newbie on Participatory Economics

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jul 20 12:10:25 PDT 1998

Brett Knowlton:
>I have a couple of questions here - I mainly want some clarification. What
>is a "compelling class-struggle alternative to the capitalist status quo?"
>Can you be more specific?

Okay, let me single out an example of what is needed. The Vietnam antiwar movement and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s are models for what is needed to day. You need to have mass protests in the streets independent of the Democratic and Republican parties to bring about meaningful change. For example, health care is an issue that relates to just about every sector of the population. If there was a national coalition on health care rights, it would bring together AIDS activists, senior citizens, working people, black activists, progressive health care professionals et al. It would issue a citizens health bill of rights, which would be crowned by a free national socialized medicine program. This movement would organize militant, but nonviolent demonstrations, on a regular basis. It would organize research groups to expose the greed of capitalist insurance and drug companies, etc. It would support Labor Party or Green Party candidates who supported their program. This is just one example.

Also, you scare me a little when you talk about
>the revolutionary party - what is it exactly, and are you saying it should
>take over the state, or abolish it, or something else entirely?

A revolutionary party is not an armed group. The main thing about it that is revolutionary is that it openly states the need to abolish capitalism, which is also the point of Hahnel-Albert Parecon as well. One of the things that most disoriented 60s radicals was the confusion over what it meant to be a revolutionary. The Black Panther Party armed itself, a big mistake, and was victimized by the state. It is much more revolutionary to make hard-hitting speeches the way that Malcolm X did and to run candidates in a Black Political Party. At some point in the future when people become convinced that capitalism must be abolished, society will polarize around the question. Many people in the armed services ranks will back the revolution, while the officer corps will oppose it. I would not worry about this for the time being. Most people today don't even understand that capitalism oppresses them, let alone recognize the need to get rid of it.

> I'm also
>confused as to why armed defense of the people's movement will be necessary
>- the Eastern Bloc countries threw off Soviet influence with very little

The reason Soviet influence was thrown off with little bloodshed, such as in East Germany, was because the ruling circles supported change. Gorbachevism was widespread. These ruling circles calculated that the elimination of socialized property relations would not necessarily affect their privileges, as they found ways to collaborate with Western banks and corporations. They were correct.

Why is violence the only course this can take? Finally,
>assuming a worker's revolution is successful, what will replace capitalism,
>and how would the new society take shape?

Socialism will replace capitalism. How it would take shape can only be dictated by objective circumstances, which nobody can predict today.

Louis Proyect


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