I feel so dirty.

Daniel F. Vukovich vukovich at students.uiuc.edu
Thu Dec 31 17:23:50 PST 1998

At 01:25 PM 31-12-98 -0800, CP wrote:
>.... and etc. but I think the most relevant point here isn't to just say
that socialism hasn't >been tried yet, but to ask why every single country that tried to move to >a socialist system didn't get socialism but instead ended up with very
>similar totalitarian systems. My answer (I have no economics background,
>BTW) would be that it's obviously the systemic flaw of having central
>planning, and vanguardism. But how would it be possible to eliminate
>vanguardism in creating a 'real socialist' economy (assuming we aren't
>considering Sweden, Denmark etc. are a valid alternative). A lot of
socialists come from >a successful academic background and don't really have a vision of a
>future where they wouldn't be in a big leadership position, guiding the
>less well-read. You can see this when leftist types say that the masses
>are just being satiated and misled by television and their religion, and
>sports. What if that is what the average person really wants? Then again,
>what is the opposite of having a vanguard - would that mean that
>leadership by motivated individuals is bad? I don't really have an answer
>for that myself.

These are all good points, though I would quibble with the idea that all the failed sociaist revolutions ended up with quite similar totalitarian systems. They all turned out badly, indeed -- but other than their being essentially one-party systems, they were all quite different. At any rate though, I think the other factor one has to bring on board is that these revolutionary or anti-systemic movements never succeeded b/c they never got out of the world-system. That is, they were always in a desperate and fairly doomed competition with world-capital, and with a world system dominated by the West/U.S. To be honest, that they achieved anything at all -- and surely they did, warts and all -- is something of a miracle. I also think these "outside" pressures (I think only China ever tried to go it alone, or "inside") significantly contributed to the deformation -- or really, the very creation -- of their centralized or leninist or stalinist or in short, their authoritarian political systems. In other words, and at the risk of sounding like an apologist, a good deal of the "blame" has to lie with the U.S and the West generally. International "detente" never really happened, even in the 70s, let alone b/f that.

One of the reasons I have respect for Mao -- i.e., the old Maoism within China -- is that he and they knew about the price of negotiating with the West, or of entering the world-system generally. (As for the socialism in one-country flaw: recently declassified documents, from the Wilson Institute, make it clear that the Maoists, and not the USSR, were indeed into the fomenting-international resistance mode; this was one part of Mao et al's break with the USSR, this is why they materially and pedagogically supported N Korea and North Vietnam, this is why they spent lots of limited funds elsewhere, this is why, within the CCP, Mao et al opposed Liu Shaqui, Deng and others, whom were all opposed to internationalism.)

I can think of only two figures or movements that were this wise, that wanted to refuse both capitalist and stalinist modernization, or in other words, that sought an alternative modernity: Mao and Ghandi. Strange bedfellows, to be sure, but there it is, and there they shall remain, as that thwarted, impure, and even tragically foretold chapter of modern history. One source on this kind of argument, btw, is Prasenjit Duara's very fine history: *Rescuing History from the Nation.* The Sinologists, an esp virulent liberal bunch, do not like this, but I have read (from the novelist/essayist Wang Meng) that at least some of the activist intellectuals from the PRC see the need for re-evaluating the later Mao and those GPCR years. Not to rescue him of course, or to return to the old days, but to try and think and move outside of either capitalism (esp Dengist style) or stalinism, and b/c they too do not trust the Dengist and Western critiques of Mao/Maoism.


---------------------------------------------------- Daniel Vukovich English; Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory University of Illinois Urbana, IL 61801 vukovich at uiuc.edu ph. 217-344-7843 ----------------------------------------------------

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