearly every workplace, the recently-deposed capitalist managers will be shouting and insisting that we must obey their "Plan A", yet we must be ready to laugh at them, ignore them, and if necessary lock them outside, so that we can perform our new "Plan B". Our preparedness for that will require that the workers in each facility must have had at least one prior meeting, and that this meeting must have also resulted in some communication among different types of work facilities. This minimum requirement, at least one prior meeting with department level co-workers, would fulfill the basic requirement of the industrial organization of workers needed to bring the industries under social ownership. More likely, however, there would be many prior meetings, since the working class is expected to attain class consciousness over some period of time. The revolution itself can be enacted in five minutes, but learning to advocate a revolution can take years (decades, centuries). But elements of instantaneous change are not all. Even in cases where some aspect of the work does NOT change, for example, if the same driver intends to drive the same truck, or the same operator intends to use the same machine, we would still need a completely new procedure for scheduling everything. We will suddenly have a non-profit economy, with a workweek that's less than half as long as what we work today. The coordination of everything must be rearranged from scratch. The magnitude of this restructuring is such that it must begin well before the industries are converted to social ownership, otherwise we will have a vacuum, and not a new system, to switch over to. This vacuum would have worse implications than our lights going out, and our food pantries being empty. It would mean that another force would fill the vacuum, such as an unpredicted retention of the political state. Worse yet: If our food pantries and coal bins are empty for a month, some workers may start to welcome a fascist dictator to enter -- especially since a political mandate for socialism could occur with a fragile majority of 51 percent. I ask the World Socialists to respond to this, my objection: I don't see how a conquest of the political field by the working class could logically and quickly handle the redesign of the industrial interconnections. The geographical lines of the political state (city, town, county, province) are irrelevant to the linkage of all the departments within the industries and services. Also irrelevant to production is the state's basis of regulating human behavior, such that its major organs are legislatures, courts, police and armies. The rational plans for moving materials, parts, information, etc. from one economic department to another are nowhere found in the anatomy of the state. If the working class unites politically but not industrially, we would then have to start remaking the industrial links, from the very first steps, after announcing that the old management system is ejected. Only then would we begin the identification of the naturally-occurring economic functions, subdivision according to minor functions, committee formation, proposals, feasibility study, and debug by trial-and-error. Meanwhile we would very soon get cold and hungry while waiting for production to resume. * * * * * Another reason for workplace-based organization is because there are at least two advantages to permanently retaining a degree of sectional workers' self-management, e.g., councils of nurses selecting the best procedures for nursing, committees of electricians deciding on the electrical codes, educators voting on the best mathematics syllabus, etc. (1) The people in the respective fields possess greater technical understanding of the details than a democratic assembly of the general public would have. (2) Our basic right to control our own bodies would seem to imply that some facets of management should be decentralized (admitting local preferences for certain tools, methods, shifts, holidays, etc.). However, the general public (either the direct democracy of referenda, or the indirect democracy of a public congress) should always have the ability to overrule the plans of the workplace sub-departments, if ever the more localized choices are seen to be in conflict with principles which have been adopted by society as a whole. Therefore, I conclude that we need both forms of industrial administration - some general population control of industry (which the World Socialists usually recommend), and also some localized and occupational forms of control as well (which the syndicalists usually recommend). The balance between the two, of course, would need to be written into the Constitution which the people eventually decide to adopt. WHY POLITICAL ORGANIZATION? ___________________________ The preceding section doesn't tell the whole story. I also believe that the working class must unite POLITICALLY. Many reasons have been cited by De Leonists for the political organization of labor, e.g., because an election campaign can be used as a soapbox by the industrial organization, and because election results can be used by the union as a gauge of class-consciousness. I would personally like to see those arguments set aside. I don't consider any of that to be fundamental. Those purposes may or may not be possible, depending on fluidic circumstances, and they appear not to be efficient means for achieving their ends. In my view, organization on the political field is needed mainly because the police and military agencies of the state take their orders only from one place -- political offices. These violent agencies of the state will not hesitate to massacre millions of workers if the political offices give them the order to do so. If the capitalist political parties still control the state on the day that revolutionaries start taking collective control of the means of production, the state will certainly order a massacre to take place. Let me break this reasoning into three parts: (1) present-day law says the capitalists are the owners of the industries; (2) the law-enforcers would be the very last segment of the working class to become revolutionary; and (3) the law-enforcers possess such an enormous inventory of deadly weapons and other supplies, that even a general strike could not deprive them of the materials they would need to conduct a slaughter. How can we prevent this ruling-class reaction? -- here's how: When someone is about to hit you with a stick, you're fortunate if you have the option of grabbing the stick away from them and breaking it into several pieces. We must have workers' delegates elected to political offices -- not to "run" these offices, but, rather, to distract and disassemble the oppressive state mechanism, which is merely the ruling class's instrument for maintaining its privileged status. There is also a possibility that the recently-deposed capitalists will contact bands of thugs (Mafia? Klan? CIA?) and promise them riches on the condition that they can restore the old ruling class to power through acts of violence and terrorism. If the working class has acquired control of the state, then this state force can be used for riot control. This riot control should take no more than days or weeks, certainly not the many years imagined by those who advocate a "dictatorship of the proletariat." THE SYNTHESIS _____________ I conclude that a synthesis of the industrial and the political programs shall be required. The optimum point between those who propose political organization (like the World Socialists) and those who propose industrial organization (like the Industrial Workers of the World) would be to combine the strengths of both fields. ______________________________________________________________________

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#5.02 S. Szalai, 10 March 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ Steve Szalai < 72607.2404@compuserve.com > First, and I think foremost, among your errors is the concept that socialism could be established "with a fragile majority of 51%." I believe that this is central to our disagreement on the "need" for industrial unionism. Second, and also very important, your belief that "at 9:00 A.M. GMT" everything will suddenly change dramatically in the workplace, is mistaken. The Companion Parties of Socialism, hold that a fragile majority cannot establish socialism. The establishment of socialism will be the work of the vast majority of the population. By allowing for the establishment of socialism with a fragile majority, you necessarily put yourself in league with the Leninists that you elsewhere argue so eloquently against. With a bare majority, you would have to try to lead the remaining 49% to socialism against their will. You would have to force them to follow some grand plan, with which they disagree. It seems to me that industrial unions could supply much of the required coercive force in league with the state, which could not be dissolved. The state would need to remain to provide the "dictatorship of the proletariat" so cherished by the Leninists. All of the links between productive organizations that would be needed on day one, will already be in place. The person in the hospital that orders syringes, would continue to order them from the same person in the same company that they ordered them from the day before. The world will not fall apart by removing the profit motive. I agree that the state, by and large, does not, and will not, have the procedures and expertise to run the productive mechanisms of society. I don't expect it to. Why do you believe that the coordination of everything must be rearranged from scratch, immediately? Why must this restructuring begin well before the industries are converted to social ownership? Why would there be a vacuum if it did not? How could this restructuring begin before the industries were converted to social ownership while the capitalist class retained ownership? Why would the managers be insisting we obey their "Plan A"? Let us consider an entirely different approach to a socialist revolution. An approach that recognizes the impossibility of imposing socialism upon a huge minority and does not try to do so. As socialist consciousness grows in the world populace and when socialists become a majority of the population, the ideas of socialism, and the ideas of how to organize a socialist world will become topics of everyday conversation. At work we will discuss what changes should be made, we will discuss them with our friends, we will have mass meetings, we will discuss these issues within our "professional groups". There will be no dearth of discussion, we will not have to have our union specially schedule last minute workplace meetings to determine the action to take place at the "moment" of the revolution. You make the very important point that "the revolution itself can be enacted in five minutes, but learning to advocate a revolution can take years (decades, centuries)." You seem to ignore it in the rest of your paper. In the years during which the revolution of consciousness is taking place, all of the issues will be discussed and planned for, without the need for "socialist" unions. I have used the phrase "socialist unions" as opposed to "industrial unions" very explicitly. An industrial union that is not socialist is of no more use to revolutionaries than is nuclear weaponry. I am a member of an industrial union that is, like most, anti-socialist. I have a strong preference for industrial over crafts unions, for much the same reasons as outlined by the IWW, but industrial unionism does not mean socialism. I digress. Whether or not the unions will ever divorce themselves from the capitalist parties they now support openly, I do not know. I do believe that if workers don't give up totally on the unions that they may indeed become socialist, but workers may accelerate past the anti-socialist unions and leave them in the dust of history, while organizing politically for the conquest of power. A socialist union today would have a very, very small membership and could not be overly successful in the day to day struggle against the employer. It is better for us as workers to cultivate un-socialist, un-NDP / un-Democratic / un-Republican / un-Liberal / un-Progressive- Conservative / un-Reform / un-whatever Party unions that can succeed for us today, in the limited fashion of unions. In any case the union is not necessary to the establishment of socialism, or to the planning for a new industrial organization. Because unions are inherently tied to the current economic system, it is possible that the most successful unions could not even approach the creation of a new industrial organization progressively. This is a bit tentative because none of us know what the future holds in store for unions. As the revolution progresses, management, the police and the military will also be composed of socialists. At the moment of changeover, with a political state in the hands of a huge socialist majority, the police and the military will be working for socialism. It is important to remember the lesson of Tiananmen Square in 1989. When the police were ordered to suppress the protest, they did not, when the local military was ordered to crush the protest, they did not. Military units from the boonies were required, units unaware of what was going on. That the military, did of course finally crush the protest, demonstrates the need for both a huge majority of socialists and political power. As socialist, conscious cooperation increases, it is inconceivable that planning on a global, local, and industrial unit basis would not occur. This is not a function of the industrial union or the "socialist" union, it is a function of socialist consciousness. It is my understanding that today there are groups "of nurses selecting the best procedures for nursing, committees of electricians deciding on the electrical codes, educators voting on the best mathematics syllabus, etc." What will change with socialism is that these groups will not have to consider the profit factor as a part of their deliberations about "best". I do not propose that production be controlled by some distant body of administrators with no knowledge of the industry. Of course the people in the respective fields possess greater technical understanding of the field than a group of "lay" people. Unfortunately that technical knowledge often involves training that ignores human need and leaves technicians very proficient at very damaging technological approaches. That is already starting to change, and the changes will accelerate as the socialist revolution of thought progresses. I oppose the idea of a community vs the industrial workers. The syndicalist workplace-based approach would engender this sort of antagonism. It seems that rather than some need for a community override, what is necessary is more open communication with others outside the immediate organization, an approach inherently fostered by socialism. If mistakes were made by the technicians, they would be quickly noted by others, inside or outside the organization, and would be corrected, not by override, but by the technicians recognizing the problem. The working class is the community. Workers are not distinct from that community. I suppose that if you are going to have some formalized general population vs industrial worker setup, as you propose, there would be a need for a constitution to balance the two. In a truly cooperative world, based upon production for need, I do not see any need for a constitution. The fine sounding constitutions of the Soviet Union, the United States, and Canada and other countries exist(ed) within a society that made (makes) them worth very little to the working class. Your point about decentralization does not argue for industrial unions, as far as I can tell. Industrial unions need not be decentralized or democratic. The Teamsters Union is a good example. To summarize. I don't see that you have shown the need for industrial organization either to overthrow capitalism or to establish socialism (if one can separate the overthrow of capitalism from socialism). By allowing that socialism could be declared (by whom?) with a slim majority, you fall into the Leninist, vanguard approach of leading the workers to socialism, against their will. Socialism is not the rebuilding of society from scratch, it is the rebuilding of society from wherever it happens to be when the time to rebuild is upon us. Constitutions are requirements of capitalist societies and some pre-capitalist societies. They protect only the welfare of the ruling class. They are not desirable in socialist society. ______________________________________________________________________

