An apology to ...Re history of word "idiot"

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Oct 14 19:11:48 PDT 1998

Michael Cohen wrote:>

> >Carrol, I think there is an empirical question here, one that can be settled by
> essentially sophisticated beancounting. Obviously if the US had an even
> distribution of wealth and income
> one could not establish socialism by expropriating the wealthy.

Michael, I did not comment one way or the other on the question of the possibility of socialism; I made a historical commentary on politics, and on the undemocratic nature of representative "democracy," including its utter inability to allow for the expansion and/or realization of human potential which ancient Athens (despite its ultimate domination by the rich) did dimly grasp. (See Ellen Meiksins Wood, *Peasant-Citizen & Slave: The Foundations of Athenian Democracy*, Verso, 1989.)

As to your arguments about socialism, etc, two points:

1. One cannot keep every single question open forever. For over a decade now I have simply ceased to be interested in either the possibility or desirability of socialism, since its absolute necessity for human survival has become so clear. Hence I pay no more attention to technical arguments over its possibility than I do to arguments defending Genesis over Darwin. Hence I stopped reading your post with the words quoted. The questions in which I am profoundly interested are only questions of strategy and tactics in building the movement for socialism.

2. But the nature of your argument is also absurd, and shows that you have not even tried to understand the simplest features of Marxist thought. Of course socialism does not consist in dividing up income and wealth. How silly. Socialism consists in a profound transformation in the relations of production, in the political control of the means and forces of production. (Probably socialism would result in a rather sharp reduction in productive capacity in the U.S. and other first world countries, but that is an argument you need to carry on with Mark Jones and Louis Proyect in regard to global warming, oil reserves, etc. But I'm not very interested in writing recipes for the cookshops of the future.)


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