The Anti-Capitalist Left on the Eve of the 21st Century
Social and Political Restructuring and Perspectives
16-18 September 1994
Editors: Tamás Krausz,
Technical advisors: Mark David Pittaway, Philip Rawlinson
ISBN 963 85350 2 4
Kiadja a Liberter Kiadó
Készült az Eszmélet Alapítvány gondozásában
Nyomdai kivitelezés: Bróder Ferenc
I. Central and Eastern Europe in the World
György Wiener: The Change of Epochs in World History and the Changes of Eastern Europe
Hugo Radice: The Role of Foreign Capital in Eastern Europe: Implications for a Socialist Strategy
Boris Kagarlitsky: The Agony of Neo-Liberalism or the End of Civilization?
Andrei Kolganov: Mass Privatization in Russia and Shifts in Social and Economic Structure of Society
Viorel Roman: Romania: A Social-Democratic Periphery?
Péter Szigeti: Structures of Dominance in the Present Conservative World
Tamás Krausz: From History to Theory
II. Anti-Capitalist Theory and Praxis Today
Kate Hudson: Britain in the 1990s: the Crisis of Socialist Theory and Prospect for the Left
Terry Townsend: Lessons for the Left from South Africa
Susan Zimmermann: Changes in the World Economy and the Transformation in Eastern European Politics
Andrea Komlosy - Hannes Hofbauer: In Front or Behind? Emerging from the Dead End of Catching-Up-Industrialization
Alexander Buzgalin: Socialism: The Lesson of Crisis
Judith Dellheim: Theoretical Starting Points of a New Definition of Socialist Politics
Michael Heinrich: Theoretical Deficits of the Left and the Struggle for Hegemony
Stephan Day: The Future of Socialism: A Modern Utopia or a Aganda for Change?
Budapest Conference Statement
Tamás Krausz - László Tütõ: Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Political Transition Period into Socialism
When, in September 1994, the journal Eszmélet and the Left Alternative Association (BAL) of Hungary held a conference in Budapest (the first conference of its kind took place in 1991), we already knew that not only traditional "state socialism" had failed but also traditional social-democracy. They had either been pushed to the periphery of political discourse, or they had been "liberalized". This is why we have to look for a third way. This initiative of the New Left came to life on the basis of a radical critique of capitalism. At the 1991 conference there was a gathering of representatives of journals whose focus is social criticism of an anti-capitalist type. In 1994 the conference concentrated on the neo-conser- vative turn of 1989-91, and most of the participants were representatives of left "movement"-type organizations. It was hoped that, out of the many-sided standpoints present at this assembly, a theoretical and practical outline might emerge providing a new way forward. The revolutionary traditions of 1917, 1945 and 1968 have been obscured by the neo-conservative turn of 1989-91. The participants at the conference did not set out to redress the situation but to understand the new reality and draw conclusions.
Here, in this volume, we publish the presentations delivered at the conference in their original form. Those presentations and studies with, respectively, an economic, historical or theoretical approach primarily concentrated their analyses on Eastern Europe. However, the aim was also to discuss a socialist theory directed towards the future, as well as the basic problems and opportunities in connection with a communal society.
The one chapter in this book which was not presented at the conference is published here as a supplementary study at the end of the volume. This study is of particular historical interest and was written in 1984. It has been included so that non-Hungarian readers can gain some idea about the theoretical base from which the concept of a left alternative in Hungary developed. (It should be mentioned that in the 1980s this article was not acceptable for publication in Hungary.)
Although this volume is published only now, after a lengthy delay, unfortunately the international left is not in such a situation that, during the course of its examination of theoretical questions, it finds it has to rush ahead quickly to keep up with the emergence of new mass movements. The latter have simply not appeared and that is why the issues dealt with in 1994 are still relevant and necessary for study.
Budapest, 16 July 1996
I. Central and Eastern Europe in the World
The Change of Epochs in World History and the Changes of Eastern Europe (theses)
1. Until now the changes of 1989-1990 which took place in Central-Eastern Europe were mostly understood by the political and academic world in a one-sided manner, in other words evaluated from the point of view of formal political structure and looked upon as the abstracted version of the market economy. The rapid transformation of the region is basically considered by liberals and conservatives as the victory of democracy and the market economy, thus emphasizing that a pluralistic society and economy based on market theories are inseparable.
There are only slight differences to be found between the various analyses, and during the course of analysis, political scientists and politicians may attach greater importance to the people's longing for liberty and their right to autonomy than the economists do, who first and foremost point out that in the long run the rules of the market will necessarily overrule the centrally planned bureaucracies.
The notion of the social-democrats is not very different from the conception of the conservatives and liberals: the social-democrats also consider that the changes are due to the global-historic success of democracy and of the market economy. But differing from the bourgeois hypothesis, they also stress that the fall of "communism" does not bring about the victory of "capitalism".
What is more estimates are emerging according to which the new global-historic situation in the 21st century may become the era of social-democracy. Western European theoreticians, left of the social-democrats, are also celebrating the events leading to the fall of state socialism and to the restoration of bourgeois-democracy as the triumph of democratic revolution. On the other hand these analyses furthermore attempt to reveal the dualistic nature of the transformation process. According to the conjecture of leftist thinkers the party dictatorships were overthrown by public mass-movements, while on the other hand the political and economic powering the case of all the previous revolutions was conquered by the new ruling elites. Thus this concept assumes political confrontation between the administrators of revolutionary combat and between those enjoying its benefits hence stating that in the new democracies the supporters of social power are against the defenders of bourgeois restoration.
What all these conceptions have in common is that they recognize the changes of Central-Eastern Europe as transformations from dictatorship into democracy. Their mutual characteristic is that they describe the rapid pace of change as unexpected. Something which also surprised both the scientists, the politicians and the journalists. In connection with the above they regularly articulate that Western Europe and the United States were unprepared for the changes, thus pointing out that with respect to the new situation the elaboration of political preferences in the developed democracies is a time consuming task.
At the same time reference to the unexpectedness also signifies that analysts regard the flattering fall of the "existing" socialism as an uncontrollable internal alteration, which as a result of the abolition of democracy and of the market went on without any significant external support. Thus this substantial twist is separated from the permanent processes happening in the world economy and is also separated from the events taking place in world politics. The system of international regulatedness is only identified to the extent according to which the change of epochs in world economy further diminished the capability of adjustment of the planned bureaucratic economies, whilst the high consumption level of the advanced welfare states, their tranquil political atmosphere and the impressive general culture "through the modern means of telecommunication" made an effective demonstrative impression on the citizens of the "communist" countries. So the analyses are lacking exactly the revelation why the state socialist regimes collapsed in the last years of the 1980s, and eventually the evaluation of the system of changes and of the related social background are equally missing.
2. The discussion of these questions basically requires the examination of the relation between medium range succession in the world economy and international debt-crisis, for the worldwide tendency of running into indebtedness played a spectacular role in the collapse of state socialism. It is well known that the half century long waves of the capitalist world's economy, the Kondratiev-cycles, comprise of an ascending "A" part and a descending "B" part, where the relatively fast economic development and significant growth of world trading is characteristic of the former, and the slow down of development, the fall back of accumulation and the moderation in the progress of world trading is characteristic of the latter. The researchers are also aware that the fourth cycle began around 1947- 48 and that it reached the decreasing phase in 1973-74, at the time of the first oil-price boom.
The reasons causing the appearance of the cycle are still obscure and relatively few have suggested that the downward component of these cycles are combined with international indebtedness. The first international crisis of indebtedness appeared in 1823-25 at the beginning of the first cycle's downward turn between 1789-1849 which mostly affected the Latin American countries just gaining their liberation. In the second or third year of the second cycle's "B" segment, during the so-called Great Depression, indebtedness also became an international symptom which as well as Latin America made North Africa stumble too. The third crisis of indebtedness that was strongly connected to the great collapse of world economy emerged in the 11-12th year of the third Kondratiev-cycle's downward phase.
The current worldwide crisis of indebtedness emerged in 1982, that is in the ninth year of the depression and its effects were perceivable in 60 to 80 countries. The magnitude of debts continuously increased through out the 1980s - from 580 billion dollars in 1980 it went up to 1170 billion dollars by 1987 - although since 1983 the indebted countries did not import additional resources in to their economies, what is more collectively they became net capital exporters.
In contradiction with the background of the Kondratiev-cycle the causes of linkage between the downward phase and the crisis of indebtedness are fairly easy to demonstrate. This connection is accomplished by the unique market structure of capitalism, namely that the capitalist market is inevitably over-supplied and this feature was not abolished, but only the consequences were modified by state measures based on the Keynesian model.
The expansion of the market, which in the ascending phase arrives rapidly, slows down around the end of this phase by which time sales will not only be difficult for the individual entrepreneur but for the whole of the capitalist class. These difficulties are being untangled by the credits given to semi-developed and underdeveloped countries which ensure a market for the sale of continuously increasing production over a relatively long period. To speed up their development process the states of the semi-periphery and of the periphery are nearly always in favour of these credits but they have no possibility to pay them back, for their export activity - due to the general over-supply of goods - is being restricted by the Centre. Under such circumstances compensation of credit-obligations are dependent on the acquisition of new credits. At this phase the only reason to acquire new
credits is to reimburse capital and to pay interest. Obviously the culpable economic policy of certain governments and the careless crediting practice of banks are playing a role in the emergent indebtedness crisis but their periodical reappearance proves that these faulty decisions are ineluctable. This is what is being demonstrated by more and more states becoming indebted while the circle of those granting credits is constantly expanding.
It is well-known that the majority of the state socialist economies fell into deep debtedness, and the ratio of indebtedness per person, in Hungary, Poland and Rumania reached the highest in the world. At first, this fact can also be explained by the extremely low level adjust ability of the planned economies. In which event we forget that 85-90 % of the debts in the world were accumulated by semi-developed, and developing capitalist
economies. A more thorough analysis shows that a certain group of states - without regard to the social system - became indebted, and the opportunity doesn't even exist for them to get out of their "dungeon of debts". The reasoning, according to which the capitalist countries affected by the "dungeon of debts" are also operating a centrally controlled system of economy and an isolated economic policy where imports are substituted (with domestic products) is not correct. For among the gravely indebted countries we may also find those, which are in favour of the free-market and absolute rivalry; thus their economic policy is uniquely characterized by being export oriented. (Chile and South-Korea for example belong to these countries.) Thus the concrete mechanism of indebtedness must be even more carefully scrutinized.
The peripheral and semi-peripheral states have their reasons for acquiring credits which have already been referred to - the governments and entrepreneurs of these countries are driven to use credits by the desire to overcome backwardness. On the other hand this is also necessary because of the periodical cycles present in their economy. It is mostly typical of the semi-developed countries that their production requires vast imports, but their sales abroad are incapable of matching their imports. Thus the balance of payments in itself, makes it necessary to bring external resources into their economy. In the countries operating on the basis of capitalism, besides acquiring credits, the trade gap could have been paid for with the importation of functioning capital, with the transfer of wages and profits and with allowances, whereas in the case of the state socialist countries - mostly because of political reasons - only the first option was possible.
Thus Greece for example, where for nearly a decade and a half imports were double those of exports became far less indebted than Hungary, regardless of the fact that in some years our country was capable of acquiring assets originating from exports to convertible currency regions.
The introduction of additional resources significantly speeded up the evolution process of certain semi-developed capitalist states. The structure of consumption was adjusted to that of Western models where as the growth of he economy in the indebted state socialist countries first lost speed, then fell back and the massive extraction of incomes was followed by the rapid emergence of poverty.
So the Central-Eastern European countries - in respect of the direction of their development - were getting closer to that of the South-American region where indebtedness was imminently related to the dramatic decrease of production of investments and of the real wages. At the same time this also meant that the possibility for the state socialist economies to catch up did not exist any more, in fact the former process became embroiled in controversy.
The above can be explicitly demonstrated by the experience of our country. According to the calculations of Paul Bairoch, Hungary in 1937, in terms of GDP per person, reached 70% of the European average. But by 1973 this had substantially decreased its arrears then being only 14% behind this average. However, after this its efficacy began to decline rapidly, and in the 1980s, Hungary was overtaken by states, which in respect of their development, were far behind in 1937 and 1973.
Obviously this does not mean that the mechanism of the state socialist economies did not contribute to the indebtedness of these countries. For the constant over-demand for goods was typical of the economies based on the predominance of state property (which ultimately is the reflecting image of the over-supply present in capitalist societies) and the hunger for investment-goods and for input-stocks by themselveswere causing regular over-exporting ultimately resulting in indebtedness. Under such circumstances the assets originating from exports were only realized by special state intervention, measures for slow-down, and the condolence of restriction caused the immediate destruction of foreign trade balance.
In the centrally planned countries, such as Poland and Rumania, the excessive demand of the companies for investments were also exacerbated by planned state objectives lacking reality by which deliberate and spontaneous activities strengthened each other. Apart from the medium level of development and over-demand that became constant, credits were acquired because by the end of the 1960s the state socialist economies had used up a significant part of their reserves since in the first two decades of their history they had achieved fast economic development basically without any external help.
The slow pace of technological development also contributed to the consumption of resources, thus the third aspect, namely the intellectual/mental capital was able to subsidize the shortage of human power and of physical capital, but in a less than effective way. The relative backwardness of technology was closely connected with the fact that by the abolition of private abstraction the devaluation of capital came to an end, which under capitalism puts a continuous burden upon entrepreneurs to develop and renew technology. Due to the phenomenon that in the defective shortage-economies consumers were mostly interested in the purchasing but not necessarily in up-todate products, technical development was slowed down by the over demand itself.
3. The crisis of the economy in respect of state socialism can mostly be explained by events taking place in the world economy, in comparison with which the internal features - although they are extremely important - play only a secondary role. However, in the process of economic crisis accelerating into general crisis, the power of the regime-specific discrepancies are dominant and the global political efforts of the Centre countries could exercise their effect only by relying upon these.
Since "existing" socialism - in contradiction with the declared theories - was functioning as a bureaucratic dictatorial regime it was incapable of meeting the demands of formal democracy. At the same time these typical elements - inconsistent with the generally known conception - did not originate from the political system or from one-party tyranny. In fact the party-ruled state was established and maintained; in reality, by the fact that these societies throughout their existence, remained on a harsh-communistic level (in the Marxist sense of the word ) and were also having to cope with grave legitimacy problems.
The bureaucratic character of state socialism was primarily due to the relations of production, or in other words to the aftermath of a socialization that was accomplished on the basis of mechanized large-scale industry. The result of this was that the division of labour which relied on the disparity between workers and workers in general remained intact. The "only" thing did happen was that the place of the latter - representing the private proprietor - was taken by the state, and afterwards - at least in the so-called reform countries - by the company management.
With the liquidation of private ownership the internal hierarchy conditions of the factory became characteristic of the whole society which in reality was transformed into one single factory or office. Thus the socialist experiment did not bring about the elimination of bureaucratic conditions, but instead fortified them, thus forming an opposition out of the wage worker against the society-capitalist, that is against the state. The different experiments of decentralization and of self-administration did not change these fundamental conditions since the means of legal administration could not abolish the hierarchy of labour but were only capable of softening its consequences. What is more the factory type of formation basically includes the possibility and the necessity of abstracting the profit, thus profit was for the benefit of the state and of the management.
The hierarchical division of labour and the inhuman common exploitation maintained alienation or may have even increased it. Because of the controversy between theory and practice the need to move forward was long ago evident; still it was not only prevented by the state socialist elite but by the fact that the real significant changes were subject to leaving the large-scale mechanized industry model behind and to the accomplishment of automatization in the Marxist sense of the word. This level was not only far from the Central-Eastern European societies but - taking the whole of their economy into consideration - also far from the most developed Centre countries: even in these states the "withdrawal" of workers from the process of production commenced in only recently.
The maintenance of the factory type structure and of the profit criteria also turned that social strata, whom the party leadership regularly referred to as its main support, against state socialism. Nevertheless the lack of legitimacy in the socialist experimentation was not caused by the above conflict, it merely invigorated the political altercations. The new mode of production - similarly to its bourgeois predecessor - was at the time of its emergence lacking in majority support from the society. This was evidently proved during the multi-party elections where those organizations promising a socialist type change won only in exceptional cases and were even then incapable of staying in power. The presumed cause of this might be that despite the proletarianization, as far as their number is concerned, the capitalist societies are mostly made up of small-scale proprietors - in our region at the time of the transformation.
This correlation was already identified by Marx when he expected that due to the constant threat of economic pressure a significant part of the small-holders, the proprietary plot holders and the urban lower middle-class will eventually become allies of the working class. Such alterations - apart from a few exceptional cases - did not come into existence, thus not only the class of big land owners and of tycoons but a relatively significant majority of society turned against the socialist experiments.
Bourgeois regimes also lacked sound social support for a longtime. They solved this problem by making the franchise subject to property qualifications by which the overwhelming majority of the population was discharged of formally wielding power.
The socialist experiments tried to solve the same problem by combining the general right of voting with the one party system and the prohibition of establishing political organizations. Obviously as time went by the state socialist regimes rate of acceptance changed and was very different according to the country concerned, nevertheless it is probable that under the multi-party political structure - being constantly attacked by the forces of the opposition - they would have long ago re transformed themselves into bourgeois societies. This must have been evident to the highest political authorities too, because along with constant declaration of possessing general political support they have insisted on emphasizing that the subsistence of socialism is subject to having the communist party in the leading position.
At the same time we should not draw the fashionable conclusion, originating from the permanently existing legitimacy crisis of state socialism, that the political elite and the whole of the society were against each other and that the former was only capable of maintaining its power by means of force. Although this establishment did prove to be inefficient in obtaining legitimacy by multi-party elections, apart from the force exercised its subsistence of several decades is also due to the improvement of living standards increased social mobility. The workers and a part of the first generation intelligentsia plus the former agrarian proletariat was interested in maintaining state socialism and at the beginning large number of cadres also represented the ambitions and efforts of these groups. The overwhelming majority of the traditional intelligentsia, the "new proletariat" and the proprietary plot holders were always against the socialist experiments therefore the conflict between the elite and the society in reality reflected the political struggle existing between the different strata.
The crucial change in the relation between power and society happened when, due to the fall back of consumption and the slow down of mobility, the basis of the existing legitimacy was shattered even among that social strata which in the past formed the basic prop of state socialism. The changes that took place among the cadre-intellectuals in the so-called reform countries exercised nearly the same effect. In these states, due to the increasing level of professionalism the functionaries with industrial or agricultural-worker background were gradually exchanged for intellectual executives, who were attached to the current state apparatus was first accomplished in the leading functional organizations of the economy, followed by similar changes in foreign trade and in spheres of foreign policy. During the 1980s, in the institutions of the party, the influence of those functionaries who became aware of grave discrepancies in state socialism and who identified the Western European models as the possible solution was continuously growing.
On the other hand an element in the of attitude was that more and more leaders of the party ruled state and of the economy were driven by their personal interests towards establishing a capitalist type of market economy. The old functionaries refused to exchange their social-political assignments for positions in private ownership mostly because of their scale of values. However they found the strict dependency on hierarchy and the state of being at the mercy of higher authorities more and more intolerable. The linkage of interest was mostly of secondary importance to the newcomers and the supposition that the change of regimes may bring them prosperity or even the possibility of becoming capitalists influenced their behaviour decisively. This is how the paradoxical situation arose whereby a part of the political elite became interested in the liquidation of state socialism if they had the chance of using the transition period for their participation in the privatization process and for acquisition of private property.
The constant problems of legitimacy provide an explicit answer to the question of why the crisis of indebtedness in Central-Eastern Europe led to the disintegration of the social-economic structure, whereas in the Latin American countries facing even graver economic problems it resulted in the stabilization of the existing establishment. (The mere fact that on this continent the military dictatorships were gradually changed by civil governments did not mean the change of regimes.) In the latter the ruling private-proprietor classes firmly rejected any kind of change of regimes, although such goals - having been able to observe the failure of the "existing" socialism - were not set anymore even by the left-wing political powers.
Accord in to the fall of dominoes in Central-Eastern Europe the clash affected those states in which the indebtedness did not reach the critical point. The withdrawal of the indebted "reform-countries" signalized the fall of the global state socialist regimes and the opposition forces of the other states did not want to miss such a chance. Due to the previously mentioned reasons of society-structure - except in the case of Rumania which was under family dictatorship - the transition took place everywhere without major collisions; during the transformation the various social groups, including the stratum of the state apparatus were already searching for the place which they could occupy under the new set-up. One of the reasons why the changes might have taken place is that the Soviet leadership after 1985 gradually drew back from the region ( this action was presumably co-ordinated with the American administration). Because of this we have good reason to assume that the behaviour of the Soviet Union was also influencing the change of regimes or at least the acceptance of change.
4. The most advanced capitalist countries prepared the changes of Central-Eastern Europe in political terms too. From the middle of the 1970s those lobbies were starting to gain force in the American political elite which recognized that the reserves of the "existing" socialism were running out, thus the Western world can, once and for all, change from its former defensive policy to an offensive one. This strategy, in comparison with the earlier endeavours used neither military means nor propaganda but it introduced against the global system of state socialism the "economic weapon". The new conception basically made use of the possibilities ensured by the debt-trap. In 1982 at the outbreak of the great insolvency crisis - under the influence of IMF - the creditors formed a verbatim cartel and they were only willing to support countries with further credits that were ready to meet the economic-policy demands of the international financial organizations. Thus both the "developing" and the state socialist countries gradually came under the direct supervision or control of the international financial organizations and the economic policies of these countries were more and more controlled by their recommendations.
At first the IMF (and the World Bank) demanded the elimination of subsidies and the decrease of budgetary deficit to be succeeded by price and tax-reforms, liberalization of imports, and radical changes in the structure of economy. This was followed by demands concerning the transformation of ownership structure, the increase of the influence of the private sectors, which in fact was also in the direct interest of some socialist state strata too. The strict recommendations of the international financial organizations given in connection with economic policy contributed to the gravening of social tensions apparent in the indebted countries.
In contrast to the above the recommended measures did not facilitate the decrease of indebtedness or the economic recovery of hardly any the countries concerned. On the other hand the maintenance of the grave economic situation resulted in the government being obliged to execute further demands of the IMF package. In fact the dependence of certain Central-Eastern European countries reached such a level that the IMF was by then not only formulating economic but political demands too. In February 1989 the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party legalized the multi-party system by the direct persuasion of this organization and American politicians declared in September of the same year that further support for the Hungarian economy is dependent of the formation of a coalition government. By this time the political parties were already getting political and financial support from Western government bodies which also interfered with the internal power struggles of the expiring state-party. It is probable that Western pressure played a role in the initiation/formation of the Polish round-table discussions and later on in the formation of the Mazowiecki government.
So, the events taking place in the world economy and in world politics clearly indicate that the content of the change of regimes is the restoration of capitalism and the prospects originating from the structures of society in the Central-Eastern European countries verify this direction of development. In spite of the above, at the beginning of the transformation, it seemed that the regeneration of communism would come next, in other words the exchange of bureaucratic state socialism for a democratic multi-party system socialism.
This vision was fortified by the fact that in the years prior to the collapse in certain countries of the region the policy of socialist reforms was announced which resulted in overdue experiments concerning local administration, or in connection with the accomplishment of socialist market economy or in the elaboration of conceptions for the democratization of the political system.
These manoeuvres appeared to be the continuation of the reforms initiated for the improvement of economic policy in 1968 and seemingly have led to considerable results.
From the middle of 1980 the administrational supervision of companies was taken over by the company councils and by the general meeting, whereas the party conference held in 1988 promised the accomplishment of socialist pluralism, the freedom of platforms inside the party, which at the same time meant the separation of the state and the party, and recognition of direct democracy (referendums and public initiations). The slogan of democratic socialism did not disappear even after the authorization of the multi-party system. This is when the concept of changing the model was formulated which - in contradiction with the change of regimes - targeted the establishment of a constitutional state that would include both a mixed economy relying on the equality of the different types of ownership's and the institutions of direct democracy too. This notion basically would have meant the socialization of state property thus granting privatization only a secondary role while in the state sphere it intended to create a balance between parliamentary and self-governing/self-administering democracies.
The majority of the domestic defenders of democratic socialism incorrectly evaluated both the external both internal political conditions. When analyzing the behaviour of the most advanced capitalist countries they assumed that these would be not be willing to give up their status quo, thus they will not really support the recapitalization of the region. Illusions were created especially about the policy of the Western European social-democratic parties which were based upon the assumption that the European left-wing is uniformly interested in avoiding Central-Eastern Europe being hastily pushed towards the right. But the influential forces of the Centre countries - including the social-democrats - gave their votes for the total change of regimes. While stressing that they are not willing to finance such steps the efforts to accomplish the democratic socialism was, in the best case, evaluated as a naive attempt. They considered the disappearance of "communism's phantom" more important than the maintenance of relative stability in Central-Eastern Europe, because the competing nationalists of the region can only blast out local conflicts while a probable preservation of socialism may once again bring into existence the worldwide rivalry of regimes.
European unity also made it necessary that on both sides of the continent countries of similar social structure are to be created in as much not only bureaucratic communism but also democratic socialism have been against the requirements set by "standardization". The Western countries' belief was not altered even after the change of regimes was accomplished. Those countries in which the former opposition won the elections are favoured much more than those where the successor parties managed to keep hold of the power.
All this clearly indicates that according to their opinion the basic principle of the change in systems is not the establishment of the multi-party system but much rather the transformation of social structure.
This was also recognized by the elected successor parties and in hope of a possible Western support they promised to privatize the economy within a foreseeable period of time.
The incorrect analyses of the internal political power relations was based upon the assumption according to which the majority of the population - although not being satisfied with the existing regime - does not want significant changes because the accomplished living standard and tranquillity might get harmed during the process. Moreover it apparent that the majority of the society is even against partial privatization since in the last four decades they became too accustomed to the socialist type of arrangements. Therefore the supporters of democratic socialism were only counting on partial and controllable capitalization that would scarcely affect the social and the political structure.
Their point of view was based upon the fact that in the transition the proprietor/private capitalists class was not yet assembled, therefore lacking the appropriate support, the bourgeois effort would inevitably fall short.
This analysis proved to be completely incorrect because numerous groups of society were closely connected to their once possessed private property while a considerable fraction of employees thought that by restoring the bourgeois system the region could rapidly catch up with Western Europe.
The transfer of power, the victory of civil political forces does not necessarily mean the restoration of the capitalist system, hence privatization and the formation of a new capitalist class are time-consuming tasks. The controversies of regime-change are already becoming apparent; most employees are beginning to become aware that privatization will necessarily lead to the formation of a numerically restricted economic elite, which takes pleasure from greater economic benefits than the bureaucracy did. So the maintenance of a broad social support depends on a certain kind of complimentary distribution of assets; one type of this is compensation or in other words reprivatization which is nothing else but the restoration of the former ownership structure, while the other type is the distribution of assets by right of citizenship which formally provides the possibility for everyone to become a capitalist.
In the former German Democratic Republic and in Hungary reprivatization and compensation is being accomplished while recently in Rumania they decided to distribute free of charge, in Czechoslovakia the concept of citizen shares were preferred and a law was passed to give back a part of the land. During the fierce battle to obtain state property the supporters of gratis distribution are more and more losing ground; the restoration of capitalist structure demands privatization or reprivatization which necessitates the withdrawal of titular proprietors and the deprivation of their property. At the same time the decrease of living standards continues because in the stagnant, indebted economies the profit of the new capitalist class can only be ensured by the rapid increase of those existing under the minimal living standards. The impoverishment under the new conditions will probably not lead to social collisions, since as a result of privatization and compensation such a proprietor class is created that is definitely interested in the protection of the restored capitalist regime.
5. The collapse of state socialism is a milestone in world history the significance of which is clearly seen by the present generation. At the end of the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s the "short 20th century", the one that started at the outset of World War I, basically came to an end, its major feature being the rivalry between the capitalist system and early socialism.
The start of this epoch was characterized by the general crisis of monopoly-capitalism, that was synchronous with the "B" part of the third Kondratiev-cycle. Between 1913 and 1950 the general pace of development in the most advanced capitalist countries added up to only 1-1.5%, which was a little bit less in comparison with the 1.5-2% growth of the previous period that began in 1870. The fall back was due to the growing speed of development and to the significant improvement of productivity.
Since on a macro-economic level, taking the whole of the capitalist class into consideration, the magnitude of the produced profit is dependant on the accumulation and consumption expenditures of this class, the increase of investment productivity - by decrease of profit necessity - has in connection with the development and thus in connection with the profit inevitably caused, regression.
The most advanced capitalist economies nearly reached the point where the reproduction on an increasing scale is already ensured by the investment of redemption, by the replacement and so the subsistence of capitalism needed artificial state measures to increase the demand and especially the profit.
State intervention based on Keynesian economic theory was published in the middle of the 1930s and was in general use after the World War II. The crisis prevention and growth speeding economic policy are primarily based on the control of the budget balance and of consumers' credits; during periods of weaker prosperity they increase the budget deficit and make credit conditions easier, while the "over-heatedness" - in order to protect the trade balance and the price-level - is cooled down by more severe credit- and budget-policies. The grounds for intervention are provided by that macro-economy correlation according to which budget deficit and the overspending of those living out of wages both increase the profit of the capitalist class by its own value. The prosperity controlling economic policy - joining the "A" part of the fourth Kondratiev-cycle has brought into existence the fastest pace of development for the global capitalist system. Between 1948-1973 the general pace of development for the Centre countries became constant at 5.5-6%, which was a good base for the continuous increase of real wages and for the establishment of the up-to-date network of social institutions. Since the oil-price rise of 1973 the pace of development has considerably slowed down. In the past fifteen years the general rate of growth was still 2.5-3%, which means that it was much higher than at any time before 1945.
Considering the experiments of the state socialist elites to catch up they had studied conditions between the World Wars and according to the vulgar version of Marx's theory they assumed an even graver further crisis of the capitalist economy. The fundamental change was only recognized at the end of the 1960s and at the beginning of the 1970s, nevertheless the new epoch starting from 1973 was for nearly a decade theoretically still combined with the vision of stagnating, descending capitalism. Thus the leaders of the "existing" socialism did not even perceive that the Centre countries were laying a considerable part of their burdens upon the states of the semi-periphery and periphery.
Nor did they see at all that due to worldwide indebtedness, eventually it would not be the capitalist but the global system of state socialism which fell into crisis. Late recognition has notably contributed to the emergence of the concept by which the priority of planned-economies was exchanged for theories explaining the non viability of socialism, while the single-sided fetishized market and private property took the place of the earlier unjustly fetishized plans. This understanding ab ovo declares socialism and the power relying on common property as non-viable and totally ignores examination of those conditions under which the economic rivalry of the two global systems went on for decades.
When looking back at this period it can clearly be seen that only the Centre countries could have won. The failure of the state communist regimes, existing on the level of harsh-communism was really inevitable. Apart from the pre-existent huge difference between the state of development of the West and the East, when examining the occurrence of the result it must be indicated that it was the most advanced form of capitalism and the least developed form of socialism struggling with each other. Although the socialist state administrations have always been declaring that their economic policy is scientific and it represents an ex ante, preliminary control, in reality they had no idea about the operational principles of economy, so they tried to influence the procedures taking place with "ex post", posterior corrections.
The over-demand originating from state ownership, the propensity for becoming indebted and numerous other correlation's only became visible when the crisis was already uncontrollable and not even the interest of the apparatus could push on towards the recovery of socialism.
Whereas in the most advanced capitalist countries it was just the opposite way around. The operation of the market was controlled according to scientific conclusions, moreover in the recent years the influencing of international economic procedures commenced (a phenomena which is not separate from the "communist threat"). Under such conditions the question really is not why the socialist experiments failed but rather how were they able to achieve relative victories during the 1960s and 1970s.
The budget deficit and the other means of increasing profit which were growing in the secular trend (such as incomes on interest originating from indebted countries) did not alter the profit's regular mitigation in state-monopoly capitalism. While in the United States, in 1929 the net profit of the capitalist class after taxation gave 40% of the GDP, in the middle of the 1970s this ratio went just above 10%. Similar tendencies are typical of Great Britain too, since in the first part of the 1980s - despite of the recapitalizing policy of the Thatcher government - the total of macro-profit did not reach 7% of the GDP.
In the long run the financial profit - originating from the deficit of the budget, from the overspending of those living out of wages and from the positive financial balance cannot compensate for capitalist class's relative decrease of expenditure in connection with accumulation and consumption nor for the closely related problems of the market. The collapse of state socialism will no doubt lead to the expansion of capital "investment regions" and the repatriated profits may slow down the fall of the profit-ratio. The import liberalization, of the "new democracies" has the same effect which, through the foreign trade surpluses of the core-countries may further improve prosperity.
Moreover the capital demands of the East may cause a temporary shortage of capital which also contributes to the viability of capitalist economy. Thus the near future ensures further success of the Centre countries not only in the sphere of politics but in the economy too. However all these are only provisional consequences which affect the global development of world capitalism only to a slight extent.
The short and medium range prognosis corroborates two conceptions. According to the first one, the global victory of capitalism is to be understood as the end of history, and anticipates that with world-globalization beginning from the 1970s and with the collapse of state socialism it has overcome its greatest crisis. In concordance with the above the 21st century will appear as the harmonic epoch of bourgeois democracy and of the market economy, where the three leading stars of the capitalist Centre, the United States, United Europe and the Southeast Asia region led by Japan will accomplish a special kind of peaceful unity of rivalry and of co-operation. The regions of crisis, namely the former socialist state countries just as the likewise collided third world will integrate into the global capitalist system ruled by the Centre and will start the slow but certain close up. The prospects of capitalism are even more splendid if take into consideration that the in the second part of the 1990s the "B" leg of the fourth Kondratiev-cycle will presumably be replaced by the "A" part of the fifth medium range period, hence the economic growth will once again speed up, capital accumulation will broaden and in comparison with the current period world trade will increase.
The second conception, which is in contradiction with the first is based upon the already mentioned discrepancies of capitalism and consideration of the following points: it also warns that the "A" periods of the Kondratiev-cycles will not alleviate the profit-ratio ebb within GDP nor the relative shortage of effective demand and the structural inadequacies that are due to the bigger and bigger differences existent between the Centre and the periphery. So it is probable that the end of history will not occur and the epoch following state socialism will be characterized by the more severe contention of the stars within the Centre. (It must also be taken into account that state socialism in China and perhaps in a few other countries may survive, though we have good reason to assume that its role in the world economy and in world politics will diminish. The North - South conflict will not disappear either despite the fact that the USA and other leading Western powers contribute on an economic, political and military basis to the acceleration of capitalist transition in respect of the countries not existing on the bedrock of capitalism. Due to the supplanting of state socialism the political opposition of the underdeveloped regions will clearly became religious or national, since they can no longer rely on the support of the already disappeared "second world". According to some predictions at the time of accession the movement of these regions will become powerful again, and presumably will try to take advantage of the contradictions between the countries of the Centre.
Immanuel Wallerstein in his paper presented at the World Congress on Political Science held in 1988, which strange as it may be, while showing its aptness for becoming capitalized did not forecast the imminent collapse of state socialism. It did however predict the collapse of the global capitalist economic system by the middle of the next century, that is by the end of the fifth Kondratiev-cycle. This conjecture of his was based on the assumption that after the new acceleration of world economy the self-control capability of the global capitalist system will become discharged forever, since because of its late expansion everything will turn into products and total polarization will take place. According to his opinion the collapse can occur according to three scenarios. The first consist of a new World War among the countries of the Centre, the second assumes the deliberate but dictatorial rearrangement of the global world-system/structure while the third one forecasts such chaos which eventually will lead to the formation of a more or less democratic and egalitarian world order.
The new epoch, the "long 21st century", will most probably not follow the assumptions of scientific scenarios. Nevertheless, these are of great importance because by using them it becomes possible to approach the current history of the world not only from the past but from the direction of the future too, thus enabling us to become prepared, at least theoretically, for the new changes ahead of us.
The Role of Foreign Capital in Eastern Europe: Implications for a Socialist Strategy
1. The economic role of foreign capital
Foreign capital is playing a vital role in the so-called 'transition' in Eastern Europe, which the left neglects at its peril. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels insisted that the bourgeoisie aimed to create the world in its own image: all countries were compelled "on pain of extinction" to become capitalist. The agent of this compulsion is capital itself, in the broadest sense, even though the mechanism varies according to circumstances: while colonialism was the chief method for the century from 1850 to 1950, since that time the subordination of nations has been mainly through the mechanism of the world market - that is, private transnational capital, together with its supporting state and inter-state institutions (the IMF, World Bank, etc.).
Since 1989 in Eastern Europe, the role of foreign capital has been manifold and complex. It includes both the immediate forms of foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio investment and credits; and the more subtle forms of creating institutions and practices the support the 'restructuring' of economies and societies to fit in with global capitalism.
foreign direct investment
Western firms - including medium-size firms from neighbouring countries like Austria and Germany, as well as giant transnational corporations (TNCs) from all over the world have been attracted by newly-accessible markets and/or by low-cost labour or resources. The fact that there has been significant FDI only in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia indicates that such investors are highly risk-averse, especially with regard to perceived political instability. The post-communist governments have welcomed FDI with open arms, hoping for inflows of foreign funds, hard currency exports, modern technology and management techniques; however, none of these are guaranteed, and as we shall see there are potential long-term costs.
loan and portfolio capital
Despite the legacy of indebtedness in Poland and Hungary, so-called sovereign lending to governments has been growing also. The Czech Republic's sovereign bonds were given 'investment grade' ratings by Western rating agencies in 1994, and Slovakia has now followed suit. Multilateral lending from the IMF, the World Bank and the newly-formed EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) provides some additional resources, but more importantly gives a 'seal of approval' to government policies which than triggers more commercial lending on better terms. The regions' securities markets (especially Prague) have attracted some speculative portfolio capital from Western financial institutions and venture capitalists, but they are still too small and illiquid to compete effectively with East Asian and Latin American ‘emerging markets'
business and financial institutions
Western banks, consultants and advisers have played a major part in the design and implementation of privatization policies, especially those aimed at the large state-owned enterprises. The banks have also established branches and joint ventures in banking proper, as well as providing advice and training to newly-formed commercial banks. Western capital has also moved in related sectors such as accounting, advertising, management consultancy, insurance, etc. Indirectly, foreign capital in all its forms demands from host countries a range of institutions and practices which provide it with a familiar framework for its activities. For example, trade unions are expected to withdraw from any active participation in management, and employers from their pre-1989 'social welfare' functions.
2. Foreign capital, social classes and the state
Clearly, then, the role of foreign capital extends well beyond a narrowly economic one, to include the overall scope and direction of social change. If we assume for the moment that capitalism is indeed being imposed on Eastern Europe, then the social classes typical of capitalism have to be recreated. While the class structure of 'actually existing capitalism' nowhere corresponds to the abstract two-class Marxian model, a class division based on ownership of the means of production is central to the establishment of a dynamic economy based on the competitive accumulation of capital and regulated by the market. However, even in the most advanced capitalist societies - hegemonic imperialist powers such as Britain in the last century, or the USA in the mid-20th century - the political economy of capitalism has always included a form of public authority, a state, with (in Poulantzas' term) relative autonomy from the particular interests of individual capitalists. Thus, a capitalist state has to be created, as well as capitalist classes.