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#5.03 M. Lepore, 11 March 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ Replying to S. Szalai's March 10th letter: > Why do you believe that the coordination of everything must > be rearranged from scratch > Why would there be a vacuum if it did not? Many workers under capitalism are trained according to job descriptions which put the boss's intervention in the middle of each transaction. For instance, to get a part on the assembly line from sector 1 to sector 2, the following sequence may be written: When the part finishes at sector 1, then the manager of sector 1 signs a certain form ... When the manager of sector 2 receives the signature of the manager of sector 1, additional paperwork is generated, bearing the number of a storage bin ... When the workers at sector 2 receive that paper, they go to the indicated bin and pick up the part. The whole system is set up so that nothing can move without the capitalist's hand-picked supervisor in the loop, placing phone calls to have doors unlocked at certain moments, distributing computer passwords, and processing financial documents such as contracts and bills of sale. Establishing common ownership of industry will require the prearranged adoption of alternative rules, otherwise, it seems to me, production would halt, and have a difficult time resuming in a democratically coordinated fashion. > How could this restructuring begin before the industries > were converted to social ownership while the capitalist > class retained ownership? At some point prior to a socialist revolution, the people in a workplace are likely to gather around a table and say things of the sort, "After the revolution, we will no longer have a supervisor chosen for us by Corporate Headquarters, but I do believe we're going to need one. I'd like to nominate Matilda to be our supervisor. And we should get rid of those blue log books. And we should slow down the inspection line a little bit. What do the rest of you think? Hey, let's hold this meeting every week. Let's ask the other departments to meet regularly too, and to exchange the meeting minutes with us." The association of workers which occurs before the revolution will begin to foreshadow some pattern-formation in the management process which will persist immediately after the revolution. > At work we will discuss what changes should be made, we will > discuss them with our friends, we will have mass meetings, > we will discuss these issues within our "professional > groups" > all of the issues will be discussed and planned for, without > the need for "socialist" unions I wonder if that discussion and planning, which you do allow for, might take on a certain departmental shape, like the way the IWW is composed of six definite departments (agriculture and fisheries; mining and minerals; general construction; manufacture and general production; transportation and communication; public service). If so, then that's exactly what I mean by unionism as part of the revolution. And if such a comprehensive plan is not used, I don't see where we are to have a "nervous system" to interconnect all of these complex functions into a harmonious whole. > I oppose the idea of a community vs the industrial workers. > The syndicalist workplace-based approach would engender this > sort of antagonism. If there is no antagonism between a small group and the human race, that's fine. I don't think that having a protocol which we can follow in the event of such an antagonism could itself engender that antagonism. If the workers in my office want to run UNIX instead of DOS on our desktop computers, the general public should not interfere and make this decision for us, since such interference would be unnecessary. However, if we set out to do something which has been found to be harmful to the public safety, a wider constituency of the public should be able to veto it. > In a truly cooperative world, based upon production for > need, I do not see any need for a constitution We can't even run a very small organization, let alone a whole society, without some sort of edifice -- an agreed-upon listing of what tasks are being delegated to what departments, and how the various committees are related to each other. I don't care if the composition is amended daily, but we must at least know what composition we're talking about at any given time. > that socialism could be declared (by whom?) I don't understand the part about "by whom". It seems that your own program, no less than mine, calls for the votes to be counted, the final results to be announced, and then acted upon. Otherwise there is no working class conquest of the powers of the state. > the concept that socialism could be established "with a > fragile majority of 51%." I believe that this is central to > our disagreement Many of the Wobblies and De Leonists disagree with me on this point also. They too give me the immense majority argument that you're giving me. So I'm not sure that this is central; in fact, I fear that I might have gone off on a tangent. But the tangent illuminates a possible problem that may lie ahead. Suppose that socialist consciousness grows at a rate of one population percent per year. Then there will be a significantly long period of time in which a majority, but not a vast one, advocates socialism. Are we then to continue the operation of capitalism, a system which kills and mutilates hundreds of thousands of people per year? With even a slim majority, socialists may win the control of the parliament. If so, do we then say that the mandate is not sufficient, and that the horrors of class rule should continue until the majority becomes more vast? I can think of no other course but to say that the majority has won. > the impossibility of imposing socialism upon a huge minority I'm not sure that any "imposing" would be taking place. In this hypothetical case, many of the people who failed to vote for socialism would be of the opinion that "socialism is a beautiful dream, but it will never happen"; "I'd support socialism if other people would, but I don't think other people would, so I won't either." In fact, in my experience, that's the most common objection to socialism. The next largest group is likely to be those who say, "I was outvoted on this proposal, but willing to give the new form of administration a chance to prove itself." > By allowing for the establishment of socialism with a > fragile majority, you necessarily put yourself in league > with the Leninists Leninists strive for votes by a failure to concentrate of the education of the working class regarding a clearly enunciated goal. Leninist parties seek votes by filling their platforms with lures, such as demands for a higher minimum wage, local control of ethnic communities, etc., instead of presenting a direct systemic approach. I differ in that I consider the unwavering statement of the goal to be everything. > Why would the managers be insisting we obey their "Plan A"? The capitalists personally choose the management chain, and are likely to choose only individuals known to be loyal to them. > As the revolution progresses, management, the police and the > military will also be composed of socialists We don't have any evidence that class consciousness occurs uniformly among working class people of all backgrounds. The opposite seems to be indicated. The least class conscious individuals are more likely to have self-images based on joining management or the police. (Soldiers are more likely to be "regular" people, because, if they're not conscripted, they might have volunteered just to get the guaranteed work with room and board.) Any segment of the population which has been consistently known to fire (or fire upon) the workers, shrugging it off with the Nuremberg war crimes defense, "I'm not the one who gave the order, but it's my duty to carry it out", cannot be counted upon for a last-minute display of proletarian solidarity. ______________________________________________________________________

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#5.04 S. Szalai, 05 April 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ Re: Job descriptions with the supervisor in the middle. Re: Managers loyalty. Re: Small majority. Re: Production stoppages. Your argument seems to stand upon two legs: 1) the belief that current supervisory personnel will be loyal to a deposed, tiny minority, 2) the establishment of "socialism" by a small majority. It is not necessary that socialist consciousness develop evenly throughout the populace, although I think that it will probably be a lot more even than you suggest. If, as proposed by the World Socialist Movement (WSM), there is a huge majority of socialists in the worldwide and local populations, the supervisors will most likely be as socialist as other workers. In my workplace I find that management is no more and no less progressive than the rest of the staff. Managers are workers too. My manager, for example, is reasonably receptive to socialist ideas. I haven't convinced him, but that is not the point. The point is that managers are workers too and face the same problems as the rest of us. In the dying days of capitalism the managers may be forced to "follow orders" to keep their jobs (just like the rest of us), but when the time comes, I see no reason to believe that managers and supervisors will not be supportive of socialism. I am a member of an industrial union, and when it comes to negotiation time, there are always managers who wish us well. They know that as a union we have more power to push our demands for better wages and working conditions, and that management will be able to tag on to our improvements. These people understand their position in society as well as the rest of the workers. I note that more than one manager has told me that one of the reasons they became managers was to try to organize their department more rationally, and to try to get a better deal for their staff. These are not the motivations of anti-worker, crush the revolution recidivists. If a specific supervisor, or other worker for that matter, was getting in the way they would simply be ignored or ejected. This does not require a massive rewrite of the rules and procedures of production. It is a simple, obvious outgrowth of the change to socialist production. While workers may be trained to put the supervisor or manager in the middle of every work sequence, I think most of us, including those who think capitalism is great, chafe at this kind of approach, recognize how unnecessary it is and easily see how to eliminate the useless steps. It is not a big deal. Most workers do not open a book when they go to work to find out how to do their jobs. Workers know how to get the job done and often get the job done DESPITE the rules and procedures that are in place. When the supervisors are socialists, no matter how chosen, they will have no incentive to insert themselves unnecessarily into the production process. If rule changes are required they will be made. It is not a big issue. If production methods need to be changed, while it may be a big issue materially, it will not likely be so intellectually. The capitalist, at least in large organizations, plays no part in the day to day running of the organization, and therefore does not hand-pick the supervisors and managers, they are picked by other managers. The criteria, in a successful organization is not that the manager/supervisor to be a slavish devotee of capitalism. The criteria for choosing a manager (in a successful organization, and most others) is the belief that the person can get the staff to get the job done, economically. The two are very different. I do not see any reason that socially useful production should stop just because there are no pre-arranged alternative rules to govern the process. I do maintain that these alternative "rules" would have developed anyway, without the requirement for union intervention (which is what superficially distinguishes us). Re: Restructuring within capitalism. The restructuring you speak of does not take place in the capitalist system. We seem agreed on that now. What you are talking about is PLANNING for restructuring. The WSM has no disagreement with that, and I did state that it would occur. I do not care how supervisors are chosen, the point is to get the best one. Re: Union Departments. We are not in agreement. The union department is still a WORKER-oriented as opposed to a WORKING CLASS-oriented approach. More on this later. The "nervous system" already exists. It does not have to be invented. It might need modification or even wholesale change, but it does exist and can be used. Re: Community vs Industrial Workers. The decision of what operating system to run on your computer is, of course, going to be decided in the workplace. But that does not require the antagonistic approach that your dual decision making stream puts in place. Every worker is also a member of the community. There is no stone wall of isolation (except that I believe your idea of workplace based organization imposes one) between the "community" and the "industrial workers". I repeat that without this wall, there is no need for overrides of one group by the other, because there is only one group. Re: A Constitution. The reason that society today needs a constitution, and "we can't even run a very small organization ... without some sort of" rules and constitutions is because we live in a competitive society where, as workers, we have to be at each others throats to survive. In a cooperative society this problem goes away. It seems to me that a constitution could not change every day because the structures you build around it would then REQUIRE daily modification to follow this constitution - as opposed to perhaps needing daily modification to adjust to changing needs of society. Leave it loose. If something needs changing in a production-for-use society, it will change. Give the working class some credit for its ability to be creative and cooperative. If there is a constitution, changing it is not going to be a daily thing. In Canada, the capitalist political parties just spent months arguing about and convincing the working class to worry about every cross on every "t" and every dot on every "i" for a constitutional change that amounts to nothing except a public relations ploy and diversion. By having a written document that everyone is tied to, it is of utmost importance to ensure that it says what everybody wants. This is a monumental task that makes the program of the WSM look like child's play. Re: Fragile Majority. My comment "declared (by whom)" is based on my disagreement with your idea of the ability to establish socialism with a slim majority. I think the "immense majority" is in fact central to our disagreement on a whole range of issues. You ask "are we then to continue the operation of capitalism, a system which kills and mutilates hundreds of thousands of people per year?" The WSM answers no, WE are not going to continue capitalism, it is going to continue itself because a slim majority CANNOT end it. Even your rather modest proposals will require a significant majority to implement. If it is just that 51% have voted for it (some of whom may be a bit shaky) and the rest just think it might not be too bad an idea so they'll give it a try, it will fail. There will be problems. If the first serious problem has everybody saying that they should have stuck with capitalism, then come the next election, they'll vote out the socialists. I point to the current situation in the former USSR where workers disillusioned with their "new" capitalist bosses are even electing the old "communists" and questioning whether they did the right thing in supporting Yeltsin and his bunch. What socialism requires is a huge majority that UNDERSTANDS WHY CAPITALISM MUST BE REPLACED, without that all we will see is a temporary disruption (and it will be the sort of disruption that you worry about) followed by a, probably violent, return to the normal violence of capitalism. I see the violent return because ownership would have to be reasserted, and there would be no structures in place to accommodate that. Re: Leninism. My reference to Leninism was not related to its slimy vote-getting tactics. It was a reference to imposing "socialism" on the working class (or a large part thereof). This results from the slimy vote-getting tactics of the Leninists - the vanguard leading the masses to "socialism." The initial imposition might not be that great, but when there are problems, the imposition would necessarily increase unless we fell back to capitalism (see above). It seems to me that by the time 51% of the population are ready to vote for socialism, that people are not going to be saying "I don't think other people would" support socialism. It is more likely that those in disagreement would be saying that they don't think socialism can work. If that is the case, they are likely not to be easily convinced to stay on a bandwagon when a wheel falls off. Only if they have recognized the reasons for capitalism's failure to satisfy our needs, and that there will be problems that are WORTH overcoming to establish and maintain socialism are they likely to hang around the wagon and help put the wheel back on. Re: Uniformity of class consciousness. I disagree with your thesis that the least class conscious gravitate to management and the police. Your thesis seems to be called into question by the existence of police and management "unions". I have personally be on picket lines where there was a police presence. It was generally cordial until a SPECIFIC order came down, or senior officers showed up to get the job done. In fact the police often showed a sympathetic approach to the picketers. I am not claiming that there are not many (more) occasions when the police employed a jackboot approach, but in general that jackboot approach has had community "sympathy", perhaps through ignorance, so it does not show a difference between the police and the general populace. In dog-eat-dog capitalism, the "just following orders" defense is tried, true and justified. How many of us would tell the boss to shove his job because we thought that what we were doing might be deadly. If it was common we would not have the reality of capitalism today. In truth the bully-boy approach of the police is partly based on following orders and partly based upon general societal beliefs. When unions are hated by the general populace, the police will hate them too. Of more significance is the firmly rooted popular support for LAW AND ORDER. As long as this ruling class idea prevails and comprehension of the reasons for our problems is low, the knee-jerk law and order responses to "problems" will continue. And they will continue to have popular support. As long as property rights are superior to human rights, in the minds of the majority, the police will continue to enforce property rights. The East German revolt for "democracy" was accomplished without the police slaughtering the populace, precisely because the police are not a separate entity apart from society. The Tiananmen massacre was preceded by police and military refusal to fire upon the protesters. Your thesis is based, I think, on not clearly analyzing societal norms. This is a major problem that I think extends to most of our disagreements. I do not count on the police for a "last-minute display of proletarian solidarity." I count on them being socialists, just like the rest of the majority. ______________________________________________________________________

