Reply to Hinrich

Gar Lipow lipowg at
Tue Dec 1 18:43:55 PST 1998

Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> wrote

>At 03:51 PM 12/1/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Louis Proyect wrote:
>Doug, the important thing to understand is that the only thing that
socialists can demand is public ownership of corporations. If the US went socialist, then the question of how property can be socialized on a global scale becomes elementary. What inhibited socialist development in the past is that weak and isolated countries like the USSR in its infancy, or Cuba today, simply lacked the leverage or the means to exist in a capitalist dominated world.

>However, these sorts of problems seem entirely secondary to the ones we
face in our capitalist future. As I have pointed out repeatedly to fans of "market socialism" or the Albert-Hahnel schema, socialist revolution will not be inspired by some kind of air-tight, logically and morally consistent blueprint but because the everyday conditions of life are intolerable.


Louis -- not if it looks to people like the alternative is worse. Most working people know the way things are organized are shitty. But most working people the quite legitimate fear that "you can't beat city hall" and that if you do "meet the new boss, same as the old boss, don't get fooled again".

Fighting the first fear is why reform struggles are so essential, giving people the experience of winning small incremental victories against capitalism , if done in the fight for non reformist reforms, can help build both the consciousness and organizations that may someday turn from reformism to revolution.

The second fear, the fear that you are just building a new (and poverty stricken) dictatorship is quite real. The idea that socialism is undesirable, and infusible can be found among most American working people. The vast majority of workers will tell you the same thing -- that socialism is in some sense impossible in the long run, or at least will always lead to mass poverty, and is incompatible with any degree of freedom. Cockshot and Cottrell , Albert and Hahnel perform a valuable service by describing a type of socialism which does not involve allowing key decisions to made by would be dictators, but in which bread still gets baked and houses get built ...

Yes politics is ultimately about power. The politics of equality and solidarity is about persuading ordinary people to mobilize the tremendous power they have when they move together. Just because the holy Marx said so, is not reason enough to believe that reason and morality have no role in mobilizing people to do this. The mere giving of a "recipe for the cookshops of the future" is not enough by itself to convict someone of having given up all class struggle.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list