The recreation of private ownership of the means of production in Eastern Europe is no easy task. It has taken generations, usually, for the concentration and centralization of capital to reconcile private ownership with the scale of operation engendered by modern industrial technologies in the advanced capitalist countries. Even in the typical 'late industrialization' case (which many would say includes all countries apart from Britain), where the state plays a major role in accelerating this process, there is nonetheless usually a mass of private landed or commercial capital at its heart. In Eastern Europe, however, even more than in most post-colonial states, there are only fragmented small-scale petty capitalists, opportunist apparatchiks and criminals: hence the state, and the inherited managerial apparatus, have to be able and willing to behave as if they constituted a 'real' capitalist class. Foreign capital can act as mentor and partner in this as if phase, while at the same time providing external pressure - the demands of the 'world market' - which can be used as a crucial argument for pro-capitalist policies. However, there is bound to be considerable ambivalence on the part of local would-be capitalists: their economic advance, and perhaps more their political legitimacy, are undermined if they are seen to be junior partners to foreign capital. It is not surprising, then, if the nascent capitalist classes and their political formations oscillate between obedient neo-liberalism and more-or-less belligerent nationalism.
A similar ambivalence is apparent with regard to the working class. Popular though the demise of communism was, within months it became apparent that workers would be expected to bear the costs of change. In continuity with the pre-1989 pattern, resistance has been sporadic, fragmented and inarticulate - but nonetheless, quite effective given the prevailing context of bourgeois ideological hegemony. For example, the very vocal neo-liberalism and anti-trade-unionism of the Klaus government is belied by a whole range of policies of de facto social protection, which have kept unemployment low and incomes still relatively equal. While foreign capital promises to "restructure" production vigorously at the enterprise level, it often has to make compromises in the interests of retaining workforce skills and local networks of suppliers and customers. Nevertheless, a process of differentiation has clearly set in, between those workers who benefit from the higher wages and security of employment provided by foreign-owned firms, and the 'restructured' unemployed, who include disproportionately the unskilled, women, and ethnic minorities.
political representation and the state
If the state has to 'substitute' in many ways for an effective domestic capitalist class, it is at the same time expected to transform itself from the pre-1989 monolithic party-state into a 'modern' democratic capitalist state, complete with an appropriate constitution, separation of powers, multi-party system, etc., on the Western model. This transformation is further expected to include within it (not in opposition to it) the recreation of so-called civil society, the self representation of diverse social interests.
Up to now, the new and avowedly anti-communist political parties in the region have been essentially clubs of would-be professional politicians, lacking the mass base and structured hierarchies of typical Western parties of all political affiliation: only the reformed communist parties, ironically, have adapted to Western norms. Other channels of representation, such as chambers of commerce, effective local government, and responsive and diverse mass media, have also been slow to develop. As a result, the fledgling capitalist classes have not been able to rely on the protective legitimation provided in the West by these structures of representation.
If social interests are not articulated in a coherent way, it is then up to the state itself to map out the direction and pace of change. However, the state in Eastern Europe faces many obstacles. It is enjoined to dismantle the all-encompassing pre-1989 structures and practices, to 'retreat' towards a liberal model; but in order to do so, it has to enact an unprecedented amount of legislation and develop new structures for implementing new laws. At the same time, the supposedly re-enfranchised citizens are torn between a deep distrust of state power, and a tradition of expecting the state to solve all their problems: the state is importuned on all sides, and blamed for all disappointments. The outcome is a tendency towards both instability and paralysis, reinforced by voter passivity: again, this suggests continuity with the 1980s.
Despite these weaknesses, there is no question that Western liberal democracy has provided a model terminus for political change, and that it is one that in principle provides the framework of political representation and legitimation needed for a functioning capitalist economy.
3. Foreign capital and prospects for development
But what sort of 'functioning capitalist economy'? If Eastern Europe is being 'reinserted' in the hierarchy of global capitalism, at what level, and with what consequences for its peoples? If not the level of Sweden, then Italy, or Latin America, or even, as Boris Kagarlitsky has suggested for the easternmost nations, the social disaster of sub-Saharan Africa? In any case, even the most advanced Central European nations will, if we measure advancement by the level of productivity assessed on the world market, at best achieve 'semi-peripheral' status in the near future: attracted towards, but dominated by, the advanced economies of Western Europe, notably Germany.
Whatever the ostensible aims of incumbent governments, I have argued that the region's 'reinsertion' is being moulded by the norms of neo-liberal economics and the practices of foreign capital and its supporting institutions. The resolution of debt problems takes place along lines laid down by Western creditors: not even a whisper of a concerted approach by the debtors is heard, following the abject failure of efforts to form a 'debtors' cartel' in Latin America in the 1980s. Free trade and currency convertibility are accepted as desirable, as well as necessary to ensure full membership of the various global clubs, the IMF, the WTO and above all the European Union. All forms of inward investment are welcomed and promoted, again following neo-liberal precepts.
There is, however, a wealth of evidence from the experience not merely of the Third World, but also weaker regions of Western Europe and North America, that unfettered capitalist development along these lines generates acute social and spatial inequalities. The relentless pressure of global competition allows some countries or regions to advance in absolute, or even sometimes relative, terms; within individual countries, polarization is the norm, between a small propertied elite and an impoverished mass.
But this is precisely why the neo-liberal model has so rarely been willingly adopted in political systems with even a minimal degree of democracy. The coercive power of the state has to be directed to enforce the model - whether directed by colonial powers or by unelected central bankers acting for global capital.
History suggests that two alternative models are available. The first model is that of protectionism, which in its extreme form aims at economic autarchy or separation from the world economy. The extreme version is usually seen as explicitly anti-capitalist, and epitomized by the Stalinist 'two worlds' policy; but protectionism was also the foundation of the responses by the major capitalist powers to the Great Depression of the early 1930s. However, in an increasingly integrated global economy, the technical and political feasibility of an autarchic strategy is very doubtful. Even if constituted on a multi-state regional basis, a protectionist regime in present circumstances would require a high degree of resource self sufficiency, or the effective possession of a major bargaining counter to use for acquiring needed resources from elsewhere. It would also need an already high level of living standards, productivity and education to ensure popular support in the face of the seductive powers of global consumerism. Such a model explicitly excludes foreign capital from participation in development (or at least closely confines it), and is therefore completely rejected by capital's apologists. Still, in the long run, a global socialist system is the only real alternative, and it has to start somewhere through a strategy of withdrawal.
On the other hand, there is the capitalist alternative of 'late industrialization' or the developmental state approach. This is identified at present with the East Asian 'success stories' of post-1945 Japan, Taiwan and South Korea; for some writers it inspires the very rapid growth and transformation of the People's Republic of China under Deng, as well as the more obvious imitators elsewhere in Asia. However, it has echoes in the more 'organic' or corporatist forms of capitalism found in Western Europe (excluding the UK. and Ireland). Thus industrial finance in continental Europe has typically been based on the banks rather than on securities markets; labour has been included by capital (more or less willingly) in structures of participation and negotiation, in contrast to the US/UK preference for exclusion and confinement; and the state has taken an active role in creating an industrial base.
is a 'developmental state' approach feasible?
At first sight, Central Europe in particular seems well placed to follow the East Asian model. Among the agreed preconditions for this model are a relatively high level of education, and the removal of a landlord class capable of blocking industrial development. However, other essential preconditions are missing: notably the lack of a strong and legitimate state apparatus, and a nucleus of powerful domestic capitalists. Both are required if a project of national development is to be launched, since the interests of foreign capital based in more advanced capitalist countries (and supported by powerful home states) are bound to be at best ambivalent towards such a project. All three East Asian states adopted powerful restrictions on imports of both goods and capital; they still limit severely the 'freedom' of foreign investors, especially in critical industrial sectors and in banking. However, in the context of highly selective industrial policies, they have taken advantage of competition in world markets to purchase foreign technologies without ceding control of industry. It is clear that to adopt such a strategy at present in Central and Eastern Europe would require not merely a radical break with the terms of economic engagement Iaid down by the West, but also a competent state apparatus whose detailed interventions would be accepted as legitimate by all economic interests.
In any case, it is clear that the circumstances of capitalism in Europe in the 1990s are very different from those in East Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. The three East Asian 'miracle' states benefited from being in the front line of the Cold (and not so cold) War; Eastern Europe poses the threat of disorder, but scarcely of revolution. In addition, 'organic' forms of capitalism are very much easier to embed in circumstances of rapid growth, when all economic interests can share in prosperity, if to different degrees, and rapid growth is still not likely to be achieved given the persistent internal and external economic problems of the region. Finally, the deepening transnationalization of capitalism through out the world is itself weakening the organic models: even in the most advanced examples, Germany and Japan, 'Anglo-Saxon' business, financial and employment practices are creeping in as capitalists face stiffer competition in world markets.
The main implication of this is that it may prove very difficult for the citizens of Eastern Europe to choose a 'better capitalism'. The return to power of avowedly social-democratic (ex-communist) governments may not be dismissed as making no difference at all, but at best it may lead to some mitigation of the worst effects of the capitalist reconquest of the region. There is therefore all the more reason for democratic socialists to continue working for a real alternative, however utopian it may seem at present.
This paper was completed for publication in June 1995. It draws on three earlier ones which contain full bibliographies and considerably more detail:
1 The role of foreign direct investment in the transformation of Eastern Europe, in H.-J. Chang and P. Nolan (eds.), The Transformation of the Communist Economies: Against the Mainstream, London, Macmillan 1995, pp. 282-310; also published in Hungarian as A külföldi tõke szerepe a kelet-európai átalakulásban, Eszmélet 24, December 1994.
2 Global integration, national disintegration? Foreign capital in the reconstitution of capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe, University of Leeds, School of Business and Economic Studies Discussion Paper E 93/09, December 1993.
3 Organizing markets in Central and Eastern Europe: competition, governance and the role of foreign capital, in E. Dittrich, G. Schmidt and R. Whitley (eds.), Industrial Transformation in Europe: Process and Contexts, London, Sage 1995.
The Agony of Neo-Liberalism or the End of Civilization?
The defeat of neo-liberalism is no longer a question for debate. The triumph of neo-liberalism never occurred, the economic model of the free market is disintegrating before our eyes, and in the countries of Eastern Europe the words and expressions making up the liberal lexicon have taken on the force of obscenities.
It would seem that the time for alternatives has now come. But where are these alternatives?
When the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama declared that with the triumph of neo-liberalism the end of history had arrived, people first argued with him, then began laughing at him, and finally forgot about him. This, however, was a mistake. When Fukuyama declared the end of history, he did not by any means base his thesis on the economic or social successes of capitalism. In practice, he measured the success of the victorious ideology by a single criterion: the ability of the world ruling class to destroy, suffocate, corrupt or discredit any constructive alternative to itself. If there were no alternatives to capitalism, everything would stay the same whether capitalism was good or bad.
In this sense, we are now even closer to the end of history than in 1989.
The economic failure of neo-liberalism has not led and will not lead automatically to the collapse of its ideological hegemony. The elites of contemporary capitalism cannot resolve the system's objective contradictions, and cannot and do not want to solve its growing problems, but they are capable of paralyzing any attempts to solve these problems on the basis of alternative approaches.
Technological development is not paralyzed by social structures that are clearly outdated and increasingly absurd. This development continues; the only difference is that it ceases to improve people's lives. Indeed, technological development becomes a negative factor. With every turn in the spiral of technological revolution, more and more new contradictions and disproportions accumulate. Relationships become confused, the structures and systems of rule grow steadily more complex, and the processes become less and less predictable.
The "repressive tolerance" of the 1960s has been replaced by repressive or coercive hegemony. The official ideologies no longer convince anyone, but this scarcely troubles the authorities, since they do not allow alternative ideologies to be propagated. Or else, such ideologies are disseminated in fragmentary form, and in this way simply demonstrate their inadequacy as genuine alternatives.
The new information technologies, which in theory have the potential to undermine the dominance of the mass media that are monopolized by the elites, themselves retain an elitist character. Even the "massive" spread of computers has not made them available to the slumdwellers of Rio de Janeiro or the miners of Prokopyevsk in Central Siberia. In short, the new technologies serve not only to unite people, but also to divide them.
Paraphrasing Lenin, one could say that despite the obvious crisis, those on top do not want change, and those underneath cannot achieve it. The lack of a revolutionary perspective has led to a profound crisis of reformism. Nowhere have the forces of the left been prepared for the new situation. Moreover, the left is itself undergoing a deep moral crisis. Instead of an indispensable reevaluation of values following the events of 1989, there has been massive ideological desertion. Serious discussion on how to interpret the traditions and values of the workers' movement under present day circumstances has been replaced by agitated chatter about what should replace these values.
The traditional program of the left is not only a real alternative, but quite simply the only alternative. The system now is in such a tangle that the only way to deal with its Gordian knot of contradictions is to slice through it. Partial reforms and gradual improvements are becoming possible only as the consequences of radical shifts in the whole structure of society and the economy. Without a broad nationalization of private capital ("the expropriation of the expropriators"), without overcoming the "free market", it is impossible to carry out even a minimal reform of the health care system or to improve social welfare.
Most left parties, however, are not afraid of anything as much as of their own traditions. Instead of discussing what nationalization means today, they are wasting their time trying to prove to the ruling elites that there will not be any nationalizations. The ruling classes, meanwhile, have less than complete trust in these promises, and prefer not to allow leftists to gain access to the levers of real power unless these leftists have given proof of their complete political impotence.
The lack of alternatives is leading to the erosion of all forms of representative democracy. Despite this in this case the crisis of democracy, unlike the case in Europe in the 1920s or in Latin America during the 1970s, is not leading to the rapid collapse of democratic institutions. Instead, these institutions are slowly degenerating and dying out. They are increasingly being by-passed not only by economic decision-making, but even by the political process itself.
The rebirth of fascism in Europe is an important symptom of the crisis. But what is involved is not just the rise of extreme right-wing organizations. The organizations of the political establishment itself are increasingly becoming infected with authoritarian populism. And this is only natural in circumstances where trust in the institutions of representative democracy has been undermined.
A crisis without an alternative is a sign of imminent shocks. In this sense the catastrophe in Rwanda provides humanity with a warning. The West should not comfort itself with the hope that the hunger, bloodshed and economic collapse on the periphery will not touch the centre.
The fall of the civilizations of antiquity also began with collapse on the periphery. In this respect, the past has a terrible lesson to teach us. The "end of history" is not a foolish joke by a person who has read too much Hegel, but a real possibility. Of course, what is at stake is only our own history and our own present-day society. Humanity as a biological species has survived the fall of a series of civilizations. It will also survive the collapse of the "global" bourgeois civilization of our time.
Nevertheless, there is a basis for optimism in the often-demonstrated ability of various societies to find a solution even where organized political forces, traditional institutions and generally recognized elites have shown their total bankruptcy. In such a situation the spontaneous resolving of contradictions "from below" is accompanied by the collapse of all these institutions and elites. What this signifies is shocks on no less a scale than during the ill-fated epoch from 1914 to 1945.
Twenty years ago not even the most hardened pessimist could have imagined an "optimistic" scenario such as this. But it is precisely this scenario that represents the global-historical result of the "success" of neo-liberal reforms. It seems that for the majority of the earth's population, social cataclysms are the only hope left for the future.
The 1980s were bad years for the Left. European socialist parties were already in crisis, but this crisis had become incomparably more acute by the mid 1990s, following the collapse of the communist movement. The presidency of Mitterrand in France began with fine hopes, but is now ending in universal disappointment. The failure of the most serious reformist project in post-war Western history makes it imperative to rethink the question of the possibilities and prospects of reformism. No less striking was the collapse of Soviet perestroika, which can also be described as a type of reformist project, and which had a very strong though also short-lived influence on the entirety of global left wing culture.
The French socialists not only lost their parliamentary majority to the right-wing parties, but even before the rightists returned to power, they had in practice rejected their own reformist project. They prepared the ground for the triumph of the rightists, who not only abolished most of the innovations of the first years of the socialist administration, but also annulled many of the social gains of previous decades. Perestroika in the Soviet Union culminated in the collapse of the Soviet state itself, and in the coming to power of the most decadent section of the old nomenclature. The regime that arose on this basis is best described by the word "kleptocracy" - the rule of thieves. The pillage of the country went ahead in close association with the restoration of capitalist property relations and the subordination of Russia to the interests of the West. This does not at all signify that a genuine capitalism has arisen in the republics of the former Soviet Union, or that it can arise in the near future. Rather, what is involved is a peculiar symbiosis of the traditional corporative-bureaucratic order with the power of comprador and usurer capital.
As a result of the victory of the West in the Cold War, Russia has been transformed into a peripheral within the capitalist world, but there are no grounds for speaking of the birth of Russian capitalism. The neoliberal reforms have led to a massive destruction of productive capacity and to the plunder of resources, but have not served to set in place any kind of serious national capital. The bankruptcy of capitalist modernization is even more obvious in Russia today than it was eighty years ago. This means that new battles and new shocks lie ahead.
The reaction that set in after 1989 differed from all previous reactions in that it succeeded in presenting itself as "progress" and "modernization". This semblance of "progress" was due to the fact that the period of social reaction on the world scale has also been a time of technological renewal. This in itself is nothing new; something similar occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century during the initial stages of the industrial revolution. Only later, and with hindsight, was it to become clear that new technologies do not strengthen the positions of triumphant reactionary elites, but undermine them. At the beginning of the century the introduction of new machines was accompanied directly by the defeat of bourgeois republicanism, by a sharp weakening of the social position of hired workers, and by the installing of a "new world order" within the framework of the Holy Alliance, the first precursor of the United Nations.
It was only later, after the workers' movement had grown in strength thanks to the rise of modern trade unionism and the appearance of the first socialist parties, that reaction gave way to a new revolutionary upsurge. The experience of the century that followed has become fixed in a peculiar piece of labour movement mythology. Here I have in mind two extremely dangerous errors. In the first place, workers and their ideologists became convinced that any technological and industrial development strengthened their position. In the second place all these people, whether socialists or communists, reformists or revolutionaries, viewed history as a rectilinear process of constant movement toward more "advanced" forms of social organization. The forces of reaction could, no doubt, retard or even halt this process, but they could not encroach upon the "irreversible" gains of the workers.
The groundlessness of both these theses has been shown during the 1990s. In this sense the defeats suffered by the forces of the left during this period have been far more serious and demoralizing than all the previous blows of the twentieth century. It was revealed that history does not move in a straight line. The collapse of the historical illusions of the left and labour movement has been accompanied by an unprecedented crisis of values and loss of self-confidence, though the only strategies that were really defeated were the rectilinear ones based on a mechanistic vision of social progress.
Does the defeat of reformism in Western Europe and Russia mean the end of socialist ideology or of class struggle, as liberal ideologues have argued? It is no longer necessary now to be a Marxist in order to maintain the contrary. Left parties are returning to power on the crest of a massive wave of dissatisfaction with neo-liberal policies, and hard-fought strikes in many parts of the world bear witness to the fact that workers have again begun to feel their strength and do not intend to retreat any further. The new technologies have not only given birth to new labour relations, but also to new forms of class consciousness and to new forms of self-organization among the scientific-technical proletariat and white-collar workers.
The neo-liberal myth has shown its bankruptcy, but the hopes of the radicals are not being borne out either. The crisis of neo-liberalism has not sparked revolutionary outbursts. There are instances in which left parties again enjoy mass support and even hold the political initiative, but these parties are now often lacking not only revolutionary strategies, but even reformist ones. The fact that leftists are coming to power signifies that the elites are in crisis. But are the forces of the left ready to present an alternative?
Here we are once again forced to return to the problem of radical reformism. Where does the border lie between radical reformism and elementary opportunism on the one side, and between radical reforms and revolution on the other?
In my view, an obvious and rigid dividing line does not exist. However, there are differences of principle. These differences need to be clearly formulated, especially now, when in many countries revolutionary organizations are proclaiming the slogan of a "turn to reformism" while in fact rejecting serious reforms.
The reason for the failure of the majority of reformist projects during recent years has been their "top-down" character. In this sense Mitterrand as the bearer of the ideas of the technocratic elite and Gorbachev, resting on the "enlightened" section of the Soviet bureaucracy, were equally remote from the people they promised to make happy.
Among the reactions to the failures of reformist and revolutionary parties were calls for replacing them with new mass movements, and for substituting alternatives from below for policies from above At the Budapest conference of left theoreticians in 1994 speakers even raised the concept of "delinking from below" as an economic alternative to neo-liberal globalization.
It can easily be seen that all this is no more than a mirror image of previous illusions. The state is hierarchical, and the world system is vertically integrated. These structures were specially created in order to resist pressures from below. Any effective mass movement gives birth to its own hierarchical structure - in the final analysis, to its own "counter-elite ". It is not hard to see that under certain conditions this "counter-elite" can become integrated into the "establishment", but this does not by any means signify that it is possible to do without it entirely.
The radical-reformist answer to these appeals can only be to try to unite the "movement from below" with the "transformations from above". Leftists must not reject the traditional strategy of seeking to win control of state institutions. But success here only makes sense if the state institutions are themselves under constant pressure from below - that is, if there are mass organizations capable of controlling their own leaders, and if necessary of forcing them to do what they would otherwise be too unwilling or irresolute to do.
If leftists, on coming to power, do not begin promptly to democratize the institutions of the state, this can only end in the degeneration and ignominious collapse of the left government. The democratization of power and the participation of the masses in decision making cannot in themselves guarantee that the reforms will be successful. But if these steps are not taken, failure is inevitable.
In general, it should be noted that among left ideologues a healthy scepticism with regard to the possibilities of state action has very quickly been replaced by completely absurd theories of a kind of "stateless socialism". In the 1950s, when socialists posed the question of nationalization, liberal ideologues stressed that property itself was not as important as the mechanism of control. In the 1980s, however, massive privatization began, leading to the destruction of the state sector on a world scale.
Meanwhile, a significant sector of the left has not only failed to resist privatization, but has in practice become reconciled to its results.
The unwillingness of the African National Congress to encroach upon South Africa's own large corporations is a clear sign of weakness. This is how it will be perceived by corporate capital; seeing the weakness of the new leadership, the large firms will demand endless new concessions. The central question in the struggle for reforms is that of who secures concessions from whom. Only where the left forces are persistent and aggressive can they win a social compromise that is at least favourable to workers.
Everyone who goes to the market-place knows the first rule of trade: if you want a reasonable deal, ask for more than you expect to get. But leftist politicians, hypnotized by their own words about "responsible management" have totally forgotten that their class enemy (excuse me, "social partner") lives according to the laws of the market, and is incapable by nature of respecting any other laws. There is no need to suppose that capital can reconcile itself to radical reforms in the sphere of property. In a country where unique resources are present (and South Africa has such resources), and where regional business interests are concentrated, even large transnational corporations will prefer to make concessions to the state sector rather than to place at risk the very possibility of their participating in this market.
In Lithuania, Poland and South Africa, we now see leftist governments with the same fear of undertaking radical measures in the interests of the people who elected them. Ultimately, the desire to reassure their adversaries proves stronger than their readiness to do anything for their own supporters.
Veterans of the Communist Party nomenclature in Lithuania, Poland and Hungary are acting in line with their experience and traditions. It would be hard to expect that two or three years in opposition would transform them from miserable functionaries into ardent revolutionaries or even into competent reformers. But South African leftists are another matter entirely. The victory of the ANC and the success of the Communist Party and other left groups were ensured by the struggle of the masses. The people are still organized and politically active. This means that one is entitled to hope that the changes will proceed according to another scenario.
If the state sector, even in the bureaucratized form in which it existed in both East and West by the 1980s, had not represented a potential threat to the interests of the bourgeois elites, they would not have set about destroying it so frenziedly at the first possible opportunity. During the Cold War the ruling elites of the West were forced to reconcile themselves to certain "elements of socialism" as a sort of pay-off for social stability and steady growth. It was this which created the objective preconditions for the success of social-democracy. After the "collapse of communism", such tactical concessions became unnecessary. A series of attacks on the "social-democratic model" ensued. The dissolution of the state sector began, making it absolutely inevitable that other structures of the Welfare State would be liquidated as well. The rejection of nationalization signifies in practice the rejection of serious efforts to transform society. Unquestionably, the existence of state property on its own does not yet constitute socialism. It does not automatically ensure either a more just distribution of national income or a more harmonious development. But without a strong state sector, resolving all these problems is impossible in principle.
Trotsky in his time provided a good metaphor to illustrate this point. In The Revolution Betrayed he compared state ownership of the means of production with the cocoon through which the caterpillar has to pass in order to become a butterfly. The cocoon is not the butterfly. Millions of larvae in their cocoons perish without becoming butterflies, but skipping the cocoon phase is impossible. While fully recognizing the limitations of "state socialism", we cannot fail to see its necessity.
The numerous plans for establishing co-operatives and other collective enterprises, and also for flexible social regulation of the economy, seem very attractive. Hut without a strong state sector all this simply will not work. Unless the state sector acts as the core of the productive system, "self-managed enterprises" will be starved of investments, and ultimately, will be enslaved by finance capital.
The only way to break the economic power of large finance capital is through nationalization. Alternative strategies for modernization and restructuring then become possible. Only with the emergence of a state sector is it possible to speak of serious social control over the investment process.
During the 1980s the myth of the inefficiency of state enterprises gained increasing currency among leftists. No-one provided theoretical proof for the notion that state-owned industries were economic failures. No one could cite statistical data showing that OTHER FACTORS BEING EQUAL, state-owned enterprises functioned worse than private ones. On the contrary, during privatization a great deal of information was accumulated showing the opposite. In Britain, studies of successful instances of privatization showed that the main increases in efficiency occurred not with privatization, but in the process of preparing for it, at a time when the enterprises were still state property. After they were transferred to private hands, the new owners were not able to change or improve anything substantially. The experience of Eastern Europe and Russia has been even more striking. Privatization has been accompanied by catastrophic declines in productivity, labour discipline and managerial responsibility, together with a lowering of the technological level and a catastrophic fall in productivity and general efficiency. The majority of the enterprises that were providing profits for the state began making losses after privatization.
From the point of view of efficiency, the results recorded by various group-owned enterprises are not especially impressive. The claims made by ideologues of collective property for the managerial democracy which is supposed to be organic to this model are no less doubtful. Studies show that oligarchic structures quickly form in such enterprises, while the workers themselves finish up dependent both on the managers of their own enterprises and on "outside" capital (credits, investments from outside and so forth). It can of course be argued that all these problems can be solved if the model of collective ownership is changed, but the same can also be said about the nationalized sector.
It would be quite wrong to suggest that nationalized enterprises are always impeccably managed. The record of nationalization in various countries is decidedly mixed. The results of nationalization depend in the first place on the condition of the state, on its structures and on its social character. The effectiveness of nationalization, its ability to resolve social problems and speed development, the structure of the state sector, the position of the workers within it, and the degree of democracy in management all depend on the relationship of forces in the country.
It is clear that the model of the state enterprise, like the model of the state, needs to be dramatically altered. But this is the essential task of radical reformism, the feature which distinguishes it from dogmatic currents of a communist or social-democratic stripe. If the former are prepared to reproduce old institutions under the banners of "workers' power" and "people's property", the latter, referring to the failure of the former, will increasingly reject any attempt at change.
In a number of countries, nationalization helped to solve or mitigate the problem of a shortage of investment under the conditions of modernization, to alter the relationship of social forces, to redistribute power and incomes, and to make possible a restructuring that was impossible in an organically conservative market economy. The degree of readiness to nationalize strategically important sectors of the economy or monopoly enterprises can be taken as a measure of the seriousness of a reformist government. Both ruling elites and left-wing politicians know very well that even successful nationalization does not mean the destruction of capitalist relations in society. But it does create the possibility that qualitatively new institutions and a new relationship of social forces may appear.
The constant references which left-wing politicians who are in power or on the brink of it make to the weakness of their positions and to the impossibility of resisting the International Monetary Fund are no more than excuses. The strength of the IMF and of other international financial institutions consists above all in the fact that they co-ordinate their actions on an international scale, while their opponents are isolated. Consequently, the answer to the policy of financial blackmail should not be the renouncing of reform, but the search for allies in the international arena, combining this with a clear policy of change and with reliance on the mass movement within the given country.
A theoretical argument which is more and more often invoked in order to justify inaction holds that the national state as a central element in the strategy of leftists (whether Marxists or social-democrats) is now losing its significance. The weakening of the role of the national state in the context of the "global market" is an incontestable fact. But it is equally indisputable that despite this weakening, the state remains a critically important tool of political and economic development. It is no accident that transnational corporations constantly make use of the national state as an instrument of their policies. And is it really true that the International Monetary Fund is something other than an international institution? The dominant forces here are not private banks, but creditor states. In this sense the global role of the IMF bears witness not to the strengthened role of basically market factors, but on the contrary, to the strengthened global economic role of the states of the centre in relation to the countries of the periphery.
It is clear that leftists need to have their own international economic strategy, and to act in a co-ordinated way on a regional scale, but the instrument and starting point of this new co-operation can only be a national state.
Nationalization limits the possibilities of international financial capital. It is precisely the threat of property losses that forces the elites to make serious concessions. In other words, until the question of property is posed, smaller, "individual" problems will not be solved.
The policy of nationalization pursued by the British Labour Party from 1945 to 1951 was extremely limited, but it created a favourable setting for a whole complex of social reforms. Meanwhile, the privatization which by the early 1990s had become transformed into a global process made all attempts to preserve the welfare state in East or West quite pointless.
In this sense, the problem of contemporary social-democracy does not lie in its attachment to reformism or even in the moderation of its approach, but in its rejection of any reformist project whatever. The erosion of the reformist potential of social-democracy leads to the systematic weakening of its influence in society, which also explains its consistent failures in Western Europe throughout the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s.
The situation in South Africa today provides grounds for apprehension not only because the African National Congress government might suffer a setback. Setbacks in themselves are not so terrible. Far more dangerous is the inability of the left forces to respond correctly to these reverses. When in The Dialectic of Change I wrote that leftists have to learn to retreat, my observation aroused furious indignation among radical authors. This position is reminiscent of the famous episode during the Second World War when in the Soviet Army all plans for retreat were kept secret. As a result, the army was incapable of retreating in organized fashion. Any tactical reverse turned into a catastrophe, and withdrawal was swiftly turned into panic-stricken flight.
In politics, knowing how to retreat means knowing how to sacrifice tactical positions for the sake of strategic goals, and understanding that it may be necessary to reject power in order to preserve the movement. Not least, it means remaining true to one's goals and principles in a period of setbacks. There is now a good deal of evidence to suggest that this period is nearing its end. One can cite the results of elections in Eastern Europe, which have returned leftists to power; the fall of apartheid in South Africa; the gains by the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany; and the dissension and confusion in international financial centres. But if left-wing politicians, demoralized by their own misfortunes and lacking confidence in their strength, do not muster the resolve to present society with a serious program of structural reforms, they will be routed very easily.
The new generation of leftists has to draw the unavoidable conclusions from the lessons of the 1980s. This new generation is taking shape today. Fearless of defeats, able to keep their feet on the ground in the case of victory, refusing to waste time on fruitless dogmatic wrangles, and equally ready for action on the streets, in the factories, in the parliamentary chambers or in the offices of state ministries, the members of this new generation will sooner or later make their presence felt.
And the sooner this happens, the better.
Mass Privatization in Russia and Shifts in Social and Economic Structure of Society
1. Property rights redistribution in course of privatization
The process of privatization in Russia has already involved the main part of the countries economy. In the middle of 1994 already more than 80% of all enterprises in the trade and service sectors, a large part of enterprises in construction and road transport, more, than a half of industrial enterprises have been privatized.
Behind those common figures, however, the differential nature of the real social and economic shifts is hidden. In official statistics the enterprises, repurchased by their labour collectives, bought by private persons, as well as transformed in joint-stock companies are considered as being privatized. In the latter case, in dependence on distribution of shares, an enterprise may remain under the state control, under the control of its administration (directors, managers) and the labour collective, or under the control of outside investors.
As for enterprises, having been in municipal property (these are basically the enterprises in trades and services), most of them were bought by private persons, there are among them not a small amount of past directors of these enterprises. Approximately 70% of such enterprises were repurchased by their labour collectives. It should be noticed, however, that in many cases the collective acted only in the role of a dummy person for a private investor, which thus received the opportunity to use the privileges, given by law for labour collectives.
From the standpoint of their organizational and legal form, the majority of such enterprises are at present limited liability companies or joint-stock companies of a closed type. In contrast to them, the trade enterprises, from the very beginning originated by private persons, are much more often organized as individual private enterprises or family-owned firms.
The large industrial, construction or transport enterprises were authorized in privatization process to transform in joint-stock companies of an open type only. About 60% of such enterprises in rough approximation are under joint control of managers and labour collectives. Formally, in approximately 40% of such cases the workers even dispose of a main pack of shares, but then too the real control is in hands of managers. A certain percentage of the enterprises had already passed through the privatization process in the Gorbachev era, when the collective could completely repurchase the whole enterprise. In such enterprises nearly 100% of shares belong to the labour collective, though the real participation of workers in management has insignificantly increased.
In the rest of cases the controlling stake is either preserved in hands of state (about 1/4 of large "privatized" enterprises) or passed into the hands of outside investors. They can be private persons, private firms, investment funds, banks, joint ventures, or foreign firms.
In the huge majority of cases the "privatized" enterprises haven't got a definite and effectively acting owner. There is at present the difficult interlacement of property rights of various subjects - the state, managers, workers, private firms etc. Thus the workers, having become the small shareholders, are not organized, as a rule, isolated, and have no opportunities to realize the rights of owners even when the control over the enterprise formally belongs to them.
Thus, the creation of a large layer of small shareholders has in essence been bogus. The workers don't see benefit from possession of shares (no hope for dividends under present conditions), they don't feel themselves as owners, and really are not owners at all, being incapable of execrating any influence over the making of company decisions. At the same time other effective owners have not appeared either, resulting from a number of peculiarities related to the motivation of managers of former state enterprises and Russian private businessmen.
2. The motivation changes of economic actors as a result of privatization
The actual distribution of property rights, as was shown above, considerably differs in the rates and nature from surface changes in the organizational and legal status of enterprises. It, in turn, determines the specific character of the shifts in economic motivation. The latter depends, however, not only on the redwing of property rights, but also on earlier traditional forms of economic behaviour adopted by various social groups. The social psychology of people changes more slowly than do the legal and institutional shifts.
The labour motivation of workers in formerly state owned enterprises (as well in the remaining yet rather significant public sector) has not changed. The possession of a small amount of shares, the transition from state guaranteed wages to a system of labour payment determined by the market conditions of a given enterprise has not appreciably affected the motivation of wage workers.
In conditions of severe economic crisis the possession of shares renders no stimulating effect on workers - as far as the dividends are not paid (and even if they were paid, their portion in the whole income of workers remained insignificantly small).
As far as salary is concerned, it is impossible to trace any sort of connection between the labour effort of a worker and his income, as far as the level of salary is rather defined by the paying capacity of the consumers of a given enterprise. The total delay of salary in Russia already has exceeded the size of the monthly wage fund (approximately 6 trillion rubles in October 1994).
Actually, the laxening of labour motivation happens. Even the fast growth of unemployment, which began in recent months, doesn't prompt workers to increase their work effort and also is accompanied by a fall in productivity.
The private enterprises (originally set up with private capital), some joint-ventures and some privatized enterprises serve as an exception to this general trend. The large part of private enterprises acts in the sphere of trade, services, mediation, on financial and share markets and market of real estate.
The connection here between the work of hired staff and incomes of firm is evident enough, workers, as a rule, are paid in dependence on turn-over, that in sufficient measure stimulates the intensification of labour. The same relates to a small degree to privatized enterprises, which occupy the similar niche on the market.
However, largely, the intensification of labour on these enterprises is being achieved by the way of rigid authoritative style of management, the trade unions don't exist or are liquidated, labour legislation is openly ignored, the rights and personal dignity of staff are constantly infringed upon.
As far as enterprises are concerned, joint with foreign capital, they have the opportunity to grant the higher earnings, better working conditions and the rest of the staff, they from the very beginning apply the western standards of organization of labour, they have the opportunity to select for working the most qualified and at the same time the young and vigorous staff.
The motivation of managers and directors of privatized enterprises is neither characterized by positive shifts. On the contrary, privatization, by removing them from state control, causes in conditions of economic crisis negative shifts in their motivation. The using by the state and privatized enterprises administration and managers the capitals of those enterprises for short-term speculative operations in trade, on financial and stock markets has assumed a mass nature. And these operations are mainly made not in the interests of the strengthening of financial situation at given enterprises, but carried out through the dummy or long firms for the purpose of personal enrichment.
It is possible to generalize, that formerly existed at managers "the identification of themselves with the firm", the identification of their own purposes with the purposes of firm, are undermined by the existing order of things. The transformation of the inefficient economic bureaucracy of the past to the modern, market oriented, administrative elite is just not happening. This kind of elite is gradually formed, but not in the industrial sphere, it takes place only in the banking and financial sectors, and partly in trade.
The motivation of private businessmen acquires rather specific forms too. Their orientation to short-term financial results, engaging basically in operations of a speculative nature slows down the formation of incentives for economic stability, steadiness etc. The obvious disadvantage of long-term investment creates additional motives for fastening this negative tendency. The influence extent of personal enrichment motives is utterly high - for the sake of this many modern businessmen are ready with ease to sacrifice the existence of their own enterprise or firm, to evade taxes, to violate economic legislation, to apply criminal methods in exerting influence upon competitors or debtors.
3. Formation of new social groups and classes
The crisis condition of the economy is imposed on the incompleteness of the transformation processes in the economic and social structures of society. Yet neither a steady system of capitalist relations was generated, nor the steady social groups and classes inherent to such a system. The significant legal and institutional instability of the transition economy is added to by the existence of extensive spheres of the economy, which are practically outside legal control (of 42% of goods and services on consumer markets in 1st half-year of 1994 was delivered by unregistered firms and physical persons).
The degree of business and state apparatus criminalization is high.
The instability, the mobility of social status of various layers of the population, the absence of conventional mechanisms of behaviour regulation of such groups, the lack of own formation methods for the social organization, inherent to those groups - all this hinders the deep realization of social generality and the generality of interests. The people appeared to be thrown out of formerly created system of social stereotypes and mechanisms of social regulation and now were building into those of new, thereto not yet stabilized. All this in aggregate means marginalization - at least temporary - of huge masses, representing the majority of population. Also the purely marginal (steadily marginal) social groups - "beeches", "bomgies" (vagabonds), refugees, "forced settlers", the neglected, chronic drug addicts, the criminal elements etc. are formed and increase in number.
The significant part of mass social groups is doomed to lumpenization in pretty close social prospect. For example, the unlawful employment in small-sized business (which evaluated approximately in 8 million of persons, 2-3 million of them are engaged in trade and intermediary) gives now to people the more favourable social status either economically (upon the level of income ), and psychologically (having managed "to be entered in market").
However in the next few years this group will suffer the inevitable loss in incomes, in stability of existence, in prestige.