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#5.05 R. Elbert, 19 March 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ To: M. Lepore < mlepore@mcimail.com > From: R. Elbert < ronel2@aol.com > The "IU concept," you begin, is what you call a "switch over" theory, "a new system of industrial planning [that] has to be assembled, at least in its basic or foundation structure, while capitalism still exists." Implementing this embryonic system under these conditions will allow us to "smoothly switch the task of industrial management .... to a new democratic system." You single out some of the salient characteristics of the new system: (1) "our preparation for instituting a new economic system needs to be workplace-based"; (2) "we need to erect the skeleton of the new system, as the IWW preamble points out, 'within the shell of the old'"; (3) "the revolution will mean reidentifying, not some, but ALL of the workplace connections we have with one another." It would be out of keeping with historical materialism to deny any of these points as generalities; but what you subsequently do with them presents certain problems. In the first place, you take a misleadingly concrete focus on the whole question of expropriation; you picture the revolution as happening AT THE WORKPLACE. Workers "in each facility" will, if necessary, "lock them [the managers] outside." The world outside each workplace is made up of "different types of work facilities" (which communicate with each other as the revolution moves along) and an undefined mass of social experiences and activities. The revolution itself consists of replacing the capitalist-inspired hierarchical arrangement of work relations ("Plan A") with a non-authoritarian arrangement based on the satisfaction of workers' needs ("Plan B"). Of course, as a result of this seizure of what to the capitalist class appears as capital, the capitalist class itself ultimately disappears, bringing "the industries under social ownership." The class consciousness workers have developed up to this point ceases to be a means to an end: it becomes social consciousness, an end in itself. But are things so simple? Capital accumulation, the progressive appropriation of value (profit) by the capitalist class at the point of production, is a FUNCTION. Whoever controls the use of capital becomes an investor and therefore a capitalist; the names investors give themselves do not matter. Merely seizing capital assets and re-deploying them for the direct benefit of society does not by itself abolish the use of capital in production. "Plan B" offers no guarantee that the "social ownership" aimed at will materialize. This happens because the ownership of the means of production is also a function; it is the "soul" of a system of production, and it resides as a generality throughout the entire community of possessors. (World socialists insist for this reason that the revolution must be essentially worldwide in character -- it must happen everywhere.) The revolution in consciousness that precedes and directs this replacement, this switchover, has to be functional AT THIS LEVEL. This makes it not only a takeover of the production and distribution of goods and services in the economic sense (wealth) but also the replacement of a system for producing and distributing wealth in the political sense. This revolution only completes itself when it has become society's official decision to make access to goods and services unconditional, as a result of the consciously expressed desire for it by a clear majority of people -- workers or otherwise. World socialists stress also that workers generally (not simply in industry) must UNDERSTAND AND WANT common ownership, and they must want it because they can control the production and distribution of wealth democratically. This phrase, "understand and want," is admittedly a bit of shorthand we have gotten very used to wielding without much reflection; it signifies precisely what you have been speaking of as the class-conscious workers formulating their "Plan B" and following through on the impulse to implement it in place of the capitalists' "Plan A." Where would workers get a concrete sense of the implications of common ownership if not from their own experience of the class struggle? And where else would they get a sense of the urgency of replacing an anti-social system of production for sale at a profit on the market with a system of production based on the satisfaction of human needs? So "understanding and wanting" common ownership means this process you have rather simplistically described as the decision to abolish capitalism. Effecting this decision, however, can only occur OUTSIDE the workplace, and in fact it really occurs nowhere in particular because, as the implementation phase of a revolution in consciousness, it occurs everywhere in general. It has to be on a generally understood, politically defined, signal that the revolution is enacted -- the explicit, formal abolition of the use of capital in production and of any prior restriction on gaining access to needed goods and services. (It might take a little longer than five minutes.) Terminally, massively and completely decapitalizing wealth production is the only feasible alternative. Having a "Plan B" and "taking and holding" is not enough. It's easy to see why De Leonists would accuse us of concentrating exclusively on the political aspects of this changeover in the basis of society. We have all been sold by the propaganda system on the top-down character of the political parties doing their Byzantine thing at the pinnacle of the pyramid of privilege. But to this you have added the oversimplification I mentioned above: picturing the revolution as a concrete event. "How," you ask, could "the working class...logically and quickly handle the redesign of the industrial interconnections" if they simply decided at the polls to replace profit for use as the motor-force of the production system? You very consistently maintain the concrete frame of reference in projecting the working class as "uniting politically but not industrially" and being then forced to "start remaking the industrial links, from the very first steps, after announcing that the old management system is ejected." And you add a dreary finishing touch to the whole picture: "Meanwhile we would very soon get cold and hungry while waiting for production to resume." (Also, the unintended implication of this scenario is that, pending the outcome of this way of proposing a change of Plans ["B" for "A"] and putting it into effect, the revolutionary socialist government would meanwhile become involved in .... er .... governing; i.e., it would at the very instant of carrying out the revolutionary mandate cease to be socialist.) The "continuity" of production already operates now against a global backdrop of ongoing, routine disruption and dysfunction: continuity seems a rather moot point, on the whole. Also, in this age of Social Democracy's decline (and Bolshevism's demise), the corrosive question of where exactly is this working class anyhow? seems to have been broached. If "workers" must be employed in industry, are unemployed or non-industrial workers excluded? The trouble with the industrial union concept is that it pegs itself too narrowly to one specific phase of capitalism's evolution; well under a majority of wage-slaves are employed in production these days in the rich, developed centers of the capitalist world-system. This question of a "majority of 51 percent" you bring up is thus problematic, since industrial workers have become so productive they no longer even constitute a majority of their own class. How can an "industrial" union speak for the majority, if most workers are not industrial? But the whole problem of counting heads is pernicious. Exploitation may look a lot fuzzier where you can't pin it down to exact formulas (as Marx did in CAPITAL), but its functions and effects still bedevil everyone who works for a living. It may be much more of a "syndrome" for most people than it was in the classical heyday of theoretical socialism ("you say you're exploited -- what do you mean?"). The mix between "workplace" and "community" (as Cde. Szalai points out) should not depend on such a narrowly defined relationship -- especially one so vulnerable to the pressures of dynamic transformation -- as the organization of industry. The only coherent approach is to treat the organization of labor as a political question: since all workers have a stake in it, no matter how their experience of exploitation may have affected the way they conceptualize the system. The majority in the marketplace thus translates directly into a political majority -- one whose consciousness is not tied in any case to a number of differential categories of occupation. Finally, your mention of "the Constitution" fits in well enough with seeking merely to replace "Plan A" with "Plan B": whereas the transmutation of class consciousness into social consciousness IS the new "constitution." A document analogous to those which litter today's junkyard of nations is strictly unnecessary. Insisting on the need for one literally, moreover, creates a trap-door back into the system of exploitation, because the whole purpose of a political constitution is to spell out regimes of privilege and pecking orders showing everyone where their place is. Political constitutions reflect the class division of society. But your casual reference to one (even taking it metaphorically) demonstrates exactly why we in the World Socialist Movement frame the revolution in global, political terms. We do not propose "pure political organization"; but we do insist that the crucial phase of the socialist revolution is the political one. And while DeLeonists, on the other hand, may concede rhetorically that this phase has some importance, for purposes of carrying out the replacement of capitalism they really only dwell on the aspect of industrial organization. Control of the government certainly includes what you refer to as "riot control," but a working class that has felt its muscle should have relatively little to worry about from its "recently-deposed" employers (who will be more flabbergasted than anything else at the majority's succumbing to "social madness"). The main reason is rather that the process of decapitalizing production and decommercializing consumption (breaking the money-commodity-money cycle) requires an act of political coordination. Once this act has been definitively accomplished, the need for controlling the government, and with it the role of the Socialist Party, becomes superfluous -- to say nothing of any further need for repression. ______________________________________________________________________

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#5.06 M. Lepore, 06 April 1993 ______________________________________________________________________ Your article, Ron, highlights some of the crucial questions facing the movement. I hope the readers are starting to form a picture of your party's unique solution. First I'll reply to some of your specifics, and then I'll make a general observation about how your philosophy sits with me. > If "workers" must be employed in industry, are unemployed or > non-industrial workers excluded? The word "industrial" in the phrase "industrial union" refers to the use of a tree structure which defines union membership according to the output or the function of the work site. For example, if you're a school nurse, you would be represented in the education workers' branch. It would be called "craft unionism" for the school nurse to be part of the medical workers' branch. (This distinction is made for the transition out of capitalism, and is not necessarily a permanent feature.) Any usage of the words "production" and "industry", by any Marxian as well as any syndicalist source, includes all career activities which the population finds use for. The IWW has been wise to realize this fact, and so it has organized subdivisions for everyone from poets to exotic dancers. Since the word "industry" isn't meant to imply the popular image which the word invokes, perhaps someone will suggest a word that isn't so misleading. Unemployed individuals need to be included in general membership branches, although usually not in the workplace branches. > The trouble with the industrial union concept is that it > pegs itself too narrowly to one specific phase of > capitalism's evolution The various types of social boundaries given by capitalism are used as vehicles for getting beyond them. Your movement does something similar when it forms national political parties. After the revolution, there will be no limit to the changes we can make to the form of democracy. No longer will we have to specialize in one career, nor act within national borders. We won't have to continue using any of the transitional forms of organization. But we must walk before we can throw away our crutches. > the new "constitution." A document analogous to those which > litter today's junkyard of nations is strictly unnecessary ... > the whole purpose of a political constitution is to spell > out regimes of privilege and pecking orders showing everyone > where their place is. You're speaking of a POLITICAL constitution, where the task at hand is to do anything necessary to preserve class rule, such as collecting taxes, regulating commerce, and fighting wars. An ECONOMIC constitution would be a snapshot of how all economic parts are arranged within the whole at any given moment. For instance, it might say that school bus drivers are being represented by two delegates to a local education council, and three delegates to a local transportation council. It would also give the formula for determining whether each administrative decision is to be referred to central planning, to municipal planning, or to the occupational associations. Perhaps, because of the huge volume of detail required, "almanac" is a better word than "constitution". I would call it a constitution because democratically amending the form of the economic departments and democratically amending the reference record would be the same action. _______________________ Finally, some general notes -- Your philosophy and mine both advise the working class, not to follow leaders, not to install leaders, but to attain an understanding of the better life we could have, and what we must do. Then we will express that new consciousness by building a classless society. No disagreement there. However, we seem to disagree on the type of details which we must learn to hold in our consciousness, and why. I argue that the manner in which we organize will largely determine the result we will end up with. The working class needs to focus on the question of what sort of administrative structure our collective economic planning should have, and we must organize along the lines which will implement that goal. Failing to do this, we may acquire some bureaucratic system which is not what we have intended. As you pointed out, I do believe that the revolution must occur at the workplace. I view the revolution as the act of implementing workers' control of industry, and an end to the extraction of surplus value. I begin with merely this, because there will be many future opportunities to do more. There will be plenty of time to change our whole thinking, to give up our metaphysical superstitions and our material greed, and to make additional social changes that might now be beyond our comprehension. When we make our history, we have to find our way as though a strobe light were intermittently shining on an obstacle course. I propose that we take just one leap, and then we can take another look at where we are. Perhaps the workers' council structure will be a temporary phase, but it provides a definable way to move from class rule to a new collectively coordinated system. You're probably right to say that "the revolution is not completed" until we transcend many remnants of the past, such as the use of exchange values, the division of labor inherited from capitalism, and so forth. But my objectives would also be transmutable into yours, by a majority vote, and I think that course can be taken more easily than moving directly from the violent storm of capitalism to a system completely free of all remnants of capitalism. It wouldn't be fair of me to attempt to paraphrase you, but I'll tell you what your message sounds like to me, subjectively: -- There's no need to experiment early on with workers' councils, because, when the revolutionary period comes, we will spontaneously deduce, and we will nearly all agree, how society needs to be arranged. The working class will attain such a highly evolved collective mind that the new socialist system won't even need a constitution. We won't need to prearrange any structural safeguards against bureaucracy because, in our condition of supercharged awareness, bureaucracy couldn't even begin to take hold. We won't even need that section of the constitution which guarantees individual freedoms, because no one will ever think of infringing on anyone else's freedoms. We won't need to require people to contribute some work before they can go shopping, because no one will ever think of being greedy or egotistical. And exactly how are we going to arrive at this elevated plane? I suppose that we're going to write our socialist pamphlets in such a convincing manner, that the whole working class will attain Buddhahood. Then we will all act in unison and synchrony, making a world in which no one will show any signs of competitive behavior, forevermore. Again -- I'm not claiming that this is what you said, but that's what your transitional program sounds like to me. However, I'm skeptical about this leap to enlightenment that's supposed to take place in our minds prior to the revolutionary period. If we were capable of that, I suppose we would have already done it long ago. While humans are capable of improving our reasoning capacity in gradual phases, we are not a wholely logical species. I see that, in a recent poll, between 65 and 80 percent of the U.S. population (depending on the age group) said they agree with the statement that "the Bible is the totally accurate word of God". (TIME Magazine, April 5, 1993, p. 47) Even if we leave alone the matter of blind faith for the moment, to conclude that any book so filled with self-contradictions can somehow be "totally accurate" shows our frequent inability to reason properly. If this is how the human species is, if we are often unable to recognize a simple logical fallacy when we trip over one, then I propose that we should set out to enlighten ourselves by one step at a time. Therefore I don't begin with a goal that expects people to abandon all false thinking before historical progress can commence. Instead, I identify the immediate goal to be the replacement of class rule by workers' collective self-management. Let our mental unfolding, and much additional social restructuring, come as it will. We may guess what habits and values we will live by a hundred years after the revolution, but we must be concerned now with the first decade after the revolution. At that time, we will show some tendency toward greed and chaos and bureaucracy, and we must have structured our revolutionary goal and program to work around these recurrent traits. The industrial union idea builds stability into the instrument of transition, the type of organization itself, so that we won't have to demand so much of "pure" consciousness. Industrial unionism is a program that we can enact without every member of the working class first becoming a Buddha. ________________________________________________________________________________

