RES: a trip to North Korea

Tue Apr 25 02:26:14 PDT 2000

Carroll here adopts the Menshevik position (and that of early-to-mid Marx, pre "Russian road") that socialism, or anything that might be recognizable as such, is impossible in less economically develped nations; it is bonly on the basis of a highly developed capitalism that a socialism that is one of freedom and abundance can be built. That may be true; it is arguably one of the lessons of the 20th century experiments.

It raises the following awkward possibility: an advanced capitalsim may be a necessary economic condition of a politically democratic socialism, but it is clearly not a sufficient condition. If something like weakest link theory is true, that a necessary condition for a transition to socialism is political instability due to rapid economic development, anticolonial struggle and war, or some such in a less developed country, then we would seem to be in a situation where a transition to socialim is only possible where there can be no democratic socialism.

Lenin and Trotsky were keenly aware of this possibility: it was because of it, in part, that they looked forward to a Western revolution inspired by an Eastern example. Their solution in theory was that socialism would start where the transition was possible and spread to where democracy was possible. (Of course their grip on democracy was tenuous at best.) But another lesson of the 20th century is that that didn't happen, time and again. So where does that leave us?

Incidentally, undemocratiic, authoritarian socialism is not identical with the cult of personality. Krushchev used the "cult" expression to refer to Stalinism, bnasically a synecdoche, a substitution of the part for thre whole. This was not honest asan analytical device, because the big portraits and statutes and the worship of the Father of Peoples, although annoying, was not the core of Stalinism. that was rather the dictatorship of the bureaucracy over the workers. K didn't intend to do anything about _that_. There have been a number of postrevolutionary societies, such as the former USSR under K and his successors, that had no cult of personality, but little if any democracy.


In a message dated 00-04-25 02:54:32 EDT, you write:

<< The question is not socialism. The question is the terrible task

faced by the peoples of the third world in achieving any freedom

of action whatsoever from the pressure of u.s. imperialism.

So far as I know four, and only four third world countries

attempted to pursue independence from the United States

while maintaining "democratic" practices: Iran under

Mossedagh (sp?), the Dominican Republic under Juan

Bosch, Chile under Allende, and Nicaragua under the

Sandinistas. Can anyone name a third world nation which

attempted to escape imperialist control, maintained Brad's

kind of democracy, and survived?

Very seriously, the carpers should at least consider the

possibility that national independence for the victims

of imperialism is only achievable through something which

the U.S. and unwary leftists will denounce as a cult of

personality. >>

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