It should be added, that actually in previous decade the working layers of population also were marginal - these layers have received more or less steady social being only from the end of 50s (approximately the half of population, inhabitants of cities), and significant part - from the middle of 70s (when the mass migration from villages to cities was stopped, the scales of mass migrations in east and south regions of USSR and from small-sized cities to the large were reduced). Up until this period of time the process of mass industrial workers formation from the rural population passed, as well as transformation of formerly existed urban social groups. The 1920s to the 1950s were years of very high social mobility and simultaneously of social instability.
In these conditions the feeling of wide social generality has not yet generated, so, people are oriented basically on interests and stereotypes of micro social groups, visible corporations and institutions, in which structure they are included. The significance of direct material interests in regulation of behaviour of people considerably grows. Some stereotypes of the past do not disappear from the social psychology too, causing sometimes an inadequate reaction to the situation.
4. The shifts in social and economic structure of society and the prospects of left movement
How to evaluate the ripening prospects for independent movement of hired workers in view of economic crisis dynamics and evolution of social and economic structure of society?
The direct material interests, the infringement of which will cause the "defending" movement of workers, in the nearest prospect will be the following:
- delays of payment of salary will proceed, as in connection with the reduction of budgeting charges, as in connection with the increase of non-payment crisis;
- the devotion of government to policy "of financial stabilization" in conditions of sharp reduction of tax base will result in the sequestration of social charges, however it is now difficult to say precisely, of which charges in particular to the greater extent;
- the upcoming time of mass dismissals will cause the attempts to delay them.
All these three factors does not promise any deep activation of working class movement. The struggle against the delay of salary in case of its activation will occasionally and from location to location be extinguished by single sops. The reduction of social charges will, probably, be transferred on those layers of population, which protest is the least dangerous for the authorities (for example, if the next elections are far from being upcoming, they will extricate for account of the pensioners, and then directly in front of elections they will throw them the supplement). The struggle against dismissals will paralyzed by the scare before unemployment and desire to preserve the working place by the way of "loyal behaviour".
Nevertheless, if the cumulative pressure of these factors appreciably amplifies, then this could mean at least the quantitative growth of workers actions scale.
It is more difficult to define the dynamics of social protest at formation "of dead industrial branches", "dead" cities and regions. The protest can be rather active, but at the same time poorly organized too, having no sharp purpose or prospects.
The reaction of workers on changing of their social and economic status will develop considerably slower, but apparently, more thoroughly. On privatized enterprises the paternalistic illusions in relations between workers and administration will gradually be getting rid of. The dismissals, intensification of labour, extraordinary measures on establishing the discipline, which inevitably will accompany the struggle of enterprises for sur-vival, and which will be obviously connected with infringement of legislation, labour rights of workers, with establishing of a rigid authoritarian regime of control, will differently raise the question about the role of trade unions and about their interactions with administration.
I expect, as well as many analysts, the activation of protest in the autumn of the current year. Hardly, however, it will be the "hot autumn". The serious problems on outcome of winter (January - March?) are not excluded, especially, if the authorities won't find a satisfactory decision to problem of grain and other food products purchases, but weather conditions this time will not be as soft, as in the last some years. But revolt will not come about.
On the other hand, the increase of difficulties and some activation of protest, the opposition attempts to find the "complementary breathing" can create the favourable background for different sort of top echelon po- litical combinations with the purpose of Yeltsin administration replacement by other political figures of approximately the same nature, however, for example, with obvious "national-patriotic" colouring. It will be the shake up inside ruling top echelon with purpose to put into action the extraordinary measures on stabilization of economy, to take in hand the average and small-sized speculative business, together with workers, compelling them to suffer for the sake of prosperity of large capital. The other similar scenarios are appeared to be possible.
However, irrespective of particular scenario, we can expect the transition upon new step of authoritarianism, or, possibly, an attempt to establish a dictatorship. And there should not be excluded the attempts to connect somewhat branches of working movement for decorating of those top echelon rearrangements under "the mass working class movement".
Romania: A Social-Democratic Periphery?
The political unification of the various different territories of Romania was accomplished as a consequence of the First World War. In the early twentieth century, the social and economic structure of this Balkan state was crude and elementary: the underclass, some 16 million peasants, lived in villages, while a select group of westernized Romanians, and communities of Hungarians, Jews and Germans - with populations each numbering about one million - represented the upper class. At the tip of this "parasitic city" stood a king. Democracy was a mere farce and brought little comfort to the illiterate Romanian peasantry, whose life expectancy barely exceeded the age of forty. By 1938 social unrest had become so severe that King Carol II. stepped in and in a swift move proclaimed a developmental dictatorship, and in some ways it can be said that this was to last until December 1989.
The 1989 Christmas Revolution brought to an end this royal (and subsequently proletarian) dictatorship, the avowed aim of which had been to raise Romania up to the level of development of the rest of Europe. The arguments on which the dictatorship rested have been provided by Mihail Manoilescu's theory of peripheral capitalism. According to this, the phenomenon of underdevelopment can only be explained in connection with the position assigned to third world countries on the world market. These countries fulfil the task of supplying raw materials and also act as outlets for goods manufactured in advanced industrialized countries. However, such a set-up, Manoilescu contended, is extremely disadvantageous to thir world countries. To combat its adverse effects, Carol II. adopted a policy of detachment, with the aim of keeping his country separate from the world market as far as possible and developing its own resources. He hoped that Romania would thereby become able to satisfy its requirements through its own capacities, gradually building up its own investment and consumer goods industry and expanding the domestic market.
The continuity and prospects of this policy of detachment and development were at first quite noteworthy. During the Second World War an Anglo-American plan went as far as to propose a development strategy for Romania, more or less on the model of the Soviet system! The externally introduced and imposed break with the past was carried out ruthlessly, as a result of the Russian presence in Romania and the proletarian dictatorship; to some extent, however, it did correspond to the social priorities and orthodox traditions of the country. When Stalin created a cordon sanitaire against the West, the Communists expelled first the westernized Romanians and then also the Jews, and later the German-Hungarian elite as well. Meanwhile, there was no let-up in the brutally of repressive developmental dictatorship.
The thrust towards modernization proceeded so successfully that Romania even began to aspire to an "alignment of the level of development" within the Socialist bloc. As late as the beginning of the 1980s, the World Bank ranked Romania among the "newly industrializing countries" together with Portugal, Israel, South Africa, South Korea, Brazil, Singapore, and others. Despite this, however, Communist policy and its goal of achieving a better performance than capitalism was doomed to remain hopelessly entrapped, until Gorbachev opened up his "Lager". This loosened the stranglehold of the developmental dictatorship, thereby enabling Romania to rush headlong into independence and capitalism.
Since the Christmas revolution the standard of living has worsened dramatically in Romania. Industrial production has fallen to one-half of previous output, and the agricultural system is in ruins: even wheat now has to be imported. Foreign debt has risen from nil to $4 billion, and is still increasing. Half of the population lives below subsistence level and 100000 children no longer attend regular schooling. With 30% of the working population employed in agriculture and a per capita gross domestic product of $1300 (World Bank Atlas, 1992), the country now counts as one of the poorest and economically most backward countries of Europe.
The planned bourgeois (and even monarchical) restoration failed after 1989 on account of the changes that had come about in the social and political structure: the old elite has all but disappeared and 50% of the population now lives in urban areas. This new state of affairs was clearly visible in the 1990 and 1992 elections. The "Democratic Alliance", which follows in the tradition of the party which was in power before the war and campaigns on a platform of restoration of the monarchy and rehabilitation of the "parasitic state". Its general orientation towards the West and untrammelled privatization have met with sharp disfavour. Country people and the roughly four million onetime Romanian peasants who had migrated to the towns during the previous decades have successfully fought against this attempted restoration. In opposition to revival of the old state of affairs, they have espoused such elements as the Republic, labour, and social welfare.
State President Ion Iliescu and the government headed by Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu (PDSR/Party of Social-Democracy) are guided by a motley array of Social-Democrats, nationalists and representatives of the Orthodox Church. This government is endeavouring to stand back somewhat from the shock therapy administered in the first flourish of revolutionary euphoria, and hopes to achieve export-driven growth by 1996. However, whether the new trade policy - which still places its hope in foreign aid - can truly usher in new prospects is open to doubt, in the light of previous experience both in Romania itself and in other developing countries. It would appear that Bucharest has forgotten Manoilescu's theories and/or has possibly even abandoned any strategy aimed at overcoming periphery status. The only policy adopted appears to be a form of crisis management in order to limit the consequences of the revolution and its shock therapy, and thereby at least to avert the risk of suffering the same
fate as Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia.
Structures of Dominance in the Present Conservative World
"Les grands ne nous paraissent grands
Que parce que nous sommes à genoux
For three-quarters of this century the anti-capitalist left has been confronted with the task of uniting theory with mass movements. Today, with some simplification of the situation, one may state that there are neither theories nor mass movements. Hence the responsibility of literates: the task is to create an adequate theory so that by the time there are again mass movements, objectives, meaning and content should be lent to their action. This is so that they should not be jammed on the level of instinctive revolt, and that their energies should not be consumed for the right and extreme right movements.
A processing of the real world by thinking is understood under theory and not an artificially produced growth: Marxian critical theory of society requires a scientific description, interpretation and analysis of the situation, with a view to seeking points of breaking away from the existing universe of fact and in quest of realistic opportunities. "Marxism of the apparatus" and sham "revolutionariness" were artificial in the sense of showing the two extremes. The first one was characterized by the subjection of the real content and autonomy of theory to daily political and tactical struggles (Georg Lukács) instead of profound research. The latter one is permeated by zeal without the objective assessment of social and political power relations. Unfortunately such behaviour has cropped up in the assessment of the East-Central European changes (1989-91) by the socialist movement: amidst the ideology of "embourgeoisement" and the spread of conservative revolutions the direction of movement was missed as a consequence of the affirmation of social changes understood in abstraction. With the fall of the rough, immature early political socialisms (which were not on the Marxian lower grade in the sense of the "Critique of the Gotha Programme") we have not approached but got further from human emancipation, though we have been enriched by the road covered (in the Hegelian sense of the term). We have moved further off course in that the political power of the bourgeoisie is becoming socially dominant in this region as well. On the one hand, it can elevate the interests, norms, attitudes and world view of its own class to the rank of the entire society on the basis of the acquired material resources (privatization), and with the help of the state monopoly of violence. On the other hand, it adopts the crystallized and successful techniques of dominance of the West which can restrain the subjected classes and can reduce the existing counter-cultures to insignificance and push them to the periphery. What do we have in mind?
Briefly, one can mention just by way of example the following:
1. elite and mass culture, 2. the development of the systematic dualism of elite and mass culture, 3. the creation of mosaic consciousness, with a flood of information and disinformation by the media which is impossible to process( if needed, it can be manipulated by amplifying the apparently spontaneous dominant motives, 4. placing formal freedom (choice everywhere from the world of goods through the political world to the way of life), negative freedom and chance (the multiplication of games of chance as if they were an industry) - as against the positive concept of freedom - on all levels of the industry of consciousness. 5. The creation of the cult of great men, of success in the interest of making new individualism and social inequalities natural and to be accepted as such. "Kneel down, because you are small - if compared to us." This is the message of their way of speech and visual representation on the film screen and on TV, of the objective environment of their middle class "Drugstores" and luxury special shops.
In contrast to a department store, a Drugstore represents such a specific mode of modern consumption. It does not co-ordinate categories of goods, but offers confused though attractive signs of the totality of consumption. Here the cultural centre becomes an integral part of the commercial centre. It is not only culture becoming prostituted when it represents one element among the others in the general collection of consumer goods, but the goods themselves may become cultural: they become the substance of joy as an element of luxury. In the Drugstore everything is together, starting from the skin diver's equipment to food, from tennis court to church, music and movie: it is a segment of a city where art and leisure are mixed up with everyday life. It offers a new life style to the middle classes in its climatized, protected space, where every possible activity is brought together in the simultaneity of total existence. Hence it is consumption, which possesses and embraces the entire life. "In the phenomenology of consumption the general climatization of social contacts, goods, services, objects and of life is manifest at the stage of perfection, as a result of such an evolution, which, starting from a pure and simple abundance, extends to the total conditioning of time and action, to the methodical determination of the sense of human ambition through the articulated network of objects in the future urban zones of drugstores." (Jean Baudrillard, 1970. pp. 23-24.) (1)
The social significance of all this may become clear if the phenomenon of the capitalization of leisure is not only assessed as the involvement of a bourgeois "middle class" in capitalist reproduction but also as the involvement of the subject classes. This is true even if the width and depth of the phenomenon was more extensive during the classical period of Fordism (M. Aglietta) than it is today in respect of the working class; even if the social political struggle around distribution is becoming similar to a "zero sum game" with the passage of the period of growth; and even if the capitalization of leisure takes up more extensive forms in the centre than in the semi-peripheral countries of Eastern Europe. The new industrial revolution has pushed the Taylorean forms of the organization of work into the background - yet it should not be forgotten that there is no return to a period preceding the age of mass consumption. The main issue of the struggles of social policy of the modern age is just whether a two-thirds society can be accepted - in other words, is the exclusion and marginalization of one-third of the population considered necessary (i. e. to be pressed below the poverty line) in order to be able to maintain the mass consumption of consumer society for the petty bourgeoisie, the skilled worker elites and the groups of employees and medium cadres, besides the unchanged, or expanding luxury consumption of the middle and big bourgeoisie? What has been the effect of the working class becoming mass consumers upon the labour movement as a result of the expansion of the production of relative extra profit?
An economically new phase of social relations - i. e. the relations of goods - is the involvement of leisure in the process of capitalist reproduction. Its negative influence upon class organization has been expounded by Ernest Mandel with optimum clarity for the late capitalist period (i. e. the period after the Great Depression: "The cultural achievements of the proletariat actually accomplished by the appearance and struggles of the modern labour movement (books, newspapers, cultural self-education, sports organizations, etc.) lose their voluntary nature characteristic of classical imperialism, their independence and autonomy from capitalist commodity production and turnover, and increasingly become part of the latter one. There are books published by commercial publishing activities, there is mass press and television instead of socialist press, there are commercial travel bureaux instead of leisure used as planned by organizations of labour youth, sports and culture, etc. The cultural needs of the proletariat are again swallowed by capitalist commodity production and circulation, the extensive reprivatization of the sphere of leisure of labour is accomplished. The expansion of the sphere of community and solidarity, characteristic of the capitalism of free competition and of imperialism, is broken." - this was spelt out by Late Capitalism (1972). Moreover, the lack of the critical potential of an autonomous labour movement, transcending the system, would bring new social movements into the condition of a pile without a cohesive force.
All this in itself would not necessarily classify the present world as neo-conservative. Many people do not even understand this classification, saying that liberal democracies have become victorious over "communism" (in inverted commas)( pluralist political systems, with their multi-party exercise of power, have taken up their place in the East European region. For others the maintenance of this classification has become difficult since after the elections in Lithuania, Poland and Hungary in 1993 and 1994 it is the left-of-the-centre, social-democratic majority governments which have won elections against national, conservative forces. The political regimes have changed, the elites have been replaced. It would be a mistake to underestimate the changes of the nature of power on the level of actual politics.
However, as contrasted to theories of the elite, which consider the masses as accessories in respect of the course of history - as it is clear from Leonard Schapiro's definition: "the elite is the one which chooses its own way" (2) - Marxian critical theory of society does not base (and criticize) class rule on the complementary relationship between active, conscious minority and a helpless, passive majority, but upon the consequences of the production and manner of expropriation of surplus product upon the structure of the society. When there are no mass movements changing destiny (like nowadays, when the suggestion of the theory of elites seems to be convincing) what matters is the peaks of action. The theory of elites is convincing because what we see is not that the good-for-nothing masters, doing nothing, have to depend increasingly on their servants. The latter, having lost their abilities, in return, would gradually acquire abilities and hence would emerge from servitude. Consequently, it is the masters who would become exposed to their servants and an exchange of the roles of dominance and servitude would take place. (3) However, - as is illustrated by the Hungarian example - something different has been realized from whatever was expected by the majority of the Hungarian society in the process of systemic change (as a result of the necessity of ripening social change). What happened was the consequence of the power relations of the world-system and the spirit of the age expressing it. What were the expectations of Hungarian society and what caused its great disappointment? "The public opinion polls conducted by the Research Group of Communications Theory of the HAS-ELTE in early 1994 unambiguously indicate that people have been disappointed most in those hopes which most of them had expected to be realized by systemic change. And of course nobody voted for the loss of social security highly valued even earlier ... the survey of '92 also indicated unambiguously that the values of the market economy would meet considerable resistance in broad strata of the society, and that the picture of a caring state has apparently struck irremovable roots in public thinking, and even the idea of equality has not lost from its popularity, which means the rejection of economic differentiation, in other words, that everybody should have conditions that are medium good or bad, rather than to have some who would become rich and others who would become poor." (4)
Over the past two decades the world economy has devalued the traditional industrial structures and the Soviet system was unable to adjust to the fourth industrial revolution (atomic energy, microelectronics, communications technologies). It was the economic and social organization of the Soviet type of socialism which has suffered a historic defeat. This was shared by those countries which combined the economy of goods with macro-economic co-ordination, which, emerging from the Stalinist mantle, have followed a practice different in its typical characteristics (Mo, Yu) for a quarter of a century. (5) Transition has become a reverse progress. As the adequate background and basis were missing, the external power relations have been internalized, independently of the essential differences. Subsequently, only that happened which could happen. It is true that in the rare, democratic moments of transition it could still occur that state, co-operative, local government and private ownership should compete in the spirit of the equality of the ownership forms and of a sector-neutral economic policy. However, it was only raised by the Left Alternative that state property should be socialized and planning democratized. Political development has put them ad acta so that the open goal of private dominance over the economy should rule the field. It is not unknown to us, and it is justified by the events that have taken place that, "The dominant ideology of each age is the ideology of the dominant class". In the social organization of the productive process, dominance is based on disposition over surplus product which, in capitalism becomes the production of surplus value. Modern bourgeois class relations are being directly experienced by the societies currently being reintegrated into the operation of the capitalist world economy. Namely, proletarianization is a complementary process of social polarization the diminishing national product (6) is more unevenly distributed in the population than earlier and the level of marginalization corresponds to the Dahrendorfian prophecy of the two-thirds society in Eastern European societies. All this is occurring without being post-industrial societies in respect of the advancement of the forces of production and of the division of labour. We have to set out as semi-peripheral countries of medium development, but not from two-thirds societies towards the economy of cheap labour, on the way leading (?) to Europe. The choice of the path by the elites has not been adjusted to the social expectations of the majority, but to the main direction of the movement of the world-system. This is why there was no need for a single new idea during the course of changes.
Why is this world a neo-conservative one? One may put this question, as it does not in itself derive from the hierarchy of prestige of capitalist consumer society, from its symbolic violence exercised over lifestyles, nor from a semi-peripheral backwardness, or from the general material base of class rule. The latter was conceptually separated from government rule and from the nature of the current political regime. It is neo-conservative because the struggle has been going on between the national-conservative and the liberal poles in the political field, where no socialist and communist forces, carrying the potential of the critique of the system, are able to interfere. It is neo-conservative because despite the changes of government and the political course, the value orientations determining social action are not challenged: i. e. the interrelated etalons of privatization, deregulation, destatization and monetarism. These are already characteristically neo-conservative compasses. They are not only the impresses of an age, but its organizing and legitimizing principles. They are impresses because the boundaries of a system are safely marked by its "taboos", by conditions which are impossible to challenge in their essence. Whatever is not decided upon is a taboo. Private property has to be placed into this holy and inviolable state. Moreover, it is an organizing principle to which the mass and typical social activities are forced to adjust to, whether they like it or not. However, in order to obtain the association of other lifting forces to the power of circumstances, the ensemble of justifying principles and procedures and legitimation are needed. This is what the bourgeois conservative, or neo-conservative mode of world view is for: the combination of economic liberalism (in the European sense of the term) with conservative morals and social concepts. In the sphere of the economy it is the free market relations among the private owners - of capital, money and labour - which are not burdened by the market forms of social regulation. Laissez faire - laissez passer, anti-conventionalist spontaneity, at most a regulation conforming to the market, not disturbing the expansion of private ownership and the commoditization of social relations (7) is desirable (for example: invitation to tender; union activities reduced to wage bargains). These stand in contrast to such forms of community regulation like economic democracy or participation, which would only disturb the artificial process of the original expropriation of capital. The changes of tendency are expressed by qualifying the welfare state as paternalism, and the replacement of the social state of rights (sozialer Rechtsstaat in German) by the liberal state based on law. After the relative success of the Keynesian welfare state of Western organized capitalism (generally speaking, this refers to the period between 1945 and 1973), the pendulum has swung back to a field dominated by the ideology of free competition and conservative morals. The measure and directions of the movement of the age are not given by the criticism of self-management of democratic redistribution, nor by the democratization of power relations and the socialization of ownership, but by privatization and neo-individualism.
Karl Mannheim justly characterized conservative ideas in Chapter III of Ideology and Utopia. He wrote: "Conservative knowledge is originally the knowledge to rule, it is an instinctive and often theoretical orientation also towards immanently existing factors. ...the historical shape of the time cannot be made but it grows out of an internal centre, similarly to plants... For the conservative everything that exists is only full of fruitful positiveness, because it has developed slowly and gradually." (8) Nineteenth-century private ownership could be regarded as such an immanently existing, organic condition, prior to 'state socialisms' based on state and co-operative ownership, but not afterwards. This historical challenge forces conservative conscience to reflect: what is not granted by any kind of organic development. However, regulation is needed in the sense of exercising the organic function of leadership, should it be introduced. Moreover, the deep crisis of existing socialism, and particularly its Soviet type, has made major change possible: i. e. to uniformly discredit every past (and every possible future) form of socialist experiment. The dimensions of regulation and arguments on the natural and useful nature of social inequalities, the presentation of religious morals, and the significance of the family could be left to the traditional stock of conservative means.
As far as the economy is concerned, here the task is more difficult because nothing has been done organically. Broad state intervention was and is still needed the creation of the rule of the bourgeoisie, for "embourgeoisement". The self-distribution of ownership - either distributing, or robbing within the establishment - is entirely in contradiction to the advocated ideology of a competitive society. This is because an invisible hand qualifies the competitors by their effectiveness under equal conditions and therefore it is a just one. Here nothing has been expensive: the creation of the class of private owners recruited from old and new elements was accompanied by the total disruption of production systems and structures. Nothing came of the privatization advocated and based on the market, because nothing could come out of it. Nothing could come out of it because during the past 40 years, no liquid capital was accumulated in the hands of the population (which received a significant part of its income as public consumption free of charge or subsidized by the state). Therefore, the population cannot purchase state property within the framework of privatization. This is in the same way as compensation or the programmes of small investors are not suited for it, though they had a significant role in the destruction of the productive capacity of the agricultural sphere and in speculative capital concentration in Hungary. What is the outcome of such a privatization subordinated to considerations of dominance and bourgeois ideology? This is a basic question for the Left, even if the past six years of systemic change cannot, as yet, indicate the scale in the long-term assessment of the productive capacity of the capitalist order.
The excessive supply for privatization, unprece-dented in the economic history of the world, has rapidly devalued the available mass of state property. A significant proportion of the wealthy Western investors often have not come to purchase productive capacity but to capture markets. In the same way as Egypt has not become a richer and more advanced country because the Arabs drink Coca Cola in the desert (to quote Heikal), nor did the East Europeans because they may consume products of Casio, Shell, Aral, Julius Meinl, etc. While public consumption has worn off, the Western price level has been coupled with Eastern wages. However, the lesson of commercial imperialism can be learnt. Under such conditions the majority of devalued state property went into the hands of the manager-technocracy and the political bureaucracy, who converted their political and power position into wealth. It has also been seized by the bankocracy and falles into the hands of groups of the successfully lobbying strata of small entrepreneurs (which had existed earlier). The so-called "market-based privatization" of the region has been going on brutally. Only instead of the heroic struggles of the original accumulation of capital - when the Indians defended their land to the last drop of their blood - the power relations of current politics, lobbying and panamas have been decisive. It is more appropriate to speak about original expropriation instead of original accumulation. In the sense this way of primary distribution - i. e. the legal distribution of the means of production through the medium of public authority - cannot be subsequently challenged. After the primary deal, the requirement of commutative justice enters into force: private owners acknowledge each other as private owners and protect each other against the outsiders. As it was theoretically worded by a liberal-conservative political thinker, the noted constitutional lawyer Ernst Forsthoff (1968): "The constitution of the state based on law is fundamentally a constitution of guaranteeing and safeguarding. And since only an already existing order can be safeguarded, therefore the constitution of the state based on law is largely linked to the social status quo.
The safeguards of the constitutions of the states based on law have a logic of their own, which is defined by the concept of law. These safeguards primarily mean the drawing of boundaries. The classical fundamental rights, personal freedom, equality, the freedom of religions, the freedom of expression, the right of combination and assembly, safeguards of ownership and inheritance - well, all this is nothing else but the demarcation of those fields in front of which state authority would stop." In Eastern Europe the state based on law has not stopped at public property, which it has been privatizing radically. Accordingly, in practice it is only private property which is protected by the boundaries drawn for human rights, and not property in general. Different things are valid during the course of the construction of the system - i. e. different from those found in its settled stages. Any further intervention and distribution is prohibited and dysfunctional because of the considerations of private property and the safety of turnover, if the issue is viewed from the position of private ownership.
Part of the actual procedures and events of privatization provoked indignation in some segments of public opinion when they became known. In Eastern Europe human nature is such - though there is no hurry in guaranteeing it as a human right - that it is inclined to consider only acquisition based on the individual's work as legitimate. This is true even if it is the result of work done by the individual, or by the community. On the local level, when it was difficult to keep information entirely secret, often the mood of 1793 developed, though informally only, at the tables of pubs. In Hungary preventive measures were taken to avoid the spread of the illegitimacy of privatization. After some initiatives within groups in government (such as the Christian Democratic People's Party), the then opposition (Hungarian Socialist Party and Alliance of Free Democrats) took up a critical position with the slogan of more effective and just privatization in order to mitigate and to drain social dissatis-faction. The Socialist Party, which ascended to power in the summer of 1994, ordered an investigation of the previous two months. The meagre liberal result of which, so characteristic of present social-democracy, was that most of the procedures were found legally sound, but immoral. Further on, with the advent of the new social- liberal government, a new privatization programme and a new organization for the handling of property were supposed to hide the fact that privatization is illegitimate for a significant part of the society. None of this has been able to organize itself into a political force because human credulity is very high degree even in groups not affected (in their interests) by privatization. People feel that the global spirit of privatization, coming from the "internal centre, similarly to plants" (i. e. from the centre of the capitalist world-system) breaks through everything in the medium of global power relations. This especially true if it has successful protagonists like the IMF and World Bank in countries who have become dependent as a result of debt crisis.
However, the level of the productive capacity of the new system, which lags behind the old one and has an unexpectedly low level in the eyes of the credulous masses for the time being, has resulted in a deficit of legitimation in many parts of Eastern Europe. As a reaction to the unexpected weakness of output, the political centres soon replace the optimistic strategies which characterized the first phase of the transition with the strategy of pessimistic optimism. In order to dissolve the contradiction of "good systemic change - bad society, bad general mood" they have changed by: (1.) emphasizing the need for an ever longer period of transition instead of a short one, (2.) stressing how difficult it is to overcome the blind alley of the past instead of saying that it was easy to do so( hence they apply an American- style explanation saying that "there are always losers and victims", and finally to the main argument: (3.) inevitable systemic change shows to the society that its demands have to be downgraded. (9) The main argument of the victorious conservatives of the Trilateral Committee is adopted: it is not that the cake is too small but that the mouth of the masses is too big. Too much democracy and too much pluralism mean ungovernability. It cannot be permitted that the well-deserved incomes of the propertied classes should be exposed to the pressure of governments set up on the basis of universal franchise and having public opinion behind them. In order to avoid it, state functions should be reduced, the class compromise of the welfare state in the Keynesian sense of the term, and the material compensations should be dismantled. Destatization, deregulation and an anti-inflational economic policy (limiting itself only to defining the quantity of money in circulation) should lead to the new equilibrium. The minimal state, dismantling its social roles, opens up vistas to enterprises, to the market methods of the economy of supply, and to new individualism by deregulation. Here the opposition of the state based on law is the social state, which presupposes collective rights on the basis of the equality of rights, and distribution which meets demand, and materially shares goods. In other words, as it does not leave the individual in his or her spontaneously given social situation, it can exist only by violating the boundaries of the freedom of private owners drawn by the state based on law - provided the community forms of ownership are not regarded as legitimate. This is precisely the essence of neo-conservatism.
All these social processes are effective in a class and stratum-specific way. Obviously it is not the same part of the population which is affected in the former Soviet Union by mass diseases (plague, cholera TBC), unknown (or only sporadically occurring) for decades and which have massively infected people this year. These are the typical products of poverty (in a country which purchased more cars from the products of the Mercedes factory in 1993 - as reported by the company itself - than all the other European countries taken together). It is true however, that systemic change has brought about new, hitherto inexperienced things for the societies of the region. Such is national renaissance (too much of a problem in many respects) and religious renaissance (so very necessary to tolerate the given conditions). Further on, such new phenomena are the real and positive experience of formal political democracy: namely, that the government can be removed. Pluralistic tendencies also produce illusions. Yet it is a question whether the level of tolerance of the population is able to put up with the guaranteed reality of long-term social inequalities, having hitherto unheard of appalling affects. The techniques of power, imported under the influence of the phenomena of refeudalization, have started to operate here too. The security industry and security personnel serving to protect of the very rich - we have fast reached the same proportions as America in this - has become a separate branch of occupation here as well. (10) The communities of "VIP"s (Very Important Personality), the separated castes at sports events, business and art forums, known earlier only in the Atlantic world, have appeared in Eastern Europe too.
Thus the anti-capitalist Left has quite a lot to analyze and to criticize. Despite the withdrawal of the Keynesian welfare state, or the appearance of "degenerate Keynesianism" in another interpretation (Joan Robinson), and despite certain remnants of pluralism (a political system based on universal franchise, and the legality of opposition activities) such a new situation is developing where a partial return to the traditional forms of dominance is made. Despite the lasting ebb of labour and socialist movements, there are progressive, emancipatory social movements, but they are only organized along partial problems and particular needs. Such are wage movements, environmentalists (green greens, black greens), feminists, peace movements, anti-racist and alternative efforts. Today they are being organized along the structural and functional differentiation of bourgeois society, in isolation from each other. This is why their criticism of the one-dimensional capitalist universe (Marcuse) is weak, and they often take up only the behavioural forms of citizens' initiatives, essentially conforming to the system. There is no common basis for the many kinds of dissatisfaction and their outlooks. Social-democracy, being liberalized in many respects, does not want to, and the disintegrated communist movement is unable to bring the existing tension into an anti-systemic movement (Wallerstein).
It is possible that the degree of the transnationalization of capital, and the existence of the society of labour within a national framework, makes it impossible right from the outset that these tensions can be integrated into a uniform activity after the basic contradiction (capital - labour) of the system is transferred to the level of the world-system. Eastern Europe has learned at a high cost that it was impossible to organize a counter-society within a national framework (for example, the break between the Soviets and the Chinese). According to my hypothesis: the unity of the capitalist world-economy and the world-system, which is hierarchical from the angle of national and regional development, can only be overcome if there is unity. Economically and politically unequal development may again produce new editions and attempts at rough, political socialisms as a consequence of the world-system in the semi-peripheries, but if they do not learn from the example of their predecessors and if they remain isolated from the anti-capitalist movements of the advanced world, or from equal development, then very likely they would again be unable to bring about a breakthrough in the sense of civilization. The vectors of equal and unequal development have to point in the same direction - to winding up while retaining, in other words, to the transcendence of late capitalism.
1 Under "Drugstore" here the interpretation of the term by Jean Baudrillard is understood, and not simply the shopping centre of the kind with a buffet as was first developed in America. Denoël, 1970. pp. 21-24.
2 Leonard Schapiro: Totalitarianism in the Doghouse. Western Printing Service Ltd. 1972.
3 G.W.F. Hegel: Phenomenology of Mind. Akadémia 1961. (Hungarian translation by: Samu Szemere.)
4 I have quoted the conclusions of a sociological survey (Vásárhelyi, Mária: Kritika Vol. 1994. No. 6. p. 3.), which also states that "nowadays half of the adult population saw the Kádár-system as more successful and fair than the present one ... That part of the society is growing which believes that it is just the development of capitalist relations and shifting to market economy and privatization which can be blamed for the deterioration of their living conditions."
5 I have attempted to answer the basic question of what kind of socialisms and why have they suffered historic defeat in my theses Nos. 3-8. (Cf. Baloldali Alternatíva Egyesülés, publication of 1 May 1994.)
6 According to data of the International Institute for Economics and Co-operation located in Vienna, which do not represent the worst indices if compared to other data, if 1989 is taken as the basic year (100%), then the national income of the countries of the region was the following in 1993: Poland 86% Slovenia 82% Czech Rep. 80% Hungary 80% Slovakia 76% Romania 72% Bulgaria 71% Russia 61% Ukraine 59% Croatia 46% Average = 71.3% Source: Magyar Hírlap, September 7, 1994. (p. 7.)
7 The concept is used in its Wallersteinian sense. When marketization is said it does not mean market and trade (that is, the process of circulation), but it refers to a productive process, and the changing of working relations into relations of wage labour. See the concepts as used by: Le capitalisme historique, Découverte, 1987.
8 Verlag Friedrich Cohen, Bonn, 1929.
9 In his lecture on "Central Europe: From Where to Where?" the historian Ferenc Glatz, the cultural minister of the Németh-government, stated the following at a conference of the Europe Institute, which was then published in the largest national circulation daily: "There are misconceptions about economic stabilization in the region. Public opinion, partly under the influence of the ideologies of happiness of fascism and communism, is inclined to interpret stabilization as equality, as economic life free of poverty. A society where everybody can equally take from the horn of bounty." (Népszabadság, September 10, 1994. Week-end supplement.)
10 In the US, the occupational category "private security staff" constituted 2.6% of the active population in 1990. There were more of them than of full-time policemen. (See: Le Monde diplomatique 1991/11. Jacques Decornoy's article.) Does it not evoke the feudal world of private armies?
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SZIGETI, Péter 1991, Szervezett kapitalizmus. Mediant 1993, A jogállamiság mint társadalomelméleti probléma. in: Társadalmi Szemle 4.
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WALLERSTEIN, Immanuel 1987, Le capitalisme historique. Découverte.
From History to Theory
The East European change of regimes is often referred to as revolution even among left-wing intellectuals in the West. It is not the notion but its function that must be discussed. The notion is the result of a tactical consideration that reflects the collapse of state socialism within a simplified alternative, that is, a capitalist market economy built on multi-party parliamentarian elitism, or a return to the old state socialist system.
The change of regimes versus revolution
This analysis shows the East European victory of a world capitalism as a higher step of historical development. The starting point of the necessary legitimating ideology is the theory of "political revolution". A critical analysis of the system has got no chance at all this way The ideologists of the old-new ruling elites usually identify the increasing political democracy with the increase of democracy itself. In reality the change of regimes strongly limited the economic and social aspects of democracy in the countries of the region. The ideologists of the new regime never forget to emphasize that liberalism, that is, a free market economy, and economic or productive democracy are not compatible.
It seems that there are only two forms of capitalism dominating the whole region: "national capitalism" on a conservative, racist basis and "multinational capitalism" with a neo-liberal monetarism forgetting about national economic interests. The latter openly protects the interests of the wealthy peoples and classes, and this way prepares and permanently helps the rise of a national populism.
The ideologists of the change of regimes point out that the manipulation of power by Soviet and local communists after the Second World War led to the delinking from the capitalist world system in East Europe. But they seem to forget that this was the consequence of the balance of forces expressing the interests of the highly developed core countries. These ideologists also forget the fact that the "division" of Europe did not start forty years ago, but has a 400-year tradition. This wave of re-evaluation of history made communists the demiurges of historical processes. The old Stalinist historiography did the same. Both types of "history-making" consider the state socialist system to be the embodiment of certain (communist, Marxist, Leninist) theories. But state socialism had specific characteristics because it was brought about and existed in East Europe. Historians agree that the Russian Revolution was the consequence of the fall of semi-peripheral capitalism which was hardly integrated with the centre of the world system. The specific East European regional features resulted in a network of inherent organic characteristics, for example, authoritarianism, catching-up industry, dominance of state property, rudimentary forms of parliamentarism, lack of national bourgeois civilization, excluding the masses from politics and a national-populist tradition, all specific features of "semi-peripheral capitalism".
After the Second World War on this East European basis the capitalist system lost its legitimacy among the peoples of the whole region. Anti-fascism and anti-capitalism inseparably grew together. Today the ideologists of the new Eastern European regimes try to shift fascism into the socialist tradition. The doctrine of totalitarianism led to the identification of communism and fascism. Referring to the fascist threat they repeatedly affirm the existence of anti-socialist regimes: "Only the West can protect us from the extreme left and the extreme right."
The vision of "catching-up with the West" has got a long history The utopia of "catching-up" as the official ideology of the change of regimes comes from the intellectuals of the East European nineteenth century national movements and was transmitted through Stalinist ideology In 1989 this ideology was formulated as a slogan: "We will join Europe". In fact the most effective, period of "catching-up" was between the 1950s and 1970s, during the era of state socialism. This development could not have taken place without the "imperial" integration after the Second World War. The structural characteristics of the bipolar world were basically determined by co-existence with the concurrent socialist world system.
The neo-liberal breakthrough and the new accumulation processes unfavourably influenced the development of the peripheral and semi-peripheral regions - East Europe as well. The fall of state socialism can hardly be understood without this worldwide economic background. The gap between the East and the West became broader in the 1980s. In spite of the forced catching-up, the tendency of delinking from the core countries speeded up after 1989, and a new phase of peripheralization started.
The inner regional features of the East European change of regimes reflect the evolution of the relationship between the world system and East Europe. The "organic" character of these connections is expressed in the fact that the changes of regimes in the region show a lot of structural similarities. And this is not only the chronological coincidence of the changes of regimes here. This problem has deeper roots.
The Stalinist statist transformation that closed the October Revolution determined the future of the basic problems that have come to light again in the process of the change of regimes. The most important problems of the 1920s in the Soviet Union are the:
· character of state power;
· new mechanism of political power;
· primitive accumulation of capital; and
· transfer of property.
All these were organically intermingled.
The basic problems of the change of regimes in 1989-91 are the same: the structure of state power, the process of primitive accumulation (now called privatization) and the transfer of property. The final results of these changes are all determined by the economic-political interests of the core countries. The process of integration and joining to Europe has a special selective character decided by Brussels from the economic, social and regional point of view. The Europe of the well-to-do is uniting at the expense of the "human masses" confronted and divided both nationally and regionally
The ethnic renaissance
The East European national-ethnic renaissance fits into this context. The ethnic conflicts and wars did not only start because of inner contradictions but rather because structures that were disadvantageous for the core countries were pulled down. The disintegration of the East European federations made it possible for the international monetary institutions to gain power over the economic processes in this region. The extreme right movements flaring up after the change of regimes were open to the neo-liberal challenge chat swept away the importance of the new-born national parliaments. The most important steps in the economic development of East Europe are dictated by the clerks of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The progress of West European integration is inseparable from the disintegration of East Europe and this contributes to the permanent instability of the region. The new nation states were conceived in the myth of nineteenth century bourgeois civilization. Although the myth might be anachronistic in the era of international corporations and of the information revolution, it has certain advantages for the core countries. The price of the East European labour force has fallen drastically International capital and the national mafia-bourgeoisie, with the help of the comprador intellectuals, are easily able to break the economic-social resistance of the employees.
