Monday 14-Oct-2002 6:29 am by ben
(part 1 of my reply to Irving)
The future proletarian state and the media
Wednesday 16-Oct-2002 8:25 am by ben
(part 2 of my reply to Irving)
Why did Lenin suppress all competing trends
after the civil war ended in 1920?
--- 16 votes ---
People will work for:
(1) the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from creating something of value to others,
(2) social recognition and status and, finally,
(3) because the work itself is fun and interesting.
One example of this today is the computer operating system named after the person who shares your first name: Linux. Programmers work on Linux for free because they want to create something worthwhile for humanity--and to earn recognition from their peers. I think that people will want to work for some of the same reasons that some people today might want to be in a rock and roll band, or even to have sex: because it can be intensely pleasurable. At this point in human development the boundary between work and play will begin to dissolve and work will become, in the words of Marx and Engels, life's greatest desire.
I should add a comment about the 4th reason above. Under capitalism the "relations of production" (ie: the relationships between people who work together to create goods and services) are famous for being unpleasant and insincere and not drawing the best out of most people. These kinds of relationships are not voluntary relationships (because people need to work in order to survive). When the entire economy consists of a self-organizing moneyless economy, however, no one will have to work in order to survive because everyone will receive all the necessities of life simply as their birthright. And, in these circumstances, both work and work relationships will be voluntary in a way that can only be an extreme rarity in a capitalist economy.
Thanks for your question, which is a good one.
Before attempting to answer, however, I should clarify a principle which I believe will help to create a debate which is based on facts drawn from the material world--rather than theology. I recommend that we communicate using words that have more-or-less agreed-upon meanings. Words like "Marxism", "Leninism" and "communism" mean hundreds of different things to different people. In fact many activists attach what are essentially religious (either satanic or angelic) meanings to these words. So it would be useless for you and I to use words like this in a short interchange--because we wouldn't be able to understand one another. Instead, let's be concrete and specific in our language.
In a similar way I oppose relying heavily on quotes (usually torn out of context) from this or that person. I have read a lot by Marx, Engels and Lenin. They are my inspiration and I consider them thinkers of incredible depth. But I believe it would be more useful for us here and now to use our own minds to consider facts and arguments drawn from existing material reality.
How, in a practical way, will the state dismantle itself?
I believe the impetus for this dismantling will come from outside the state. Over time many of the functions of the state will be taken over by informal voluntary associations with no power of coercion. The material basis for this will be the development of the self-organizing moneyless gift economy. "Self-organizing" means that such an economy will have no need for a single all-powerful directing center. In such an economy the decision-making power and authority has been distributed thruout all of society. Such an economy will consist of myriad self-organizing assemblies of economic units in competition with one another to most efficiently transform skilled labor and other resources into goods, services and culture serving the needs of the masses.
I believe that it will likely take at least half a century or more (starting from the time that bourgeois rule is broken) before humanity learns how to create goods and services on this basis--where everything is free--and the role of money, prices, wages, markets, capital or all-powerful central planners is obsolete. Only when this happens can the danger be eliminated of a new ruling class coming into existence. This is because the other methods of running a modern economy (ie: private capitalism and state capitalism, as exists in the U.S. and existed in the former Soviet Union) provide the soil for (ie: a material basis for the formation of) a new ruling class. And as long as such soil exists, then it will be necessary for the workers to organize themselves to prevent such a new ruling class from forming and taking everything over. This organization by the working class--has a scientific name. The scientific name for this organization is "the state".
I have written elsewhere about the self-organizing moneyless economy. And in an essay titled politics, economics and the mass media when the working class runs the show, I discuss the different economic sectors and the transition to a moneyless gift economy. During the transition period there will probably be both (a) greater centralization and (b) greater decentralization than exists at present in a country such as the U.S.
Some industries will lend themselves to greater centralization than others. The most obvious such industries would be large-scale manufacturing (ie: making millions of cars or hundreds of airplanes). But even in these industries there will be a need to organize various kinds of competition in order to stimulate innovation and expose outmoded or bureaucratic practices--so I doubt that this would be anything like the feudal-style centralization of the former Soviet revisionist regime.
Other industries will lend themselves to greater decentralization. The most obvious such industries will be the media and software industries. These industries will also likely be the first industries to make the transition to the self-organizing moneyless gift economy as is suggested by the immense popularity of the web, the various alternative news sites like Indymedia.org and the spectacular and growing success of the Linux computer operating system.
I had intended, Nestor, to answer you in one or two hundred words. But my reply has greatly exceeded that. Therefore I will stop at this point. Please take a look at politics, economics and the mass media when the working class runs the show and see if that, together with my words here, helps to answer your question. If not, please let me know.
Sincerely and with revolutionary regards,
A state will be needed until the self-organizing moneyless gift economy is created. But the self-organizing moneyless economy will likely take several decades, at minimum, to create and can only be created with the assistance and protection of a state machine. And the bourgeois state machine will not be usable for this purpose (because the bourgeoisie, who control it, are quite hostile to the development of a self-organizing moneyless gift economy). Hence the need for a state machine that is controlled by the working class and the majority of society (unlike the state machine today--which is controlled by a minority--the bourgeoisie).
Your 2nd question concerns the relationship between the workers' authentic communist party (or parties) and the state: you assert that the workers' party will automatically become the state.
Answer: From the point of view of theory this is bullshit. It _is_ true that the Bolshevik party in Russia became the state. But this only happened as a result of extreme emergency--and did not turn out well--because a parasitic class eventually seized control of the state. The role of party and state are very much different: obedience to the party is voluntary while the state, on the other hand, has the ability to make use of force (ie: coercion).