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#6.05 H. Morrison, correspondence in response to issue #5 ______________________________________________________________________ I have never dug deeply into the writings of Daniel De Leon. As a young man, some 60 years or so ago, I read only enough and by him to realize that his theories were not my cup of tea. But my reasons for rejecting Industrial Unionism should become a bit more clear in my statement below. My statement for publication is not intended as an _official_ position of the WSP, but simply as my own interpretation of what that position is. I have heard protests, even from comrades, that "you can't have complete socialism over-night!" My response has always been that once a significant majority indicated with emphasis that they want a socialist system, why would they wait "over-night" to install it? By that time, the needed "apparatus" (international organization) would be ready and waiting, and the capitalist class would know that it no longer enjoys the support of the population -- that their time had come to disappear -- along with the working _class_, and _class_ society itself. I will expatiate on what is wrong with De Leonism -- as I see it. In the first place, we World Socialists have enough "gall" in continuing to insist on the need for a majority of socialist-conscious working class people, in the industrially developed world, to understand and approve of the rudiments of a socialist world-society before such a revolution can be successful. We agree with Marx and Engels as put by them way back in 1848 (in the Manifesto) that it is the working _class_ that will eventually become revolutionary-minded. Now that, in itself, is quite a proposition; but to actually lay out a "blueprint" of how such a mass of human beings are going to act in organizing for such a society -- perhaps _another_ century or two from now, takes a hell of a lot of gall! How in hell do you know what the world of capitalism will look like even fifty years from now? If Marx and Engels -- and even De Leon -- were to come alive today, they'd probably all drop dead in shock at what they see in the factories and workshops of the industrial world. And here we have De Leonists, today, knowing full well that the entire numbers of workers throughout the world of our times who are even interested in listening to or reading about a socialist discussion are infinitesimal in numbers! The only task for socialists that makes any sense is to propagate the ideas of a world without national boundaries, without buying and selling, without wage-labor and capital. How in hell can such propaganda be of any interest, or use, to the members of a Labor Union -- even a De Leonist type Industrial Union? The Number One reason for its existence is to fight for "immediate concerns," wages and conditions. Not only that -- the members of such a Union, if it is to be at all effective, will be representative in their political preferences, of the various political groupings; not to mention religious affiliations. I shall concentrate only upon the two paragraphs in your rough draft beneath your request for a response from the World Socialists to your objection. The implication in paragraph #1 is that, following a socialist revolution, a _state_ in the sense of the historical political state would continue to exist. I realize that this is in line with some of the De Leonist material that I have seen over the years; we will continue to have police and armies, for example. My question to you is this: Why would a significant majority of socialists want to continue a system with a traditional, failed, state apparatus with all of the trapping of capitalism -- army, police, not to forget secret police?! In this socialist's opinion, a 51% majority is greatly insufficient and in such an eventuality, the capitalist parties should be permitted to continue running their Government until the continuing chaos would produce that significant majority. The De Leonist concept of a successful revolution has to be one of a majority -- or near majority -- of non- and even anti-socialists in the population. How could it be otherwise when you -- an avowed De Leonist -- raise the potential threat _after_ the socialist revolution? What you apparently fail to understand is the fact that the capitalist class does not back fascist parties before they demonstrate a mass working-class support. Such certainly was the case in both Italy and Germany. And in the former USSR the "Communist" (state capitalist) dictatorships were not able to withstand the rising withdrawal of support by the working class. You see, Michael, the main reason that the capitalist class is able to continue to rule is the fact that it has wide support among the population -- and the same holds true where there is a ruling bureaucracy rather than a nominal capitalist class. Governments have to spend more money in "head-fixing" than they spend even in weaponry. And with good reason, for how useful are weapons to them when the heads that direct the wielders of them are not properly fixed? So we get back to the question of the prime work of socialists today: the propagation of socialist theory -- the socialist explanation of why capitalism cannot work in the interest of the working class -- that it is a historical development of world societies that has long since now outlived its usefulness. Finally, I see no suggestion in your message of how the population after the revolution is to have access to the requirements of life. Do you suggest the De Leonist plan of labor vouchers? If so, does that not demonstrate that you just do not grasp the fact of the matter: that capitalist industry, in its modern development, can turn out such quantities of all of mankind's needs and wants with such abundance that it has to be restrained because of its celerity in flooding markets? We live in the tail end of the 20th century -- not back in the mid- or last quarter of the 19th! Can a system of free right of access to all needs and wants be introduced immediately following a socialist revolution? Let me answer that one with a sort of parable: Let us imagine, in a dream, that an Arabian Nights genie rises out of the sea and issues a guarantee to world capitalism that every family and every individual would enjoy a healthy bank balance, enabling them to unload markets, through purchases, as fast as they become loaded; thus enabling capitalists and bureaucrats to reap their profits. How long would it take the ruling class to order the needed rate of production? That is all the time it would take for a world socialist population to convert to the needed intensity of production. After all, Michael, a large percentage, if not the majority, of capitalist production is wasteful and parasitical, and would be eliminated. And the advance of scientific techniques has long since knocked any Malthusian ideas out of believability. 'Nuff sed! Yours for world socialism, Harry Morrison ______________________________________________________________________

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#6.06 M. Lepore, reply to H. Morrison ______________________________________________________________________ Harry, here are my thoughts about your recent letter: > but to actually lay out a "blueprint" I assume that blueprint being referred to is, for example, De Leon's famous statement -- "Civilized society will know no such ridiculous thing as geographic constituencies. It will only know industrial constituencies." I recall also that, in one of your articles years ago, you used the word "blueprint" when you criticized the SLP's frequently reproduced chart which depicts possible examples of a future socialist administration. (For example, the chart appeared in the SLP's newspaper, _The People_, Sept. 22, 1990.) This chart shows "Automobile Plant No. 1, Detroit" containing departments labelled "engineering", "tool & die", and "assembly". This plant, along with "Automobile Plant No. 2, Detroit", and also "Plant No. 3", are interconnected to a larger conference entitled "local automobile industry council". This Detroit council, in turn, is interconnected with the "Cleveland council" and the "Los Angeles council", to form a wider circle which bears the name "national automobile industry council". That larger organization is connected to the "All-Industry Congress", which has various sections: "Mining; Public Service; Food Supply; Manufacture; Construction; Transportation." Above the chart appears this explanation: "The chart below is not a blueprint. Rather, it is intended to illustrate graphically the principle upon which socialist industrial unionism and the future socialist industrial democracy rest, using the auto industry as an example." In fact, the headline appearing above the text is the phrase: "Not a blueprint." Another diagram on the side, entitled "Representation", says, "You will cast your ballot in your shop for: - Plant Council - Local Industry Council - National Industry Council - All-Industry Congress" Note: Since I'm not affiliated with the SLP, I'll ask the interested reader to contact their headquarters for information about their program: Socialist Labor Party, 914 Industrial Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94303 USA. Subscriptions to _The People_ (two issues per month, except monthly in January and July) are $4.00 (foreign subscriptions require payment by International Money Order or U.S. dollars). Except for the fact that I would say "global" in place of the word "national", I agree with the basic point being made in the SLP's chart. The intent is not to define the precise structure of a future society, but to give a hypothetical example to aid in the visualization process. Since most people have difficulty imagining how social ownership of industry can possibly mean something other than state ownership based on territorial constituencies, I rather like this sort of this visual aid. Of course, the exact department designations in the chart are known to be fictitious. It may be that we no longer use automobiles, or that we won't make them in Detroit, or that the central conference of all industries may not include a "manufacture" delegation, but something else which does the job. Since the diagram is not to be taken literally, I don't think such expressions should be viewed as attempts to provide a "blueprint". The basic points appear to me to be: -- that all industry sub-functions, whatever they are, must be interconnected so that production can be administered; -- that the structure must feature democratic election of all planning levels (rather than having "top-down" appointment of intermediate management); -- that nested geographical units (town, county, province) are not recommended as the primary basis of structure. If you disagree with these points, I'd be interested to know why. If you agree with these points, I wonder why there would be an objection to expressing them through speculative illustrations. If you have no opinion about these points, then it seems you are asking people to support a nebulous goal without knowing what they would be getting. > a world without national boundaries I agree with the World Socialists' viewpoint that socialism must be a worldwide system without national boundaries. I disagree with the traditional De Leonist view on this matter. There are severe problems with the SLP's use of national terms, such as "a socialist United States" (_The People_, Oct. 10, 1987) and "an international socialist order" (_The People_, Dec. 5, 1987). The SLP has proposed: "Socialist America will deal with other real socialist countries as part of a Socialist International...." (_The Weekly People_, Jan. 9, 1971). First of all, socialism means organization of society according to the people's intentional decision about what best suits our needs. There is no conscious choice involved in the use of national boundaries, because these boundaries are given from the past. Boundaries are as meaningless as random cracks in the earth's crust which have formed bodies of water, or the lines drawn in ancient times by advancing armies, or monarchs' land grants to their cousins. It is clear that such arbitrary lines should not be part of the planning of modern economic production and distribution. Secondly, "socialist countries" would have to trade materials with each other, something similar to, "We'll ship you four tons of bauxite for each ton of chromite that you ship to us." This would be followed by disagreements based on localized self-interests, e.g., "Why should we trade with you, when this other country will give us five tons of bauxite for each ton of chromite, rather than four?" The "socialist" countries would then have a material basis for conflict. The method of historical materialism shows that a material basis for conflict generally leads to actual conflict. That's not my idea of a socialist world. > even a De Leonist type Industrial Union? The Number One > reason for its existence is to fight for "immediate > concerns," wages and conditions De Leon's actual position was that "... the trades union has a supreme mission ... enabling the working class to assume and conduct production." This particular purpose was described as "the remoter utility of the union, in fact, its real revolutionary and historic mission." (_The Burning Question of Trades Unionism_) According to this view, struggles over wages and working conditions are secondary, something that should be pursued only if the union has sufficient membership in a few sites to press such demands, but not yet enough membership society-wide for a revolution to occur. > the members of such a Union, if it is to be at all > effective, will be representative in their political > preferences, of the various political groupings Just for the record -- De Leonists usually advocate "educate first; organize afterwards", on both the political and industrial fields; "... wage workers must be educated in socialism before they can be organized upon industrial lines." (Olive Johnson, report to the 1924 SLP national convention.) The socialist industrial union can, of course, admit members who agree with the basic concept of social control of industry but need further education about the complete sociological theory. In the latter case, it is the job of the union is to educate them, and to prepare them for actual self-management. A "pure and simple" trade union, i.e., a union which formally endorses capitalism (such as the AFL-CIO), must fail to perform this function. De Leon said, "...'pure and simpledom' neglects the drilling in class-consciousness, aye, prevents it.... No revolutionary class is ever ripe for success before it has itself well in hand.... It is one of the missions of the trades union to drill its class into the discipline that civilization demands." (from the editorial "A Mission of the Trades Union", _The Daily People_ March 4, 1905) > The implication in paragraph #1 is that, following a > socialist revolution, a _state_ in the sense of the > historical political state would continue to exist I'd like to clarify this point. The De Leonist position is not that the state shall continue to exist after the revolution, nor should the De Leonist accuse the World Socialist of advocating continuation of the state after the revolution. However, the De Leonist, who believes in defining a crystal clear alternative, a takeover of the industrial management role by a large workers' association, based on integrally united industry branches, is usually at a loss to imagine what the World Socialists could mean by "conscious" but not "industrial" organization. If the management method is not to be the political state, nor is it to be an amalgamation of workplace committees, then it's difficult for me, personally, to imagine what else it could be. But let's admit that there has been some misunderstanding on both sides. I think that former SLP national secretary Arnold Petersen was wrong when he said this of the World Socialist program: "The inference, of course, is clear that the political state will conduct the processes of production -- an inescapable conclusion in any case, since they reject the Socialist Industrial Union Government as such an 'agent'". (Petersen letter dated Oct. 21, 1963, reprinted in _The Western Socialist_, No. 4 - 1964, p. 15). On the other hand, I think the SPGB was wrong when it wrote: "If some unions still have 'socialism' as their object, it is only nationalisation (state capitalism) that they have in mind." (the pamphlet _Trade Unions_, 1980, p. 16) This statement is not typically true of syndicalists. Neither philosophy aims at state management of industry, and it is to be hoped that neither side would be firing this inaccurate charge at the other. > In this socialist's opinion, a 51% majority is greatly > insufficient and in such an eventuality, the capitalist > parties should be permitted to continue running their > Government Although I disagree with your strategic preference, I'm gratified to hear this important question answered directly. I haven't seen this matter of narrow majority support dealt with in the literature of your Companion Parties, nor, for that matter, in the De Leonist literature. > What you apparently fail to understand is the fact that the > capitalist class does not back fascist parties before they > demonstrate a mass working-class support The capitalist class is generally not placed in jeopardy of having all its property rights declared null and void, so I'm not so sure what lengths it would go to. > Do you suggest the De Leonist plan of labor vouchers? I understand that the World Socialist goal is "free access" to goods and services by everyone. I can easily picture this as applied to things that no one can collect in unreasonable quantities, such as food, transportation, and education. I cannot imagine how we could have unrestricted access to items capable of being accumulated, such as hobby equipment, jewelry, and automobiles. Infinite access to such things, even if automation could put out all the production, would destroy the planet's ecosystem through deforestation, industrial heat emissions, and the generation of garbage. Since finite limits to consumption must exist, either due to machine throughput rates or for environmental protection, the only question is how these limits should be set. It seems reasonable to me to have access to such collectible items in proportion to personal work hours. This approach allows the individual to choose for oneself the relative importance of leisure time and material consumption, which I consider a greater of measure of freedom than simple rationing would be. ______________________________________________________________________

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#6.07 H. Morrison, reply to M. Lepore ______________________________________________________________________ In regard to your thoughts about my recent letter, let me just concentrate upon one of your objections, which will go far -- I hope -- in clearing what I consider to be your (and the De Leonist) confusion of a socialist system in operation, even in its early stages. You use as an illustration of the need for an Industrial Union, the manufacture of automobiles and, I presume, trucks of various sorts. Really! You must be aware of the fact that, under capitalism, the prime concern of the car companies is the production of _profits_, not motor vehicles; that contrived obsolescence is built into them to keep them from lasting in "health" over too long a time. Do you really believe that once the capitalist system has been abolished, once all of the useless and parasitical industries have been abandoned -- which would have to take place immediately upon declaring the era of capitalism over and done with -- that as many as one half of the vehicles being produced in these times would be needed? Why, even when it comes to the "ownership" of cars for pleasure -- for traveling purposes -- the object is to get wherever one wants to get to with the greatest possible degree of comfort and dispatch -- unless one just wants a leisurely drive. How much easier it would be -- and pleasurable -- were it possible to call by phone for a car, and even for a driver, rather than having the nuisance of one's own vehicle in one's garage or yard. What you are doing, Michael, is carrying over the methods and the needs of industry under a system, the mode of production of which is geared to the "manufacture" of profits, into a system, the mode of production of which is geared to _consumerism_ -- production for _use_. Furthermore, Michael, you must be aware of the fact that the "wants" of the population are largely "manufactured" by the Advertising Industry. And, as noted above, the motivation behind it has to be _profits_. Would everybody want a yacht, for example, of his/her own. I, personally, cannot imagine why one would not prefer a situation could be delivered for one's use at a given time. I, personally, and as I am certain, millions of others, would not be interested in yachting. And your inclusion of "jewelry" reminds me of an observation by that patron saint of capitalists -- the 18th century economist Adam Smith: "Gold and silver, as they are naturally of the greatest value among the richest, so they are naturally of the least value among the poorest nations. Among savages, the poorest of nations, they are of scarce any value." (_The Wealth of Nations_, Bk. 1, Ch. XI, PT. 111) In fact, as Marx, a century later, would note, savages had no concept of "value" -- _use value_ yes, but _value_ (socially necessary labor time) NO! And the concept of _value_ will ultimately disappear once the world has shaken production for profit. In short, Michael, you should apply your excellent reasoning on the anachronistic ideal of national boundaries in a socialist world on De Leon's carrying over of industrial organization of an (improved) capitalist-oriented nature. The very thought of the existence of a group of people designated as workers (of various types) is foreign to the concept of traditional Marxists. It is really, in my opinion, a case of "the dead hand of the past weighing like an Alp on the minds of the living." (Marx, in his _18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte_) Of course there will have to be some sort of organization in production centers, but why not leave that problem to the imaginations of those who will live at that time? ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________