The legacy of state socialism
In the field of industrial civilization, state socialism was a type of "modernization" that destroyed feudal-capitalist structures and the system of fascism. It built up the "welfare state" in an East European style. In the West this was the achievement of the social-democrats, while in the East the so-called state parties were the promoters of the process. But the system was unable to "socialize" itself. One of the most decisive historical reasons for this was its close connection with the interests of the privileged ruling groups. The logic of conserving power permanently liquidated all socialist reforms-they gave way only to Stalinist or bourgeois reforms. Left-wing criticism of the system was considered illegal.
In the second half of the 1980s, under the pressure of the outer challenge and inner conditions, the achievements of state socialist modernization could no longer be supported. The ideals of relative cultural equality, full employment (based on an obsolete industrial structure) and free education were lost. Nevertheless, the values of socialist tradition and of the equality of social opportunities left deep, indelible impressions on the consciousness of society Although the state socialist experiment failed, we have enormous experience for bringing about the theoretical and political anti-statist version of socialism in the future.
We have realized by now what a monster it had in its womb: the monster of the second edition of semi-peripheral capitalism.
The 'new left' and the change of regimes
In East Europe it was György Lukács and the Praxis circle in Yugoslavia who, referring to the tradition of the Russian Revolution and the Marxism of pre-Stalinist period, first refused the dichotomy of private property and state property in a theoretically consistent way. Instead of a bourgeois social-democratic and a Stalinist state socialist alternative, Lukács in the tradition of Marx, Luxembourg, Lenin and Gramsci made an attempt to fit the purely economic reform in Hungary in 1968 into the framework of a broad, general social reform. He considered the communal self governing structures as a tertium datur (third way). But his aspirations were defeated politically. As Lukács said, the reform communists and the conservative-dogmatists formed a secret alliance against the "utopian social reform".
As pupils of Lukács, the Hungarian democratic opposition took the same standpoint at the beginning: on the basis of self-governing property they outlined a democratic socialist change of regime. Even at the beginning of the 1980s, Ágnes Heller, Ferenc Fehér, János Kis and Györgv Bence represented a point of view that was close to the ideals of social self-government, for example, the legacy of the workers' councils of 1917 and 1956. What is more, they demanded "more socialism", and denied the objective possibility of democratic capitalism in the "Soviet bloc". The former ideologists of economic self-government, now well-known economists in power, changed their standpoint in the second half of the 1980s and called for the transformation of state property into private property by way of privatization. Restoring private property they helped the privileged of state socialism to become a "new social class". In the 1970s the same philosophers had protested against a phenomenon like this. Lacer they released that under the new world economic and political circumstances they might be members of the "new class" themselves.
Since September 1988, the new left-wing tradition as an independent theoretical, political and organizational trend has been represented by Left Alternative in Hungary Similar organizations have been formed all over East Europe, but for various reasons they have not been able to represent mass forces. The former Hungarian democratic opposition has given up its demand, once considered utopian, for "liberation society from politics". This aim is articulated by the new left that distinguishes itself from the old conservative left and the reform communists. In the end of the 1980s the new left rejected the "economy centred", "developmental" world concept of the liberals and Stalinists and instead placed in the centre the "autonomous individual", someone who can decide their fate without the help of bureaucracy or capital. But the change of regimes swept aside this tendency along with the buds of social property and self-governing workers' councils.
The prospects of the 'new left'
The fall of state socialism caused the decline and, to a significant degree, collapse of the European and international left. What deserved to perish and what should have survived is another question. In the East European region the anti-capitalist new left did not gain mass support. Under the ruins there seemed to grow up either a pro-capitalist or a populist left. These "old left tendencies" have only been able to gain power because the achievement of the old state socialism surpassed the economic, social and cultural accomplishments of the new East European regimes. This will explain the widespread nostalgia for the "socialist achievements". These developments help the former reform communists of the nomenclature-today they call themselves social-democrats - to get back to power. Voters expect them to do away with the inequalities, the wealth of the few and poverty of the masses, which are the result of the change of regimes.
But the Polish, Lithuanian and Hungarian experiences show that these "successor parties" are only able to give a more civilized face to the historic task of the change of regimes, namely to rescuer capitalism in the region. The stability of the new left is strongly threatened by sectarianism, abstract doctrinaire theoreticism, "overideologization" and endless repetition of the final goals. The traditional parties are in an impasse, as they are only interested in preserving present-day Scriptures of political power. The East European new left organizations, it seems, sink deep roots in the region only if they form in a specific combination of parties, social movements, civil organizations and professional trade unions.
The East European new left can only win the sympathy of the masses if it finds the "weak points" of the system, that is, its basic local problems. The weak points of these systems are partly characteristic of the region, and partly reflect the problems of the world system:
-Unemployment and the uncertainty of existence.
-The general breakdown of the self-maintaining mechanisms of the state, and crime as an organic part of the reproduction of productive and existential relations.
-The way in which the state property was expropriated and its social consequences, the lack of social and moral legitimacy of privatization.
-The privileged new ruling classes versus the poverty of the broad masses.
-Cultural inequalities of a new type.
-Feminism, minority issues and environmental concerns emerging in new forms.
-The contradiction between political democracy and economic-financial dictatorship.
-The economic and social-cultural productivity of the new East European regimes falling behind the productivity of the failed state socialism.
Social and cultural equality of opportunity is probably the most important of human rights for us. Both the liberal and conservative scale of values and political strategies seem to forget about this question. The historic place of the new left becomes clear if we consider the "liberalization" of social-democracy and the collapse of the communist movement, which has been unable to adapt.
In the next crisis period of the capitalist world system the new left will be able to play a decisive historic role if it is able to gather the potential for protest of various social fields. By that time we must find the necessary theoretical and political forums for the international co-operation in all "three worlds".
II. Anti-Capitalist Theory and Praxis Today
Britain in the 1990s: the crisis of socialist theory and prospects for the left
Britain has very highly developed social movements; for example, a women's movement, a movement against racism and anti-Semitism and for black equality, an environmental movement, and a movement for homosexual equality. The progressive causes of these social movements have generally been embraced by the communist and Marxist forces in Britain for over a decade. The significance of these movements has been mostly to shift the consciousness of the population as a whole on these issues. They are not in direct challenge or confrontation with the state.
This type of resistance or challenge to the state is carried out primarily in the arena of more traditional class politics - in industrial struggle and in other political initiatives and defensive strategies. It is this area of British politics - that of the problems of, and the future of, class politics in Britain - that I wish to concentrate.
In recent times, the British government has stumbled from one embarrassing crisis to the next and popular disaffection with the status quo has led to renewed debate on the legitimation of western systems; in this context one might expect a resurgence of militant anti-capitalism. Yet recent events in British politics like the election to the Labour Party leadership of Tony Blair, and the relaunch of the Trades Union Congress, have confirmed the rightward trend of the broad labour movement. It is clear that now, more than ever, an incisive anti-capitalist theoretical perspective is needed, which can inform an appropriate and constructive practice: where this is going to come from is not so clear.
This theoretical and practical absence is completely intertwined with the decline and demise of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which was for decades the country's only real anti-capitalist force. Despite a number of tiny successor groups which continue to function, the communist movement, from the Comintern tradition in Britain, is effectively incapable of regeneration. Why is this so? The primary reason is a rigid and inflexible dogmatism. This leads to a failure to constantly reanalyze the contemporary situation from a Marxist perspective, and to constantly reassess and reconsider strategies and tactics to ensure that they are the appropriate means of struggle.
An opportunity was presented to change this tradition in 1956 when Khrushchev released the movement from the straightjacket of Stalin's "Leninism"; but developments of Marxism and Marxist philosophy for the contemporary world were not forthcoming. The CPGB leadership was not prepared to engage in these, and the development of these debates was primarily taken up by the New Left.
The New Left had a major theoretical impact during the 1960s and for the generation influenced by 1968; but the major problem for the New Left lay in its lack of organic relationship to the working class - a relationship which at this time the CPGB still possessed. The new ideas were divorced from the movement they were presumably intended to serve; and the CPGB was unwilling to take those ideas to the working class - or even seriously to consider them. The implications of this intellectual failure have been terrible for the British labour movement, leading most significantly to a divorce of theory from practice. Developments in Marxist ideas slipped away from the party to the universities; this left economism rampant in the CPGB's trade union work because party intellectuals failed to apply Marxist theory to the class struggle in Britain or develop Marxist theory in these conditions. In this way, the party confirmed a tendency which already existed: for the British working class to develop without theory. This set of circumstances is clearly related to the low level of political and social consciousness in the British working class movement today.
So this problem of dogmatism in the past has led to a crisis of socialist theory; but it also still exists to a great extent amongst those post-CPGB groups in Britain today who still consider themselves to be communist. As the party leadership embraced Eurocommunism in the late 1970s, and moved away from Marxism in the 1980s, ideological divisions led to two extra parties being set up. The New Communist Party (NCP) was founded in the late 1970s, and the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) in 1987, around the newspaper, the Morning Star.
Both these parties continue to exist, and both retain broadly the same political positions that they had at the time of their foundation, in spite of all the changes in the world. It is estimated that their memberships are in the region of 150 for the NCP and 1000 for the CPB, although these may be somewhat on the generous side. There has been no change in either grouping as regards the status and operation of democratic centralism. Both consider themselves to be Marxist-Leninist parties, although strictly speaking only the NCP conforms to this description in terms of party theory. Both are enormously rigid in their insistence on retaining their own interpretations of the Marxist-Leninist faith.
These two tiny parties, together with a more informal group called Communist Liaison, continue to promote fairly traditional communist ideas. Possibly the most significant step that they have taken recently is to attempt to begin discussions on communist unity in Britain, with the aim of a united party instead of several smaller groups.
The prospects for the unity initiative are not enormously bright because although there are almost certainly less than two thousand members involved in these groups, there are some fairly major theoretical differences. The NCP and Communist Liaison are united in supporting the revolutionary overthrow of the state, although they do not agree on everything. Communist Liaison is a much less rigid organization than the NCP and opposes the NCP's rehabilitation of Stalin and adulation of the late Kim Il Sung. The CPB opposes this perspective and it makes support for its parliamentary road to socialism programme a precondition for communist unity. Thus it appears that whilst many of the members already work together amicably within the labour movement, they are not actually trying to achieve organizational and theoretical unity amongst their own communist organizations. Under such circumstances it seems unlikely that any new injection of Marxist ideas into the British labour movement will come from the remnants of the former communist movement.
The other organization which succeeded the CPGB after its dissolution in 1991 is Democratic Left (DL), which won majority support for its foundation at the last Congress of the CPGB. Because of its rejection of Marxist theory, Democratic Left cannot properly be called an anti-capitalist organization, but because it mirrors swings to the right in the movement as a whole, it is worthy of some consideration.
Following a membership figure in the final year of the CPGB of around 5000, the Democratic Left had, on its foundation, a membership of around 1300.
The main political target for Democratic Left is what it considers to be the undemocratic "first past the post" electoral system. This puts it into the political orbit of organizations like Charter 88. DL states that wide coalitions must be established in civil society - even including dissident Tories around some issues - that can push the government on to the defensive.
DL has been sharply critical of what it has termed the Labour left's "inadequate" response to the last General Election defeat: it chastised the so-called "hard left" for rejecting proportional representation, coalition govern-ment and other supposedly "democratic initiatives".
The DL has committed itself to achieving consensus, helping to con-solidate resistance to the Tory government and developing a credible alternative. However, it is clearly attempting to build this alternative outside the parameters of the more traditional left. Articles in their newspaper, New Times, by leading members of DL have been harshly critical of discussions around eco-socialist realignment, which is held by a broad cross-section of individuals on the left. They have also rejected attempts by Ken Livingstone MP and others, since 1992, to generate a socialist forum embracing left labour, Marxist and former communist thinkers and activists. This initiative was the closest parallel in Britain to the Hungarian Left Alternative.
It is interesting to note the DL's response to the last but one Labour leadership election which resulted in the election of John Smith. The DL criticized Smith for adopting an essentially "statist approach"; instead they supported the approach put forward by the current leader Tony Blair, who was then Labour's Employment spokesperson, that: "Neither justice nor empowerment can be fully secured without action by the community".
It is also interesting to observe that Demos, the think-tank founded by former right-wingers in the CPGB, has been developing support and influence for the ideas of "communitarianism"; these are very popular in the United States, particularly around the Clinton administration. This perspective is for a new public policy which attempts to give self-help and mutual aid groups a more central role in meeting welfare needs, and it is clearly a significant factor in the approach of Tony Blair.
Because it shares these views to a great degree, the Democratic Left finds itself at odds with much of the left, which continues to attempt to move the TUC and Labour leadership to the left. A recent example of this conflict was Democratic Left's support for the participation of the Conservative Employment Minister at the TUC's Full Employment Conference; his attendance was condemned by most of the left.
It seems clear that Democratic Left has made an irrevocable break, not only with Marxism-Leninism but also with virtually all traditionally socialist ideas. The national conference in June 1993 confirmed the dominance of the so-called "radical democratic" current within the tiny organization. The radical democracy concept, as outlined by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe became more and more influential within the CPGB leadership in the late 1980s through its promotion by the journal Marxism Today. It lays great stress on the self-activity of autonomous movements in civil society, but tends to pose this against the need to achieve a government which will tackle the power of capital.
It is unfortunate that in rejecting many of the worst aspects of the communist tradition, Democratic Left has also rejected the basic Marxist idea that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable contradiction between capital and labour. This renders it incapable of being a basis for the renewal of the left in Britain. Any Marxist wanting contemporary analysis and strategy must now realistically look beyond the remnants of the communist movement towards other Marxist currents. In today's embattled situation in Britain, where hard won achievements like the welfare state are under major attack, there is much to be said for former communists joining other Marxists both inside and outside the Labour Party to work as broadly as possible in the movement, yet retaining an overall Marxist and anti-capitalist strategy. Whether or not such a left realignment can be achieved depends on setting aside articles of past faiths and facing up to the urgent needs of today. Without such an abandoning of sectarianism and sentimentality by its self-styled vanguard, the British working class will lose everything it has ever won.
These are clearly the needs of the British labour movement which, if achieved, can help develop its prospects into the twenty first century.
We need an open-minded approach to the application of Marxist theory to our current problems. We need a collective approach to political practice which is non-sectarian, and sets aside past hostilities. Moreover, we need to recognize that we do not need to have all the details of a strategy for socialism in place before we can work together to fight the attacks of our government on the mass of the people. We have to operate on the basis of the current political reality.
These goals will be difficult to achieve, but they are not impossible, for in spite of the fact that the left in Britain is very divided, we have a reasonably well-organized labour movement, which despite its rightward drift, in parts retains a fairly high degree of class consciousness.
Our major concern must be to ensure that while we rethink socialist strategies, we do not withdraw from practical political activity. This is essential, not only because of the actual needs of the working class in Britain, but also because our new theories can only be tested and refined in practice.
Lessons for the Left from South Africa
Political developments in South Africa will impact very strongly on the international workers' movement. This is perhaps the biggest of the new openings seized by the left in the so-called "New World Order". The challenges faced by the ANC in the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the debates opening up within the ANC/SACP are being watched very closely by the left around the world.
Leftists around the world are eager to learn from the experiences of South Africa's socialists. Their victories will be our victories. South Africa is an industrialized economy and revolutionary advances there will impact on the world political situation. It was for these reasons that Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading radical newspaper decided to station a correspondent full-time in Johannesburg almost 8 months ago to report on the lead up to South Africa's historic first democratic elections and the period that followed. It was my great privilege to be chosen for that task. I was also able, as a representative of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party to discuss with many important sections of the left -- ranging from independent socialists in the ANC, members and leaders of the South African Communist Party and COSATU to the Pan Africanist Congress and the far left organizations such as Workers Organization for Socialist Action, Comrades for a Workers Government and the Workers List Party -- their understanding and perspectives regarding the future development of left politics in South Africa.
In this short address I hope to convey from my experiences in that fascinating country, some of my impressions as to where South African politics will go and what broader implications the left internationally may be able to draw from these. While the ANC's success in the elections was a great victory, the struggle against the apartheid legacy is far from over. According to SACP leader Jeremy Cronin, whose views appear in the latest issue of the socialist journal LINKS, a "overstatement of our achievements coexists with considerable scepticism" and "despite the euphoria of the election victory, there is simultaneously in the ranks of hundreds of thousands of militants a substantial disorientation".
The new political mood was perhaps best reflected by reactions to the GNU's first budget, which was welcomed by big business but received much less enthusiastically by rank and file ANC activists. More recently the ANC's ambiguous response to the wave of militant strikes that erupted soon after the elections, and is continuing, underline the contradictions facing the South African left.
Predictably the sectarian left is crying : "We told you so, the ANC would sell out!" We must reject such infantile politics and sloganeering. But we also have a duty to understand and explain the new situation in South Africa -- a situation which is less than a decisive victory for the liberation movement and, furthermore, a situation where the movement itself is going through rapid and dramatic political differentiations as capital and labour struggle desperately for the heart and soul of the ANC.
Broadly speaking, the consensus among South African leftists and I share, is that it was correct to fully support the ANC's election campaign and its great election victory not because they were an uncritical "cheer squad for the ANC", as some sectarians charge, but because an ANC victory was a step forward for a militant mass movement with a program for radical change.
A more limited consensus supported the ANC's decision to seize the political opening offered by a negotiated settlement with the discredited and crisis-stricken apartheid regime. I believe a sober analysis of the negotiations process supports the view that the democratic movement, largely thanks to the left which led mass action and mobilization, achieved its bottom line demands of non-racial election and an elected constituent assembly to write the new constitution.
With a few exceptions, South African socialists recognized that the great majority of revolutionaries and militant workers supported or were members of the ANC and hoped to radically transform South African society through a mass struggle for the social reforms promised in the Reconstruction and. Development Programme. They also expect to see a political differentiation in the ANC over the pace and implementation the promised RDP reforms.
A small section of the South African left refused to support the ANC in the elections. The Workers Organization for Socialist Action (WOSA) decided to stand a "Workers List" on a platform for building a worker's party. It succeeded in attracting very few votes while further isolating this small group from the militant masses who in their great majority supported the ANC in the elections. In sharp contrast the rest of left campaigned for an ANC victory and hailed the election result as "victory for all humanity".
While we should celebrate the ANC's election victory as an important step forward, we should be clear that the GNU is not a new revolutionary power, as did the Sandinista government after 1989. The GNU is not a free expression of majority rule. It is a government still partly under the control of the old regime, resting uneasily on the institutions of the apartheid state, including its armed forces. De Klerk and company have reserved ample powers under the five-year power sharing arrangement that came out of the negotiations. In the recent budget we can see how much weight the old regime still has in the GNU.
The peculiar power relations in the GNU was anticipated by the ANC before the elections as an ANC discussion paper for their January 1994 Conference on Reconstruction and strategy made very clear: "On April 27 we will make a decisive break with the past, through democratically electing a parliament. It is a decisive but not complete break. It should be a moment of great victory, but it will not yet be a completion of our tasks as a movement aiming to free our people from apartheid tyranny ... We will be entering governments of national unity at various levels ... Our powers are conditioned by having partners who do not share our objectives, our conception of nation building and RDP... We will occupy dominant power in parliament and the GNU, but there are other centres of power -- in the civil service, army, parastatals, economy, etc. which will, at first be virtually unreconstructed ... If we rely on the GNU and the civil service alone for implementation the RDP is doomed." (African Communist, 1st Quarter 1994, pp. 51-60)
In Marxist terms, the struggle for state power has yet to be won by the liberation movement. SACP leader Joe Slovo made this clear in a November 1993 report to the SACP central committee: "We cannot dismiss the thesis that what we will win with elections will be political office, not state power in the fullest sense. In order to transform political office into effective state power we need, and needed, to have a strategy that minimizes the threat to democratic transformation. The GNU can be a threat if it is used by the old group to threaten progress. But, on the other hand, it can ensure that when we get political office we will be able to use it in a framework which will minimize the threat of counter-revolution." (African Communist, 4th Quarter 1993)
This was the understanding that many militants in South Africa had of the process underway in South Africa. Negotiations -- born of the inability of the apartheid regime to rule in the old way, and the inability of the ANC to win power immediately through military struggle or insurrection -- would provide the basis of a partial advance and lead to new openings for struggle for majority rule and popular power. Mass mobilizations would have to continue to drive the process forward.
Unfortunately, now that the elections are over we are beginning to see a different line coming from some of the leaders of the movement. ANC members of the GNU are stressing moderation, placating big business and even chiding the masses for being too impatient. And even from some leaders of the SACP we see the beginnings of a different view of the process.
There has been debate in the ANC and the SACP over strategy for some time. This has been one of the most open debates conducted in that section of the left movement formerly aligned with Moscow Stalinism and demonstrated the SACP's break with the Stalinist tradition. An important role in this debate has been played by publications like the African Communist, South Africa Labour Bulletin, Work In Progress.
For the last few years the focus of the debate has been mainly around the negotiations and participation in the GNU. But one thing was clear, the ANC and the SACP insist that the masses drive the negotiations process and it was the masses which would be the key to propelling the transition that lies ahead. On this basis the main moves made by the ANC to negotiate and participate in the elections and the GNU would be steps forward for the movement. Militants of the ANC saw this as a revolutionary process, a process that would go beyond the winning of mere formal legal equality for black South Africans. While winning the elections would not mean the winning of popular revolutionary power, negotiations and the elections would open up a new terrain of struggle for popular power.
In a major 1992 intervention in the strategy debate in the ANC, SACP chairperson Joe Slovo summed up this view of the negotiations process: "We are negotiating because towards the end of the 1980s we concluded that, as a result of its escalating crisis, the apartheid power bloc was no longer able to continue ruling in the old way and was genuinely seeking some break with the past. At the same time, we were clearly not dealing with a defeated enemy and an early revolutionary seizure of power by the liberation movement could not be realistically posed. This conjuncture of the balance of forces provided a classic scenario which placed the possibility of negotiations on the agenda ... But what could we achieve in the light of the balance of forces? There was certainly never a prospect of forcing the regime's unconditional surrender across the table. It follows that the negotiating table is neither the sole terrain of the struggle for power nor the place where it will reach its culminating point." (African Communist, 3rd Quarter 1992, p. 36)
However, comrades will see in Cronin's article in LINKS No. 2 a different angle on the process. Cronin criticizes Slovo for suggesting that there is a "culminating point" in the struggle for power. Cronin argues is that the movement has to junk the "traditional paradigms" of the movement: the "Marxist-Leninist (insurrectionary) paradigm" and the "national liberation (handing over of power) paradigm". Slovo, he says, still argues within the framework of the old insurrectionary or seizure of power paradigm and makes space for the negotiations only by deferring the "decisive moment".
Cronin suggests that the "substantial disorientation" of ANC militants after the elections can be overcome if we replace these paradigms with a new paradigm of "structural reform". "In the past we tended to conceptualize change as a struggle to capture the commanding heights, as a struggle to nationalize ownership and control. We will be more faithful to the fundamentals of our national liberation and socialist heritage, and more useful to the actual tasks at hand, if we begin to think, as the Reconstruction and Development Programme starts to think, of the main task as being about a process of democratizing power. All power." (LINKS No. 2, p. l7)
Cronin expands on this new paradigm in an article in the SACP journal African Communist, entitled: "Bolshevism and socialist transition". First, he purports to criticize the Lenin and Trotsky for not completely criticizing the gradualism of the 2nd International: Bolshevism made thinkable a working class-led insurrection away from and ahead of the most industrially advanced societies in the West. It made thinkable the alliance between working class social struggles and third world national liberation movements. It broke, in other words, politically with the evolutionism of the Second International. But it failed to adequately extend its critique of evolutionism into the economic. The political project was Bolshevik, the separate economic project tends to remain technicist, developmental, evolutionist. The separation between Bolshevik politics and a technicist economic perspective is neatly and problematically captured in the famous slogan that socialism equals "soviets plus electrification".
First, Cronin argues that capitalist techniques cannot be copied neutrally and that to follow them is to reproduce the appropriate ideological, cultural, political and production relations which sustain them. He cites Che Guevara's warning (aimed at the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union) that socialism could not be built with the "dull instruments left to us by capitalism". Second he claims that Bolsheviks incorrectly believed that the process of transferring control over existing productive forces would have to await an external (political) rupture, the political revolution, the installation the "worker’s state", the "dictator-ship of the proletariat". Marx, says Cronin, "was not so clear-cut on this" and he cites Marx's description of passing of the Ten Hour Bill in Britain and the co-operative movement as victories for "the political economy of labour over the political economy of property". He claims that Marx is saying that you can have the embryonic emergence of socialism in the interstices of capitalism itself.
Cronin then warns that if you cannot think this is possible then "socialism is always going to be an external project, it will have to come from outside of the production process, from intellectuals, from a vanguard party, from cadres". This leads, he says, to the substitution of the party for the working class, the apparatus for the party, the general secretary for the apparatus, etc., which characterized Stalinism. Then he gets to the reason why the "Marxist-Leninist seizure of power" paradigm is lacking as a framework for the South African process: I believe that Bolshevism failed to adequately extend beyond the political its critique of incrementalism. But, because of this it also failed to adequately understand the significance of reforms, and working class struggles for reform, within capitalist formations. Reforms need not just be, at best, 'rehearsals' ‘learning experiences', ways of mobilizing workers for the ‘real' struggle (= seizure of power). Reforms, as Marx noted of the Ten Hour Bill, can have an inherent socialist value in their own right.
Cronin concludes that South African Communists can best "build socialism in the interstices of the present system" if they "engage, as socialists, in the Reconstruction and Development Programme". I think as socialists we should be concerned by the implications of what Cronin is putting forward. I should firstly add that I have spoken many times to Jeremy and I believe him to be a sincere revolutionary, not a sell-out or nay other such label, who is attempting to come to grips both with a very complicated and important political situation and his own and his party's experiences of Stalinism.
While revolutionaries must support any struggle for immediate gains for the working class and other oppressed layers they must also seek to drive the process on to more fundamental changes. We know there are limits to the reforms that can be gained without breaking the power of the capitalist state. Many of us from the West have first hand experiences under the rule of reformist and social-democratic governments of the demobilization, co-opting and demoralization of workers though participating in tripartite bodies committed to industrial "reform" under capitalist rule.
This debate concerns an important difference over what the movement should do now. It is not in dispute that the ANC's election victory did not bring majority rule. As the budget, the use of police to violently disrupt the protests of striking workers, and other GNU decisions show, the old regime still has the power to limit the gains of the black working class majority and intends to use this power to frustrate even the most basic demands of the masses.
Among the black majority in South Africa there is a considerable frustration beneath the relative calm that has followed the elections. No government could quickly satisfy all the demands made by the majority which has been exploited for so many years under the apartheid regime but a GNU that remains imprisoned in many ways by the old regime can quickly become discredited and become the target of mass anger. Reactionary forces (like Inkatha) can exploit this situation with demagogic promises and attempt to divide the black masses on tribal lines. In this situation, the leadership of the ANC, the SACP and its other allies have a duty to explain the truth to the masses about the political situation -- why they are being held back even on the modest reforms promised in the RDP. Ultimately, if the situation is to move forward in the majority's interest, the ANC and the SACP will have to explain to and convince the masses to break the old regime's resistance to the needed changes.
Socialists must organize the masses in struggle to win their demands and must not shy away from the inevitable conclusion that the working class must take state power in its own right. There is no shying away from this fundamental fact. A capitalist South Africa cannot and will not allow the overwhelming inequality and poverty, the lack of jobs resulting in over 50% unemployment, the tremendous shortage of housing, inadequate health care and education, water and sanitation to be solved at the expense of its interests. No amount of rhetoric about democratizing power will bring it about without removing the source of the power of the white, capitalist class in South Africa, control of the economy that is fuelled by super exploited, mainly black labour. And socialists internationally must organize solidarity for the South African left as they undertake this momentous task.
It is also our duty to engage in debate with the South African comrades as they grapple with these challenges. A recent initiative taken by the Australian Democratic Socialist Party, which many here may already be familiar with, was to launch LINKS, the international journal of socialist renewal, to provide a forum for comradely discussion between those who remain committed to the socialist project and the building of organizations to actively work towards it realization. SACP leaders Jeremy Cronin and Langa Zita are on the editorial board and Pallo Jordan, the new minister for posts and telecommunications in the GNU, is a contributing editor.
Similar discussions and debates -- about the state, reform and revolution -- are taking place in the revolutionary movements in many other countries, particularly those facing new political openings in the electoral sphere. There is a rich debate well underway in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador. LINKS has been fortunate to have Alejandro Bendana (who heads the Sandinista's "think tank") agree to become a contributing editor and LINKS contributor Steven Marks attended the recent FSLN Special Congress.
Closer to my home, similar discussions are taking place in the Philippines left. Debates have moved beyond a rejection of the Maoist-Stalinist politics of the dominant faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The opening for the left to do more legal work has widened. Together with this, a significant section of the Filipino capitalist class and church hierarchy have been willing to enter into alliances with the left against some important IMF-favoured policies of the Ramos government. These include an oil levy hike and a Value Added Tax (VAT). A broad campaign against the former was successful and there is now a campaign against the VAT. The left unions (aligned to anti-Stalinist Manila-Rizal grouping of the CPP and the socialist BISIG organization) have joined other unions in signing a "Social Accord" with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation of the Philippines. Other employer federations have agreed to abide by its provisions. MR comrades say that this accord favours labour. There are no no-strike clauses or limitation of claims. Basically the employers agree to recognize "free unionism" and observe industrial laws and official minimum wage rates and in return the unions agree to work to improve productivity and efficiency for monetary or other rewards.
These debates in the international worker's movement and the national liberation movements, and the political differentiation taking place within these movements, have to be expected in a world political situation characterized by the continuing crisis of capitalism and the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Europe. The capitalist crisis has resulted in a major restructuring of the world economy, which has included the creation of new battalions of the industrial proletariat and international capitalist cost cutting race has shaken up sections of the ruling class. These have created new political openings for our movement, which confronts them relatively freed from the ideological, administrative and diplomatic constraints that were once imposed by the Stalinist regimes.
The further times passes following the collapse of the Stalinist regimes, the greater we will feel the politically positive consequences of this collapse for the left. We can see that in the discussions and debates in the movement today. But we are also being reminded that a material basis for reformism in the workers movement remains -- in the form of labour aristocracies in the imperialist countries.
The Labour and social-democratic reformist parties in most of the Western countries have been seriously discredited before the working class wherever they have been in power for any length of time in the 1980s and 1990s because they have dutifully implemented the austerity and privatizing policies demanded by the capitalist class. But in South Africa, the working class has yet to go through this experience.
The capitalists are consciously (they are quite open about this) trying to co-opt the ANC, COSATU and the SACP into implementing their program for restructuring, claiming it offers a "win-win" solution for capital and labour. Some of them hope that the ANC will help them impose class peace. But one problem for the capitalists is that the labour aristocracy in South Africa, shaped by apartheid, is still predominantly white.
Considerable reforms and concessions to black workers have to be made to create a stable, privileged layer of black South African workers but the most sober capitalist analysts concede that if their restructuring succeeds, the South African masses will not be able to win the basic reforms promised in the RDP.
The forces in the Latin American left that are arguing for a "shift to social democracy" also seem to be building castles in the air. According to a recent book by Professor Castenada, which is claimed to be the most articulate case for a social-democratic orientation in Latin America, the left has to work towards a new "grand bargain" with capital. This grand plan hinges on each Latin American country finding their niche in the new global economic division of labour. This is the golden promise that is meant to assure the left that their best bet is to accommodate to the capitalist restructuring drive, to accommodate to IMF, to give up "out-dated" policies for economic sovereignty, "outdated" anti-imperialism, etc. This echoes calls from ERP leaders (in the FMLN) for a "socialism that is not necessarily anti-capitalist nor anti-imperialist".
While engaging in this debates in an open, honest and comradely way, we as socialists must stand with those who defend and build the revolutionary project. The capitalist crisis and the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Europe are objective factors in our favour. On the other hand, it is a fact that it is very difficult for Third World governments to stand against capitalism's restructuring drive. Certainly the governments in Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are being forced to grant greater concessions to imperialism. We have a duty to understand this process and show our solidarity with these countries.
Similarly, in Eastern Europe the working class is being forced to retreat. The recent electoral swing back to parties based on the old Stalinist ruling parties indicates the growing disenchantment with capitalist economic "reform". But as Tamas Krausz points out in his article in the latest LINKS, unless these parties change their politics, they will simply continue to oversee the same process. The next round of elections will then see a swing back to the right, unless a genuine left is built up in time.
Breaking the capitalist restructuring drive will require concerted action by the left in the advanced capitalist countries and in the rest of the world. However, in most of the imperialist countries, the left is still in the process of renewal and regroupment in the wake of the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Here the battle with the parties based on the labour bureaucracies continues unabated.
In Europe, the mass Stalinist parties have suffered considerable losses. This is not just a result of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes but also because these parties are sharing the discredit suffered by the social-democratic parties which implemented austerity regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. Eurocommunism played a major role in trying to rationalize support for these austerity regimes. The far right has benefited from this decline as well as from the mainstream capitalist drive for a "Fortress Europe" (anti-immigrant, refugee) and from a popular opposition to the Maastricht treaty in most countries.
There is the positive side of the collapse of the mass European Stalinist parties, including opportunities for left regroupment following splits between the right and left of these parties. But their former significant weight means that their collapses are felt by the left as a whole. Nevertheless, in the recent European elections there were some gains for the left, including strong support for left-Greens in Germany, the United Left in Spain, the Party for Communist Refoundation (Italy) and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in Germany.
Socialists must co-operate to help rebuild an international revolutionary movement. We know this is a complex and painstaking task but we also know it has to be done. Every day we are confronted with reports and images of the terrible wars, famines and growing millions of refugees. We know that ultimately there is no end to this misery until revolutionary forces are strong enough to take decisive steps to put an end to this system. But we must have the flexibility, openness and preparedness to engage in construction discussion and debate with real mass forces fighting for change. We must not be sectarian. We must are not sit on the sidelines giving advice.
We must also be aware that international socialist renewal can only come about if -- as well as regrouping the left -- we are prepared take a stand around basic socialist principles, unite with those committed to revolutionary change and defend the revolutionary project.
Changes in the World Economy and the Transformations in Eastern European Politics
For the countries of Eastern Europe the present neo-liberal regimes essentially mean free market style open door politics and IMF-style transformation of their economies in order to make them capable, at any cost, of servicing their foreign debts. To ask for "alternatives to neo-liberalism" under these circumstances can mean two different (but not independent) things. The present type of Eastern European development results not only in the pauperization of the great majority of the populations, but is also an element of the prolongation of the deep crisis within the capitalist world economy as a whole. An alternative to Eastern European neo-liberalism - while eventually alleviating the social crisis within the countries - therefore could mean a contribution of the region or parts of the region to reducing, mitigating or overcoming the actual tensions, contradictions and crisis within the capitalist world system. On the other hand, the search for a way out of the present economic and social regime in Eastern Europe could, in the foreseeable future, result in a contribution of the region to the anti-capitalist transformation of the world economy.
1. Left projects and the recent changes in the world economy
Theory, strategies, and practical politics of political forces oppositional to at least some aspects of the capitalist system, i. e. of the old and the new left, the reformist, revolutionary, anti-systemic (etc.) left could certainly contribute to developing both types of alternatives to neo-liberalism in Eastern Europe. In order to make an assessment of the potential and the perspectives of the Eastern European left, with regard to both dimensions of change, we first have to analyze the relationship between progressive and left theory and practice and the structural changes in the world economy and domestic as well as international politics during recent decades. Until the 1970s, progressive and left theory and practice with regard to the less developed world was based (consciously or unconsciously) on three essentials. Catching up development in the sense of building up strong and (in one or another sense) complete national economies was perceived as a decisive starting point for any socialist project. This view was shared, in principle, by the left in the developed countries, by those, who fought to overcome real existing, "under-developed" capitalism in their own countries and by those, whose political struggles took place under the conditions of "real existing" or state socialism. Explicitly or implicitly, the left - in so far as it was seriously engaged with the "development question" in the South and in the East - agreed that one of the major and indispensable preconditions for catching up was some kind of protection of the "underdeveloped" national economies against the dynamics of the world economy. At least a selective "delinking" from the world market, for example the so-called "import substitution" strategies in the South, or the politics of protection in the East, were seen as an important element of progressive and left alternatives to the classical "open door" policies towards the West. (The debate on whether delinking had been forced on or chosen by the state socialist countries did not put a question mark over this axiomatic relationship itself.) The "open door", it was argued in turn, would inevitably result in continued "under-development" or in the breakdown of the "real existing" or state socialism. It was thus only logical that the state appeared as the central instrument in any politics aimed at preventing the suppression of and threat to left experiments by forces of the world market. Without the iron curtain, without the protection of the Eastern European block through a state monopoly on import and export of goods, services, and labour, as well as a state control of exchange rates and international financial transactions, catching-up strategies would have failed even under state socialist conditions. Without import barriers, prevention of capital flight, or, say, specific exchange rate policies, no state in the Third World would have had any chance even of easing the burdens of dependency and ongoing exploitation of resources and the work force by international capital. It was thus not because of abstract commitments to human rights, self-organization etc., but because of basic acceptance of economic catching-up, mediated by "left" state power, that Eastern and Western left criticism of the state socialist system focused so predominantly on questions of democracy within the real existing socialist states as the decisive step towards resolving the remaining problems on the way to "true socialism".
But, in the period between the end of the 1970s and 1989/91, it became clear that progressive and left strategies based on these essentials had failed to reach their aims, within the constraints of the world economy as well as in terms of systemic transformation. Making use of the "debt trap" and various other political and economic means, delinking was overthrown by an "open door" offensive led by international financial institutions and supported by the leadership of all important capitalist powers. The results of catching up, achieved behind the walls of protection of the national economy, turned out to be extremely vulnerable. The states in the Third World and, after a period of much more tenacious resistance, also those in Eastern Europe, were forced to retreat from their traditional means of supporting delinking and catching up. These changes came neither because of the "technological revolution" itself, nor because of merely political changes in international relations. They were part of the unfolding of a "new international division of labour" (F. Fröbel, J. Heinrichs, O. Kreye). One decisive element in this development was the turning away of international capital from its selective "national" orientation in the core countries in the decades after 1945. It was exactly this selective "national" orientation with its cadence of economic growth and increasing real incomes, which had led to the opening of the scissors between labour costs in the periphery and those of the core countries. While full employment or even labour shortages prevailed in the industrialized countries, this growing dissimilarity made the shift a reasonable one for capital in the core countries. (The "technological revolution" was one of the factors that made this reorientation possible.) One of the immediate consequences of these and other changes was the re-emergence of mass unemployment, stagnation and decrease in real incomes in the industrial core countries, and the end of the Keynesian (relative) equilibrium within this region. As a result, the sharpened profitability crisis of industrial capital encouraged the flight of capital into the financial sector. All these developments together resulted in an international credit offensive and a renewed international offensive for opening up protected economies, to make them available as production sites and markets, and to force them to pay increasing debt services. One of the immediate consequence of these changes was a new worldwide differentiation and a permanent re-composition of geographic zones and units in regard to a flexible set of functions for worldwide production, services, and communication.
Within this new international (dis-)order, the relationship between "national" economic development and dynamics of the world economy changed dramatically for the less developed countries. What, in some cases, may eventually generate the necessary conditions for "ascent" is now selective specialization for export-production in specific sectors or activities otherwise directly related to the world market and supported by strong state intervention, rather than the classical catching-up strategies, in the sense of state led protectionism to stimulate domestic supply for domestic markets. (This does not mean "globalization" instead of "national economies", but a new structure of centuries old and cyclically changing global integration. )
The response of progressive and left theory, strategy, and policies to these dramatic changes appears to show three general directions, not counting those who persist in an abstract and unrealistic support for the "real existing socialism" that has disappeared. Such responses are often rather pragmatic reactions to the abruptly changed conditions for progressive and left politics in Eastern Europe and elsewhere rather than theoretically developed answers to the post-state-socialist and post-Keynesian dynamics of the world economy.
There is an important, in itself quite heterogeneous current, which basically accepts that the left should develop new selective strategies for the less developed economies in order to find alternative answers to the challenges of the new global economic (dis-)order. Representatives of this group are inspired not only by their insight that classical delinking as a means of achieving catching-up has been knocked out of the ring by the changes described above. They are inspired in a specifically "left-wing" way by the structural basics (and not by the empirical "model") of the (relatively, partly) successful catching-up of the so-called newly industrializing countries of Southeast Asia. The Southeast Asian "success" within the recent dynamics of the capitalist world economy is, they argue, achieved by a complex and flexible package of selective integration and regulative strategies. If, today, new forms of differentiation and steady re-composition are a basic feature of the international economy, progressive and left thinking has to embark on this reality in order to grasp potential possibilities for the development of economic and political alternatives for every single country of the region. Economic success under these conditions can no longer be achieved by the classical developmentalist delinking or by the classical means and models of state socialism. (Many of the progressive and left tinkers we are concerned with here were never concerned with "developmentalism" anyhow.) There is, they argue, "no lon-ger" one basically stable and invariable set of conditions or one "model" that provides for successful catching-up and/or transformation of the world economy, but what is required is rather making local/national use of a quickly changing combination of local, regional, and worldwide economic dynamics and political possibilities. What has to be learned, in this view, is not simply to replace delinking by the "Southeast Asian strategy" as such, but to be flexible and selective in accommodating to and making use of the new international economic (dis-)order for the benefit of the country and its population and, last not least, local or regional left politics. One decisive way of developing this type of strategy is (besides organizing and convincing domestic political forces) to make use of (rapidly changing) economic and political conflicts and contradictions inherent to the international economic and political (dis-)order to the advantage of the respective country.
The decisive debate within this theoretical and practical approach is not about "radical realism" (P. Anderson, F. Fröbel, J. Heinrichs, O. Kreye), but about the definition and character of benefits. There is one subgroup (whose representatives are likely to come from the various strata of the more "traditional", anti-developmentalist left), that wants to use the new strategies in order to achieve the classical goals of catching-up. They believe in the possibility of catching-up, with a new generation of (Southeast Asian) "catching uppers", by using their "model" of a flexible set of strategies for (selective) integration into the world economy.
The other subgroup (whose representatives are likely to come from radical development studies and world system theory) does not deny, in principle, the possibility of catching-up by using the new strategies of flexible and selective integration. But they put their emphasis on the constraints of worldwide demand vis-?-vis massively growing production (supply), if there were more and more countries on the road to catching-up by the new selective-export orientation. They argue that any new generation of catching-up will be confronted with a structurally similar problem to that faced by previous generations. On the world market, they argue, there is place only for some of those struggling for ascent, or, in more general terms: within the capitalist world economy, successful catching-up can never be achieved by the many, and the success of one always means the exclusion of another, and catching-up strategies thus undermine (anti-capitalist) solidarity worldwide. Promoting normative principles of respecting and protecting the dignity of mankind and nature, this group therefore tries to combine the new selective strategies, at any stage and any level, with new economic principles that involve rejecting the principle of "growth at any cost". For this group, it is both possible and necessary to begin now with systemic transformation, or at least the creation of the necessary preconditions, by integrating selectivist alternatives to the "neo-liberal" regime with a turn away from (selective) catching-up strategies of one national economy in competition with others. From this point of view, the strategies of the first group appear as simply trying to adapt the horizons of classical social democracy and state socialism to the conditions of the "post-Keynesian" era of the capitalist world economy: material and social achievements for the masses without challenging capitalism on the world scale - overcoming backwardness within the capitalist world economy in order to make a future challenge of capitalism possible. By embarking on new selectivist strategies both groups, however, have in common the insight that any project of a left alternative to the "neo-liberal" regime in the less developed regions and especially in Eastern Europe must try to make use of the state and to influence its economic strategies concerning the domestic as well as the international domains.
The second type of reaction to recent changes in the world economy and to the break-down of state socialism is important more with respect to the developments in Russia rather than to developments in the small countries of East-Central Europe. As a way of taking into account the huge territory and the specific political options of Russia, one sees the emergence of important political forces that are promoting the resurgence of a strong, eventually even autocratic nation state as a central means of overcoming current open-door regimes and the disastrous breakdown of the economic, social and political order. A decisive aim for these forces is the restoration of at least the Russian core of the former Soviet "empire" (and if possible even the geographical entity of the former Soviet Union) as a strong international power, capable of domestic and international political and economic operations. Decisive forces within the Russian Communist Party (CPRF) today support this political aim, but lack the classical socialist politics of direct democracy, and call for social improvements for the great majority of the population only in very vague terms. Such a "national" orientation is detached from any anti-capitalism and socialist orientation, whatever the name of the endeavours, parties, and groups described here may be. In the East-Central European countries comparable forces are gathering under the flag of openly rightist "national" populism, for example, the forces around István Csurka and József Torgyán in Hungary, who were the first to agitate in the streets and condemn the politics of the World Bank and the IMF after the announcement of the so-called „adjustment package“ in Hungary in march 1995.
The third response to the break down of classical strategies of delinking and catching up in East-Central Europe is simply to maintain adherence to the old, anti-statist principles of the left-wing opposition to state socialism. But, paradoxically enough, with the end of the old state socialist patriarchal protectionism, the typically East European left utopia of societal self-organization and self-government has lost its socio-eco-nomic basis and political perspicacity. It tends to be reduced to a radical, "anarchist" variant of "alternative", "anti-state" and "anti-party" political thinking and acting. Practical projects of social self-organization tend to develop, in one or another way, into classical "alternative" social work, self-organized "administration" of poverty or, in the worst case, may unintentionally give assistance to emerging "social engineering" by the state bureaucracy in response to the social consequences of surrent restructuring. The anti-catching-up orientation to be found within these groups remains politically helpless and impotent as long as their ideas are not embedded in a broader left project attacking Central-Eastern European dependency from and subordination to the dominant forces in the World Economy.
2. Key issues of current Central European left re-orientation
Progressive and left professionals, intellectuals, and especially economists, in Central Europe today, are concerned mainly with the first of the approaches mentioned above. They try to develop and discuss possibilities of implementing, in one way or another, a set of new selectivist strategies. But even if discussions about these issues have become more complex and more professional in recent times, they still tend to ignore the international economic preconditions and restraints affecting alternative development. This is true, not so much for their analysis of what is presently hindering the search for an alternative, but for the proposed alternatives themselves. The shortcomings are even bigger when it comes to the problem of catching-up and the problem of relating the project of an alternative to neo-liberalism to policies for transforming of the capitalist world economy.
With the election of the new "post-socialist" (instead of „national“) governments in Eastern European, the left seach for an alternative to neo-liberalism got closer to the sphere of official politics. But the experience of the practical policies of these governments shows that, in spite of the change of climate, there is as yet no immediate possibility of implementing elements of a left alternative to neo-liberalism. In Hungary, for example, the "socialist-liberal" government, in which the Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP) is the stronger partner, in March 1995 imposed new social and economic burdens on the population that were heavier than any other single "adjustment-package" of the past five years. The political logic behind this decision made clear, once again, how small the room for manoeuvre is, in East-Central Europe today, for anyone that wants to take a step, in practical politics, towards reshaping the relationships with the dominant worldwide economic and political forces. Prime Minister Gyula Horn and other socialist members of the Hungarian government do not have any general economic conception of an alternative to the politics of the IMF and the World Bank. Like all pragmatic politicians, the prime miminister acts only under immediate pressure. This makes him extremely vulnerable to the political wishes of the extremely well organized liberal ("neo-liberal") interests within and around the Association of Free Democrats (AFD).
The fact that the AFD, in spite of the overwhelming electoral victory of the HSP and the socialist absolute majority in the parliament after the elections in May 1994, became the junior partner within the coalition government was a result of the international constellation of poltical forces. A purely "socialist" government would have faced, from the very beginning, massive and destructive "anti-Hungarian" reactions from international business and finance. In order to counteract this constellation of political forces backing an IMF-adjustment policy, one could have expected prime minister Horn to look for foreign policy manoeuvres to strengthen his position, for instance, support from the German government, which has long been the most important single factor in the European foreign policy of the Central European States. But recent events in Hungary show that the German government has no interest in supporting any type of economic recovery that differs from IMF-style neo-liberalism. This became clear for Horn when he was told that German support for the Hungarian government would depend on the fulfilment of the conditions formulated by the IMF. The German government acts in ECE as a "puppet" of international monetary interests. The result of these domestic and international constellations in March 1995 was the announcement of a "adjustment-package" that was more to the disadvantage of the majority of the population than one traditionally would have expected, given the absolute majority of the HSP in parliament.
The apathetic and/or apolitical reaction of the Hungarian population can be explained by two factors. On the one hand, people voting for the socialist party or who had sympathy for the political values represented by this party in principle, cannot imagine taking part in political protest, from the left, against this party, which represents or at least symbolizes the broad (state socialist) left traditions of the region. Independently of any concrete political step of the government, the general political choice, in their eyes, still remains between, on the one hand, the socialist-liberal-democratic forces and, on the other, the nationalist right-wing, potentially anti-democratic forces, and, from this viewpoint, a fall of the socialist-liberal government would inevitably mean the return of the right. (This political position is to be found also among the majority of progressive and left intellectuals.) The second important factor behind "apathy" is the present experience, that the old political pattern of "taking over" the state (the government) seems no longer helpful for developing an alternative economic and social policy. This concrete experience is historically new for the majority of the population in East-Central Europe and is, to a large extent, responsible for the feeling of a total lack of perspective.
Experiences like the recent Hungarian one might be of some importance in looking at the general process of reorientation of the left after the breakdown of "real existing socialism" and at the new political and economic dynamics in the international (dis-)order. The left in the ECE countries might learn, for the future, to reflect more consciously about structural, economic, and political constraints and concrete possibilities, about the room for manoeuvre in implementing alternative strategies of protectionism and selective integration of the national economies. Furthermore, it is precisely because of the recent "disappointment", and the smilingly total lack of perspective among the overwhelming majority of the population, that any left debate and, in terms of practical politics, any as yet unrealistic search for an alternative to neo-liberalism is already gaining tremendous moral and political weight.
At present, these progressive and left debates and political manoeuvres, explicitly or not, focus mainly on the national economy itself and/or on the new selectivism. And they are engaged in designing and combining a set of concrete political steps in order to counteract neo-liberalism and its disastrous consequences rather than in considering the potential outcomes of such steps, once successfully implemented, in terms of performance within or transforming of the world economy.
Nevertheless these debates on alternatives to neo-liberalism in East-Central Europe raise, and should raise, much more decisively in the future the issues that are central in so far as the relationship of the region with the world economy is concerned. The first one is the restructuring and remission of foreign debt. This should be seen as an absolutely necessary precondition for any project of reshaping the region's position and room for manoeuvre in the world economy. The politics of enforcing, at any cost, an export orientation on the Central European countries, (by consciously reducing domestic demand and domestic expenses) as a way of ensuring their capacity for debt servicing, is the most decisive factor in forcing governments in to their knees, even governments that are hostile to neo-liberalism.
The left, however, is extremely anxious about making a political issue of this question, not only because of its own political weakness and ambiguity. There is also the feeling that it would be political suicide today to openly oppose the core of international (monetary) interests behind this policy, because of their unequivocal dominance in the present dynamics of the world economy. Left intellectuals also shrink from openly opposing neo-liberal policies when they are being carried out by "socialist" or "socialist-liberal" governments. But the Hungarian "adjustment-package" actually had a decisive impact in stimulating progressive and left-wing professionals and intellectuals, for the first time, to unite publicly in expressing their opposition. A small group of economists openly demanded foreign debt remission. Others say it is both necessary and possible to convince the international monetary institutions that, regardless of their unorthodox character, the alternatives will turn out to be compatible, in the long run, with the macroeconomic aims of the IMF - if there are any rational "considerations" in the policy of the IMF at all).
The progressive and left response to the second key issue, privatization, is more open minded and confrontational. This question is discussed broadly among progressive and left intellectuals in both economic and political circles. But there are only scattered voices that systematically attempt to bring a broader economic context into the debate. It is only a minority of analyses and proposals that relate privatization to the problem of foreign and international debt and that locate the whole problem of property relations in the broader context of (de-)regulation of domestic and international market forces. In fact, indebtedness is one of the most important driving forces for privatization and internationalization of the economy. The hard currency incomes from privatization are used directly for foreign debt service and the budget restrictions for municipalities and districts would be much more severe without the income from privatization.
The left tradition of workers self-government and workers property is at the root of a second shortcoming in the recent debates about privatization. Very often, "workers property" (or, as a kind of "lesser evil", state property) as such is thought to be the single decisive issue in developing a left alternative to privatization. But this view ignores the fact that the more "marketized", the more deregulated, and the more open an economy is, the more the industrial plant or workshop will be subject to pitiless competition and forced to act in conformity to the rules of capitalist production, regardless of who the owners are. A turn in the development of property relations therefore can be achieved only by easing the burdens of foreign debt and budget restrictions. And alternative types of property relations are only a necessary precondition and one element of a left alternative to neo-liberalism. They make sense only together with a project of regaining local and regional economic sovereignty vis-?-vis the driving forces of the capitalist market.
From this viewpoint, the popular left criticism of privatization as "robbery", as the creation of a new "mafia"-bourgeoisie, etc. completely misses the point. It interprets privatization (often implicitly) rather as a cause than as an instrument for the deregulative policies that are dashing social security and workers rights. This view unwillingly tends to cherish the mushrooming nostalgia for the old state socialism. Instead of asking for the reasons for the breakdown of "real existing socialism" as a social, economic, and political system, it tends to nourish once again the illusion that state (or worker) ownership as such, independently from local, national and worldwide economic surroundings, could guarantee long term benefits for the working population.
The debate around the protection of the national economies and the association of "regionally integrated" economies is more elaborated than the debate around privatization. Whereas classical national protectionism has been very much discredited by the breakdown of state socialism in the East (and Keynesianism in the West), the idea of "regional integration" is one of the most important issues for the circles of progressive and left economists. What is behind this often vague and "defensive" concept is not only the idea of counteracting to the "open door" regime that are separating the small countries of East-Central Europe from each other. Representatives of the idea of "regional integration" also hope to improve the conditions for more advantageous forms of selective integration into the world economy, as well as for the emergence of patterns of development alternative to classical strategies of catching-up.
Finally, we should also mention the issue of social policy and domestic distribution. Progressive and left debates in this field are partly blocked by the ideological legacy of state socialism, a system in which these issues, it is said, had been handled without reference to "economic efficiency" and had been a crucial and highly "ideological" matter for the regimes. What is needed here, once again, is not only the emancipation of left debates from the ideological burden of being identified as "old wine in new bottles". It is also necessary to oppose the view that the dynamics of the world economy are something "natural", "impersonal", "apolitical" impossible to influence and to change and that it is therefore, that there is „objectively“ no chance for promoting popular demands in the field of social policy.
Last but not least, there is the question of democracy, which should be closely connected with the social policy and domestic distribution issue, but is actually not part of the debate about alternative patterns of development in Central-Eastern Europe. In the former state socialist countries the obstacles to any left reassessment of classical liberal, purely representative, democracy are perhaps even more severe than in many countries of the Third World. In the latter, the turn to representative democracy in the 1980s, in the eyes of the population and policy-makers, was less closely bound to unsatisfactory economic performance under previous dictatorships than was the case with the state socialist regimes. The old claims for "societal self-government" put forward by the former left opposition to state socialism, definitely lost their vigour soon after the formal "systemic change" in 1989. During the past five years, they have failed to analyze the performance of the new system in a practical and comprehensive manner, from the point of view of the continuing divorce of the formally representative political system from popular needs and the continuing demobilization of the population. Instead, "self-organization" and "self-government" have been seen, by and large, as something far removed from the state and from politics, as something advanced only by small grassroots groups. Thus it has been reduced, in practical terms, to a sterile phrase. Efforts to re-establish the significance of popular needs as an inherent and legitime element of politics, performed wherever, through whomever and under whatever economic circumstances, are widely missing. Similarly, whenever there was felt to be the slightest move into this direction within the political arena, it was denounced as seditious populism and endangering political stability by virtually all acknowledged political forces. It is precisely the latter fact that should make the radical left keen to act in this field.
To conclude: As the disastrous consequences of "neo-liberal" peripheralization are felt more and more, there are signs that the search for an alternative by progressive and left circles in Central-Eastern Europe is gaining momentum. But it is a striking feature of these endeavours, that the diverse possible elements of such an alternative are still discussed in a very fragmented manner. One of the actual tasks of the left is therefore to bring these elements together systematically.
However, in order to develop these elements into a left project, with a potential for contributing to the transformation of the world economy in the foreseeable future, these endeavours have to be linked to the struggle for a new relationship between popular needs, politics, and economics. I am not just stressing the constraints on successful catching-up development that are imposed by the dynamics of the capitalist world economy, and the need to systematically bring back into the debate, from the very beginning, the possible results, on the world scale, of any alternative economic development. Rather, any debate about alternative patterns of development for the national economies of the region (which may be catching-up orientated in several aspects) immediately has to be linked to concepts and strategies of an economic recovery based on an anti-capitalist way of dealing with all human and natural resources of the region, reducing rather than maintaining or only reshaping social inequality on the world-scale. If the lesson learned from the failure of state socialism was only, under new conditions, to try the same again in another (more "flexible") way, this "alternative" will end up as a simple repetition of (more "flexible") capitalist (may be "state capitalist") catching-up strategies, which will never be a means for worldwide satisfaction of the needs of the majority of the populations. It is instead necessary to combine criticism of the classical state socialist type of protectionism with a criticism of catching-up as the common goal of old protectionism and new selectivism.
Secondly, the proposed reorientation of recovery strategies can be only successful if the immediate and comprehensive interests of the population are taken seriously as an inbuilt element of an alternative project. In practical politics, this means that narrowing the gap between popular needs and the political system is not so much a question of left "representation" of these interests within the given party system, but a struggle for a restructuring of the political system that will open the space for the voice of popular interests in politics. The immediate and comprehensive interest of all producers historically has never been in favour of capitalist catching-up development. Therefore this kind of change in the relationship between economy and politics seems to be a necessary and absolutely basic element in hindering a new socialist project from once again slipping away towards a strategy of simple national or regional ascent within the capitalist world economy, under the auspices of democratic or anti-democratic "centralism" of a self-sufficient "left“ elite.
ANDREA KOMLOSY - HANNES HOFBAUER:
In Front or Behind? Emerging from the Dead End of Catching-Up-Industrialization
In this study we consider processes of development and underdevelopment, the formation of centres and the dependent integration of less competitive (and therefore peripheralized) areas as they take place in the framework of a capitalist world-system. At least since the 16th century - when the capitalist world-system started to take shape in the North-West of Europe and then subsequently imposed its logic on all parts of the world - regional development can no longer be analyzed without defining the relationship of the respective region with other parts of the world-system and its actual mechanisms of competition. The need to connect regional and global processes equally applies to questions of uneven development, peripheralization and backwardness as well as the possibility of overcoming them. In order to set the framework within which we want to discuss possibilities for overcoming the capitalist system, we briefly point out its central categories.
1. Theoretical categories for analyzing the world-system:
* Capital accumulation as the driving force
In order to be more competitive than others, a constant strive to reduce costs has to take place. Possible means are:
- the raising of productivity by technical innovation, leading to the exploitation of nature and
- the use of labour force at a cost cheaper than the present average, leading to the exploitation of wage and non-wage labour (in different zones of the world-system).
World capitalist development is polarizing the world along the lines of a centre-periphery structure. Centres and peripheries - regardless of existing historical and geographical differences - are characterized by different functions and development possibilities within the capitalist world-system. These also determine processes of state formation, democratization, nationhood and the composition of social classes. Most theories of political economy - whether liberal, conservative or Marxist - use terms and categories developed by analyzing the industrialized core. By using them for peripheralized regions, we risk transferring models of analysis to situations for which they are not appropriate.
What are the main characteristics of capital accumulation in a core region?
- Nation-state as the political entity in order to realize profits within, and to keep costs out of the state boundaries( that means out of the political responsibility of the respective government.
- Expansion of economic activities beyond state boundaries, based on an unequal division of labour and profits between the different zones of the world-system.
- Citizenship to control access to the privileged core-regions.
- Capital and labour (movement) - the supposed dominant antagonist classes in the industrialized core, in fact have a common core-industrialist notion of progress and modernity; workers try to obtain larger portions, but their fights take place within the same capital logic. Whatever rise in living-standards, consumption, social welfare, political participation and de-mocratization they have achieved (this is especially the case in periods of economic up-swing), they have been strictly limited to core citizens.
- Groups and social classes excluded from progress even in the core, fight for equal rights. Usually they have not been aware of the core-periphery-structure. However, there are social movements - for instance feminist and ecological ones - which, by mistrusting the concept of progress actually question the core-periphery-structure as well.
- Peripheries are needed for the supply of natural resources and cheap labour for the core; they serve as a necessary source of surplus, which leads to their marginalization.
- Emancipatory movements in the periphery demand economic progress and nation-state stability like that enjoyed by the core - not taking into account that the success of the core model is due to its selective application.
Is there no way for a periphery to become part of the core?
Economic progress and political stability in the peripheries cannot be achieved,
- because of the peripheries' lack of a hinterland - a precondition for the core to actually become a core,
- because the transfer of surplus to the core does not allow domestic accumulation - which is precondition for the rise of living standards and consequent political participation, as in core-democracy,
- because the limitation of resources would never allow a worldwide generalization of the core-model.
From the point of view of the core, despite the ideology of development, economic progress in the peripheries must not be achieved, otherwise the exclusive privileges of the core citizens could no longer be granted. The attempts of peripheral movements or state-governments to get out of a state of dependency are therefore met by embargo, boycott, political pressure and military intervention by the core-community. The (few) exceptions confirm the rule.
2. Models of catching-up-industrialization pursued by peripheral regions of the world system
The core-model which promises development for the peripheries is free-trade and open-borders (Smith, Ricardo). The free-market-ideology has been specially elaborated for peripheral regions, while the core itself has always protected its markets against unwanted foreign competition - that is, whenever the respective capital groups considered protectionism to be helpful. Awareness about the mechanisms of uneven development among late-industrializing and peripheralized regions has led to the rejection of the integrationist ideology.
Neglecting the models of integration (which in the vast majority of cases has created "stability" as a peripheral status) we can point out the following forms of catching-up processes based on delinking:
pursued by (Central) European late-comers in order to catch up with English productivity (18/19th century).
- National development
pursued by new East European successor-states after the break-up of the Empires.
- Socialism in a single country
Soviet model since the 1920s, taken over by/imposed on Eastern Europe after 1945/48.
- Third world-statism
such as Kemal in Turkey, Peron in Argentina, Vargas in Brazil etc.
- Dependence-inspired self-reliance
aiming at a self-reliant accumulation model.
Failures, dependency, isolation and boycott by the core have encouraged various forms of co-operation among peripheral countries and regions, usually aiming at strengthening national development:
- vision of a socialist world-system, partly and temporarily achieved by Comecon,
- south-south co-operation, partly and temporarily achieved by various producer-cartels and regional alliances.
All models initially pursued delinking in order to stop the transfer of surplus to the core. Using different kinds of protection of national or joined markets, all forces were mobilized into rapid and crude industrialization (with concomitant destructive effects on nature), as well as mobilization of people into the industrial labour force by breaking up still-existing traditional ways of life and production (with destructive effects on self- determination and human dignity). Only then was growth considered to be capable of proceeding into other fields of the economy and be more orientated towards consumption. Delinking was often considered to be a transitional phase towards integration on a new scale.
According to the state and size of the economy and the state of the world-economy at the moment of delinking and the beginning of catching-up, we can observe four paths of development leading to different results:
a) Remaining agrarian periphery (Caribbean and small middle American states, sub-Saharan and Central Africa)
A lack of resources and technology does not allow such countries to realize their import substitution programmes. Thus they remain predominantly agrarian.
b) Becoming part of the global centre (Japan)
A late-starting mercantilism uses delinking as a form of protection of domestic industries in order to catch up with the world-market leaders; after having gained a competitive position, policy shifts towards a controlled strategy of export-led growth. There is a strong state influence on economic activity and private economic corporation during the delinking period and the exporting period as well.
c) Export-led growth resulting in a semi-peripheral status (Brazil, Turkey, the 4 "tigers", ...)
After first attempts at national industrialization programmes, import-substitution came to its limits; there is a shift to an export-led growth-strategy along with the changing patterns of the international division of labour. Industrialization is limited to those sectors which were able to meet the trends by which production was transferred from the core into low wage countries: this resulted in peripheralization on a new scale. The marginalized sectors provide the modern ones with labour and social care( the results are seen in growing tensions between the poles of growth and the hopeless slum- and hinterland areas. Economic activity and government economic policy is controlled by multinational corporations (and in some cases rich land-owning clans), and governments are not able to express or impose any economic policy which can follow national development patterns.
d) Import-led growth resulting in a semi-peripheral status (former SU and European Comecon states)
With the help of state planning this path of development provided a partial success for delinking, allowing the build-up of a strong mining, energy and heavy industry sector. For a while governments seemed to have gained control over economic development (i. e. political primacy exercised by a political elite controlled by the communist party, excluding the masses from political participation, but guaranteeing extraordinary equality of access to jobs and consumption).
Further catching-up would have required advanced technologies. Economic reform in Eastern Europe was considered to be the path to access to those technologies from the West through import led growth. Like in industrializing Third World countries, access along with the changing patterns of the international division of labour only occurred in those sectors which were able to meet the trends transferring production from the centres into low wage countries: i. e. peripheralization on a new scale. The loss of political primacy led to the collapse of the system( as a consequence the political structures quickly turned into classical Third World ones.
Rules of competition not only force enterprises to raise productivity by externalizing costs (so [re]producing the centre-periphery structure of the world system), they also force regions and states into a race for a better place within the world system hierarchy. The driving force for all these efforts can be found in the model of progress imposed by the advanced industrialized countries and the example of the few (apparently) successful of countries, which, as exceptions to the rule succeeded in catching-up, and giving hope to all those who are "behind". The majority of the left for a long time has not only tolerated, but promoted the catching-up goal by nourishing the illusion that capitalist progress would somehow turn into socialist equality.
The core-industrialist notion of progress and development, common to bourgeois/capital-representatives and Marxists
Both types of accumulation processes - the capitalist one and its imitator, the socialist one - have neglected various costs arising out of the development of productive forces. These are costs like the reproduction of social (not only labour) forces or the (re)establishing of an ecological equilibrium, which were and are displaced regionally and postponed socially. The displacement follows the centre-periphery-structure, in as much as the periphery is burdened with these costs. The postponement makes future generations responsible for the paying, and also for the suffering of actually caused costs.
This type of transfer of costs is a common practice for the capitalist accumulation regime. The ability to externalize costs is more than an aim of the capitalist way of production - capitalism has made an ideology out of it. In modern East European languages this can be translated in the following way: By the slogan "Enrich Yourself!" The Czech leader Václav Klaus encouraged his compatriots to enter a new period of time. "Enrich Yourself!", automatically means ... at the cost of others, whether it was meant directly with regard to the Czech periphery, Slovakia, or with regard to state-owned property. The delinking of Slovakia serves the Czech economy in transition. What is more, the privatization of state-owned property constituted a transfer of values accumulated in the past to a new, private disposition. Society had carried the burden to create these values, a private owner makes profits out of it.
The transfer of costs, which is constituent for capitalist accumulation, does not necessarily have to apply to socialist accumulation at least if we believe in its ideology and in its ideals. The way in which socialist accumulation in fact differs from capitalist accumulation is rooted in the supposed valuation of the labour force at so-called "real costs". The surplus value was not privately appropriated, but integrated into the circle of investment and consumption. In socialist ideology the surplus value - if it is not reinvested - is to be paid, whether individually to the bearer of the labour force (which constitutes the Keynesian social-democratic model of valuation), or collectively to the "working class" (which was typical for the Soviet model). The individual participation of workers needs the over-production of a core state in order to include the working-class into a consumer-model; whereas the barely consumer-orientated Soviet model organized workers-participation by social or collective funds. The Soviet socialist accumulation process theoretically imposed a system of "real costs" of labour into production by planning wages and prices along the lines of social interest, not private demands. This was supposed to be more competitive than capitalist accumulation, with the help of social investment. Planning on the basis of the "real cost" of the labour force should avoid social contradictions, which would be - in the long run - much more expensive to solve. The final necessary solution of the social question should be cheaper with the socially distributed surplus than with a privately distributed one. As we know, the theory failed in practice.
However, the model of socialist accumulation, by concentrating exclusively on "real" costs of the labour force, not only ignored other social costs such as cultural and ecological ones, but also followed the same rationality of production and productivity as capitalist accumulation. Like the capitalist accumulation model, socialist development was to be achieved by establishing the largest possible territory to produce goods for, an industrialization on the largest possible scale - on the same fossil-based development as capitalist accumulation - and the quickest possible growth. This included the proletarization of masses of peasants - best seen in the Soviet Union under Stalin or in Romania under Ceausescu - thereby destroying subsistent economic relations, devaluating traditional work and products and leading to a loss of identity, including the social and cultural alienation of the people. The attempts to catch-up failed and produced a posteriori "social excesses" - i. e. there were people without economic (and in the end social) use. This could be easily seen under the crude postcommunist accumulation process after the transformation in Eastern Europe. "Useless" masses can no longer be used for production. The social interests of reproduction were already subordinated to accumulation processes in communist times( as a socialist circulation of accumulation could not be put into practice, the (re)integration into the capitalist circulation of accumulation rendered many of the socialist achievements and abilities useless.
Catching-up as a model of national development was rooted
- also in the thinking of the Western left - in a misunderstanding of contradictions: the "fetish of the class-struggle", as the German theorist Robert Kurz (Der Kollaps der Modernisierung, Frankfurt 1991) calls it. Eastern and Western traditional Marxists only concentrated on the question: "What is the price of labour?" and: "Who pays for it?" - in Marxist terms, the question of class-struggle. Under this premise the - pretended - incompatibility of Capital and Labour turned out to be a simple competition between two social categories within the same common rationality. It is not the fundamental category of capital accumulation - i. e. the commodity - which is the target of interest. The keypoint for a socialist alternative is not the commodity itself as the subject of the negation, but only the social relation to it, personified by the worker. The working-class seems no more - in such a socialist accumulation model - to be the character-mask of variable capital, as Marx described it, but it is seen as the anti-thesis of capital itself. So socialist accumulation is - as with capitalist accumulation - stigmatized by commodification. The only difference consists in the price of the commodity "labour".
Consider the following example: Housing/living. The way in which work, working-place, school, construction of houses etc. were organized in socialist accumulation - type societies makes it clear that living was not considered to be a cultural good, not an "activity", as Ivan Illich (The right to Useful Unemployment, London 1978) describes it, but a commodity. In the capitalist accumulation model this commodity is expensive for workers, and the private ownership of houses is even an important sphere of profit-making. The socialist accumulation model - on the contrary - cheapened housing for workers, in order to increase social productivity, whether aiming at a catching-up industrialization of the Soviet-type accumulation, or for a Keynesian demand-orientated consumerism of the social-democratic type. In fact both types, by cheapening housing, were interested in a cheap input into the national economy in order to decrease prices of other products, mainly for the purpose of export. The "Red-Vienna"-model of the 1920s, for example, sacrificed the house-owners in order to modernize the export-structure of the country after the collapse of the Hapsburg monarchy. By lowering the cost of rent, however, living was not freed from being a commodified merchandise.
Socialism as a means of turning poor regions into peripheral zones
Following the described rationality, Soviet-type socialism as it operated in the periphery - in order to catch-up - turned poor regions into peripheral zones. Thereby it fulfilled - unwillingly - a task within the capitalist world system: the "invaluation" (Inwertsetzung) of regions, peoples (Völker) and classes. Socialist accumulation in the East European peripheries was the driving force causing the submission of backward areas and traditional layers of population to the logic of the world market. The "in-valuation" of regions by industrializing subsistent production should make them fit for the "socialist" Comecon-market. Because of the lack of right currencies for importing certain technologies from the West, it should even orientate the collective productivity of certain sectors towards core-markets. Romanian wine in the US, Bulgarian vegetables in Western Europe, Albanian tomatoes in Germany were produced in regions "invaluated" by socialist accumulation. This followed the tradition-line of the division of labour between Western and Eastern regions, such as wheat-producing in Poland and the Baltic states for Western European needs in the 16th and 17th century etc. The "invaluation" of regions included an "invaluation" of peoples and classes, who - by being marketized - were proletarianized. Within one generation for example, the wallachian peasants - until then partly subsistent "objects" of a more or less feudal economy - were "freed" for market-production. Furthermore, the new war in the Balkans could be interpreted as a means to "invaluate" a partly subsistent form of economy - as has existed mainly in the Bosnian and Kosovo-areas. This time - after 1989 - "invaluation" is no longer accompanied by socialist terminology, but by a nationalist one. Moreover, because it is carried out by martial means, there are more victims. In this case we could speak of the ethnicization (Ethnisierung) of the social question, which is a typical phenomenon for the latest East European catching-up philosophy.
The "invaluation" of regions, peoples and classes included the destruction of traditional economic, social and cultural links. This destruction was a selective one - and it functioned differently from state to state. While in already industrialized regions like Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Russia marketization penetrated every economic exchange, agrarian regions stayed partly subsistent in the field of food production. Many daily needs were, and are still produced by the family (especially by the "housewife"). Both the more industrialized and the more agrarian socialist accumulation-types lead towards modernization by selective "invaluation". Following the logic of the world-market, poor regions were/are turned into peripheral zones, dependent on demands and prices - whether within Comecon or in the world-market itself.
Left alternatives to the so-called "socialist accumulation model": A plea for an new slowness
Given the highly advanced international division of labour, the left should (re)discuss the terms of alienation (Entfremdung) using Marxist analysis, as Marx described it in his early writings (Karl Marx, Philosophisch-ökonomische Manuskripte, MEW 40, Berlin 1985 (1844)). This could be the basis for understanding the negation of the negation - i. e. the overcoming of alienation - as a cultural task rather than an economic category, and more than a question of distribution within the sphere of capital. A different kind of distribution between the investor of capital and the variable part of the capital - the worker - is not sufficient to overcome the rationality of the accumulation process.
Thus a left economic model has to reject the categories of economic productivity and growth as imposed by world-market competition. This could be initiated by picking up ideas and values emerging from feminist and ecological theories which aim to establish social/cultural categories of progress.
To overcome the constraints of production and consumption within a commodified economy (warenproduzierende Gesellschaft), one starting principle could be "economic subsidiarity". The basement of a society, beyond the constraints of competition, is the small economic unit empowering self-management. Its implementation could be reached with the help of a selective delinking along regional lines and branch aspects. This means that leftist politics should give priority - as much as possible - to subsistence over market production and to local market production over world-market production. The use of local resources, local technologies and the local labour force should be promoted. Local needs should be the driving force of production. The "as small as possible-scale" of production in various branches and regions should be completed by co-operation between peripheral regions in order to avoid involuntary delinking. The main target of this kind of "economic subsidiarity" is to (re)gain political and social primacy over economic processes, and cultural hegemony over the rationality of accumulation.
Socialism: The Lesson of Crisis
The search of the ways to a new kind of human history, dialectically negating, but also inheriting, the era of "a new time" is the major "nerve" of 20th century history. This search has been finished today by the global crisis of what we called "socialism".
I. First lesson:
The world endures the global crisis of "socialism"
The thesis about the global crisis of society, of movements and ideas, which we called socialist, permits us to put on record a series of essentially important consequences.
1.1. The necessity of dialectical negation of past experience. We have to rebuild, but not restore socialism as an ideology, movement and society. Consequently, it is necessary to update critically the theory of socialism. The dialectical critiques of Marx, Lenin. Gramsci's theoretical concepts form the basis for the elaboration of a new left theory; such a theory is absolutely necessary if we want to overcome nostalgia and to move forward (not back) to socialism.
1.2. We are at the initial stage of a qualitatively new socialist movement. We have to plan our strategy for decades, not only years and it must be new strategy.
1.3. We need to refuse to explain the crisis through such means as (1) somebody "betraying of ideals" and (2) of the "impatience of the heart" paradigms.
II. Second lesson:
20th century - the era of mutant sprouts of socialism
"Socialism" (in all of its manifestations), which has become the one of system-forming characteristics of 20th century history, was generally the historical mutation, of the worldwide tendency toward the socialization (self-denying of post-classical capitalist society); this mutation was induced by the utmost aggravation of the state monopolistic "bar-barian" (generated the world wars and colonialism) contradictions of capitalism at objectively insufficient development of potential for positively associated social creativity.
2.1. The consecutive protection of common democratic principles is the condition for movement along the way of socialism.
2.2. The overcoming of the state-exaggerated and authoritarian-corporate tendencies in the socialist movement.
The strengthening of the state machine for them is more important, than the support of self-organizing working-people. The fundamental error of the modern fundamentalists of a left-wing movement lies in the fact that the strengthening of the state machine (in Russia in 1993/94 - the power and state patriotism) and/or the opportunity for themselves to participate in its activity (to get into parliament or to receive the ministry posts) has appeared for them of more importance, than work in support of self-organizing working-people.
2.3. We should preserve the sprouts of socialism.
III. Third lesson:
The alternative for mutant "socialism" is the communist society, the person and culture, "taking off" the world of alienation development
Not the ideal ("dream"), nor the theoretical design, constructed on the base of some sort of modality can represent itself as the alternative to mutant "socialism". It can be only the real, objective, worldwide (to say about social space) and civilizationally-general (to say about the social time) birth process of a new kind of human history, which "takes off", that is, negates (the relations of estrangement) and inherits (the material and spiritual culture) "the pre-history" - all previous historical development of mankind, instead of only just capitalism. This quality - not so much the freedom from... (exploitation, alienation etc.), it is rather the freedom of associated social creativity, of joint creation by people of their history in a process of material and spiritual activity, the freedom of social creativity ("the kingdom of freedom" in the Marxist paradigm).