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#7.02 L. Otter, Reply to the debate in O.T. #5 ______________________________________________________________________ Laurens Otter College Farm House Mill Lane Wellington Salop. TF1 1PR United Kingdom To O.T. and the DISCUSSION BULLETIN: Except for the matter of abstention or otherwise from parliamentary elections, the Lepore/Szalai/Elbert debate hits on the most basic issues for D.B. readers; ones not confined to the debate between Spugubs and De Leonists, since the distinction between an industrial strategy and a "political" one is mirrored in the debate between syndicalists & Malatestans. Anarchists too (both syndicalist and communist) are divided as to how much support/involvement on the part of the majority is necessary before revolution can finally be made. (Since we measure support not just in terms of how many people are prepared to put their X one way or another on a voting slip, it might be that anarchist debate would concentrate on other crucial figures than the 51% or 80% so far instanced, but mutatis mutandis there is similar debate; & I write this in the knowledge that anarchists too have not answered the questions satisfactorily.) So far all of your participants have assumed that the growth of socialist consciousness will be constant, unilinear & unidimensional. (This would seem to be a remarkably undialectical assumption for Marxists to make. May I suggest that growth is more likely to come in a series of waves, perhaps each flow will go further than the last, but here will be ebbs in between.) All seem agreed that such growth will certainly take decades and possible centuries to pass from the 51% to the 80% mark. Equally none of the participants have touched on the control of the Capitalist Press, the role played by the capitalist domination of the educational system, (indeed the libraries, advertising, & an hundred other ways to shape opinion,) in enlisting workers into support for capitalist institutions; nor has there been any mention of the "Secret State", the way that through dirty tricks governmental bodies can distort information, [c.f. Spycatcher,] & influence opinions. There is another problem that those who believe in the vote must face. I don't know enough about the Canadian Constitution; in Britain no government has ever polled 51% of all votes, Thatcher with a 42% of _votes cast_, (something round 30% abstentions,) had a majority of about 100 seats in Parliament. The U.S. system is such that only about 70% of those eligible to register do, & so, Presidential polls as far as I can gather seldom attract 50% of the real electorate; 26% of the population is therefore enough to win. So long before the SPGB or SLPUS gets even the 51% discussed they will have been elected to be the majority (probably overwhelming majority) in Parliament &/or Presidential office. Those who insist that 80% is necessary before there is a socialist transition have to envisage a situation where socialists are (whether constantly or frequently) so elected, for decades, (possibly centuries,) during which they will not feel they have a mandate to make a socialist revolution. What will they do? Some De Leonists would say abstain until such time as they have the overwhelming majority necessary. That means leaving power in the hands of a minority, _by definition only an anti-democratic minority would agree to exercise such power_, which could open up all sorts of dangers. The Spugubs say that its members will vote on bourgeois issues on their merits, which means that a government can only be formed by those members of the parliamentary minority who could expect the SPGB to vote for (or at least abstain on) their measures - as meritorious capitalist measures, - [the SPGB would not approve an anarchist abolition of government by direct action.] Alright, the SPGB would keep its hands clean, it wouldn't form the de jure government, but as it would have an absolute veto on all govenrment actions & decrees, it would be the de facto one. The party would then have to choose what it did about M.I.5 etc., the Capitalist Press, the educational system,.... ______________________________________________________________________

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#7.03 M. Lepore, Reply to L. Otter ______________________________________________________________________ > your participants have assumed that the growth of socialist > consciousness will be constant, unilinear & unidimensional I don't think anyone has made that assertion. I wish to clarify my own premise. An increase in socialist consciousness, whether its progress takes on a exponential or any other wave shape, must obey a theorem of mathematics which applies to all continuous functions in the universe. If a function has value A at time t1, and value B at time t2, then, for any selected value between A and B, there must exist at least one point in time when the function has that selected value. Socialist support is approximately zero today; therefore, if it someday turns into a majority support, then there must be points in time when it passes through all intermediate values - 19 percent, 37 percent, 51 percent, etc. If the change occurs slowly enough, then the 51 percent phase is likely to coincide with at least one Election Day. Some socialists speak of someday attaining vast majority support but do not consider what should be done at the time of narrow majority support. They are neglecting an event which the laws of mathematics must impose. > All seem agreed that such growth will certainly take decades > and possible centuries to pass from the 51% to the 80% mark. I don't make any assertion about how long it might take to get from 51% to 80%, nor do I suppose it matters much, since I consider a simple majority to be the only prerequisite for ending class rule. My intention was to refer only to the movement from 0 to 51 percent. Popular support for industrial democracy in a classless society is approximately zero. Historical progress has been temporarily suspended. We cannot determine how long the present Dark Age will continue. The perpetual Marxian predictions of capitalism's pending collapse are nonsense. I can easily imagine humanity reaching the 23rd century with capitalism still in existence, with the workers on the spaceships, receiving a 0.0001 fraction of their product and robbed of the rest, rebelling periodically for a bare living wage. I'm completely serious about this. There is no indication that capitalism will go away until we effectively illustrate to the working class the need to end it. Historical materialism itself doesn't disprove my statement; only some of historical materialism's possible but unproven corollaries discount it. Any Marxists who deny this possibility without offering specific reasons are being teleological. Capitalism has found a way to preserve itself. The method is to grant the working class a few small concessions, wait a generation, blame the current social problems on the "liberals" and take back what it has previously conceded, wait another generation, respond to new rebellion by granting a few concessions, and begin the cycle again. The workers, as nearsighted as we seem to be, may respond indefinitely in the same cyclical way: elect a conservative ... still have the same social problems ... elect a liberal ... still have the same social problems ... elect a conservative.... This can go on for centuries, unless socialists can find a way to present the revolutionary case convincingly. > none of the participants have touched on the control of the > Capitalist Press, the role played by the capitalist > domination of the educational system There's little to debate regarding the fact itself. All Marxists already agree that - "The ideas of the ruling class are, in every epoch, the ruling ideas; i.e., the class which is the ruling _material_ force of society, is, at the same time, its ruling _intellectual_ force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control, at the same time, over the means of mental production, so that, thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it." -- Marx and Engels [1] If we agree on that much, then we should be brainstorming to find possible ways to break out of the situation. > the "Secret State", the way that through dirty tricks > governmental bodies can distort information I recognize that problem, and I admit that I don't know what to do about it. But whatever may be the degree of distortion of the democratic process through right-wing trickery, my assertion is the same: If the workers ever attempt to seize possession of the means of production, while the elected offices of the state (which control the military and police) are still under the control of capitalist political parties, then there will occur one of the bloodiest ruling class reactions in history. This is my message to those who advise that a workers' economic revolution should "ignore the state". It's very difficult to "ignore" someone who will be firing a machine gun into your face. There is only one way to get rid of the state (as anarchists and Marxists similarly desire to do) - and that is to first win control of the state, and then, from that position of control, dissolve it. It will be difficult, but saying that it will be difficult doesn't make it any less necessary. > Presidential polls as far as I can gather seldom attract 50% > of the real electorate; 26% of the population is therefore > enough to win That would tend to shift the numerical value at which a socialist political victory takes place, but leave us with the same basic question about what should be done in the event of it. However, it's a myth that those who refrain from voting refrain due to apathy. Nonvoters usually cite their reason to be the very small differences among the politicians who have made it through the nomination process and therefore have a chance of being elected. This situation would not dominate if the working class were to unite in a class conscious manner on the political field. > Some De Leonists would say abstain until such time as they > have the overwhelming majority necessary. De Leon's editorials [2] suggested that that, if the degree of working class organization is not yet sufficient for social transformation to occur, any socialists elected to the legislature should primarily use their office as a rostrum. They should use the podium to the maximum extent, use the press interviews and the letter-mailing privileges, for working class education. As a secondary task - yes, I believe it to be secondary - there would be opportunities to use the voting power which that political office brings. This parliamentary activity would be mostly negative - efforts to resist repressive legislation and defend civil liberties, since genuine socialism can be built only by an industrial union, and no working class political party can have any role in it. It's unclear under what circumstances socialists in the legislature should vote on reform proposals, because most reforms intended to help working people backfire on us. Revolutionary change is needed, not because the reform of capitalism is insufficient, but because capitalism cannot be significantly and permanently reformed. > That means leaving power in the hands of a minority, _by > definition only an anti-democratic minority would agree to > exercise such power_, which could open up all sorts of > dangers. For that reason, workers' delegates elected to political office should not make it a "principle" to abstain from parliamentary action, but should accomplish whatever they can in that field, within the narrow limitations. They should announce loudly what those limitations are, then, without delay, return to the task of assisting the organization of the productive class to revolutionize all social institutions. [1] Marx and Engels, _The German Ideology_ (1846); International Publishers, 1972, p. 64 [2] De Leon, _Berger's Hit and Misses_, New York Labor News Co., 1912 (More recently reprinted under the title _A Socialist In Congress: His Conduct and Responsibilities_) ________________________________________________________________________________

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#7.06 H. Morrison A reply to the previous correspondences ______________________________________________________________________ In regard to the objections to the employment of words such as "hostile," and "wage war," in the Declaration of Principles of the Companion Parties of Socialism -- and particularly the attitude of so many that convinced socialists do have a common goal -- the abolition of capitalism; and therefore should cooperate with one another, rather than to engage in mutual vituperation: The problem, insofar as the Companion Parties are concerned, is in the definition of "socialism" -- the society that we all profess to be advocating. We of the Companion Parties are apparently the only ones who define socialism as a system based only upon production for the needs and wants of the population as a whole, and not at all in the needs of capital and surplus value. In fact, in our concept, capital and surplus value will not exist. In short, capital is capital regardless of the fact that it may be owned nationally, corporatively, or individually. Capital is wealth used to create more wealth, through exploitation of labor, with a view to profit. It takes more than a change of vocabulary to abolish capital and wage labor! Any organization that regards the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, the Chinese revolution of 1950, etc., as socialist has an entirely different concept of socialism than that of the Companion Parties. In the _Discussion Bulletin_, Number 21, Jan. 1987, this writer has a two-and-three-quarter page letter in which he briefly reviewed, _inter alia_, the attempted unification of the S.L.P. of A. and the Socialist Party of America. As noted in the letter, the unification conference took place in N.Y. City on January 6 and 7 of 1917. It foundered, according to the S.L.P., on the "rock of Industrial Unionism," which the S.P.A. refused to accept. In short, to quote myself in that letter: "There can be no more conclusive evidence than that to prove that the S.L.P.'s concept of a socialist society was (and still is) not fundamentally different from that of the parties of social democracy...." Change the name of "wage labor and capital" to something different and the relationships vanish into thin air -- or, rather, "hot air!" The information in the above referred-to letter to the D.B. was gotten from _The Socialist Standard_ (SPGB) of March, 1917, in an article written by Adolph Kohn, an SPGB member in the U.S. at the time, on the lam from the British military, as were many of his comrades -- and a host of others -- otherwise "loyal" Britishers. Kohn got his facts from _The Weekly People_ of Jan. 13, 1917. As further evidence of the embracement of Bolshevik style exploitation of labor via capital and surplus value, allow me to present the following Resolution extracted from the Minutes of the SLP Convention of 1924, found by this writer in a file on the SLP in the stacks at the Mugar Library (Boston University). In my opinion, there can be no better evidence of the nature of the SLP and De Leonist "socialist" capitalism than what existed in the former Soviet Union! The only real difference was the nature of the "superstructure" -- the absence of actual soviets in the Government. Minutes, Reports, Resolutions, Platforms, etc. of the Sixteenth National Convention, Socialist Labor Party, May 10-13, 1924. Published 1924 - SLP National Executive Committee ... Committee on Resolution reported the following resolution on Nicolai Lenin and a motion was passed unanimously that it be adopted by a rising vote. Whereas; of Jan. 21, 1924, at 5:30 p.m., Nicolai Lenin, the Premier of the Russian Soviet Republic, died near Moscow; and Whereas; Lenin's devotion to principles, his fearlessness, his ability in scenting fakers and traitors in the organization of labor; his utter ruthlessness in attacking such; his clearness and thorough understanding of Marxian principles and the economic foundation of society, and the political and social currents that flow therefrom made him a staunch champion of the workers, loved by them, and dreaded and hated by their plunderers; and Whereas; his death at this important moment in the reconstruction of society in Russia on Socialist lines, or at this critical moment of the world's revolutionary proletariat when capitalist society is crumbling, is an irreparable loss to the world's Revolutionary Movement; and Whereas; Lenin's creation -- the Soviet idea -- and De Leon's creation -- the Revolutionary Industrial Union idea -- each in the respective country serving as scaffolding of the Socialist Republic, establish an affinity between Lenin and our own De Leon, the Russian Revolution and the Socialist Labor Party of America: therefore be it Resolved; at the 16th National Convention of the Socialist Labor Party, that to our Russian revolutionary comrades and to the world's oppressed, we express our heartfelt grief at the loss of this great proletarian revolutionist; and be it further Resolved; that the National Secretary be directed to forward a copy of these resolutions to the Russian Soviet Government; that a copy be spread of the minutes and that the resolutions be published in the Weekly People and other Party organs. Now Really! Had Lenin possessed a "thorough understanding of Marxian principles and the economic foundation of society, and the political and social currents that flow therefrom", he would certainly have understood that -- "One nation can and should learn from the others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement ... it can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by successive phases of its normal development. But it can lessen and shorten the birthpangs." (Marx, _Capital_, Vol. I, Kerr, pp. 14-15) The only lesson possible to have learned from the nations of Western Europe in 1917 was that the capitalist economy is what develops naturally out of feudal agrarianism and that dictatorship - governing - would not alter that development -- although it could retard it. In any event, Marxist-oriented economists in the former Soviet Union must have learned that redefining "socialism" to conform to capitalist relationships does not alter the situation: the relationships of capital and wage labor dominated the scene in "socialist" Russia under the "Marxian" Bolsheviks from Lenin to Gorbachev! And any cursory reading of the history of Soviet Russia under Lenin should reveal that the recurring periods of unrest, before, and after, the institution of his capitalist New Economic Policy (NEP) cast doubt, at least, on the universal love and affection for that Dictator. 'Nuff sed! Yours for world socialism, and best wishes in our attempt to stand up under all of this American capitalist "prosperity!" Harry Morrison ("Harmo") ______________________________________________________________________

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#7.07 M. Lepore Reply to H. Morrison ______________________________________________________________________ I agree with Harry's characterization of Lenin as a "dictator." For those who have doubts, Internet users can connect to the U.S. Library of Congress and browse its archive of Soviet historical documents (FTP seq1.loc.gov, chdir pub/soviet.archive). In particular, see the letter in which Lenin ordered the kidnapping of 100 randomly-selected innocent people so that the hostages could be ceremoniously executed. The SLP initially made the error of viewing the Bolshekik uprising as an emancipatory one. In doing so, the SLP was repeating an error which Marx and Engels had earlier made -- the assumption that overturning a modern ruling class would eventually, but inevitably, leave the people in democratic control. They didn't visualize the possibility that there would arise a new style of class rule, with a state falsely called "Communist" being the new owner of monopoly capital, the new exploiter of the working class. "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things." -- Marx and Engels, _The German Ideology_ (1846) "In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things." -- Marx and Engels, _The Communist Manifesto_ (1848) Fortunately, the SLP very soon came to realize the class-ruled nature of Soviet society, and it published pamphlets with titles like _Marxism versus Soviet Despotism_ and _Stalinist Imperialism_. In view of that important change, I'm inclined to overlook the earlier mistake. (I'm certain that the SLP has never regarded the Chinese revolution as a socialist one.) Harry has been eloquent in showing us how the proposed World Socialism differs from the industrial union conceptions, either the syndicalist or the De Leonist variety. However, in my opinion, his assertion that the industrial unionism approach continues the existence of capital and wage labor has not been demonstrated. ________________________________________________________________________________

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#8.08 Correspondence from L. Otter, continuation of the debate from issue #7 ______________________________________________________________________ 1. No one asserted that growth of socialist consciousness would be unilinear, but all the arguments, as written, [& indeed your latest reply,] would have been [be] meaningless unless the assertion was [is] made, that there would never be two consecutive elections of which say 50% voted socialist & in the second only somewhere around 40%. 2. You appear willing to discount those who do not register to vote; but the many De Leonists & most Spugubs who talk of needing an 80% (or somesuch) mandate mean 80 % of the electorate; so though you may not think my point matters, to their argument it does. 3. You assume that the world will survive, with capitalism, into the 23rd century. I think you have failed to take on board the ecological case. No doubt, as the SLP & SPGB traditionally do, you pooh-pooh the possibility of the world's leaders embarking on a world-destroying war. The fact that you can quote Marx to the effect that there is a rational _cause_ of war, does not mean that there may not be a chance and irrational _occasion_. The economic causes of W.W. I had been around a long time before Sarajevo; it took a chance happening to make what was caused actually occur. Actually I think your whole argument here is wrong; it makes the most unmarxist (& even more un-De Leonist) assumption that capitalism exists now in exactly the same sense that it existed in the time of Marx, & can go on doing so; whereas the whole of Marxist theory depends on the thesis that, as technology develops, economic & social relations change, and the legal, constitutional & political framework change in order to embody those new relationships. Marx was at great pains, from the Economic and Humanist essays, through the Communist Manifesto & onwards to Capital, to distinguish socialism, & the economic analysis that underpinned it, from the Republicanism that had been manifest in the American & French Revolutions. That Republicanism was a sufficient antithesis to combat the system of Mercantilism. But the Napoleonic Wars had seen an exponential rise in the development of new economic technology. [paradoxically less fast in revolutionary France than in reactionary Britain,] (the industrial revolution had no doubt begun - as seed sewn within the Mercantilist system - nearly 100 years before.) Marx insisted that a new class system had arisen as a result of the changes in the world that came about as a result of the French Revolution, & that a new radical contradiction was needed. The French Revolution had not abolished class privilege; it had merely replaced an old form with a new, [& not just in France.] Can you doubt that since Marx's day technology has developed as fast as it did between 1789 & 1848? Do you think there will be no further development? Are you so unmarxist as to doubt that the technological transformation would be reflected in the social & economic sphere? Even the SLP got round, just before the collapse of stalinism, to seeing that what existed in the Soviet Union was a new bureaucratic collectivist form of capitalism. There's plenty of evidence that the trend within Western Monopoly Capitalism has equally been to bureaucratic collectivism. Marx, all those years ago, said the world would go, soon, to either socialism or barbarism. It went to the latter. 4. Marx stressed that the state exists as the executive committee of the ruling class, also that states exist to reflect the social divisions within societies; so when you say "there is only one way to get rid of the state ... & that is to win control of the state & then from that position of control, dissolve it;" what you are in fact saying is that you wish to take control of a class divided society, to act as the executive committee of a ruling class. No doubt you will cite Marx's approval of Lassalle's "Qu'est-ce que c'est qu'une Constitution" as evidence that, if the working class is fully mobilized, it can for a short time over-ride the natural political power of the ruling class; & that therefore controlling the state does not automatically mean running capitalism. (Though I think that it is clear that De Leon in his later years rejected this belief, renounced the aim of capturing the state, & insisted on the abolition of the state ab initio.) If however you are laying your trust in Lassalle's arguments; then you are in duty bound to show where in this you differ from Lenin, whose concept of a "workers" dominated [through the soviets] state capitalist society in transition to socialism, albeit with profound bureaucratic deformations," depended upon precisely this argument of Lassalle's. Moreover if you bother to think about what you said, you will see it is self-evidently nonsense. We both agree that workers have to form organizations of direct workers' control, that we have to replace the capitalist state by these organs of direct workers' power. Well, if these organizations achieve such power that they are in a position to displace the state organization of capitalism, why would they instead take over control of that state? If they do, - which by definition means that they put a minority of their number into power within the state organization, - how will you guarantee that the rank & file workers' organizations will be able to control these controllers of the state? It is the most elementary marxism to say that the controllers of the state, since they are now running capitalism [in whatever form it has by then reached,] will inevitably develop an interest in the 'efficient' running of that class society. The most elementary psychology, to know that they will have come to believe that what is in their best interests, as the controllers of capitalism, represents the true interests of those they rule & to decide that any opposition by workers is due to reactionary prejudices amongst those workers who cannot understand their own best interests. De Leon, despite his frequently absurd prejudices against anarchist thinkers, nevertheless reached parallel conclusions; and in his later years insisted that, immediately the SLP had a majority, government would be adjourned sine die, & the previously organized industrial union movement would launch a general stay-in strike to "take and hold" property, & transform society. Obviously since Petersen abolished the WIIU no subsequent De Leonist has been able to keep literally to De Leon's perspective of revolution; but that doesn't excuse your position [as exemplified by your insistence that workers' delegates would not abstain,] which is a mere rerun of social democracy. ______________________________________________________________________

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#8.09 M. Lepore, reply to L. Otter ______________________________________________________________________ > that there would never be two consecutive elections of which > say 50 % voted socialist & in the second only somewhere > around 40 % We already know that the magnitude of revolutionary aspirations does reverse itself - it oscillates - so there's no need to speculate about it. Looking at everything from socialist votes to enthusiasm for union organizing, it seems to me that the peak in working class consciousness to date occurred around the year 1910, and it is now near an all-time minimum. > the most unmarxist (& even more un-De Leonist) assumption I don't know the usefulness in indicating that some of my opinions are un-Marxist or un-De Leonist. Argument by authority is invalid. The scientific method recognizes no articles of faith. We could say that Einstein was un-Newtonian, and Newton was un-Aristotelian, but these facts alone would tells us nothing about which propositions are true or false. All hypotheses must be evaluated individually. > you have failed to take on board the ecological case ... > you pooh-pooh the possibility of the world's leaders > embarking on a world-destroying war Our species may go out of existence due to poisoning of the habitat, a great war, an ice age, or a flare-up of the corona of the sun. However, assuming that we survive, society will remain under the control of some sort of ruling class minority until the day that the people become educated and organized in a way that we have only begun to show the slightest signs of. Besides, it's not clear that a global catastrophe would terminate capitalism. Some radiation-poisoned survivors would probably crawl out of the rubble. Among them, there would be someone who would proceed to coin a currency and start a bank; voila - capitalism. > assumption that capitalism exists now in exactly the same > sense that it existed in the time of Marx I make, not this, but the opposite assumption. Of course, the economic and political forms of capitalism are frequently revised. Moreover, there is no known limit to such revisions. Structural malleability is the reason why class rule cannot "collapse", despite its many internal contradictions. A tripod can collapse, but a blob of clay cannot. > Can you doubt that since Marx's day technology has developed > as fast as it did between 1789 & 1848? Do you think there > will be no further development? On the contrary, technological knowledge is exponential. Its rate of increase is itself increasing. > Marxist theory depends on the thesis that, as technology > develops, economic & social relations change, and the legal, > constitutional & political framework change No one can place a time limit on how long it takes for a lagging superstructure to catch up with the material base. As Engels, rejecting mechanical determinism, reminded others: "According to the materialist conception of history, the _ultimately_ determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence, if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the _only_ determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase." [1] If capitalism can become socially obsolete, and then prop itself up for another hundred years, as we have seen it do, how could we know that it cannot prop itself up for another three hundred years? This cannot be resolved by saying that the system "contains the seeds of its own destruction", or similar truisms which came to Marxism mainly through Hegelian influence. It is only the development of awareness, reflected in action, and not some inexorable laws of history, that can inaugurate a classless society. The cooperative society can be attained only by the enormous project of changing the consciousness of our class, until the majority will have reversed their present opinions, no matter how long this shall take to accomplish. Then the population as a whole, acting democratically, can remake our institutions. Any other program is vanguardism; vanguardism is any other program. If my approach is wrong, please suggest an alternative. Is it supposed that something in the organism of history will eventually complete its gestation period, and we will be surprised by the new society that will be born? I would only ask Nietzsche's question -- "How could the next ten years teach what the past ten were not able to teach?" [2] It is sometimes supposed that capitalism will eventually make people so miserable that we will put it to an end. However, I agree with De Leon's reply: "If misery were sufficient to build a social revolution, surely here were misery enough. But misery lacks the necessary sufficiency by many a length. Misery is not enough: it must lead to discontent. Discontent is not enough: it must be enlightened on the causes of its misery, and the cure. Enlightenment is not enough: it must be organized, disciplined and drilled to effect the salutary revolution." [3] > if these organizations achieve such power that they are in a > position to displace the state organization of capitalism, > why would they instead take over control of that state? If a movement FOR radical change has NOT won control of the state, then this must mean that the movement AGAINST social change still has control of it. It's more difficult than I had expected it would be to convince others of the implications of this fact. In the following article, I will summarize why I insist that the political ballot will be indispensable for a successful revolution. > so when you say "there is only one way to get rid of the > state ... & that is to win control of the state & then from > that position of control, dissolve it;" what you are in fact > saying is that you wish to take control of a class divided > society, to act as the executive committee of a ruling class No one can abolish something without first controlling it. A wrecking ball is hurled toward a structure, not away from it. Water extinguishes a flame by enveloping it, not by avoiding it. A white blood cell must engulf the bacterium. To put an end to anything implies the need to get onto it, into it, around it, to hold it, or to go through it. Accordingly, it would be more logical for an anarchist to ADVOCATE use of the political process, not to REJECT it. Of course, in that period from the moment that the working class takes political control to the moment that state is disintegrated, the working class will literally be a ruling class. As Marx and Engels [4] wrote, our actions must "raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy." Then, within hours (if we have organized properly), all class distinctions will go out of existence. Either this will be done, or else the revolution, whatever it was, wasn't socialist. > that De Leon in his later years rejected this belief, > renounced the aim of capturing the state, & insisted on the > abolition of the state ab initio ... > in his later years insisted that, immediately the SLP had a > majority, government would be adjourned sine die It was not in his later years, but a position held from an early stage. De Leon first conceived of the Socialist Industrial Union (SIU) program in 1904. Soon afterward, in 1905, he argued that socialists who have taken control of political office should "adjourn themselves, on the spot, sine die." (We should note, for those readers who don't speak lawyers' Latin, that to end a body or a meeting "sine die" means to adjourn without making provisions ever to reconvene.) The goal of an abrupt termination to the state is also my position, although your letter implies that there is a difference between this position and my own. > then you are in duty bound to show where in this you differ > from Lenin, whose concept of a "workers" dominated [through > the soviets] state capitalist society in transition to > socialism Lenin [5] argued that the "withering" of the political state must be postponed until the "higher phase" is attained. The "higher phase" is Marx's term [6] for the ultimate future when production will be so automated that, it is speculated, everyone can have unrestricted access to all goods and services, rather than having material compensation in proportion to personal hours of work. De Leonists, however, believe that, once we have entered the age of mechanized mass production, e.g., the year 1900 would not have been too soon, then the end of the state is waiting only for the owning class to be deposed. Attainment or nonattainment of the higher phase has nothing to do with it. Marx explained that "The class domination of the workers over the resisting strata of the old world must last until the economic foundations of the existence of classes are destroyed." [7] These economic foundations are two: industrialization (which we can cross off the list at once, because it's already done) and the transfer of industrial ownership from the capitalists to the workers' association (the one extant requirement). Therefore, no "transition period" to a classless and stateless society is necessary, useful, or justifiable. As for the higher phase, i.e., the abolition of personal incomes determined by work hours, I believe that it can arrive at any later time (if it is to arrive at all, which today cannot be ascertained). Lenin modified Marx by adding the further requirement that, as long as society is not ready for the higher phase, then neither is it ready to become stateless. > how will you guarantee that the rank & file workers' > organizations will be able to control these controllers of > the state? There are no guarantees anywhere in life, particularly in the critical junctures of history. However, measures can be taken to bring politics closer to the region of workers' self-reliance and direct action. In the U.S. - I don't know about England - an organization isn't even required to have the word "Party" in its name in order to nominate political candidates. An industrial union could operate in the political field directly, as opposed to endorsing a party, a separate organization. We could elect union delegates to the legislatures, where they could mandate the transfer of management to the workers' association. If the industrial union would choose such a program, then the already-existing socialist political parties would be absorbed into it. These parties would, in De Leon's words,"'break up camp' with a shout of joy - if a body merging into its own ideal can be said to 'break up camp.'" [8] > the controllers of the state ... will inevitably develop an > interest in the 'efficient' running of that class society It's not inevitable, but occasionally some people do the opposite of what they had said they had intended to do. Just as the union must not choose a known thief to be its treasurer, a workers' political movement must not nominate anyone who has ever been heard to utter a word of compromise of principles. The unbendable axiom is that capitalism cannot be improved to any extent worth mentioning, and the first responsibility of any socialist elected to political office is to facilitate the demolition of class rule and its state. I met a person of great integrity when I met Walter Steinhilber of the SLP, which I think was in 1971. Since the party has used all sorts of political campaigns merely for the educational opportunities which those campaigns provide, Steinhilber was running for New York City Comptroller. I asked him, "What would you do if you got elected?" He replied, "Nothing. I understand that a Comptroller has something to do with money. I can't even count the change in my pocket." My second question: "What can we [high school students] do to help the movement?" His reply - "Study." References: [1] Engels, letter to Joseph Bloch, Sept. 22, 1890 [2] Nietzsche, _Thoughts out of Season_, Volume II, excerpt in Geoffrey Clive, ed., _The Philosophy of Nietzsche_, New York: New American Library, 1965, p. 223 [3] De Leon, editorial in _The Daily People_, Oct. 25, 1909 [4] Marx and Engels, _The Communist Manifesto_ [5] Lenin, _State and Revolution_, chapter 5 [6] Marx, _Critique of the Gotha Programme_ [7] Marx, _Conspectus on Bakunin_ [8] De Leon, _As To Politics_ ______________________________________________________________________