Free associated social creativity is, thereby, the key category for understanding a new kind of history, its progress is the content of the socialist movement, the basis for overcoming the mutant forms of the latter.
For all the abstractness of above-stated theses, they permit to put on record the series of consequences, utterly important for the Renaissance of socialism (as movement of society, of culture).
3.1. The progress of left movement depends on the measure of principles realization of a freely associated social creativity.
3.2. The major task of communist movement is "the cultivation" in a person a potential of social creativity.
Firstly, - by way of every kind of support for any form of mass democratic movement.
Secondly, - in "drawing" process of public movements and other "local" forms of social creativity (collective enterprises etc.) into the resolving of strategic tasks for overcoming the alienation and for the liberation of the person, down to struggle for the change of the public model.
Thirdly, - on the basis of the creation of conditions, at which the mastering of the world of culture (the world of mankind co-creativity) will become the need for the utmost largest number of people.
3.3. The struggle for removing all forms of alienation.
3.4. The assistance for the accumulation and creative use of the social-creative energy of a person.
The condition of the growth of the left-wing movement is, firstly, the "training" of its "social muscles" (that is of experience and the development of its ability to do something) and the growth of its mass base; secondly, the development of "social brains" (for understanding the laws of its operation and survival).
IV. Fourth lesson:
The overcoming of socialism crisis is based on the development of a new social base for the left-wing movement
The social layer (class), most suffering from alienation and most capable of constructive protest, was always a social base for socialist and communist movements. In 19th century it was an industrial proletariat. These people, having abilities to the joint associated creative labour and being the most alienated from the opportunities to perform creative activity as directly in labour, as in the social life, become the social bases for left-wing movements on the threshold of 21st century. The main material interest and the strategic purpose of this social struggle is not so much the redistribution of surplus products for its benefit and the destruction of direct exploitation of labour, but the formal (ensuring the opportunity for self-organizing and self-management, realization of the innovatory-creative potential) and the real (ensuring the opportunity of creative activity) liberation of labour.
4.1. The new movement needs new people. The change of the social base and "the paradigm of the initial stage" of a qualitatively new socialist movement means also the necessity of searching and "cul-tivating" the other "member base" - another kind of person, generating and carrying out this movement.
4.2. It is necessary to refuse the attempts of deprived conformists.
4.3. Left-wing movements who are arriving on the scene to complete the work of bourgeois-democratic and Labour movements. Synthesizing the aforesaid with the ideas of 2nd and 3rd sections, I would stress, that the main task of the left-wing movement at its first stage, which in Russia has not yet been overcome, is the linking of "intelligentsia's" struggle for the realization of common democratic requirements, against authoritarian, corporate, bureaucratic tendencies with the labour struggle of hired workers for social justice. It is the general problem of all countries, where the national democratic transformations haven't been completed.
The second stage, which historically begins not afterwards, but in parallel with first, requires the resolution of a more difficult task - "the shifting" of the qualified worker and of the lower intelligentsia - the main creators of public riches of the 19th century - from "economize" towards solving the problem of liberating the person from his labour, the society and culture from alienation, towards associated social creativity.
V. Fifth lesson:
Socialism - a process of non-linear transition from alienation era to communism
This transition is non-linear and non-uniform, it includes both positive and backward ("restoration"), as well as deadlock variants of movement, as for that or other countries and peoples on that or other stage, as for mankind in whole; it assumes the dialectical, contradictory connection of revolutionary (counter-revolutionary) and evolutionary (progressive and regressive) ways of movement to the new kind of human history.
In other words, we should refuse the outline: capitalism - transitive period - socialism as the first phase of communism (coexisting with imperialism as two camps, divided by an "iron curtain"). We should realize, as united as this world is and (in opposition to the partisans of convergence) as far it is contradictory. By no means have we come from capitalism and socialism to some sort of average model.
Mankind is developed from the world of alienation (including that of capitalism) towards communism, but this uniform worldwide and common civilized process of revolutions and counter-revolutions, progress to the future and retreat in the past, the deadlocks and will continue for centuries to come.
5.1. The movement to socialism requires the support of a real socialization and overcoming of "socialism" mutations.
It is necessary to realize socialism as the process of associating and of social creativity, instead of conversion in state. In this connection, for example, the struggle for the participation of workers in private firms in property and management, for the creation of collective enterprises etc. will be a more socialist phenomenon, in comparison with bureaucratic subordination to state; socialized private capitalism will be appreciated as being more progressive, as opposed to the state-corporate one.
This is the line on cultivation of socialism sprouts, instead of its construction from above. The state (paraphrasing the theses of our opponents) should protect and regulate social creativity, instead of seeking to build the relations itself (in contrast with liberals, we talk about the self-organizing nature and social creativity of people, instead of the market as the object of state protection and regulation).
5.2. Socialism - the period of the non-linear abolition of alienating relations.
The understanding of socialism as a transitive worldwide-his-torical process permits to put on record, as a consequence, that the socialist transformations will include as minimum the following steps.
Firstly, - the gradual abolition of the social and economic relations of the market and a command-bureaucratic "planning" in accordance with development of more effective (in economic and social-humane sense) post-market relations: national record-keeping and control, democratic regulation and programming of economy, self-management. The development of these relations will non-linearly oust the market and bureaucratic (as well as corporate-monopolistic) regulation of the economy. The latter two mechanisms will be preserved, by degrees dying off, during the course of the socialist era.
Secondly, socialism - the era, during the course of which the socialization of property relations, the formal liberation of labour (the overcoming of social and economic alienation of workers from the means of production), transition from exploitation to distribution upon labour and to democratically organized social self-protection will pass also non-linearly, through revolutions and evaluations.
Thirdly, - this will be the era of the state dying off in accordance with the development of democracy inside self-management, as I have already said.
5.3. Socialism as the transitive era preserves the opportunity for the mutant degeneration and for regression to the society of alienation.
VI. Sixth lesson:
The movement to communism is the international process, connecting the revolutionary and evolutionary transformations in society
The socialist revolution in this case means the qualitative transformation of the system of social, economic and political relations of estrangement (the leap from "the kingdom of necessity", in particular, from capitalism, into "the kingdom of freedom") by the social forces, possessing (1) the democratically expressed support by the majority of society members; (2) the sufficient force for pulling down of institutionally-voli-tional system of former society; (3) the sufficient socially-creative potential for preservation of cultural (the creative achievements), natural, economic, humanitarian potential of the past and "the positive" creation of a new society.
6.1. The socialist revolution is possible only as the continuation of national democratic revolutions.
6.2. The consecutive reformation activity upon the democratization of society and socialization of economy is the precondition, instead of antithesis of revolution.
The revolution, as was marked, may be successful only in the event that its subject ("the revolutionary masses") has the ability to positive social creativity and the experience in self-organizing (that is "social muscles"). Just the reformation activity gives that ability and experience, but only in the measure, at which it is executed from below, as the process (and result) of mass democratic movement.
An artificial provocation or, on the contrary, the braking of social revolution equally leads to provocation of violence explosion and social reaction.
6.3. The socialist revolution can't be non-violent, what's treated as a destruction of institutes, preserving the relations of alienation.
It's not the violence against the people. However, if person doesn't want voluntarily to refuse his linkage with that or other alienated institute (for example, with bureaucratic authority and privileges), then this will be the violence towards the people too.
Such violence may be socially, politically and morally justified and successful (doesn't result in defeat or occurrence of mutant forms) only in one case: if this will be the struggle of majority against the minority, monopolizing the opportunity of public welfare use. The struggle against ex-clusive rights of minority, but the struggle, preserving the right of minority.
The globality of socialization process doesn't mean absolute necessity of simultaneous victory of socialism in all advanced countries, but the unity of qualitative and quantitative progress (regress) of socialism at a worlds scale in all of its manifestations - of socialism as the public system; of socialist tendencies in bourgeois countries; of socialism as socio-political movement and cultural-theoretical, idea phenomenon.
Therefore in particular, the thesis about the worldwide historical crisis of "socialism" at the verge of 21st century and about the necessity of a united, co-ordinated in international scope of activity upon qualitative updating of socialism in all its manifestations, is justified.
At last, we all need, as the condition of revival, the qualitatively new theory of socialism, and its formation is possible exclusively as the international process.
The concluding stage of socialist and communist movement, mutated to not a small extent by force of destruction by Stalinism of the international solidarity of working-people, might be taken off only on the way of revival of not the letter, but the spirit of the 1st International, which proclaimed more than 100 years ago the main principle of struggle for social renewal:
The none will give us liberation:
No king no hero nor the God.
We shall achieve emancipation
By our toiling-hardened hand!
Theoretical Starting Points of a New Definition of Socialist Politics
For our thinking and our doing, the understanding of socialist policy is of great importance. For many decades it was our aim to achieve "ruling power" with the aim of abolishing class society. This has not - or has hardly - helped to solve problems of human existence. Yet this must be the starting point for socialist policy.
The present crisis of civilization threatens humanity and human existence. A minority reproduces itself at the costs of the living conditions of today's and future generations. However, there are no strong forces which are able to overcome the capital dominated logic of development (which is the main cause of the crisis of civilization), nor does the ruling power of anti-capitalist forces guarantee the solution of the ecological crisis for instance.
There are at least two questions:
First: The vision of a new, alternative society - what does that mean for a New Left policy?
Second: What can we do in the present society (1) to alter the structures of the process of reproduction in such a way that the so-called "third world" can increase its chances survival, (2) to halt the destruction of the environment, and (3) to secure a future utilization of resources in the interests of the whole of humankind (coming generations included)?
The acceptance of the idea of emancipation - in the sense of the free development of every single human being as the condition for a free development of the society as formulated in the Communist Manifesto - demands the struggle for human rights for every one and for all. The equality of human beings and allied values motivate and provoke a constant offensive discussion and struggle with the society in which we live. Our target is not to destroy the society, but to change, to alter the society. The destruction of society is not only pointless but it would also be irresponsible. There are chances for a successful evolution. However, it is necessary to abolish those conditions which prevent the reproduction of human existence as a whole. First of all, it is necessary to end very quickly the plundering of resources in the third world.
The development of requirements and abilities for a sensitive solidarity with the discriminated, the removal of forms hindering social reproduction, the organization of worldwide co-operation and the creation of new conditions promoting social reproduction - all these must be embraced by modern socialist policy. To realize such a policy, it is necessary to politicize the points of intersection between the every day problems of people in the first world on the one hand, and the global problems on the other. The every day problems include issues concerning jobs, housing, education, ecology, medical care, life in old age and so on.
Statistics and logic prove that existing structures of production and reproduction, even in the highly developed countries (which I call metropoles) can no longer resolve these every day problems. These are also structures which threaten and destroy human lives in the third world.
The improvement of the public short-distance transport, and the conversion of today's deadly polluted cities into cities without cars could better the quality of life of their inhabitants and relieve the surroundings. This factors could create or modify jobs and could enable western societies to raise funds to solve the problems of human existence in the third world. One way could be ecological taxes or duties, especially for transport on the road and energy usage. These taxes or duties would only be reasonable if the increase of costs for the consumer of the energy would not simply be compensated by higher prices. This, of course, demands a public framework to which governments must pledge themselves. Such a framework should demand restrictions on governments by well-organized public control and the self-organization of people. Probably, it is reasonable - and in the near future more realistic - to care for good examples on a local or regional level. This might be problematic, but it could help to develop activities which could be quite successful. In addition, we must find ways to get something moving. If, for instance, a local initiative is able to introduce a heavy load tax for road transport, what could follow? For instance, there could be boards consisting of local parliamentarians, all personally interested people, ecological groups, experts, and publicly engaged citizens. Such boards would decide about the way money is used for, say, a plant for water cleaning.
The boards could help to counteract the centralization of decisions, and they could use local resources to solve regional problems and to learn to live democratically. If, at the same time, activities are intensified in order to provide information about global problems, they could create better preconditions for increasing the struggle for a new alternative economic model and a socially just taxreform. The latter would consider ecological requirements and the vital interests of people living in the third world.
The weakness of the left is reflected by the fact that there is little thinking about social alternatives for everyday problems. History shows the labour movement was strongest when it believed and fought for solutions for everyday problems by bringing about social changes.
It is important for a socialist policy to contact and collaborate with all those forces active in emancipatory movements. We have to collaborate with people who refer to the problems which are underestimated in public thinking and which are ignored by the ruling policy. This includes artists, scientists, trade unionists, activists in the peace-, women's-, ecological-, anti-racist and anti-fascist movements, members of the clergy, alternative housing, groups, people living in eco-villages and so on. There are many fields in which people can be active for their own interests and in the interests of humanity.
We should support, enlarge and link alternative milieus opposed to a capital-dominated society. This means the development of an alternative culture, and the development of a counter-society. Therefore experiences of another way of living can be accumulated. Discussions about social alternatives would be easier( from here actions could be started which could force alterations in ruling policy. This possibility can become reality when, at last, demands for changes and activities consider every day problems, and for that reason are able to encourage and move the masses.
Such a policy differs from the policies of elite groups, and it is also different from total belief in the power of the state to bring about change. It is not aimed at certain social groups or classes, but focuses upon information and instruction, understanding and solidarity. It does not aim at mobilizing a one-sided capture of power and it would waste no time in starting essential changes, especially in human behaviour and the way of life. It allows co-operation on certain aspects involving common interests held by people of entirely different political viewpoints, or who might even claim to be totally unpolitical. Such a movement would put pressure on the state by demanding practical policies leading towards democratization and basic social changes.
Success could result in new laws or the creation of new institutions. The interplay between regionalization and integration should be changed, between decentralization and centralization, and it should promote the development of a new economic model.
In the interests of the world population, for future generations - and to preserve the natural foundations of life - the principal aim must be: regional and international integration in order to utilize local and regional resources should increase the chances of survival for humankind. This contradicts the thesis: the metropoles have to supply the third world. No. They have to change themselves in such a way that they help to supply the third world, especially helping the third world to supply itself. This means the third world should help to utilize their own resources. The slogan should be "Help for self-aid".
In future things must change. Resources must not flow from the third to the first world. They should be refined or produced in the third world, not returned to the third world as an act of mercy. Exploitation of the third world cannot help solve ecological or employment problems. The aim should be to achieve self-realization of the people in the third world.
It is also an illusion to promote such a thesis as: "Oh, it is fine, that in Eastern Europe everything crashes. That makes it easier for people to build up an alternative ecological an socially reasonable method of production." First, economic crashes in Eastern Europe do not promote reasonable changes in the first world (the contrary in fact). Second, considering the social results of this development these theses are cynical and do not help in any way. Third, for economic changes resources are needed, but they are destroyed or devalued to a large extent. Fourth, there are no reasons to believe that political and economic crashes in Eastern Europe promote the creation of new ways of production. On the contrary, in the Czech Republic, for instance, the production of weapons continues to grow.
We have to answer questions about, how the socialist forces in Eastern and Western Europe should think about "Europe". From my point of view, they should understand that the demand of Eastern European states for membership in the European Union is not productive. This membership would not help to solve any of the problems in Eastern Europe countries. Finally, there is no reason to believe that a bigger European Community would promote democratization or basic changes. On the contrary, Maastricht means the defence of the division between East and West, and an increase in the discrepancies in the social sphere between the poor and the rich countries and regions. Most of the East German population was unlucky and lucky at the same time. On the one hand, approximately 50% of employment in the GDR was destroyed or abolished. On the other hand, it is possible that the old Federal Republic of Germany will diminish the social consequences because of its economic strength. Just think what it would mean to the Eastern European countries if - like East Germany - 40% of the population were to be unemployed. The ecological burdens caused by the growth of transport due to production crashes in the East and the concentration of production in the West, will not help to relieve the pressures on the environment.
Of course, East Europeans need support. This refers to help in the form of the cancellation of the directives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, an unconditional release from debts, by technology transfer, and by common projects which secure the utilization of regional resources in their country of origin. Measures like this would contradict the ruling logic of development in Western Europe. Only in this sense could they be productive. However, this as the only criteria for a socialist policy is not sufficient. It is necessary to explain and provide information about the International Monetary Fund's and World Bank's policy towards the third world, and the way in which political demands have to be rejected and then reformulated. Socialist policy must point out that all policies must be aimed at the interdependence of the world and on humanity, even when it seems that the questions refer to other problems. In this sense there can be no solution for Eastern European problems, when the problems of the third world are ignored. Furthermore, there can be no reasonable solutions, when the poor in the metropoles have to pay for the second and the third word.
The points of intersection between everyday and global problems are not only tactical questions or questions of motivation-research. These points reflect the problems of humanity and the world as a whole. In other words, demands which consider real agreement of the interests of the majority of the populations in the three worlds must be picked out as a crucial theme for the new left. Only in this way can international movements be initiated.
Such demands should be:
First: abolition of military conscription and of national armies, and a halt in the production and export of weapons.
Second: introduction taxes for energy usage, with the aim of promoting the necessary economic regionalization.
Third: five per cent of these energy taxes should be used for the promotion of social and ecological self-aid-projects in the metropoles; 15% for improving ecological protection in the Eastern European economies; and 80% for the struggle against hunger and the results of underfeeding in the third world. International boards consisting of parliamentarians, activists of environmental, social and so-called third-world movements (as well experts and scientists) should decide and control the distribution of the funds.
To begin these necessary changes as soon as possible, we have to immediately concentrate on the three issues mentioned above. Thus we can start and help to initiate and to strengthen movements for changes in the ruling structures.
Theoretical Deficits of the Left and the Struggle for Hegemony
It seems that an anti-capitalist left has only a small chance of gaining influence during the next decade. The reason for this is not only the dominance of capitalist forces or the result of the breakdown of the Soviet type of "state socialism". There is another reason for the weakness of the radical left: the fundamental theoretical deficits in explaining the past and the present.
One necessary precondition for the growth of an anti-capitalist left movement is the development of the concepts of the left, which explain history and which analyze the present and are convincing to the people. Before (and simultaneously with) the struggle for power there has to be a struggle for intellectual and cultural hegemony. Therefore it is an important task to discuss and develop concepts, which can gain hegemony in the struggle of ideas.
However, it does not seem likely that this will happen. After the collapse of the Soviet "state socialism", we can find two typical reactions on the side of the formerly anti-capitalist left (in the West):
- one part is willing to accept capitalism, to confess former errors like the belief in the possibility of a non-capitalist economy and so on,
- another part of the left sees a momentary defeat, but this part is sure that capitalism cannot solve the problems of the people. It is argued that
capitalism will bring crises, unemployment, poverty and in consequence people will recognize that their hope that capitalism can improve their lives is wrong.
The second reaction is the more sympathetic one, but both reactions are deeply ignorant:
- the first ignores fundamental insights in the ways in which capitalism works, insights not only articulated by Marx and the Marxists but also by many liberals;
- the second ignores the real development and the unsolved problems of a socialist view. Representatives of this reaction hope that "objective development" itself will be the main teacher of the people, and that in a situation of crises and degradation socialist ideas will be accepted nearly automatically. However, in 1989-90 in Eastern Europe we saw mass movements favouring capitalism. Moreover, in Western Europe capitalism was attractive for the greater part of the people, even in the crisis of the seventies and the eighties.
We should not underestimate the capitalist forces of integration and the discreditating of the idea of socialism. If there is disappointment about capitalism, this will favour nationalistic or racist ideas or perhaps social-democratic policy. The latter promises social capitalism, but socialist policy, which wants to overcome capitalism, will have a very bad standing. This bad standing is not only the result of the strength of capitalism, it is also the result that the left, which has no credible and plausible conceptions on certain important fields. These theoretical deficits are not only a question of theory, a question for lonesome scholars, they are a question of intellectual hegemony. The left needs plausible concepts and ideas to motivate people, the struggle for intellectual hegemony is a presupposition for the struggle against capitalism, and so "theoretical" questions have an enormous "practical" impact.
One of the main deficits of the left is in the dealing with the Soviet type of "socialism". If one holds the socialist aim, then two typical views can be found:
- Either this type of socialism is viewed as totally bad, as a monster, which has nothing in common with "true" socialism. It seems as an error of history to call this monster "socialism" and so the breakdown of this monster means nothing for the concept of "true" socialism.
- Or one admits the authoritarian and repressive character of the soviet system, criticizes Stalinism, but nevertheless one sees a positive core of this system, such as the socialization of the means of production or social security; one believes in a socialist core, which was unable to develop because of some bad factors (like the attacks of the bourgeoisie, the bureaucracy and so on).
The first view ignores the historical descent of the soviet system out of the Marxist tradition of the working class movement. The second minimizes the repressive character of the Soviet system and ignores the terrible experiences of the people. We have to accept that Stalinism (and neo-Stalinism) was a kind of "monster", but a monster born out of a Marxist tradition. I emphasize this point not because I want to blame Marxism; but the recognition of this point is the presupposition for a Marxist analysis of state socialism. We have to explain how such a repressive system like Stalinism could develop and how it could be accepted by a lot of people on the left (in the West and the East). I also have the feeling that there were not only "exterior" moments, like the bourgeois attacks against the Soviet Union. There are also some reasons interior to the socialist movement (the type of party) and interior to the theoretical tradition of Marxism (ignoring the political dimension in conceptions of socialism rooted in Engels' Anti-Dühring or in Marx' Critique of the Gotha Programme).
Another deficit can be found in the idea of socialism itself: how will socialism work? The answers to this question are in most cases only expressions of "nice" desires: no exploitation, no sexism, no racism, no crises and so on. Yet which mechanisms make all this possible?
Two main concepts can be found:
(1) Some type of planned economy. Here one admits that the planning system of "state socialism" worked badly and undemocratically. The offered solution is a democratically planned economy. However, here there are a lot of problems: e. g. how to deal with conflicts, how are flexibility and efficiency possible (and compatible with democratic structures), what can be substituted for value and money - a labour time account? There has been discussion about the possibility of a planned economy over the last 70 years, but to most of the questions I have see no convincing answers coming from the left.
(2) The other concept is that of market socialism: the companies should be run by workers; inside the companies capitalism would be abolished, but outside the companies, on the market, there should be competition, regulated by the state. So one tries to combine the advantages of different systems. However, it is not explained whether the different functional principles are compatible, and it is there is no explanation about how to deal with the expanding tendencies of the market, which undermine the regulatory capacity of the state.
Neither of these concepts are convincing. Yet how can we gain support for an anti-capitalist alternative, if we can say only so little about the working of this alternative?
A further point: it is not clear, which social forces will constitute a social movement for socialism. The idea that there is a "revolutionary subject", a class with a "historical mission" seems to be a rather idealistical concept: the notion of "historical mission" presupposes an aim of history and that of "revolutionary subject" transposes the concept of subject to a collective entity which shows an increasing degree of fragmentation (and, in parts, rather conservative tendencies). Probably we have to abandon the concept of a privileged social actor (like the "revolutionary working class"). Instead of such an actor different coalitions have to be formed for different aims. Furthermore, it is very doubtful that we can find something like a centre for left politics, like "the" class conflict. From this point of view it follows that it is also necessary to re-examine the existing political institutions. Which of them can we use for our struggles?
Proposals for founding new political parties or for "unifying" different movements seem not very helpful. Such proposals presuppose a very simple structure of conflict: two sides standing against each other, and each side has to concentrate its forces on one clearly defined aim. Nevertheless, this picture does not fit very well to the real situation for there is a complicated structure of different conflicts. What seems to be necessary is not a unifying centre but an effective network of information and (sometimes) of co-ordination between different groups and coalitions - on a national and an international level.
However, apart from such questions of organization, it is a necessary task to give answers to the open questions mentioned above. It is not enough to analyze big "historical tendencies", to "foresee" crises, or the inability of capitalism to react to this or that, and then to confirm the necessity of socialism for solving the problems of mankind (without saying clearly what socialism means). Such exercises may confirm the faith of the believers, but I doubt if they can convince people who lack faith.
For gaining ideological hegemony plausible and credible concepts are necessary. However, the development of such concepts is not only the job of "lonesome" scholars - it must also happen in the public space and this development must be part of the struggle for hegemony. Also this development cannot be restricted to the discussion and renovation of traditional Marxist categories. Required is an analysis of, and a confrontation with different branches of the so-called "bourgeois" science. This should not an analysis in the usual ways typical for the left: either addition (like Marxist value theory plus Keynesian economic policy) or simple criticism by reduction to class interests (like the reduction of Keynesianism to bourgeois ideology). Required is a kind of deconstruction, which makes it possible to learn from the real insights of bourgeois science, yet simultaneously criticizing the limitations (this was Marx's method of dealing with, and learning from the classical economists). Moreover, this deconstruction is also required for Marxism: it seems neither possible to keep Marxism as a whole, nor to make a simple distinction between good parts and bad parts. Only if one deconstructs both bourgeois science and Marxism, will one has a chance of reconstructing a type of socialist theory, which can be credible and relevant for the present and which can help us to overcome capitalism.
The Future of Socialism: A Modern Utopia or an Agenda for Change?
"We do not say that a man who takes no interest in Politics is a man
who minds his own business, we say he has no business here at all."
The aim of this study is to attempt to construct a path between two degrees of democracy: namely, capitalist democracy and a post-liberal dynamic democracy. My aim is not to prove an inevitable determinist progression from one form to the other, it remains an attempt to show under what circumstances a post-liberal dynamic democracy has the potential to emerge. The process for change centres around the causal relationship between the political, socio-cultural and economic spheres. This represents a major theoretical shift from the class-based analysis of Marxism as the emphasis placed on 'community' and 'citizens' means that the working class is no longer the sole agent of change. It is a project that looks towards emancipation, recognizes diversity and relies on dialogue, respectand tolerance as the best means for overcoming obstacles. It is a project that still believes that human beings are capable of developing a better way of life.
Under capitalist democracy the economic sphere dominates both the political and socio-cultural spheres. It has its own internal dynamic and operates often in disregard to the other spheres( take, for example, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank who remain totally unaccountable and yet yield enormous power vis-?-vis developing nations. The political sphere is made up of the institutions of the state, and the competing parties who are usually only accountable every four or five years. Finally, there is the socio-cultural sphere. This space is comprised of citizens, communities and non-governmental organizations and acts as an outlet for civil society. Under capitalist democracy it has 'limited input' as the decision-making mechanisms have been monopolized by the state. In a post-liberal dynamic democracy, however, the socio-cultural and political sphere (neither of which are mutually exclusive in terms of membership or remit) are revitalized through an enhanced civil society which essentially acts as an educational transmitter 'empowering' citizens so that they are able to operate within the enhanced aforementioned spheres. Politics and government will be 'de-linked' and political parties will lose their monopolization of the political process. The economic sphere loses its domination and the state moves from a purely functional role of maintaining social order for the economic and political sphere to an institution acting in the interests of the community, ensuring equality of access and participation, in effect fusing state and society as one.
Of course, this remains an ideal-type and any model has to take cognizance of the different levels of both economic, socio-cultural and political development among nations but I feel that many of the ideas associated with a post-liberal dynamic democracy could prove applicable to a diverse audience. For example, in the former Soviet Union and East and Central Europe the rhetoric of working class ownership of the means of production means that the idea is at least in people's consciousness hence the question of ownership can be addressed; while in Western Europe the idea of political equality, in terms of one person one vote, is well established. The next step though is to tackle the question of who yields power. Within the Islamic world one of the overriding values is the idea of the community and that economics and politics is supposed to operate in the interests of the community.
The present 'buzz word' within politics is globalization, in terms not only of mass communication, but also in terms of economics. While the jury is still out on the validity of this term in relation to production (See Hirst 1994:c), what seems to be without doubt is firstly the domination of the economic sphere over the political and socio-cultural sphere (both on a national and international level), and secondly the globalization of financial markets. This poses a serious problem for the left as it will further diminish their role and ability to set the economic agenda. At the same time, within capitalist democracies an ever-growing feeling of powerless seems to point to what I have termed 'collective fantasy'; i. e. the turn to demagogues and populists such as Zhirinovsky and Perot; political parties giving way to charismatic and 'telegenic' leaders such as Berlusconi and a return to national and religious identities. I believe that the continued development of free market capitalism has the potential to accelerate the demise of capitalist democracy, resulting in a tearing of the social fabric and the development of a volatile and dichotomous society where the anomic are witnessing a loss of identity and detaching themselves from society, while the 'culture of contentment' (a phrase borrowed from J. K. Galbraith) are using the mechanisms of civil society to cut themselves off from the growing ranks of the disadvantaged and at the same time having contempt for the mechanisms of the political sphere - i. e. the party and representative democracy. Fukuyama et al have conveniently termed this period 'the end of history' without fully realizing the implications of such an idea. The situation requires alternatives that can repair the social fabric; fulfil the true ideals of democracy, civil society and multi-culturalism, de-link politics and government. The window of opportunity, however, is drawing to a close as people continue to look for salvation from above - i. e. through collective fantasy solutions and financial globalization leaves little room for manoeuvre.
The 'Left' too has been affected by these changes - the demise of the Soviet system and the inability of traditional social democracy to combat and challenge the hegemony of neo-liberalism - and is presently undergoing a thorough and much needed self-examination. The situation therefore demands that the left put forward credible and workable alternatives on the basis that capitalist democracy is failing and that solutions from above while maybe providing short term relief fail to address the main problem, that the system in its present incarnation is fatally flawed. II therefore hope that this study which will concentrate on the socio-cultural (civil society; community; communal citizen; constructing an alternative hegemony) and political (the myths of capitalism; crisis of representative democracy; developing democracy; dispersal of power etc.) aspects of the problem at the negation of the economic question, (the reason for this will hopefully become self-explanatory) will in some small way contribute to that self- examination and the pursuit of alternatives. I realize, however, that in many cases I have ended up asking more questions than I have answered.
Any notion of change must take cognizance of the need to inculcate the general public with new ideas and values akin to the left. This is not a question of creating a new 'Socialist man and woman' but rather offering people an alternative, asking them to question the oft-cited inevitability of the present system. To achieve such a transformation will require the development of the political and socio-cultural sphere. This will require the harnessing of legitimacy and support from the people, which in turn will require their participation and full recognition of the value and importance of the socio-cultural sphere. Although such an undertaking requires a gradualist/evolutionary approach, its overall implications, i. e. a process of democratization, the development of civil society and a move beyond the structures of representative democracy, are revolutionary. Therefore my main hypothesis is that: before a system can change the economic base, it has to revitalize the socio-cultural and political sphere. Such reform will not come from the working class as the 'agency of change' but rather from within civil society. Hence the need to recognize citizens not only as voters but also as consumers, taxpayers and workers. Mobilization within this sector will then lead to a greater awareness and understanding of 'politics' and hence a greater propensity to get involved. The revitalization will, however, take place within the structural framework of a pluralist paradigm. The importance of this is that it safeguards the rights of the numerous heterogeneous groups within civil society and acts as a fundamental protection against 'destructive fragmentation'. The recognition of civil society will entail a move beyond the monopolization of power at a parliamentary and governmental level by recognizing the fact that parties are not the only interest articulators. Capitalist democracy will then give way to the emergence of a 'post-liberal dynamic democracy'.
The Myths of Capitalism
The first step in any transition is to have a thorough understanding of the concept of 'capitalist democracy'. For example, it has to be recognized that capitalism has become much more than a mere economic system ..."Capitalism is much more of a 'cultural' concept, combining ideas, organization, politics, production and gender relations, which have woven themselves together to produce this particular type of 'world' which is capitalism." (Minns, 1994:32) Hence in attempting to offer an alternative the left should be aware of the depth that capitalism extends. It has to convince people of capitalism's failings, pointing out the injustices and inequalities that the system perpetrates and expose the myths, which collectively have helped the parties and ideas of the right gain the ascendancy from the late 1970s onwards. This will require moving beyond the traditional ideas associated with social democracy. In essence, the programme of social-democrats asserted the primacy of the economic sphere over the political and socio-cultural sphere. It at no time challenged, or asked the workers to challenge, the fundamental aspects of capitalism. Even in Sweden, which during the 1970s seemed to be taking it a step further with the proposed introduction of the Meidner Plan (which would have seem an eventual transfer of ownership to the workers on the basis of 'wage-earner funds', which would be built up by companies putting a percentage of their gross profits into the fund( thus within 20 to 30 years workers would own a majority of the shares) polling indicated that the workers were not interested which combined with the hostility of capital meant that it never fully transpired.
The 1980s has seen a considerable change in the nature of western society; changes in the class structure; a decline of collective representation; the rise of the professional politician and partisanship; and the growing weaknesses of representative democracy. This has led to increased levels of alienation with the realm of 'party politics', but not the political sphere per se, as can be seen by the flowering of extra parliamentary activity, single issue groups and new social movements. According to a poll carried out by Channel 4, when asked if they thought Britain was a democratic country only 61% said they did. The feeling of alienation and disillusionment was even stronger amongst the 18-39 age bracket, where just over half thought so. When asked what was the significance of democracy, the two most popular responses concerned freedom and equality. People also felt they lacked power between elections (85% amongst the 18-24 bracket) and between 50-66% in all age groups said that they would make use of mechanisms that would empower them. (For an elaboration of this poll see New Statesmen and Society 1994) Herein lies fertile soil for the left to cultivate( change, however, has to remain viable and believable, hence incremental. It is on this basis that the left has to operate as we approach the third millennium. In light therefore of the present stagnation of capitalist democracy I do believe that the time is ripe to initiate a process of change, precisely because democracy is such a dynamic concept.
An Agenda for Change
1. Developing a Post-Liberal Dynamic Democracy
In many respects a post-liberal dynamic democracy represents the synthesis borne out of the crisis of liberal capitalist democracy and the abandonment of its self-justifying notion that it needs no improvement. It is about reasserting the influence of civil society and the political and socio- cultural spheres. Such a project will take ideas from a plethora of sources including ideas relating to 'radical democracy' (Laclau & Mouffe 1989, Laclau 1993, Mouffe 1993), and communitarianism, the Republic in Spain of 1936, village democracies of developing nations, the 'open society' of Karl Popper, the importance of social movements, the belief in the idea of participation. It will take cognizance of the breakdown of rigid class distinctions, the rise and implications of cultural diversity, the need to de-link politics and government. It is about different examples of representation at different levels of local, national and international levels. It is not about a party, leader or class but rather about the mobilization of people on the basis of solidarity and trust. At the same time, it will introduce many of the core ideals of socialism that will act as the projects undercarriage.
Many of the core values of socialism continue to be widely popular( support for ideas of equality, social justice and solidarity continue to remain strong right across Europe and virtually everyone believes in democracy. Once again, here lies a natural base for the left to start from. In simple terms, democracy is concerned with the institutionalization of conflict - "disapproval and revision" as Keane (1991:14) put it. It is also about giving the opportunity for all of those who wish to have an on-going equal say in the political process, i. e. political equality within the political arena. Democracy is not just about voting every four or five years. Therefore, to rectify that position, there needs to be a revitalization of the political and socio-cultural sphere.
How will such a revitalization come about? Firstly, any society needs the support of its people; hence it is up to the left to construct its own hegemony. Such an undertaking is not about compliance built upon the creation of automatons, but rather the idea of free-thinking citizens operating within a 'community framework'. The mechanisms of the new polity would be based on the principle of 'isonomia' - i. e. equal rights for all, backed by the rule of law as laid down in a written constitution. This would come in the form of a plurality of 'decision-reaching' techniques depending on the circumstances; national, regional and local level voting; consensual measures within community groups, (see, for example, decision reaching techniques within Quaker society); the use of direct democracy such as referenda, etc. etc. The end result is not to achieve unanimity on every vote but rather institutionalize conflict, which means that the decision-making process is not permanently loaded against any particular interest. A dynamic democracy would institutionalize both conflict and consensus.
The essence of this is that parties have to become 'enablers' they will have to give expression to civil society. Wainwright (1994:a) posits the idea of parties, drawing on the experiences of social movements as a model for organization and structure. Alternatively, parties could draw on some of their founding principles. For the British Labour Party this means resorting to many of its pre-1945 ideals, which were hostile to state control and rigid collectivism. According to Peter Waterman (1993) the idea of solidarity could be used as the launching pad for a process of renewal. Solidarity could be the basis for the recognition of common needs, (while realizing and respecting differences), and the rebuilding of the social fabric and what Hall (1993:a) calls 'social reciprocity'. It could act as the focal point for empowerment, which would enable the left to then reclaim the notion of liberty and freedom which have during the past decade have been usurped by the political right. The possibility of positive liberty emerging arises when citizens realize that their own potential is tied up with the development of the community, combined with a process of decentralization away from the state. This in turn would result in a move away from the narcissistic individualism of capitalism and the limited response of the rights-oriented liberal, towards a 'moral individualism' which is comprised of ..."a set of cultural beliefs, values and other 'collective representations' that ascribe worth, dignity, and respect to the human person living in modern (but not just Western) societies." (Mestrovic 1994:169).
2. Civil Society
During the past two decades that has been a re-emergence of the ideas concerning civil society, stemming primarily from the dissident groups in East and Central Europe that began to offer an alternative to the hegemony of the Communist Party. Many of its ideals were a negation of both communism and Western parliamentarianism. It is a concept that has been used for many purposes but I see it both as; a layer between the individual and the state, and the economy and the state, voluntary in nature, that acts as an educational transmitter dispensing the necessary skills of associationalism to the citizen who is then able, if they so wish, to participate in the affairs that effect his or her lives. As mobilization within civil society occurs this brings with it a wider understanding and awareness of the political and socio-cultural sphere, inculcating values akin to community-building; and as an arena through which people encounter both public goods such as friendship and mutalism, and public bads such as discrimination and the feeling of powerlessness. A properly functioning civil society would then be able to affect the power relationships (see below) of a given system. Its not going to be easy, ..."So civil society must accomplish two opposite tasks. It must encourage social connections for people who are alienated from (or never knew) the social formations in which moral virtues and communal attachments develop, and it must loosen gripping affiliations and ferocious group loyalties so that members have the moral and psychological latitude to look beyond the group and identify themselves as citizens of a pluralist political community." (Rosenblum, 1993:5)
Anthony Giddens believes that the concept of civil society is suspect and writes, ..."Today we should speak more of reordered conditions of individual and collective life, producing forms of social disintegration to be sure, but also offering new bases for generating solidarity's." (1994:29) For my part, I can not see a great deal of difference, especially if one realizes the diversity of voluntary associations, new social movements etc. that will inhabit civil society.
3. Power and Equality
It was Max Weber who pointed out that all social inequality rests ultimately on unequal distributions of power. Therefore, one of the first tangible and visible steps the left can take is to bring about political equality. This will indicate to people that participation can make a difference, not only to the outcome of the result but also to their own self-development. It is because of the existence of political inequality, and the primacy placed upon consumer power (which is now regarded as the essence of being a citizen) that people begin to realize the need to change and become aware of the mechanisms required to bring about such change.
All acts, in some way, operate on a systemic framework of power. The question, however, is where does the locus of power lie? Steven Lukes (1974) postulates a triadic model of power which points out that while the first and second dimensions are concerned with conflict ..."the most effective and insidious use of power is to prevent such conflict from arising in the first place." (ibid.: 21). Thus within this third dimension it would seem that people are unable to make informed choices because certain options are not on the agenda and neither are they likely to get on it because it is not in the interests of certain groups that they do. Is this what people really want? The right obviously thinks so, otherwise any force for change would come from the people themselves if they were not happy with the situation. Such an argument is then able to neglect the fact that it might be the structure of the system that is at fault. The right further claims that capitalism in fact maximizes individual power, while failing to point out that some people yield enormous power compared to others. The left has to point out this continuous net transfer of power away ordinary people. The only way to reverse this flow is to initiate a process of empowerment.