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#8.10 M. Lepore, addendum to my reply to L. Otter, Opinion on the necessity of political organization ______________________________________________________________________ I begin by assuming that the adoption of socialism requires "the general lockout of the capitalist class" by the workers (De Leon's phrase, _Socialist Reconstruction of Society_, 1905). Next, I consider the probable response by the state to this lockout. The state always has, and promptly enforces, the rule that the legal owner of property, when deprived of possession or effective control of that property, can turn to the state for remedy. The process in the U.S. goes something like this: The owner goes to court with documents which prove legal ownership, and the judge issues the paperwork which dispatches the police. The next thing to recognize is that the state, when prevented from implementing legal redress, begins automatically to escalate the level of violence toward infinity. Even if a person is suspected of committing the smallest misdemeanor, the state can never give up until that individual is either placed under arrest or is dead. Law enforcers generally use weapons like rifles, truncheons, and noxious gas to return property to its legal owners. If necessary, they would have no difficulty in obtaining rocket launchers and tanks. Nor would there be hesitation to use these instruments. The capitalist class would be willing, even anxious, to damage some of its own property in an attempt to recover control of the rest of it. Damage to a part would be looked upon as a form of tax, while a successful revolution would be a total loss in the viewpoint of any ruling class facing deposition. Moreover, the use of flame throwers, tanks, etc., doesn't necessary imply significant damage to industrial property. Since the workers would have to go home sometime, the massacres could be carried out in the streets or at the workers' places of residence. If we are to have "a general lockout of the capitalist class", and yet not see million of workers killed in the process, this response by the state must be prevented. There have been at least four major proposals about how to prevent it. I will give my personal evaluation of them. PROPOSAL 1: The workers must recruit the police and soldiers into the revolutionary cause, so that they will not be willing to fire upon their fellow workers. The main problem with this suggestion is in the simple arithmetic of fractions. Even if 99 percent of the working class were ready for socialism, the state would probably have no difficulty in deputizing or conscripting a million agents willing to use violence against the workers. PROPOSAL 2: A militia of workers must defeat the police and soldiers in military combat. This suggestion is impracticable, since the state forces would be the side with the most advanced weapons and training. This suggestion is also morally reprehensible, if there exist other means to enable the transformation of society to occur in a peaceful manner. PROPOSAL 3: The workers must use economic strength to deprive the police and soldiers of material things which they require in order to operate. This is the General Strike recommendation. It relies on the assumption that the state has very little inventory of ammunition, vehicle parts, fuel, etc., and that the state's mercenaries would require a continuous flow of supplies from industry. The correctness of this assumption is seriously in doubt. It is likely that state forces have sufficient inventory so that, even in the event of a General Strike, the state could still massacre millions of workers. PROPOSAL 4: The working class must win control of the order-giving centers from which the police and soldiers receive their instructions. Not all the time, but somewhere between 99 and 100 percent of the time, the violent agencies of the state look to political offices for their daily orders. In many countries, these political offices are publicly elected. For example, typical for the U.S. would be that the local police chief is an appointee of the mayor, county sheriffs are elected directly by the county residents, and the army generals are appointees of the national president. By winning control of political office, the delegates of the working class could either send the police and soldiers home, or could reassign them to nonviolent occupations, such as medical and fire department assistance. That would be the moment for the workers' industrial union to take over the responsibility of planning the industries and services. This option has a major advantage: If it is already realized that society cannot achieve socialism until a majority of the people come to advocate it, then that new consciousness among workers would have to be correlated with a new consciousness among voters. If we select the political option, we will get it virtually for free. There is an additional benefit to the political approach. Suppose that the movement declares its intent to follow the constitutional method in abolishing capitalist ownership, similar to the way in which the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution cancelled the legal property rights of the slave-owners without compensation. Even if the actual amendment process is never carried out, the mere advocacy of it removes much (not all) of the state's ability to prosecute the workers while they are organizing openly for revolution. In the state's view, to call for the lockout of the present owners is to call for trespassing, grand larceny, and probably treason as well. To "incite" a crime is itself a crime. But simply propose the constitutional method, and the state is immediately deprived of much of its basis for repressive action. I conclude that the organization of the political field, while it may be encumbered by strategic problems, will nevertheless be necessary for a successful and relatively nonviolent transition to social ownership of the means of production. ______________________________________________________________________

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#8.11 Correspondence from H. Morrison, continuation of the debate from issue #7 ______________________________________________________________________ After perusing O.T. #7 -- particularly the guest editorial by E. Wizek, and M. Lepore's response to my own responses, I feel the need to go all-out in an attempt to clear up certain misconceptions by De Leonists in regard to the very "guts" of the Scientific Socialist approach to the critique of capitalist production. There is a tendency on the part of "do-gooders" and "left-wing" radicals to practice what I view as a form of transubstantiation. Just as the Catholic priest swears, by all that is holy, that the wheaten wafers distributed to his faithful have been metamorphosed into the flesh of Jesus through his (supernatural) incantations, and that the wine that he himself sips is actually "God's" blood, our liberal and "left-wing" radicals transubstantiate capital and wage labor relationships into something other than what they are. Please bear with me in my analysis of the Wizek examination of the problems of capitalist employment and how to end them with an Industrial Union society. Let me begin, in reverse, with his final paragraph. I.U. society, he asserts, will provide the jobs and an abundant income for all workers! Is that not strikingly reminiscent of the campaign promises of all politicians? "Good jobs at good wages" has been the battle-cry of the Government office-seekers over the lifetimes of everyone now living and of their forebears for centuries past. What fellow worker Wizek apparently does not comprehend -- or does not agree with -- is the fact that, in a socialist society, there would be no such phenomenon as "income." Socialism would necessarily imply free right of access to all needs by all of mankind. There will be no such activity as production for markets, and that means that products will not be "exchanged." "Exchange" of the products of labor denote _value_ -- which is "socially necessary labor time" -- and such a concept can exist only when either direct barter or the need for a universal equivalent is called for. Such needs have been part of a lengthy historical process, and would not exist under a society that has abolished commodity production. In fact, socialism is incompatable with a world divided into nations. There is not a single nation -- or group of nations -- that could be self-sufficient in the minerals, etc., needed in modern production. A socialist society would necessarily be world-wide in scope -- at least encompassing all industrialized nations. Yet fellow worker Wizek exposes his sense of nationalism with a grumble -- to wit -- "They [employers] are not even necessarily American, for in this system anyone with sufficient capital, from any country, can become a member of the employer class." (!) (Comment on that would be superfluous, indeed!) In short, socialism implies a world without nations; and a world without "exchange" and "value"; -- one world with production for use, and _use value_ alone. Now, in order to clear up some mis-information on the part of friend Lepore on the S.L.P. position on Bolshevik Russia, throughout the seven-odd decades of its existence, I offer the following facts, culled from S.L.P. literature by various members/writers of the W.S.P. for its _Western Socialist_ over a number of years of its publication. In order that this writer will not be accused of tearing fact from context, let me present the case in the words of the S.L.P. writers themselves. In an article entitled "The Russian Situation", appearing in _The Weekly People_ of November 24, 1917, Mr. Arnold Petersen, National Secretary of the Party, had the following to say: Events in Russia furnish one of the most profound lessons in Socialist teachings and tactics. Up-to-date Socialism declares: (1) Socialism is not possible until: [a] Capitalism has developed to a point where all the essential forces of production have been developed, centralized and co-ordinated; [b] When the exploited proletariat has divested itself of the notion that the interests of the two main classes in society are identical, and that this system of production is God-ordained, and the only possible one. (2) Socialism is not possible, even in a highly developed capitalist country, until the working class organizes as a class into industrial unions ... supplanting the political State by the industrial representative councils of workers. Applying this text to Russia, several facts leap into prominence. In the first place, Russia as a whole is woefully behind in capitalist development. By far the majority of the population is composed of peasants, a large number of whom are illiterate and wholly ignorant as regards the object of the labor movement and the nature of the social revolution. Consequently, not only is the material groundwork for Socialism lacking, but the human element -- a class-conscious proletariat -- is largely absent. Last, but not least, the industrial proletariat is not -- so far as we are able to learn -- organized in industrial unions, the condition sine qua non of the Socialist Republic. ... So long as the Bolsheviki was in opposition it was doing excellent agitational work. Now that it is in power it faces failure. The day of its victory was the day of its defeat. Now, while the World Socialist Movement would not quarrel with much of the earlier points of that official S.L.P. assessment -- other than the need for industrial union organization in the interests of socialist revolution -- that official rejection of it as socialist (or, at least, proletarian) in nature was short lived. The reason for the about-face on the Russian question is made clear in an article in _The Weekly People_ on February 9, 1918, just a few months following that original Petersen assessment. The article dealt with a report by Arno Dosch-Fleuroi, a correspondent of the _New York World_, who claimed that Lenin was influenced by the ideas of Daniel De Leon. And that bit of news, strengthened by an address by John Reed (of _Ten Days That Shook the World_ fame) before the National Executive Committee of the S.L.P., in which he stated that Lenin foresaw the Industrial Union form of Government as Russia's future. This adulation for their leader/hero was too much for the functionary chiefdom of the S.L.P. Lenin himself a great admirer of De Leon, according to Dosch-Fleuroi and John Reed! The party went over, bag and baggage, for some time to come, to hopeful support. Now, admittedly, there were periods of back-sliding on that issue in S.L.P. literature, but never in their refusal to label that economy as State Capitalism. The denunciations were always levelled at the tyranny of the Dictatorship. Before the working class can be ready for socialism, a significant majority must approve of the need to end class society -- and be eager to effectuate it without delay. In other words, the working _class_ must become history, and that would necessarily mean the end of the need for labor unions of any sort or description. The interests of those who perform the work would be societal interests -- not sectional. And no longer would those who carry on production be compelled to spend their entire working years as "appendages of the machines" in capitalist-style Division of Labor. With the abolition of the parasitical-type industries such as advertising, banking, the military, etc., the workload needed for a decent standard of living for all mankind would become a "breeze." "Utopia"? Nonsense! The know-how and the means for immediate -- if not sooner -- attainment of such a society are at hand -- thanks to the historical development of capitalism itself! The last four centuries have been painful ones for the bulk of the industrialized world; useful, of course, in a historical sense; but it is long past time when capitalism has outgrown its usefulness. How can it be more difficult to propagandize the case for genuine socialism than "transubstantiating" capitalist relationships into something different than what they are? ______________________________________________________________________

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#8.12 M. Lepore, reply to H. Morrison ______________________________________________________________________ > transubstantiate capital and wage labor relationships into > something other than what they are There's an old gimmick in trial law. Suppose I'm accused of murder. The prosecutor rises to argue that I'm the guilty party, but instead uses the opportunity to remind the jury that murder is a bad thing. Based on this emphasis that murder is a bad thing, the jury is asked to convict me. Sometimes the jury even falls for it. This fallacy is called the ignoratio elenchi, or the irrelevant conclusion. Now, in our case, Harry, you are going to illustrate to us why a syndicalist or industrial union form of workers' self-management would amount to a continuation of the capital and wage-labor relationship. But then what you do, with your transubstantiation example, is to remind us that it's a bad thing to assume that something is truly different merely because one has changed the name of it. > socialism is incompatable with a world divided into nations I believe that as well. However, national economies must first be brought under social ownership, and then these economies must be merged. Whenever any two or more national economies are merged, the borders between them must be demolished. By this means alone, all national boundaries can be made eventually to disappear. The need for global administration doesn't answer our question about whether an industrial union program is the correct program. Rather, the need for global administration is important because it shows socialism to be the means to unite the human race, eliminating such ugly effects as patriotism (which I consider the worst form of bigotry) and war. > Wizek exposes his sense of nationalism with a grumble -- to > wit -- "They [employers] are not even necessarily American I don't try to read the mind of a writer when we have the written words themselves. I see no literal difference between Ed Wizek's observation and that of Marx and Engels [1]: "The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere." You also note the De Leonists' designations for the Communist Party economic system. They have variously called it statism, bureaucratic state despotism, and so forth. You observe - > their refusal to label that economy as State Capitalism. > The denunciations were always levelled at the tyranny of the > Dictatorship All De Leonists assert that the Soviet-style regime is class-divided, and features the exploitation of the working class through a wage system which extracts surplus value. But is it most accurately called "state capitalism"? I don't know. I think there are good arguments on both sides. Most De Leonists refrain from calling that system "capitalism", for the same reason that a zoologist refrains from calling a porpoise a dolphin, or an alligator a crocodile. It assists understanding and communication for things which are empirically different to have different names. The Stalin/Mao design is noticably different from the Adam Smith design. The purely state-owned economy has no stock market to enable individuals to buy shares of ownership in the industries. Ruling class individuals attain their status, not by family inheritance and marketplace gambling, as in the U.S., but by clawing their way up the competitive ladder of a political hierarchy, and legally suppressing challenges. There are a huge number of similarities between the two modern forms of class rule, but, not being identical, they require different names. As a zoologist might phrase it, the two systems are of the same genus, but different species. However, I also see some usefulness in calling the two modern forms of class rule "private capitalism" and "state capitalism." This is because capitalism is perhaps best understood, not as a particular FORM, but as an ACTIVITY. The state-owned form, no less than the privately-owned form, "practices" capitalism. Let's try on this definition: Capitalism is the activity of operating the industries with the expectation that the total wealth consumed by the workers will be consistently less than the total product of the workers, so that a hierarchy of bosses may use the difference between the two amounts to build an empire. When this occurs, the workers, considered merely a "resource" which has been paid for, are treated as such, treated as automatons. Before we expend too much energy debating the best name for the state-monopoly form of exploitation, let's remember the warning of Bertrand Russell: "One of the most difficult matters in all controversy is to distinguish between disputes about words and disputes about facts: it ought not to be difficult, but in practice it is." [2] > in a socialist society, there would be no such phenomenon as > "income." Socialism would necessarily imply free right of > access to all needs by all of mankind. Socialism is a science only if it adheres to the scientific method. For an investigation to be a science, it is not enough that it extracts general principles from life. It is further required that a science shall not call a hypothesis a fact if it cannot be demonstrated by a combination of empiricism and logic. Since we do not yet have a neurological model of the mind, we cannot have an exact science of human behavior. We cannot be certain of the forms that human behavior will take in a future classless society. There are some things about socialism which we can demonstrate directly - I'll even say, things which we can prove. For example, the common stock form of ownership demonstrates that the capitalist investors need no technical understanding of the production process, yet the capitalists today do elect the management. This proves that it is viable for the management committees to be elected by other means, say, by the whole population, or by workers' assemblies. To give an additional example: We can demonstrate that militarism, marketing, the secrecy and duplication of effort in research, and many other present uses of labor, are purely waste. Sending dividends to a class of absentee owners, so that they can live in luxury without ever having to work, is also a form of waste. This proves that socialism would bring about a higher standard of living and a shorter workweek. These are the sorts of things that socialists can say with certainty, because the arguments need only to incorporate present-day observations, elementary logic and plain arithmetic. If someone disagrees with any of these points, I wouldn't hesitate to reply, "If you disagree with it, then you don't understand it." However, we are in danger of taking things too far. If we start to claim that we "know" very specific things about how human beings would think and act in a future classless society, then we will be engaging in wishful thinking, which is a practice abhorred by the scientific method. Regarding this question of personal income, there are at least two possibilities. One possibility is that classless society, combined with technology, will transform all work from drudgery into self-expression, so that people will work together, as frequently as necessary, without any form of compulsion, or any need for artificial incentives. In this case, there may be no need to stipulate that personal income will be determined by the work hours of the individual. The other possibility is that work and leisure will forever remain distinct: work being any activity performed as a means to a separate end, and leisure being any activity performed purely for its own sake, for the pleasure of it. In that case, we may find an inherent instability in a system which permits everyone free access to affluence, regardless of the individual's choice of total work hours. A system of free access might discover that too few people choose spontaneously to return from vacation as early as it is necessary in order for production levels to match consumption levels. After saying that we are limited in how much we can *know*, I will now state what I personally *believe*. One the most prevalent criticisms of socialism is based on the "free rider" problem. This is the principle that some people will continuously reduce their work time, or other form of social contribution, if their efforts are rewarded at a group level rather than on an individual basis. The immediate stimulus is that any slacking off in my contribution comes back directly as a payoff to myself, whereas my diligent work only increases the sum of which I receive less than a billionth part. I'll admit in my own case, I can't be certain that I'd ever perform industrial work, if my material living standard for working were virtually the same as my living standard for vacationing. However, an idea of socialism which will distribute goods according to work hours, while popularly criticized in a hundred other ways, is immune to this particular criticism. I suspect that the Free Access concept of socialism feeds the popular misconception that "socialism is against human nature." I suggest that we should not play into the hands of conservatives, by giving them additional weapons with which to attack us. References: [1] Marx and Engels, _The Communist Manifesto_ [2] Bertrand Russell, _The ABC of Relativity_, 1925; New York: The New American Library, fifth printing, 1958, p. 114 ________________________________________________________________________________

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#9.07 Correspondence from Laurens Otter, rebuttal to M. Lepore (Continuation of the debate from issue #8) ______________________________________________________________________ In ORGANIZED THOUGHTS #8.09, M. Lepore proposed the use of political organization as follows: "No one can abolish something without first controlling it. A wrecking ball is hurled toward a structure, not away from it. Water extinguishes a flame by enveloping it, not by avoiding it.... Accordingly, it would be more logical for an anarchist to ADVOCATE use of the political process, not to REJECT it." The wrecking ball certainly swings toward the structure; it doesn't, however, become part of it. Water surrounds the flame & prevents the supply of oxygen to it; it doesn't become part of that flame, unless the heat is in the presence of a catalyst & so high that the water is immediately transposed into its constituent elements, in which case it burns explosively to recreate steam & fails to extinguish the fire. So in both cases your argument fails. No anarchist has ever suggested that you abolish the state by avoiding contact with it. What we deny (& incidentally, in his later years, De Leon denied) is that you can abolish it by becoming part of it. If your argument were valid it would equally apply to the economic institutions of capitalism. You would have to say that the only way to abolish capitalism would be to become the dominant capitalist. While no doubt you are right that, faced with a general strike, the ruling class will probably have sufficient ammunition in hand that mere denial of supplies will suffice, (unless a substantial section of the security services have been subverted,) you ignore the peculiar significance of the fact that a social general strike is a stay-in strike, not a come-out one. The capitalists in such circumstances can only win by destroying their own capital; they may restore a class divided society, but not a highly developed capitalist one. M. Lepore wrote: "If we are to have 'a general lockout of the capitalist class', and yet not see million of workers killed in the process, this [violent] response by the state must be prevented.... The working class must win control of the order-giving centers from which the police and soldiers receive their instructions.... By winning control of political office, the delegates of the working class could either send the police and soldiers home, or could reassign them to nonviolent occupations...." Your proposal, which is based on the belief that the armed forces, police & security services obey government, fails to note the evidence that even with the mildest milk & water bourgeois-reformist governments, the security services will act treasonably. In "Spycatcher" Peter Wright from our secret state not just admits, but boasts, that he & his colleagues acted to destabilize the Wilson (centre-Labourist) Government; & by implication also shows that they acted against the Callaghan (right-Labourist) & Heath (Left-Tory) Governments in order to smooth the way for Thatcher. And, even on this side of the Atlantic, the rumour has penetrated that there is more than a little reason to suspect that the FBI had an hand in the assassination of Jack Kennedy, & that earlier sections of the power establishment did everything they could to undermine the Roosevelt New Deal. ______________________________________________________________________

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#9.08 Correspondence from Harry Morrison, rebuttal to M. Lepore (Continuation of the debate from issue #8) ______________________________________________________________________ It came as a bit of a surprise to me to be confronted, in O.T. #8.06, with the excerpt from Marx's _Critique of the Gotha Programme_. That tract has been a veritable Bible to defenders of the cock-and-bull yarn, by champions of the Soviet faith, about the "overthrow of capitalism" and the institution of "socialism" in Russia in November of 1917. It has seemed to me that the statement of Arnold Petersen, appearing in the _Weekly People_ of November 24, 1917 and quoted by me in O.T. #8, would have been sufficient to show De Leonists how wrong they have been since they had learned of the adulation by Lenin of the theories of De Leon. It makes more sense, friend Lepore seems to have reasoned, to challenge me with that argument by Marx, written in 1875 and enclosed in a letter to a friend (Bracke) in Germany, with the request that it be shown by him to some other friends; posthumously published by Engels. Without going into other details, here, about it -- other than to note that it violates, in essence, the scientific reasoning in everything else that Marx and Engels ever wrote regarding the essentials necessary for socialist revolution to be successful, let me get down to brass tacks on the latest equivocations of M. Lepore. The problem, it seems to me, Michael, is that you have one of those "double-compartmented" minds in which the sound, scientific understandings -- in one chamber -- are unable to penetrate and wash away the poppycock ideologies in the other. Such minds, to be sure, are common; they explain, for example, why most private universities can teach Darwinian evolution on the same campuses that their Theology colleges teach Creationism, and why students of Theology see no contradiction in their having various immunization shots with vaccines, etc., that have been first tested on our "lower" animal relatives. (And I should not be too surprised, in your case, as I understand that the De Leonist position on religion is that it is a "private matter" -- not of concern to socialists; that there be no conflict between religious beliefs -- theoretically speaking -- and socialism!) Let me deal, here, with your own contradictions; because of space limitations I will select only one outstanding illustration. In O.T. issue #6.06, you definitely agree with us that nations cannot possibly exist under socialism, contrary to the position of the S.L.P. -- which you take note of and criticize. After citing instances of the SLP's unsound view on the subject, you say, _inter alia_: "... Secondly, 'socialist countries' would have to trade materials with each other, something similar to, 'We'll ship you four tons of bauxite for each ton of chromite that you ship to us.' This would be followed by disagreements based on localized self-interests, e.g., 'Why should we trade with you, when this other country will give us five tons of bauxite for each ton of chromite, rather than four?' The 'socialist' countries would then have a material basis for conflict. The method of historical materialism shows that a material basis for conflict generally leads to actual conflict. That's not my idea of a socialist world." It would seem that you definitely did agree with World Socialists that socialist revolution makes a continuation of nations obsolete. But by O.T. #8 a different element entered into the debate -- the question about "lower" and "upper" stages of socialism. It seems that the working class can only arrive at a desire to get rid of capitalism in stages. First, it is not production for exchange on a market that is the immediate problem, but control by capitalists. "Trading" can continue after the revolution but it must be done under the control of Industrial Unions. Allow me, at this point, to quote Marx in his most important _scientific_ work -- _Capital_. In a number of instances, scattered throughout the volumes, he tells us that capitalists are but "personifications of capital;" that it is _capital_ that must be done away with. For example, in his preface to Volume I, we read: "To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense _couleur de rose_. But here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class relations and class interests. My stand-point, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them." Now, of course, Michael, as you pointed out in O.T. #8.09, "Argument by authority is invalid. The scientific method recognizes no articles of faith." But the above work comes from Marx's _Capital_, a scientific work; and, even if it comes from his preface, the same observation is made by his on a number of occasions in the body of the text; and it is self-evident, anyway, to any student of capitalism -- or should be. So now, since we know that it is _capital_ and not the particular political views -- or even the economic status -- of those who control and direct it, why should we believe that the mere act of getting rid of capitalists and placing Industrial Union director -- bosses in control of industrial operations -- can make a difference of worthwhile benefit to the working class in that so-called "lower stage of socialism"? After all, Michael, according to Marx, writing in 1875, and you in this final decade of the 20th century, workers during that early phase after the revolution will still be "paid" according to the value of their input to society's needs. In other words, THE CONCEPT OF VALUE -- "socially-necessary labor time" -- will still remain, and, anyway, as you also point out, workers would not know how to behave in any other way than what they had been used to before the Revolution! And where is the evidence that you appear to believe exists that the tendency of people to goof off from the labor mills in inherent in human constitutions? In the centuries that the bulk of populations was made up of serfs and/or free peasants, when a guaranteed standard of living was afforded them in return for taking care of the lord's planted areas for part of the week, was 'free riding" during the days that they worked for themselves an inherent part of their constitutions? The reason behind the prevalence of "free riding" under capitalism is the wages system, and particularly the capitalist style Division of Labor -- also a vital part of the industry in Soviet Russia -- Stakhanovism! True enough, they had no legally-designated capitalists in that "socialist" nation. but they certainly did have a bureaucracy of surplus-value eaters who were able to live in the manner of the capitalist class because of their "perks" -- and if you check you will discover that they could also bequeath accumulated assets to their heirs -- not to mention their ability to place their own -- or friends -- in cushy positions. Given a situation where an Industrial Union society would be established following a "socialist" revolution", in an era where the bulk of the population would not know how to "behave" in a society based on free right of access to needs and wants, would exploitation of Labor still not be the name of the game -- along with capitalist-style Division of Labor? You should check out Adam Smith on that subject, in his _Wealth of Nations_ (Volume Two, Book V, Chapter I): "In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a very few simple operations; frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employment. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part of any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life.... it corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance, in any other employment than that to which he has been bred...." That should go along way in explaining the causes of "free riding"! In fact, nothing that Marx and Engels had to say about it, a century later, was any more derogatory! It would not be too difficult to imagine Industrial Union management, in a so-called lower stage of socialism, pushing workers in an all-out effort to raise production levels -- in a society still retaining such parasitical industries as Armed Forces, Banking, etc., to an even greater extent than today, in order to attain what they feel to be needed for a society based on right of access. What you fail to comprehend is the fact that, once the fetters of market production are removed, the world can literally be inundated with all of the reasonable needs and wants of all mankind. Capitalism, in the course of human society-evolution has made that possible -- providing that we get rid of the fetters to production inherent in capitalism. Basing one's technique on the idea that workers are incapable of understanding that potential has gotten humanity no closer to socialism than has the argument of our World Socialist Movement. To those of us who have the struggle for a sane system of society in our bones, so to speak, we must continue to press for the end of production for a market -- for the "higher forms of socialism", and the free right of access. The experience since November of 1917 has proved that there is no such thing as a "lower" form of socialism. It is all or nothing!

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