Following on from political equality the next step is to introduce measures of social equality - i. e. in terms of life-chances. Such an undertaking is not going to happen overnight therefore the notion of 'complex equality' as advanced by Michael Walzer would seem appropriate. His basic idea was that it would require too much strength on the part of the state to bring about wholesale equality. Therefore his project is based upon removing the notion that dominance in one field equates with dominance in all fields. Take, for example, the Soviet Union where membership of the nomenclature meant better shops, education and life opportunities - i. e. dominance in all fields. While under capitalism dominance comes through the ownership and accumulation of wealth which can be translated into a superior education or health care and the ability to operate within the "Casino economy". Therefore the aim is for each field to organize itself and distribute goods according to different criteria. This overcomes the inability to implement universal prescriptions, has a chance of accommodating socio-cultural diversity, and introduces people to the notion of equality allowing them to see tangible results and giving the concept time to become the new norm. This idea can also be developed to allow for the necessary diversity and pluralism that will exist in a dynamic democracy. Certain fields of activity could be set aside for different groups to manage, therefore removing the fear that common citizenship equates with forced unanimity and assimilation.
One of the ways of equipping people for measures of political and social equality is through the education system. It was because of the ability to read that led people to fight for the right to vote. Robert Reich, Clinton's Labour Secretary, has described the education of the future as one in which the skills of abstraction, system-thinking, experimentation and collaboration will be needed by all. He points out that while industrial economies only needed around 5% of the population educated in this way, in future 80% of the workforce (and perhaps 100% of the citizenry) will need these skills. (See Tomlinson 1993) This will obviously make the development and emergence of a participatory citizenry that much easier and if it is achieved I cannot foresee people accepting the very limiting nature of capitalist democracy. Education can also highlight the importance of interdependence which can install the idea of 'equal-worth', surely one the most effective ways of removing deference and moving towards a classless society.
4. The New Model Socialist
Recently much attention has been re drawn to the ideas relating to; the importance of community; the Guild Socialism of G.D.H. Cole; the Co-operative Movement; and 'associational democracy' etc. It is important to realize that many of them have a working history, ..."Britain had into the twentieth century one of the strongest associational socialist traditions and an experience of working class voluntary action almost unrivalled in Europe." (Hirst 1994 b: p. 95), and in the case of the co-operative movement is still providing an alternative to the dominance of free-market values. It has been one of the best examples of giving expression to the idea of community. It sought to improve the lives of the masses and install a co- operative/collectivist culture. Today there remains many examples of consumer, works based, housing and financial co-operatives that end the myth that all economic activity is based on personal greed. It gave people the chance to actively participate in the running of their lives on an equal basis, and at the same time giving them the skills required for a more participatory role. Once the legal framework encouraged the formation of co-operatives they would soon gain a momentum of their own leading, not only to a greater awareness amongst the citizenry that they could be responsible for many of the aspects of their own lives, but also to the 'revitalization' of civil society and in turn the political and socio-cultural spheres.
Cole constructed a 'third way' distinct from collectivism and syndicalism, in the form of a system of federated social ownership. This would not only provide accountability to both the producer and the consumer but would also provide welfare and education for the community. Such a system dispersed power and enabled people to undertake the role of a citizenship. (See Schecter 1994) The state would therefore be one amongst many institutions involved in the political process. Many of his ideas have been revitalized and placed in a modern context becoming part of a new left agenda as a programme based on decentralization, democratization, a re-orientation of the sovereignty away from the state and an economy running on greater mutalist lines (See Hirst 1994: a & b).
The focus for any process of renewal will have to rely on the development of communities and voluntary associations. Prior to the National Insurance Act of 1911 ordinary people developed their own mutalist and self-help communities. At that stage, despite the lack of political power, there was a distinct and effective socio-cultural sphere centred around working class communities and voluntary associations. According to Newton, ..."Voluntary associations are said to do many things: to integrate individuals into society; to create a tightly interwoven social fabric; to moderate social and political conflicts by creating a set of overlapping and interlocking allegiances and obligations; to act as channels of communication; to help minorities protect themselves; to help majorities mobilize against unpopular government policies." (1993:24)
Now it is not simply a question of replicating the past but allowing for the development of something similar to fit in with the modern context. This, it should be stated, goes far beyond the mere rhetoric of the New right and their call for individual and community responsibility which does not seem to go beyond neighbourhood watch schemes which remains a knee-jerk reaction to the public sector and an attempt to impose a state morality. The renewed interest in the 'Community' has to focus on how to give it expression, as well as how to heal the wounds caused by the tearing of the social fabric. According to Lacey and Frazer, ..."Community conjures up a vision of secure and committed networks of people, to an extent like-minded, rooted in a geographical area, engaged collectively in the real business of living and enabling daily life; offering fluidity and flexibility unconstrained by biological kinship or marriage." (1994:78)
If what, the left are advocating is the 'proper' development of community, then we have to reconcile this factor by developing a clear sense of identity based on common values and morals. A community where people have rights; duties such as participation, which could be developed through an enhanced form of jury service; and an outlet for change. Initially people may well act out of self-interest, as in one round of the prisoner's dilemma. However, if people are unaware of how many rounds they will have to partake in then they will develop a self-interested reason for co- operation. Simply through the practice of co-operation and working for the benefit of the community will result in the internalization of behaviour conducive to the functioning of a participatory community.
5. The Process of Change
We have to remember, however, that change is useless unless we change people's perceptions at the same time. I believe that this is a vital area often neglected by the left. A 'Political culture' is concerned with the beliefs and values of individuals( it stems from the product of many factors including the family, community, and political system. Capitalism has been able to install a cultural panoply which needs to be challenged. Culture has been turned into fashions valued according to price, it was Lukács who stated, ..."the moment cultural productions become commodities, when they are placed in relationships which transform them into commodities, their autonomy - the possibility of culture - ceases." (1973:6)
Capitalism can therefore be viewed as a 'culture destroying' force which destroys the value of solidarity and then creates its own cultural hegemony, based on the idea of self-preservation, which it propagates to be inevitable. The power of capitalist hegemony can be seen by the fact that during the 1970s and 1980s ideas concerning limited social ownership of the private sector was never very popular amongst the working class. The reason for this was that social ownership did not really mean anything, workers were unable to identify with it because capitalist hegemony obscured its meaning. The need for a socialist cultural hegemony then is apparent, but how will the left 'revitalize culture' without merely imposing a new form of rigidity? One answer to this problem will be through the idea of socialization and citizenship rights.
Revitalization can be nurtured through the process of political socialization which, generally speaking, is the process by which people's political cultures are maintained or changed. Although capitalism has done a very good job at concealing its techniques of ideological preparation, it goes on all around us, within the media, school, the family, workplace etc. inculcating us with values that help us to fit in with the prevailing ethos of the society, by telling us exactly who we are (there are of course those who decide to live outside this framework - e. g. new age travellers - but they remain a tiny minority). Hence for a socialist system to have any chance of emerging it has to counterpoise the capitalist value system with a new set of values. One of the most important aspects in this process is propagating the idea of citizenship.
Today there remains two broad forms of citizenship which stem from Liberal and Republican definitions. The contractual citizen which originates from the work of Hobbes, who believed that any notion of a political society was an artificial construction which individuals could decide to opt in or out of, fits in with the limited criteria of capitalist democracy. Concern with a legalistic framework, for example, the rights of a consumer, leads onto a consumer based society where there is no emphasis on active participation. The weakness of this is that it remains one-dimensional people vote every four or five years but in the meantime remain powerless. The Republican tradition of a communal citizen is a much broader interpretation requiring a much more participatory role, according to Conover and Searing ..."At its core, this communal perspective demands an active citizenry and depicts citizenship as being grounded in relationships among friends and neighbours who are bound together by common activities and traditions. Politics is, from this viewpoint, a fundamentally public activity that people engage in to pursue the collective good. Moreover, since people usually identify their own personal good with this collective good, civic activity also serves as a source of personal development." (1994:35)
There is considerable evidence to highlight the fact that democratic participation is operable if only people were given the means. Take, for example, an experiment set up by the Jefferson Centre for New Democratic Processes - a random sample of 24 people were chosen to debate the health care issue in the US over a period of five days. By the end of the debate understanding of the issues had risen from 33% to 88% of the participants. This greater understanding had led to a greater propensity to listen and be persuaded by others arguments and finally everyone found the experience both challenging and enjoyable. (See Adonis & Mulgan 1994) An enhanced 'jury service' type of structure could be used in a similar way to report upon a plethora of issues.
Therefore, the Left should embrace the communal citizen on three levels; firstly as a catalyst for cultural and eventual economic change; secondly as a tool to overcome minority and gender inequalities; thirdly as a base with which to get those within the 'culture of contentment' and the have-nots to rejoin the whole community. Only the communal citizen will then be able to perform the tasks that decentralization, and the use of alternative decision-making techniques confers. ..."In psychological terms, the obligations contained in one's citizen self-schema act as expectations which influence thoughts, feelings and ultimately, behaviour. Hence, when people express loyalty to their country, civic virtue towards their neighbours, tolerance for strangers, or interest in politics, they do so because they feel that this is their obligation as a citizen." (Conover & Searing 1994:45)
Many critics claim that the idea of the citizen is being used to supersede, and hence negate, the notion of class as well as ignore the differences that exist between people - such as gender, race, inequality etc. My response to this criticism is that citizenship as a generic whole is rather like a mosaic - i. e. it is made up of many different pieces. These represent the many differences, which are best expressed as a whole - i. e. construct the whole picture. This seems to be the only way to re-integrate both the 'have-nots' and the 'culture of contentment'. One should not forget that both groups offer fertile ground to populists who promise the earth and then, upon achieving power, begin to systematically destroy any semblance of democracy.
Thus the left needs to highlight and combine the values of liberty, solidarity and community. Of course, different people are going to have different opinions as to how this is to be achieved hence the first step should be aimed at establishing enough common ground, on the basis of the recognition of these values, for the debate to proceed. A society based on a combination of these values then has a chance to build tolerance and trust and perhaps finally aspire to the ideals of Hannah Arendt who spoke of humanity revealing itself in friendship. Once within a Republican participatory community, moral responsibilities could activate a desire to be an integral part of the process. Mouw and Griffioen in summarizing Rawls write; ..."The core contention here is that while people come into the public domain from very different metaphysical/religious/moral starting points, once they have arrived they can agree to operate with the same intuitive ideas about what goes into a just arrangement. They can reach a consensus on such matters as the rule of law, liberty of conscience, freedom of thought equality of opportunity, a fair share of material means for all citizens." (Bauman 1994:41)
It is my belief that neither free-market liberals nor traditional social-democrats are able to construct a way out of the present crisis of capitalist democracy. Therefore the need for change seems apparent. While critics continually point to the impossibility of a participatory democracy, and post-modernists argue that it is wrong to look for any kind of answer, the problems still remain. A post-liberal dynamic democracy with an emphasis on a community-based polity and increased scope for participation, will not provide all of the answers but at least it is aware of the present crisis and is an attempt to address the problem. It is not a project however that can be introduced overnight. The penetration of its aims to re-order the power relationships of a given society without leading to the tyranny of the majority, and values requires a lengthy timetable, which remains aware of the ever-changing environment and at the same time is viewed by the people as just and fair. Therefore:
1. In the short-term the left needs policies that respond to immediate problems and actually relate to people's lives. The idea of ownership would take a back seat, partnership and effective regulation of the economy would take precedence, along with the legal framework for the creation of more co-operatives. This would firstly show that there was a third sector of the economy and secondly the co-operative principle of participation. Equitable distribution of any surplus could begin the process of nurturing change in people's minds vis-?-vis economic activity. The initial steps for the revitalization of the political and socio-cultural sphere would be laid by forging a consensus for extensive constitutional and political change.
2. We must then attempt to change attitudes and values by persuasion. This will require the self-realization on the part of the people that they presently lack an individual or collective voice hence only by exposing the myths of capitalism and capitalist democracy will people realize that the emperor has no clothes. This will require the development of a moral critique of capitalism, a critique that is aware of its deep embeddedness. The left will have to dissolve boundaries such as power and inequality and build a democratic community, once people can see the benefits of working and pooling knowledge together. Critics should take note of de Tocqueville ..."who argued that without active participation on the part of citizens in egalitarian institutions and civil associations, as well as in politically relevant organizations, there will be no way to maintain the democratic character of the political culture or of social and political institutions." (Cohen & Arato 1994:19)
3. Finally, if people view the overall package as better than the status quo, then the opportunity for the creation of a new system is enhanced. Such a system would have fully demarcated divisions of responsibility and mechanisms for deliberation. In many ways it would resemble a mosaic where one piece on its own means nothing, but together they create a recognizable picture.
Thus at the end of the day what am I offering? To use the metaphor of a feast, I have prepared a banquet which all are invited to dine. "Come and take a look at my feast". While some come and gorge themselves others are more hesitant and just nibble. There are also those that refuse to dine( they will be invited to put forward there own recipes. At the end of the day it will be up to each individual to decide which option they choose. The job of the left will be to provide a common denominator by which all can find some common ground. The process of change is a continuous process. History does not repeat itself, and there is nothing written in tablets of stone to say that people will choose to dine with us, but through the 'freeing' of cultural values there is a chance. The struggle for justice, equality and democracy must continue.
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Budapest Conference Statement
From 16-18 September 1994, representatives of different currents of the international new left met at a conference in Budapest devoted to the theme: "Perspectives of the Left at the Beginning of the 21st Century".
Thirty-five speakers from twelve countries participated in this conference, which was organised by Left Alternative Association (BAL) of Hungary and the ,journal Eszmélet. Together with a large number of Hungarian participants, they discussed the basic values and perspectives of the left.
For the participants in this conference, new left politics means not only going beyond chierarchic "state socialism" but also the political and intellectual effort to overcome the capitalist world system. Participants agreed on the need for political resistance to neo-liberalism and for the development of a non-capitalist alternative. These are the principal tasks of today's new left. Neo-liberal economic policies, in Eastern Europe, in the Third World, and in the core countries of the West are increasing social inequalities and are destroying the social, economic, ecological and cultural structures that are potential sources of resistance to world capitalism.
An important precondition for a policy of fundamental social change is that the new left work together with all democratic currents and movements that oppose the logic of capitalism. The organisers and participants of this conference support all social initiatives that are in agreement with these basic values and goals. The time is now ripe for the new left to organise itself internationally. The conference is a step in that direction.
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TAMÁS KRAUSZ - LÁSZLÓ TÜTÕ:
Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Political Transition Period into Socialism
Socialist society is described as a self-governing formation by the classics of scientific socialism. In their opinion a political transition period (the period of „proletarian dictatorship") guarantees its development. One of its main tasks - besides the consolidation of the new system of power - is the elimination of the political and economic spheres as separate entities from individual lives. In other words, in contrast with the old forms of the economic and social structures human forces are liberated and are thus able to establish homogenous self-governing systems. This involves replacing state and parliamentary functions by the organization of communities which represent individuals, and market economy is replaced by a mode of production which is more economical. This latter - among others - assumes the elimination of monetary relations as well as private end state monopolies of the means of production. Marx, Engels and Lenin date the beginning of socialism (i. e. the end of the political transition period) from the establishment of the self-governing society.
The situation is completely different in the case of the "fourth classic". Stalin regards the maintenance and stabilization of the political-authoritative basic structure as the main strategic objective (although conserving this structure is by no means of exclusive significance). Accordingly, he declares as socialism even the initial phase of the transition period. Questions are not raised, therefore, as to either the working out experimentally of an economy which is more efficient than the market economy, or creating the organization for a self-governing society. The bureaucratic state is not interested in creating a comprehensive self-governing system. The instabilities of economic policy, on the other hand, are determined by the formation of the political tactics. Depending on external and internal power relations, the restriction of the spontaneous logic of market mechanisms becomes sometimes stricter, sometimes looser. Stalin's theory and practice considers the maintenance of the separate political and individual economic spheres as the guarantee of the reproduction of the given basic structure of power.
This study attempts to review the original theoretical objectives and conceptions, as against ideas which are in fact topical political considerations. It aims to call attention to the radical difference between the presuppositions and methods of social analysis of Marx, Engels, Lenin and those of Stalin. Such a reconstruction might not be so interesting for concrete historical research but it can be an aid and additional tool of analysis. At the same time, in the authors' opinion, the respective theoretical mentalities of Marx, Engels and Lenin (with reference to comprehensive and internal contexts), their analytical methodology (i. e. integration into more important genetic and structural totalities) includes elements which are not exploited completely in the specialized branches of science (i. e. sociology, politology, political economy, etc.).
In these fields there are two basic tendencies and these supplement each other. When answering the new practical questions in one of them the entire stock of means is reduced to methodological empiricism - namely, when discussing politics in a pragmatic way. In the other, however, the ideas of the classics are recalled repeatedly, but in this case these are taken into account merely as a mass of theses (in other words, not as a system of concrete contexts). The different partial moments, therefore, appear as ones which can be emphasized as being preferred and are interchangeable from time to time. These types of responses - regarding their respective objective functions - are complementary to each other also in that they both play a structure-conserving role and a practical-ideological one which legitimates the given basic structure. In this aspect they both work in favour of conservative apologetics.
x x x
When speaking about socialist and communist societies Marx and Engels use these expressions as synonyms and a line is drawn between the early and developed phases. It is mainly after Lenin that the distinctive description of the "first stage" of communism as socialism came into usage - this sense is applied in this study as well.(1)
Marx and Engels believed that the creation of a socialist formation interpreted in this way would only be possible following a "political transition period "(2) - i. e. the „proletarian dictatorship” - after the period of proletarian revolution. In the transition period between the capitalist and communist society - says Marx - capitalism is transformed into the first stage of communism in a revolutionary way.
While making relatively few positive statements about the socialist formation, Marx and Engels deal with the question of political transition period in detail. They emphasize that the exact principles are not the main issue - but rather, concentration should be on the performance of the concrete tasks confronting the working class. With regard to their entire oeuvre and essential continuity can be shown in their approach to the problems - which does not exclude the transformation of certain of their ideas with regard to the instability of the different forecasts (such as the assumed period of the political transition, and the chances of peaceful transition). Their main concepts relating to the topic - despite some modifications - appear as a basically homogenous theory (3); this is why they can be treated in the same way. The reconstruction below relies only on those of their statements which (independent of their date of origin) fit organically into the completed system of thought.
Their argument starts from the beginning of the industrial revolution when capitalist society was progressive but, from the point of view of world history, this society came to an end. The profit-oriented economy of capitalism forced the creation of the material and personal conditions of industrial civilization, but it became a restriction on modern productive forces as the after-outgrew capital relations. The decisive practical evidence of this statement is as follows: co-operative factories managed by the workers themselves reach higher levels of efficiency and profitability.(4) When realizing this, technical application of scientific achievements as well as production on the level of large-scale industry are kept; capitalists, however, are eliminated. Co-operative factories - says Marx - "must be considered as transition forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated mode of production" where the contrast between capital and work (the private i. e. inadequate expropriation of the social means of production) "is eliminated in a positive way”.(5) In order that the superiority of associated work over wage-labour conditions may develop without restriction, the co-operative system "must be developed into one of national dimensions. Consequently, it must be promoted by national means". "Kooperative Arbeit wenn beschr(nkt auf den engen Kreis gelegentlicher Versuche vereinzelter Arbeiter, (ist( unfähig..., das Wachstum des Monopols in geometrischer Progression aufzuhalten"(6). In capitalist circumstances, or when fitted into the capitalist social structure, these workers' unions necessarily repeat and reproduce the shortages of the old mode of production.(7) That is also why state socialist conceptions cannot be considered as a solution which can guarantee by state subsidies the future of the co-operative movement within the given economic-political scopes. The aspects of rentability require "the liberation of work" and the revolutionization of the entire economic system.
What are the obstacles to the social realization of this effort? First of all, the capitalist class uses its political privileges to protect its economic privileges: it mobilizes its organization of power i. e. the capitalist state. With the help of direct and indirect (i. e. neutralizing and thus integrating into its own structure (8)) procedures it prevents the development of the new mode of production.
While the capitalist state can hinder the development of the co-operative system using national (economic means of power), the workers' state, at the same time, is able to promote this with procedures which are also of national dimensions. The continuation of the economic revolutionization, therefore, supposes the replacement of the traditional state by a workers' state (i. e. the dictatorship of the proletariat). "Die ökonomische Emanzipation der Arbeiterklasse daher der grosse Endzweck ist, dem jede politische Bewegung, als Mittel, unterzuordnen ist".(9) Thus the „proletarian dictatorship” appears as a transition method that - among others - guarantees the creation of the new mode of production in its social dimensions.
Marx and Engels underline that the proletarian revolution proceeds in different forms in different countries and consequently requires fairly different measures. In spite of this, their arguments refer unanimously to the general programme relating to "the political transition period" of the industrially developed nations; the main features of the programme are as follows:
1. The working class seizes the power controlled by its party, a party created to win the revolution: "making itself become the dominant class.(10) The most suitable political form for carrying out this tasks successfully is the democratic republic.
2. It destroys the capitalist state machinery as it cannot be adapted to serve the changed circumstances. The old bureaucratic, military, etc. apparatus is succeeded by elements which are spontaneously active and self-governing; this results in the saving of a considerable sum in national expenditure. The number of central duties diminishes considerably; these duties are carried out by employing less clerks and with the co-operation of the "responsible agents of the society".(11) The remaining public services are provided for at the price of a uniform workers' wage.
3. As the takeover of power does not abolish social classes (and their opposition and struggle) the state cannot be replaced by the consolidation of a self-governing structure. After the proletarian revolution - writes Marx - "solange die andren Klassen, speziell die kapitalistische noch existiert, solange das Proletariat mit ihr kämpft (denn mit seiner Regierungsmacht sind seine Feinde und ist die alte Organisation der Gesellschaft noch nicht verschwunden), muss es gewaltsame Mittel anwenden, daher Regierungsmittel; ist es selbst noch Klasse, und sind die ökonomischen Bedingungen, worauf der Klassenkampf beruht und die Existenz der Klassen, noch nicht verschwunden und müssen gewaltsam aus dem Weg geräumt oder umgewandelt werden, ihr Umwandlungsprozess gewaltsam beschleunigt werden."(12) During the „proletarian dictatorship” the interests of the workers need to be recognized as general and social interests. Therefore, workers "give a transition form to the state".(13) The basic change is that it no longer functions as an independent power: due to self-government "society repossesses itself of the state power as its own living force".(14) In this case state authority appears as "the organized power of workers serving for oppressing"(15) the earlier privileged classes. The privileged strata become politically subordinate and all their members are forced to "work for their subsistence".(16)
4. The replacement of the capitalist state by a proletarian state means, in fact, that in place of the earlier class dictatorship the working class puts its own class dictatorship. This change - in Engels' words - is nothing but the expansion of democracy, "the establishment of a real democratic state power",(17) i. e. the class democracy of the majority. All this results in the political rule of the workers for "democracy would be completely useless for the proletariat if it were not applied immediately as a means" for enforcing the regulations against private property.(18) The „proletarian dictatorship” does not abolish the class struggle but - as Marx formulated - it creates a medium in which the battle of the classes is fought in a most rational and human way.(19) The workers' state allows the elimination of capitalist conditions in a mainly economic way - at the same time accelerating this process by political means.
5. The working class applies its political power by expropriating the capitalists and transferring all the means of production to state ownership. This process is carried out gradually, partly through the seizure of productive plants, partly through expropriation or compensation procedures, and partly through the competition of state enterprises. The superiority of state industry is felt due to its greater resources and higher productivity comes from the direct interest of the workers (i. e. from self-government and spontaneous activities). Measures to be taken during the struggle against capitalists in order to accumulate state resources:
- The "expropriation" of the large estates and "assigning land rents to state expenditures".
- "The seizure of the properties of all the emigrants and rioters."
- Introduction of a "strong progressive tax".
- "Zentralisation des Kredits in den Händen des Staats durch eine Nationalbank mit Staatskapital und ausschliesslichem Monopol."(20)
6. After the takeover of power the working class begins its activities with "economic reform and political transformation".(21) The operation of the political sphere is, in fact, subordinated to the comprehensive purpose: this is the creation of the new economic system. The alternative form of production, in contrast to the traditional one, is represented by the workers' unions - industrial and agricultural co-operatives. The proletarian state contributes to "the co-operative companies' expanding increasingly into companies of more or less national dimensions".(22)
When pointing out that during the „proletarian dictatorship” the means of production fall into state ownership (gradually and temporarily) Marx and Engels separate distinctly the two forms of nationalization. Transferring the means of production to public ownership - underlines Engels - may be the result of merely authoritative-political reasons (for instance, in the era of Bismarck) or from economic necessity. This latter, however, is possible only on the basis of large-scale industry after the completion of the industrial revolution. Nationalization may appear as a purpose in itself (as in state socialist conceptions), as the precondition of socialization. It can be progressive but it can be a regression as well from an economic point of view. It may suggest socialism or precapitalist conditions.(23) Marx and Engels speak consistently about nationalization in the „proletarian dictatorship” as the preliminary condition and guaranty for the socialization of the means of production - eventually applying these two categories as synonyms. The means of production, having been, transferred to state ownership, are put to use immediately by the workers' unions. The rate at which the union of the producers' associations accomplishes is like the one at which the means of production become directly social and the state nature of ownership "dies out". This transformation - in Marx's words - makes individual ownership real.(24)
The political transition period - according to the conception of Marx and Engels - takes a characteristic place in the process of development after capitalism: belonging both to the period of class societies and - with regard to its opportunities in the long run - to the first stage of a communist society. The phase of "political transition" is characterized by the gradual elimination of social classes. This is the point from which strictly speaking, the history of the new formation socialism can be dated. The period of „proletarian dictatorship”, therefore, represents the conversion from capitalism to socialism; consequently, bourgeois and socialist factors necessarily coexist in it. Accordingly, Marx and Engels emphasize its features not only as being characteristically bourgeois but as being preparatory for the "first stage" of communism as well. The dictatorship of the working class - states Marx - is not a social movement, not yet a general renewal, but a political-dominant form, an aid for the battle of classes. (General renewal emerges only with the revolutionization of the economy - that is to say, in parallel with the establishment of the new, associated mode of production or when economic activities are transformed into the workers' social movement. Co-operative work supersedes this on a national dimension, where commodity production was originally regarded as bourgeois.) Marx draws up: "da das Proletariat während der Periode des Kampfs zum Umsturz der alten Gesellschaft noch auf der Basis der alten Gesellschaft agiert und daher auch noch in politischen Formen sich bewegt, die ihr mehr oder minder angehörten, hat es seine schliessliche Konstitution noch nicht erreicht während dieser Kampfperiode und wendet Mittel zur Befreiung an, die nach der Befreiung wegfallen".(25)
Moments of a bourgeois nature which survive during the „proletarian dictatorship” are as follows: state, party, dictatorship, capital conditions, commodity, money, market, etc. However, the difference is considerable among them regarding whether they can be given a new substance. Commodity, money, market and capital arise as enemies of the socialist formation. Consequently, in Marx and Engels's conception they can be eliminated. State, party-organization and the electoral representation can take a proletarian substance, so they can be utilized temporarily as aids for the creation of the new society. Although in structural terms they cannot uncritically be considered as communist elements, they are able to prepare the establishment of institutions which are specifically socialist with regard to their internal dynamism. The bourgeois formation which contrasts with the new substance, however, serves only to conserve the existing conditions. This is why they have to be gradually eliminated. The system of political institutions of the transition period is described by Marx and Engels as the "principle" of the past and the future, the coexistence of the state and the unions. The unions here are not associated in an economically integral (immanent) way, even temporarily, since the workers' government also has to carry out the tasks of power and class rule against other classes. Nevertheless, in proportion to the moderation of class distinctions the oppressive functions would in this way decreas as the proletarian state gradually "dies out". Its role is dominated by the unions, who make it possible (moreover, inevitable) to transform people so that they can carry out not only the new tasks but responsible self-governing functions as well.
While expecting that the intervention of the state would become unnecessary in more and more fields in the period of the „proletarian dictatorship”, Marx and Engels constantly argued against anarchic and state socialist concepts. They consistently critized the abstract anti-state theories of Proudhon and Bakunin, which reject political centralization even as a means of struggle. Marx and Engels believed that a severe political fault would occur if guidance were to be taken over by the self-governing organs before the consolidation of power. At the same time they denied the other extreme as well: i. e. the state socialist idea which considered the state (centralization) as not only a mere means (albeit in the process of dying) but as self-value in itself and a durable governing form. They emphasized that such a practice would lead people to lack independence, thus strengthening their dependence on the governing organs.
Marx and Engels supposed that economic tendencies were similar to political ones. According to their statement „proletarian dictatorship” is the form in which "the liberation of work" becomes possible. The economic-social liberation of work, however, must be realized in the act of production itself, through the radical alteration of the means of production. Nevertheless the terms of production are not transformed in an economically integral way. Several governmental measures (e. g. restriction of bourgeois ownership, state centralization of the means of production) are taken "by ways of tyrannical interference, that is by ways of measurements that see to be inadequate and unbearable from an economic point of view”.(26) The "untenable" regulations - that is to say, those producing economic deficiencies - lose their function after the stabilization of the new political power. However, this does not yet involve the integration of the bourgeois and communist features; due to their lack of form, it is their struggle and temporary compromises which determine the vital process of society. The society of the political transition period, therefore, cannot be stabilized structurally i. e. as a formation "relying on its own basis".
According to the conception of Marx and Engels until the entire
elimination of private ownership (both capitalist and individual ownership)
bourgeois commodity production and the outlines of the future economy
would coexist. Struggle against the remaining capitalist and small-scale modes
of production supposes the existence of medium market conditions.
That is why Marx describes co-operative enterprises as going beyond capitalist
ownership, but still maintaining commodity relations until the abolition
of the capitalist mode of production.(27) This form is a result of the logic of
the market and so it represents a transition to a associated mode of
production. At the same time, the total economic movement's emerges as a new
economic form, also including several socialist elements, such as the
1. Utilization of the means of production in state-social ownership does not focus on profits but on necessity; their economical orientation is aimed at the optimum satisfaction of social necessities.
2. The scope of the economy is not confined to working hours for opportunities beyond this are also taken into account (e. g. self-government, independent actions such as the development of abilities, etc.).
3. Appearance of different forms of direct social production without commodity-relations (e. g. associated mode of production, social independent activities).
Here it must be mentioned that there is no firm agreement with regard to Marx and Engels' ideas concerning the survival (maintenance) of commodity production after capitalism. In the direct and indirect discussions three basic types of conflicting interpretation have emerged. Some of these declare that Marx believed that commodity production is a feature of even the first stage of communist society. However, most of those holding this opinion believe that this does not relate to the political transition period. However, it is also frequently expressed that the entire elimination of market relations is necessary immediately after the „proletarian dictatorship”. Perhaps the main reason for this misinterpretation is that one of the parts - frequently cited - of Anti-Dühring (and The Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science, which is based on the former) is drawn up in a rough way. In this case - in contrast with the spirit of the whole work - if you do not read the text carefully enough the dividing lines grow indistinct between the "political transition" and the "first stage"; thus the two periods appear together in a short-circuit. Engels states: "Das Proletariat ergreift die Staatsgewalt und verwandelt die Produktionsmittel zunachst in Staatseigentum. Aber damit hebt es sich selbst als Proletariat, damit hebt es alle Klassenunterschiede und Klassengegens(tze auf, und damit auch den Staat als Staat... Der erste Akt; worin der Staat wirklich als Reprasentant der ganzen Gesellschaft auftritt - die Besitzergreifung der Produktionsmittel im Namen der Gesellschaft - ist zugleich sein letzter selbstandiger Akt als Staat." Then a few sentences later: "Mit der Besitzergreifung der Produktionsmittel durch die Gesellschaft ist die Warenproduktion beseitigt".(28)
In this quotation the „proletarian dictatorship” and commodity production actually preclude each other. However, the passage between the sentence quoted above indicates that, for Engels the seizure of power by no means involves the abolition of either social classes or their opposite. Naturally, this does not involve the abolition of the state either as, in Engels' arguments, it cannot immediately be abolished but dies out "by itself" after the elimination of its functions. The proletarian state does not become representative of the entire society, for the main reason for it existence is due to the fact that class contradictions remain. The takeover of power does not result in the outright taking of the means of production into social ownership. Thus, the text quote does not refer to the direct but merely to the long-range consequences of the proletarian revolution: i. e. that with the entire abolition of private ownership the elimination of commodity production also becomes possible.
This problem is in close connection with the question of the consciously maintained proportionality of the socialist economy by means of systematical planning in the „proletarian dictatorship”. Marx and Engels reckoned only with the early form of a planned economy as long as private ownership and commodity production exist. They emphasize that in this period - the economy is focused on necessities which cannot be realized in national dimensions. Moreover, the special interests of the different unions still remain - the integration of the unions into one association does not result in itself in the direct realization of the interests of the total society. In such circumstances a centrally planned economy cannot do much else but influence and modify economic processes by comprehensive averages and in a far-sighted way: with the help of taxes, dotations partially regulate the quantity of commodities to be produced, wages, etc. (Marx and Engels do not refer to the idea that the proletarian state any kind of influence on the operation of the directly socialized economy - i. e. beyond the market relations.) This form of centrally planned economy plays a positive role until the principle of necessity defines production in national dimensions. At the same time, in parallel with the elimination of commodity production, the political distributive means are also abolished. In the political transition period the proletarian state and commodity production assume each other's existence - the elimination of the latter coincide with the "dying out" of the former. According to Marx and Engels, during the transition to socialism the early abolition of commodity production and the renouncement of this abolition - a concept which was especially criticized by Marx in the case of Proudhon and Dühring - are both false steps.
Although Marx believed it was theoretically possible that society after capitalism would be realized by the simultaneous action of many nations, they did accept that their might be cases of isolated "local communism".(29) They emphasize that this falls victim to the considerable expansion of the world market and world connections. The socialist transformation, if seen as an alteration of international dimensions, is the result of the action of peoples economically dominant, and this comes across not only in The German Ideology but also the Communist Manifesto. Later on, the authors also think that "the liberation of work" is not merely a national question, because its realization depends on the co-operation of the working classes of the most progressive nations. In relation with the occurrence of the political revolution they speak about the interrelation between England ruling the world market and countries less developed industrially. Marx writes: "In den Extremit(ten des bürgerlichen Körpers muss es natürlich eher zu gewaltsamen Ausbrüchen kommen als in seinem Herzen, da hier die Möglichkeit der Ausgleichung grösser ist als dort. Andererseits ist der Grad, worin die kontinentalen Revolutionen auf England zurückwirken, zugleich der Thermometer, an dem es sich zeigt, inwieweit diese Revolutionen wirklich die bürgerlichen Lebensverhaltnisse in Frage stellen, oder wieweit sie nur ihre politischen Formationen treffen."(30)
Thus, this hypothesis suggests that the revolutionary impulse is could be expected from outside - France, the United States and Russia are mentioned concretely as initiators in the course of the oeuvre. Nevertheless, the much later on Engels expressed the opinion on several occasions that a military conflict lasting for a long time is could be expected among the nations of Europe and the consequences of this world war would increase the chances for the takeover of power. However, if any continental revolution was to spread over to England it would become one of universal dimensions. The English proletarian revolution, says Marx, "must directly react upon the whole world". (31)
When studying the opportunities for the historic establishment of the socialist formation in the second half of the l9th century Marx and Engels drew up two different forms for it: plans feasible for countries having the material and personal conditions of industrial civilization on the one hand, and on the other, those lacking these. In 1870 Marx included only Great Britain as being in the first category. "Obgleich die revolutionare Initiative wahrscheinlich von Frankreich ausgehen wird, kann allein England als Hebel für eine ernsthafte ökonomische Revolution dienen. Es ist das einzige Land, wo es keine Bauern mehr gibt und wo der Grundbesitz in wenigen H(nden konzentriert ist. Es ist dac einzige Land, wo die kapitalistische Form - das heisst die auf grosser Stufenleiter kombinierte Arbeit unter kapitalistischen Unternehmern - sich fast der gesamten Produktion bemachtigt hat. Es ist das einzige Land, wo die grosse Mehrheit der Bevölkerung aus Lohnarbeitern besteht. Es ist das einzige Land, wo der Klassenkarnpf und die Organisation der Arbeiterklasse durch die Trade-Unions einen gewissen Grad der Reife und der Universalit(t erlangt haben."(32)
England's stage of development in this aspect made it possible that the revolution could be carried on in an economically integral way and social antagonisms would cease to exist, this latter fact being a by-product of the elimination of the basic economic antagonism (i. e. the conflict between the human and economic points of view). In this case, therefore, the political transition (i. e. the „proletarian dictatorship”) period would allow, within a relatively short time, the stabilization of the new structure into a socialist formation relying on its own base (i. e. it would form the real transformation of importance for world history).
The situation is different in the case of less developed countries. In Germany a serious problem presented itself with the lack of a modern agricultural system, and in addition to this clear class relations were not developed. Thus in Germany the proletariat would need the support of other social strata and the workers' power would be forced to take measures after the victory aimed at bringing a significant number of the middle classes (e. g. wealthier peasants, "shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants"(33)) over to the new system. This is how Marx writes in connection with this : "wo der Bauer massenweise als Privateigentümer existiert, wo er sogar eine mehr oder minder betr(chtliche Majorität bildet, wie in allen Staaten des westeuropäischen Kontinents, wo er nicht verschwunden und durch Agrikultur-Taglöhner ersetzt ist, wie in England, treten folgende Falle ein: entweder er verhindert, macht scheitern jede Arbeiterrevolution, wie er das bisher in Frankreich getan hat; oder das Proletariat (denn der besitzende Bauer gehört nicht zum Proletariat, und da, wo er selbst seiner Lage nach dazu gehört, glaubt er, nicht dazu zu gehören) rnuss als Regierung Massregeln ergreifen, wodurch der Bauer seine Lage unmittelbar verbessert findet, die ihn also für die Revolution gewinnen".(34)
When drawing up this scheme for guaranteeing an alliance with the peasantry, regulations for improving its position would have to be taken. Marx does not forget to emphasize: the task of these measures are at the same time to promote "den Übergang aus dem Privateigentum am Boden in Kollektiveigentum..., so dass der Bauer von selbst ökonomisch dazu kommt".(35) According to Engels' statement the economically integral development of the ownership of parcels of land and the direct interest of the peasantry in this development arose from the fact that the peasants' co-operatives are "brought to a better economic position"(36) than that of the small-scale producers because social subsidies would be provided for the co-operatives. (Since in the less developed countries there is no opportunity for a revolution during the „proletarian dictatorship” carried out in an economically integral way, in these cases the political transition period to socialism supposes a process significantly more complicated than the English transition and would require a longer time.)
The situation is more complex in the case of the less developed nations. In such cases the question of the theoretical possibility of the transition from semi-capitalism or precapitalism to socialism arises. In these less developed countries a capitalist economy had begun to emerge but conditions characteristic of capitalism had only a subordinate role. (Neither the material nor the personal terms of capitalist production had been property formed in the social dimension.) Still, their attachment to the world market integrated them unequivocally with global processes, thus exposing them to the internal alterations of Western societies. Thus Marx believed that the future proletarian revolution in the less developed countries would influence them fundamentally: all the countries that joined the operation of the world market would follow the Western revolution quasi of itself. In Engels' words : "Ist Europa erst reorganisiert und Nord-amerika, so gibt das eine so kolossale Macht und ein solches Exempel, dass die halbzivilisierten L(nder ganz von selbst ins Schlepptau kommen; das besorgen allein schon die ökonomischen Bedürfnisse. Welche sozi-alen und politischen Phasen aber diese L(nder dann durchzumachen haben, bis sie ebenfalls zur sozialistischen Organisation kornmen, darüber, glaube ich, können wir heute nur ziemlich müssige Hypothesen aufstellen".(37)
However, what seemed most likely in these cases is that the creation of the socialist terms of the industrial civilization after the Western proletarian revolution would be provided with the help of the Western economies. The logic of Marx's and Engels's arguments suggest that in the given period even the French working class would require the support of the more developed British economy. For countries of a very low level of development, however, external assistance would be of increased importance.
Marx and Engels believed there were good chances for the essentially simultaneous political-social revolution of, respectively, economy-cally developed and under-developed countries. They disagreed sharply with the likes of Tkachov and Bakunin who had the view that a socialist structure could theoretically be realized, on a national level, in any country. Moreover, the latter believed that it was the unsettled nature of the conflict between the proletariat and the capitalist class which would make the task easier. In their opinion, instead of the development of industrial civilization and the organization of the masses the main mobilizing factors are poverty and misery.(38) Marx emphasized that Bakunin did not understand anything from the revolution "nur die politischen Phrasen davon; die ökonomischen Bedingungen derselben existieren nicht für ihn. Da nun alle bisherigen ökonomischen Formen, entwickelt oder unentwickelt, Knechtschaft des Arbeiters (sei es in der Form des Lohnarbeiters, Bauern etc.) einschliessen, so glaubt er, dass in allen gleichm(ssig radikale Revolution möglich... Der Wille, nicht die ökonomischen Bedingungen, ist die Grundlage seiner sozialen Revolution."(39)
Marx stated that poverty influences the masses in a really inciting way and "with almost religions faith in their rights",(40) and together with their own despair it could lead to a social revolution. Yet without the necessary economic background and a significant proletariat it is only the obsolete form (in a Western interpretation) of social revolution and not the socialist version which can be realized. If the productive forces are inadequate for a given social-political structure "a conflict could emerge between the material development and social form of the production". Due two the lack of an appropriate economic base "nur der Mangel" will be "verallgemeinert, also mit der Notdurft auch der Streit um ds Notwendige wieder beginnen und die ganze alte Scheisse sich herstellen müsste".(41)
It cannot be regarded as mere chance that Marx and Engels returned to this question several times at a later date. Marx believed that the elimination of class-antagonisms required not only the abolition of social conflicts but similarly, the disappearance of the negative material and spiritual conditions of industrial society (scarcity, mass poverty) as well.
Engels also thought that only on a developed, capitalist base could there be a lasting solution to the reproduction of class contradictions. Exclusively in this case the political takeover of power does not overwhelm the points of view of rentability. Extensive industrial development and a large working class are necessary for the realization of a really lasting transformation. Nevertheless, they point out that it is not necessary to wait for the total development of the capitalist system in order for the proletarian revolution to occur. Marx emphasized that political violence "is economic potency itself".(42) In the revolutionary process of the period of „proletarian dictatorship”, on the other hand, a transformation of the people can be reached such that the new social structure is capable of realization.
It is widely known that Lenin follows on directly from the thoughts of Marx and Engels with regard to society after capitalism it might be said that he took over their essence. Although in Lenin's works there are marked differences between some of his argumentation and that of Marx and Engels, but he essentially remains within the scope of the latter. He also separates the period after capitalism in three stages: the periods of political transition (i. e. „proletarian dictatorship”), socialism and completed communism. He expands Marx and Engels' theory considerably in two main fields and also develops them further.
1. He sees radical industrialization, rapid social development and the study of democratization as being of vital importance for underdeveloped countries when carrying out the proletarian revolution. He considers the realization of these tasks as being absolutely necessary and they must occur simultaneously.(43)
2. Given the historical situation in which he found himself Lenin was obliged to examine these issues theoretically: seeing that the newborn Soviet state lacked the support of the developed countries what kind of chances would offer themselves in order that all the prerequisites for socialism could be provided on the basis of internal efforts.
In Lenin's theory the lowest stage of communist society - i. e. the socialist formation - lacks classes. Its establishment is attached to definite, objective (i. e. economic, technological, personal) terms, without which "no revolt results in socialism".(44) Strictly speaking, the history of socialist society commences with the elimination of class distinctions. (In his words: "Solange es noch Arbeiter und Bauern gibt, ist der Sozialismus nicht verwirklicht."(45)) Accordingly, socialist society ignores the political state and the parliamentary system - the tasks of the latter are given to self-governing structure. Democracy as a form of government is replaced by a direct self-governing democracy.
In the field of economy Lenin argued that certain governmental functions are maintained while commodity production is qualified as an essentially capitalist procedure, theoretically incompatible with the principles of socialism. Lenin believed that in the socialist economy the elimination of money, commodity and the market becomes possible, the means of production being in social ownership and a planned economy being guaranteed centrally. State accounting is the means for achieving the comprehensive registration and control of necessities, resources and works. Workers are given a receipt - a "certificate" - for their socially useful work and receive consumer goods according to the proportion, of their work - albeit after inevitable reductions.
The maintenance of formal legal equality means bourgeois rights play a part in the distribution. "Insofern bleibt noch die Notwendigkeit des Staates bestehen, der unter Wahrung des gesellschaftlichen Eigentums an den Produktionsmitteln die Gleichheit der Arbeitsleistung und die Gleichheit bei der Verteilung der Produkte zu schützen hat."(46) The survival of bourgeois rights integrally involves the task of enforcing them - in Lenin's words this supposes the necessity of the "bourgeois" state. Thus "nicht nur das bürgerliche Recht eine gewisse Zeit fortbesteht, sondern sogar auch der bürgerliche Staat - ohne Bourgeoisie!"(47)
It is in direct relation with the Marxian view that Lenin develops his conception of the "two stages". The essence of the latter involves the clear conceptual distinction between the political transition period (i. e. the „proletarian dictatorship”) and the lowest phase of communist society (i. e. socialism). He states: "Der Übergang von der kapitalistischen Gesell-schaft, die sich zum Kommunismus hin entwickelt, zur kommunistischen Gesellschaft ist unmöglich ohne eine 'politische (bergangsperiode', und der Staat dieser Periode kann nur die revolutionäre Diktatur des Proletariats sein".48 He attributes a double function to the political transition period: the stabilization of power on the one hand, and on the other the development of, and experimentation with new forms of economic and social organization in order to achieve a total transition to socialism. In Lenin's view the dominance of the working class - in line with the standpoint of Marx and Engels - is considered involves a class struggle carried on with the help of state power. "Die Diktatur des Proletariats - he writes - ist ein zäher Kampf, ein blutiger und unblutiger, gewaltsamer und friedlicher, militärischer und wirtschaftlicher, p(dagogischer und administrativer Kampf gegen die M(chte und Traditionen der alten Gesellschaft."(49) The workers' state is the organization of the power of the workers but it is simultaneously on institution for oppression and democracy: "der Sozialismus ist nicht anders zu verwirklichen, als über die Diktatur des Proletariats, welche die Gewalt gegen die Bourgeoisie, d.h. gegen die Minderheit der Bevölkerung, mit der vollen Entfaltung der Demokratie vereinigt, d.h. mit der wirklich gleichberechtigten und wirklich allgemeinen Beteiligung der gesamten Masse der Bevölkerung an allen Staatsangelegenheiten".(50)
Lenin emphasized that in Russia it is easier to begin a revolution than in Western Europe but more difficult to finish it. The economic-cultural backwardness of Russia leads to a theoretical consequence that seems surprising in the first instance. However, on examining the question in detail, it arises as obvious : Marx and Engels attribute to the period of the „proletarian dictatorship” a function of overwhelming authoritative-political importance while Lenin regards it as one of economic-cultural significance. This due to the fact that in the West the personal and material properties of a socialist economy are "given"; in Russia, on the other hand, these are the political properties which are given and thus it is natural that in both cases it is the concrete elements which are missing that are emphasized. Lenin stresses: "The essence of Soviet power - as the essence of the transition from capitalism to socialist society in general - is that political tasks are subordinated to economic tasks".(51) The functions of class oppression can be realized more easily than the development of the new mode of production. From this point of view the purpose of the political transition period („proletarian dictatorship”) is twofold:
1. The educational, "man-forming" function comes into prominence and is destined to enable the masses to organize independently the economy and society in a conscious, disciplined way.
2. The elaboration of a planned economy in order to save labour, raw materials, etc., in order to increase productivity: "containing all the people"(52), "allerorts durchzuführende, allgemeine, universelle Rechnungsführung und Kontrolle, Rechnungsführung und Kontrolle über die Arbeitsmenge und über die Verteilung der Produkte - darin besteht das Wesen der sozialistischen Umgestaltung, nachdem die politische Herrschaft des Proletariats begründet und gesichert ist ".(53)
Lenin states that in the course of the dictatorship of the working class it is necessary that "alle nach einem einzigen gemeinsamen Plan arbeiten, ... nach einer gemeinsamen Ordnung".(54) Contrary to socialism the whole society functions as "ein Büro und eine Fabrik"(55) where there is the so-called "factory" discipline. Workers become the employees of the proletarian state, the state "syndicate". The rate of work is fixed by industrial courts; these ensure that workers produce according to equal rates and share in the goods in conformity with their work.(56)
The organization of the society of the political transition period is outlined by Lenin essentially on the basis of the Commune of Paris and its Marxian interpretation. This supposes the integral coexistence of the self-governing nature of the centralized workers' state. In his theory the question of a self-governing system is of crucial importance. He underlines that this is not at all similar to the organization of an armed revolt, for both their destination and their origin and nature are significantly different from each other. It may become viable only following the takeover of power. "Die Organisierung der revolutionären Selbstvertwaltung und der Wahl von Volksbeauftragten ist nicht der Prolog, sondern der Epilog des Aufstands... Man muss zuerst im Aufstand (wenn such nur in einer einzelnen Stadt) siegen und eine provisorische revolution(re Regierung bilden, damit diese als Organ des Aufstands, als anerkannte Führerin des revolution(ren Volkes die Organisierung der revolution(ren Selbstverwaltung in Angriff nehmen kann."(57)
Later on the basis of the analysis of the Marxian texts came to the final conclusion: "The task of the proletarian revolution is to break this machinery into pieces, to substitute it with the broadest local self-government below, at the local apparatuses, and with the direct power and dictatorship of the armed proletariat above". This self-governing system, as a "cheap government" following the experiences of the Commune, is described by him as a "semi-state" which does not need the old order of the traditional "patronage and supervision of the state". With regard to Bernstein's criticism of Marx in this connection, he gives the explanation that it is not easy to come out of the magic spell of the up-to-date bourgeois state. This because the first practical condition of this "coming out" is the proletarian revolution itself. The way in which the relationship between the soviets and the party regarding the period of the „proletarian dictatorship” is determined strongly characterizes Lenin's thinking. "Die Sowjetmacht ist ein Apparat", he writes, "ein Apparat, dazu bestimmt, dass die Masse sofort anfange, die Staatsverwaltung und die Organisation der Produktion im gesamtnationalen Masstab zu erlernen", as socialism "kann nicht eine Minderheit - die Partei - einführen. Einfüh-ren können ihn Dutzende von Millionen, wenn sie es lernen, das selbst zu tun".(58) His argumentation starts from the point that communists form only the minority of society: "In der Volksmasse sind wir immerhin nur ein Tropfen im Meer". Due to this situation he has the following thoughts about the decisive prerequisite for the functional capacity of governmental power: "wir können nur dann regieren, wenn wir richtig zum Ausdruck bringen, was das Volk erkennt."(59) The main task of the party, on the other hand, is determined by him in the following - essentially pedagogic - function: we must urge the masses to do what they have to do".(60) The operation of the self-governing system after the revolution - according to Lenin's conception - requires that: "everyone works in the productive field and everyone takes part - at the same time - in the work of the state apparatuses". The fully developed form of this is the adequate organization of the "lowest phase of communism", but the process of this development commences even on the day following the revolution if the basic cells of self-government are the soviets themselves.
Lenin stressed that the soviet system is the "Russian form of the proletarian dictatorship".(61) This also implies the rejection of traditional parliamentarism and formal, indirect democracy; it points to the gradual realization of certain methods of the "primitive" direct democracy ("wie soll denn sonst der Übergang zur Ausübung der staatlichen Funktionen durch die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung, ja durch die ganze Bevölkerung ohne Ausnahme erfolgen?"(62)).
In Lenin's opinion „proletarian dictatorship” also shows the features of the Commune: "theoretisch unbestritten ist, dass die Sowjetmacht ein neuer Typus des Staates ist, ohne Bürokratie, ohne Polizei, ohne stehendes Heer... eine Demokratie, die die Vorhut der werktätigen Massen in den Vordergrund rückt, sie sowohl zum Gesetzgeber als auch zum Vollstrecker der Gesetze sowie zur milit(rischen Schutzwache macht".(63) The activities of the state thus appear as the direct expression of the will of the people. "Die Sowjets sind die unmittelbare Organisation der werktatigen... Massen selbst, die es ihnen erleichtert, den Staat selbst einzurichten und in jeder nur möglichen Weise zu leiten."(64) In the course of this activity certain individuals learn the tasks of administration and the way to wield power democratically: "Auf dem Wege über den Sowjetstaat zur allmahlichen Abschaffung des Staates durch systematische Heranziehung einer immer grösseren Zahl von Bürgern und später ausnahmslos aller Bürger zur unmittelbaren und täglichen Beteiligung an den Bürden der Staatsverwaltung."(65)
According to this theory the Russian proletarian state is "eine Republik der Sowjets der Arbeiter-, Landarbeiter- und Bauerndeputierten im ganzen Lande, von unten bis oben."(66) The different soviets are interested in being integrated in order to unify their forces and thus save work. Such centralization - concomitant with the organization "from downside up" - does not lead to the elimination of self-governing democracy. "Mit demokratischem und sozialistischem Zentralismus haben weder die Schablone noch das Festlegen eines Schemas von oben her irgend etwas gemein. Die Einheit im Grundlegenden, im Wichtigsten, im wesentlichen wird nicht gestört, sondern gesichert durch die Mannigfaltigkeit der Einzelheiten, der lokalen Besonderheiten, der Methoden des Herangehens an die Dinge... Die Pariser Kommune war ein grosses Vorbild dafür, wie Initiative, Selbständigkeit, Freiheit der Bewegung, Schwungkraft von unten mit einem freiwilligen, dem Schablonenhaften fremden Zentralismus verbunden sein können."(67) In Lenin's conception the soviet system that is to combine the self-government of workers and its organization centralized by their interests leads to the gradual dying out of the political state for its functions are to be carried out as independents actions.
Lenin makes a definite distinction between nationalization and socialization. He points out that the expropriation (nationalization) of the means of production is nothing but a simple political-authoritative action. Their socialization, in turn, represents a new qualitative grade from the economic point of view: namely, the organization of production that guarantees an economical realization of work on a total national level.
Thus Lenin regards socialization of the means of production - transferred to state ownership - and their directly social operation as a good opportunity for the economy, and a factor which increases the chances for raising productivity. He writes: "Man kann den Kapitalismus nicht besiegen... ohne die demokratische Verwaltung der der Bourgeoisie fortgenommenen Produktionsmittel durch das ganze Volk zu organi-sieren, ohne die ganze Masse der Werktätigen, ... zur demokratischen Organisierung ihrer Reihen, ihrer Kräfte und ihrer Teilnahme am Staat heranzuziehen."(68) He thinks it important that all the workers, as well as groups of workers, have equal rights to exploit the means of production (in state ownership) in aneconomical way.
In Lenin's theory the local soviets are taken into account as the basic units of political life so in economy the "small cells of the village and city"(69) are the unions, and communes. He noted that in the new working organizations associated productive forces would aspire to apply the latest achievements of science and technology. In the field of economy there is also direct democracy. In his words: "wir wollten zeigen, dass wir nur einen 'Weg anerkennen - den Weg der Umgestaltungen von unten, den Weg, auf dem die Arbeiter selbst von unten her die neuen Grundlagen der wirtschaftlichen Verhältnisse schaffen".(70) In this way they become interested in introducing the most efficient procedures. In the course of activities of this kind they obtain an important new ability: they learn to manage, as well as organize the processes of production.
The satisfaction of necessities becomes economical possible, there is saving in work and production, as well as a reduction of daily working hours gradually to six hours - these are fundamental objectives. The main means of raising productivity in general comprise the competition between working individuals and communities. Lenin writes about the increased chances for individual economic initiatives: the „proletarian dictatorship” "schafft erstmalig die Möglichkeit (diese( wirklich auf breiter Grundlage, wirklich im Massenumfang anzuwenden, die Mehrheit der Werktätigen wirklich auf ein Tätigkeitsfeld zu führen, auf dem sie sich hervortun, ihre F(higkeiten entfalten... Erst jetzt wird in breitem Masse, wahrhaft für die Massen, die Möglichkeit geschaffen, Unternehmungsgeist, Wettbewerb und kühne Initiative zu entfalten".(71)
In Lenin's opinion the replacement of the private ownership by a human form of competition can be realized only through the elimination of commodity production. Its mechanism is to take over the tasks of the market: namely, to provide information across the nation about the capacity of the different communes, and to make available publicity for spreading economic information. Lastly, it has the role of promoting the gradual diminution of the different activities of production to a rate of working hours regarded necessary, given the existing social conditions. A competition in these terms is carried on in order to stabilize the discipline of labour "between all the consuming-producing communes".(72) The organized competition writes Lenin - means "die Möglichkeit, den richtigsten, den haushälterischsten Weg zu finden zur Reorganisierung der ökonomischen Ordnung Russlands... Wir haben jetzt nur noch den Wettbewerb zu organisieren d.h. für eine Publizität zu sorgen, die allen Gemeinden des Staates die Möglichkeit gibt, sich darüber zu informieren, wie denn nun die ökonomische Entwicklung in den verschiedenen Gegenden vor sich gegangen ist, zweitens dafür zu sorgen, dass die Ergebnisse des Vormarschs zum Sozialismus in der einen und der anderen Kommune des Staates miteinander verglichen werden können, drittens dafür zu sorgen, dass Erfahrungen, die in der einen Gemeinde gemacht worden sind, von anderen Gemeinden praktisch wiederholt werden können, dass der Austausch derjenigen materiellen und menschlichen Kräfte ermöglicht werde, die sich auf dem betreffenden Gebiet der Volkswirtschaft oder der Staatsverwaltung von der besten Seite gezeigt haben".(73)
Up until now the outlines in this study have suggested that in certain basic questions Lenin's theory differs essentially from the Marx and Engels. Lenin - in conformity with the opinion dominant in the Second International - considered the introduction of socialist, direct social production as possible even in the political transition period. He also believed that this would go together with the replacement of financial management by a natural registration and distribution of consumption goods based on work receipts. He supposed that by state planning all the economically important factors could be included. In his opinion it is possible "unver-züglich, von heute auf morgen, dazu überzugehen, die Kapitalisten und Beamten, nachdem sie gestürzt sind, bei der Kontrolle über Produktion und Verteilung, bei der Registrierung der Arbeit und der Produkte, durch bewaffnete Arbeiter, durch das gesamte bewaffnete Volk zu ersetzen".(74)
Lenin makes a definite distinction between the two types of „proletarian dictatorship”. In the developed capitalist countries, where the decisive majority of the workers are industrial and agricultural wage-earners, the direct transition to socialism becomes possible in social, economic and political respects.(75) According to this argumentation, in this case the establishment of "state accountancy" does not meet with any serious difficulties for its technical means have already been created in the capitalist period. Its introduction is not an economic but a political action by itself: it accompanies the phenomenon of the takeover of the proletariat. In this case the "period of central registration and controlling"(76) passes integrally into the first stage of communist society. In the latter workers' control represented by state officials is replaced by the regulation of production and distribution by the workers themselves. Lenin writes that this "führt auf der Basis der Grossproduktion von selbst zum allmählichen 'Absterben' jedweden Beamtentums, zur allmählichen Schaf fung einer Ordnung..., einer Ordnung, bei der die sich immer mehr verein-fachenden Funktionen der Áufsicht und Rechenschaftslegung der Reihe nach von allen ausgeübt, später zur Gewohnheit werden und schliesslich als Sonderfunktionen einer besonderen Schicht von Menschen in Fortfall kommen".(77)
Lenin claimed that another kind of process would operate for the „proletarian dictatorship” in underdeveloped countries where the objective is the transition to socialism not from capitalism but from semi-capitalism. In these cases the majority of the population is made up of smallholding producers so the insertion of special state measures is necessary. The power of the working class has to enter into alliance with the peasantry and this is why the transition period comprises several phases. The number of these phases depends considerably on the Western revolution. He stresses this question even in l918 with special regard to Russia: "Wieviel Etappen des Übergangs zum Sozialismus noch vor uns liegen, wissen wir nicht und können wir nicht wissen. Das hängt davon ab, wann die europäische sozialistische Revolution im richtigen Masstab anfangen wird, davon, wie leicht, rasch oder langsam sie mit ihren Feinden fertig werden und die freie Bahn der sozialistischen Entwicklung beschreiten wird".(78) He believed that the Soviet experiences could not be used make general conclusions. "Es ist... unvermeidlich - he writes -, dass diese Übergangsstadien in Europa andere sein werden; und deshalb wäre es theoretisch falsch, alle Aufmerksamkeit auf diejenigen nationalen, spezifischen Übergangsstufen zu konzentrieren, die für uns notwendig sind, aber für Europa nich notwendig zu sein brauchen".(79) Lenin maintained that his ideas concentrated on the mechanisms for organizing the economy and society of the "political transition period".
The experiences of the years after the revolution, however, induced him to draw new conclusions with regard to two fundamental issues.
1. He stated that the proletarian revolution had not occurred in conformity with the theory. The takeover of power in Russia had not be complemented by a Western revolution; thus Russia could not "takeover" any of the achievements of developed Western societies. The Russian working class was unable to count on the rapid support of the developed countries - it had to start the creation of the new society its own efforts, without external assistance. The period of the „proletarian dictatorship”, therefore, is divided necessarily into more preliminary phases - i. e. "transitions within the transition". These are aimed - prior to the period of the direct transition to socialism - at eliminating backwardness, as well as excluding the disadvantages arising from the missing capitalist development. Lenin stressed the historic significance of the Russian revolution simultaneously with the specific difficulties and theoretical chances of the realization of the new society. He writes: "Wir haben den Sowjettypus des Staates geschaffen und damit eine neue weltgeschichtliche Epoche eingeleitet, die Epoche der politischen Herrschaft des Proletariats, die berufen ist, die Epoche der Herrschaft der Bourgeoisie abzulösen... Nicht zu Ende geführt haben wir jedoch die Errichtung auch nur des Fundaments der so-zialistischen Wirtschaft."(80) In this situation there is only one way in which socialist society can be established: given that the working class is in possession of political power, the essential element of that power must be created irregularly in a reverse order. "Wenn zur Schaffung des Sozialismus ein bestimmtes Kulturniveau notwendig ist..., warum sollten wir also nicht damit anfangen, auf revolution(rem Wege die Voraussetzungen für dieses bestimmte Niveau zu erringen, und dann schon, auf der Grundlage der Arbeiter- und Bauernmacht und der Sowjetordnung, vorw(rtsschreiten und die anderen Völker einholen."(81)
2. Although in the State and Revolution Lenin unequivocally excludes (on a theoretical level) the possibility that Russia could achieve a direct transition to socialism during a war economy - and supposing the occurrence of revolution across Europe - he still believed there was a chance for this. However, all kinds of practical attempts were bound to fail due to the predominance of peasants in the population and to the backwardness: the effort to introduce a planned economy based on comprehensive central registration would not lead to higher productivity but to bureaucracy and economic shortages. This is why he stressed: that in an underdeveloped country there is no opportunity for the direct transition "zur staatlichen Production und Verteilung auf kommunistischer Grundlage".(82) Accordingly, from the end of 1920 - in his theoretical activities - emphasis is shifted from the realization of socialism to the creation of the prerequisites for socialism. While earlier he spoke only generally about the special state measures to be taken in the underdeveloped countries after the victorious proletarian revolution, now - returning to the question which arose even in 1918 - he drew up the exact task. He stated that Soviet Russia, underdeveloped in economic and cultural terms, would be obliged to take steps towards the creation of the socialist economy indirectly by inserting preliminary phases. The first stage of the indirect way is state capitalism, this being the individual presocialist phase of the political transition period. From a theoretical point of view the announcement of this represented a strategic withdrawal, as well as the making of concessions in the field of the economy to capitalist relations. At the same time, in practical terms it is interpreted as an approach to long-range objectives because Lenin never suggested the renouncement of the earlier objectives but only a temporary retreat - i. e. a withdrawal which was required but which was controlled by these historic aims themselves. He stresses: "Wir werden keine einzige Losung vergessen, die wir gestern gelent haben. Das können wir völlig gelassen, ohne im geringsten zu schwanken, jedermann sagen, und jeder unserer Schritte bezeugt das. Aber wir müssen uns der Neuen Ökonomischen Politik erst noch anpassen. Alle ihre negativen Seiten... muss man umzubiegen und auf ein bestimmtes Mindestmass zu reduzieren verstehen".(83)
According to his argumentation one of the fundamental functions of the party is the conversion of society to socialism from state capitalism - through the phases developed during the transition period. Only in so far as it is able to be organized "as the crystallized organizational and civilized power" of the working class is it able to remain as a force which can determine the prospect - i. e. to regard the strategical withdrawal not as evolution but as tactics. Lenin puts the question: "If the withdrawal has finished what is our task in holding to our perspective? Restructuring the powers of economic preparation ready for the attack!"
The state of the transition period - i. e. the proletarian state - was described by Lenin as a bourgeois institution without the bourgeoisie. Now he interprets state capitalism as capitalism without the bourgeoisie but controlled by the soviet state. In the course of its activities "state enterprises must basically be set on commercial, capitalistic grounds".(84) Their activities are not focused on necessity-based production but on providing rentability as well as profitability. Thus the decisive difference between, respectively, the state capitalism of the capitalist and the „proletarian dictatorship” can be defined in the fact that political power is wielded in the name of different classes.
Lenin states that in the phase of state capitalism there is a specific co-operation and struggle between the moments of the NEP (new economic policy) and that of socialism. In the new economic policy natural management is replaced by commodity production and the obligatory delivery of agricultural products through taxation. At the same time the role of the market becomes more important. On the other hand, central intervention also increases: "der Privatmarkt hat sich als st(rker erwiesen als wir", that is why we had "zur staatlichen Regelung des Kaufs und Verkaufs und des Geldumlaufs über(zu(gehen".(85) Hence, it is the conception of the market controlled by the state and the state controlled by the society which is outlined. The realization of all this was attempted in practice for a short time from 1921. The long-range purpose was determined naturally - namely, the development of "commerce, i. e. capitalism"(86) towards the socialist exchange of products. "Nicht auf Grund des Enthusiasmus unmittelbar, sondern mit Hilfe des aus der grossen Revolution geborenen Enthusiasmus, auf Grund des persönlichen Interesses, der persönlichen Interessiertheit, der wirtschaftlichen Rechnungsführung bemüht euch, zuerst feste Stege zu bauen, die in einem kleinb(uerlichen Land über den Staatskapitalismus zum Sozialismus führen".(87)
What did Lenin suggest were the "bridges" in the transition to socialism? The alternative procedures, in contrast with the bourgeois ones, point to a new mode of production and a new social formation, even during state capitalism. Some of the fundamental features (drafted before 1921) were cited as follows:
1. Stabilization of direct democracy
Lenin draws attention to the contradictions of the centralization of power several times. Although he regards the problem as theoretically solved, he refers to several practical difficulties between the party and the soviets and the political and economic institutions. He underlines again that exaggerated centralization leads to the masses losing the habit of independent expression of their interests within the range of opportunities given by the soviets. Thus instead of solving simple problems by independent actions and in a self-governing way, supervision by the apparatus actually becomes necessary. For instance, he writes: "Es hat sich bei uns ein unrichtiges Verh(ltnis zwischen der Partei und den Sowjetinstitutionen herausgebildet, und diebezüglich herrscht bei uns volle Einmütigkeit. Ich habe an einem Beispiel gezeigt, wie man eine konkrete kleine Angelegenheit schon vor das Politbüro bringt. Formal ist es sehr schwer, sich davon frei zu machen, weil bei uns eine einzige Regierungspartei am Ruder ist und man einem Parteimitglied nicht verbieten kann, Be-schwerde zu führen."(88)
Lenin stresses that the soviet state is "zum grösseren Teil ein Überbleibsel des Alten, an dem nur zum geringeren Teil einigermassen ernsthafte Ver(nderungen vorgenommen worden sind".(89) Within five years the state apparatus proved only its "Untauglichkeit", "Nutzlosigkeit", "Schadlichkeit".(90) The elimination of bureaucracy, therefore, requires the reactivation of the soviets in order that the state organs can be established by the workers themselves. The main means of struggle against bureaucratic phenomena are the development of initiative-taking, and the independent activities of the workers. He writes: "The responsibility and independence of soviet institutions"(91) must be increased.
2. Intensive civilization
Starting from the premise that a direct conversion to socialism could not be successful decisively if society was not sufficiently developed, Lenin focused upon the importance of the cultural revolution. Thus "the creation of the basic conditions of advanced development"(92) was cited as the most urgent task. He states: "Uns genügt nun diese Kulturrevolution, um ein vollst(ndig sozialistisches Land zu werden, aber für uns bietet diese Kulturrevolution ungeheure Schwierigkeiten sowohl rein kultureller (denn wir sind Analphabeten) als auch materieller Natur (denn um Kultur zu haben, braucht man eine bestimmte Entwicklung der materiellen Produktionsmittel, braucht man eine bestimmte materielle Basis)."(93)
It is the issue of development which is stressed even from the point of view of productivity. Lenin underlines that one of the most important tasks of the period of the „proletarian dictatorship” is the continuous development of the population, through education. It is impossible to achieve the transition to a socialist economy without conscious, disciplined masses. Therefore he reserves a significant role for trade unions from both pedagogic and economic points of view: according to his conconception it is in the trade unions that every worker learns how to control the entire national economy (first of all industry, and then, gradually, agriculture as well). The trade union, he writes, "ist keine staatliche Organisation, das ist keine Organisation des Zwanges, das ist vielmehr eine erzieherische Organisation, eine Organisation der Heranziehung, der Schulung, das ist eine Schule, eine Schule der Verwaltung, eine Schule der Wirtschaftsführung, eine Schule des Kommunismus. Das ist eine Schule von ganz ungewöhnlicher Art, denn wir haben es nicht mit Lehrern und Schülern zu tun".(94)
3. Independent work
Given the changed circumstances, Lenin still regarded as very important not only political-economic but pedagogic progress, and also the works of public utility carried out by people without compensation - the latter should be considered as one element of socially independent activities. He mentions communist Saturdays (social work) as being among these activities, and their appearance of was described by him as follows. This is a factor of greater importance than the victory over the capitalist system because it reflects the triumph over selfishness, laziness and lack of discipline. Its communist nature results from the fact that the workers without any outer, forceful apparatus, "only on their own initiative",(95) "work for the sake of everyone and their activity is not regulated by the powers of any state - they work without being paid",(96) and also without any kind of pressure of apparatus.
4. The elements of socialist economy
Even in the conditions of the state capitalism, of the NEP Lenin sees as decisive the creation and reactivation of economic institutions which suggest a new, socialist mode of production. Among these he includes (depending on historic opportunities) the producing and consuming unions, co- operative enterprises and communes. He agrees that village unions must be given preference to individual peasants. He recommends that associations should be awarded their bonus first of all from central sources. While individual farmers who achieve good results can be awarded generally with consumption articles, the union should be given the machines and instruments of labour which allow them to expand and improve production. He also attributes a fundamental significance to the associated co-operative enterprises from the point of view of their superiority to the market economy. He writes, "in our conditions these almost always coincide with socialism".(97)
Lenin attributes decisive importance to the maintenance and elaboration of all these "bridges". For him - as for Marx and Engels as well - the completition of alternative economic forms and means of organizing society are vital for making progress towards the socialist formation of society or, at least the conservation of a structure characteristic to an early stage of the political transition period.
1 This study avoids references to secondary literature for reasons of space.
2 Karl Marx - Friedrich Engels Werke Dietz Verlag, Berlin (see later MEW) 19 p.28
3 It is the fundamental principles of communism and the Communist Manifesto itself that draw up the strategy of the „proletarian dictatorship” on the basis of the concrete experiences of the Commune of Paris. At the end of the century this was modified by Engels in certain respects - influenced primarily by the new opportunities arising from the existence of workers' parties - and mainly out of tactical considerations.
4 MEGA II/3.5 p.1799, MEW 25 p.96, MEW 26.3 p.348, MEW 25 p.402
5 MEW 25 p.456
6 MEW 16 p.12
7 MEW 25 p.456
8 Comp. "...plausible Lords, bürgerlich-philanthropische Salbader und ein paar trockne politische Ökonomen jetzt mit demselben Kooperativsystem schöntun, das sie früher in seinem Keim zu ersticken versucht hatten" (MEW 16 p.12).
9 MEW 16 p.14
10 MEW 4 p.482
11 MEW 17 p.340
12 MEW 18 p.630
13 MEW 18 p.300
14 MEW 17 p.543
15 MEW 4 p.482
16 MEW 17 p.433
17 MEW 17 p.624
18 MEW 4 p.373
19 MEW 17 p.546
20 MEW 4 p.481
21 MEW 17 p.546
22 MEW 25 p.456
23 MEW 34 pp.328-329
24 MEW 17 p.342
25 MEW 18 p.636
26 MEW 4 p.481
27 Comp. MEW 25 pp.454-456
28 MEW 20 pp.261-264
29 MEW 3 p.35
30 MEW 16 p.14
31 MEW 7 p.97
32 MEW 16 p.415
33 MEW 16 pp.414-415
34 MEW 17 p.344
35 MEW 18 pp.630-633
36 MEW 18 p.633
37 MEW 22 p.500
38 MEW 35 p.358
39 MEW 18 p.633
40 MEW 18 pp.633-634
41 MEW 18 p.605
42 MEW 3 pp.34-35
43 MEW 23 p.779
44 Comp. "wir wollen die sozialistische Revolution mit den Menschen, wie sie gegenw(rtig sind, die Menschen, die öhne Unterordnung, ohne Kontrolle, ohne 'Aufseher und Buchhalter' nicht auskommen werden" (Lenin Werke Dietz Verlag, Berlin /see later LW/ 25 p.438).
45 LW 25 p.370
46 LW 30 p.500
47 LW 25 p.481
48 LW 25 p.485. In Marx's opinion even in the first stage of communist society the state becomes superfluous, so it is eliminated. However, Lenin thought that it would remain in the form of administrative measures. At the same time they both agreed that in the first stage the tasks of economic control would be socialized: every separate apparatus would be eliminated and the workers would organize and administer themselves. In this relation the difference between the two theories is not substantial but they contrast in the way they are constructed: the socialized version of administrative functions is described by Lenin - in contrast to Marx and Engels - as a "state" of nature. Nevertheless, an important substantial difference can be observed between the two theories in one particular issue. Unlike Marx and Engels, Lenin reckoned on the chances of a central planned economy in a strongly exaggerated way. It is mainly this which explains his opinion that in a socialist economy certain traditional state functions are kept.
49 LW 25 p.473
50 LW 31 p.29
51 LW 23 p.15
52 It must be mentioned here that in the moment of the takeover of power Lenin did not have a comprehensive economic conception concerning the political transition period. This is what explains the fact that, while attributing a decisive role in the political field to the transition period of the „proletarian dictatorship”, he regards the conversion to socialist procedures (i. e. eliminating commodity production) as something which can be accelerated in the economic field. Hence, in his conception, the economic structures of the political transition period and that of the socialist formation of society coincide in several fundamental questions.
53 LW 27 p.235
54 LW 26 p.408. In Lenin's opinion in the capitalist period the technical terms of such replacement of structure have been created. "Der Kapitalismus - he writes - hat Apparate der Rechnungsführung in Gestalt der Banken, der Syndikate, der Post, der Konsumgenossenschaften und der Angestelltenverb(nde geschaffen... Eine einheitliche Staatsbank allergrössten Umfangs mit Zweigstellen in jedem Amstbezirk, bei jeder Fabrik - das ist schon zu neun Zehnteln ein sozialistischer Apparat. Das bedeutet eine gesamtstaatliche Buchführung, eine gesamtstaatliche Rechnungsführung über die Produktion und die Verteilung der Produkte, das ist sozusagen eine Art Gerippe der sozialistischen Gesellschaft." (LW 26 pp.89-90)
55 LW 31 p.282
56 LW 25 p.488
57 "Die Rechnungsführung und Kontrolle darüber ist durch den Kapitalismus bis zum (ussersten vereinfacht, in aussergewöhnlich einfache Operationen verwandelt worden, die zu verrichten jeder des Lebens und Schreibens Kundige imstande ist, er braucht nur zu beaufsichtigen und zu notieren, es genügt, dass er die vier Grundrechnungsarten beherrscht und entsprechende Quittungen ausstellen kann." (LW 25 p.488)
58 LW 9 pp.177-178
59 LW 27 p.122
60 LW 33 p.292
61 LW 27 p.123
62 LW 28 p.256
63 LW 25 p.433
64 LW 27 p.120
65 LW 28 p.246
66 LW 27 p.143
67 LW 24 p.5
68 LW 26 p.412
69 LW 23 p.14
70 LW 26 p.413
71 LW 26 p.468
72 LW 26 pp.402-405
73 LW 27 p.144
74 LW 27 pp.197-198
75 LW 25 p.487
76 Comp. LW 33 p.143
77 LW 33 p.43
78 LW 25 p.439
79 LW 27 p.118
80 LW 27 p.119
81 LW 33 pp.190-191
82 LW 33 pp.464-465. Comp. "Haben wir aber angesichts der rückst(ndigen Verh(ltnisse, unter denen wir in die Revolution eingetreten sind, heute nicht die industrielle Entwicklung, die wir brauchen, wollen wir da etwa verzichten?" (LW 33 p.143)
83 LW 33 p.41
84 LW 33 p.429
85 LW 33 p.171
86 LW 33 p.77
87 LW 32 p.357
88 LW 33 p.38
89 LW 33 p.293
90 LW 33 p.468
91 LW 33 p.476
92 LW 33 p.239
93 LW 33 p.464
94 LW 33 p.461
95 LW 32 p.2
96 LW 29 p.399
97 LW 30 p.276