The proletarian party, democracy, and planning under workers' rule

by Eric Gordon, September  16, 2009

The following letter, to which we have added a title, is a reply by comrade Eric to Ben Seattle. It is a continuation of a polemic between Ben, an advocate of "cooperative anarchy", and the Communist Voice Organization. For more on this subject, see "On the 'cooperative anarchy' of Ben Seattle", and for more on the differences between Marxism and anarchism in general, see "Articles on anarchism".

Subheads:

Ben --

I apologize for the delay in my reply. It has taken too long for me to reply to your latest. Since you wrote, I have been involved in a number of things that have taken higher priority. But I did want to take the time to reply adequately to a few of the many wrong ideas you put forward in your "Workers' Rule: Is it Dead or Alive". (1)

Minor points

Before tackling the main errors in your conception, I want to briefly address a few more minor points.

1) Engaging in opportunism in practice

While you preach against opportunism, you yourself engage in some of the worst political opportunism. For one example, in the "Appendix A" to your reply to me, you cite a comment by a supporter of yours, Alex G., who writes:

"The problem is not that the CVO really wants a world where democratic rights are suppressed or that they directly promote such a thing.

The problem is that
a) their descriptions of future society can be confusing and/or misleading, and
b) they fail to confront the question of democratic rights during workers' rule in their agitation.

The bottom line is that their agitation does nothing to add clarity to these important issues, and thus, while it may not promote illusions directly, by not confronting them, the CVO allows these illusions to flourish." 

Alex G. appears not to have read much of CVO writings, which do address this question square on. Perhaps he has taken your word for it that we do not. But setting that aside, let's look at your stand. You repeat Alex's position almost word for word in the main body of your reply to me: 

"My criticism of the CVO is not that they would deny workers' rights and suppress organizations.  That is how you see matters. My criticism of the CVO is that:
(1) the CVO refuses to study or investigate this question and
(2) the articles in the CVO journal and agitation promote a misleading and deeply harmful view of these questions."

However, what you wrote above does not truly reflect your position. You go on in the above vein for a while, but once you believe you have allayed Alex G.'s concerns, you then revert to claiming that CVO and its supporters oppose democratic rights. You describe CVO supporters as "cargo-cult Leninists", which you define as belief in a "POLICE STATE [where] workers have no fundamental democratic rights." Later, you further argue that I: 

". . .confess [my] faith in a religious principle which holds people will always need some form of external coercion (ie: a swift kick in the rear--or a carrot dangled in front of their nose) to make them do the right thing--until the end of time."

Of course you never cite anything that the CVO or I actually say to back up your claims that we uphold these Stalinist views. But the main point I want to make here is that adjusting your line to try to keep a supporter in your orbit is raw opportunism.

2) Reading Marx like reading tea leaves

In your last reply, you talk about a couple of quotes from Marx, originally cited by Joseph. In one of these, Marx wrote, "This constitution of the proletariat into a political party is indispensable to ensure the triumph of the social revolution and of its ultimate goal: the abolition of classes" [emphasis added]. You reply that 1) Marx wasn't actually talking about a party, he might have been talking about multiple parties, and 2) Marx was writing about "conditions in France in the 1870's", not about "a modern society with a developed economy".

The first assertion of yours is patently absurd. Marx wrote of the class forming itself into a political party, not "party or parties", not "a trend of trends", but a party, and the entire tenor of the quotes Joseph cited(2) was on the importance of building class-wide unity in the working class as it becomes a force that is capable of taking the reins and ultimately of running society. Agreeing with Marx, Joseph wrote, "This party, or party in a broad sense, might be organized in a better or worse fashion, and might formally be divided into several organizations. But the most favorable circumstance is that most of the working class is organized behind a single class-wide party. There are many examples of classes which have been defeated because they were politically divided."(3)

As for the second argument about the relevance of the quote from Marx, yours is identical to that of reactionaries who wish to "prove" that Marxism is obsolete and outmoded by supposed advances of capitalism. After all, he was writing 150 years ago, and now we live in a "modern society with a developed economy and infrastructure", and therefore "these are very different situations". You don't seem to feel a need to show how they are different, and why therefore the working class can afford to be divided against itself when fighting this "modern" capitalism, whereas it couldn't afford that in 1870.

Today, in "modern [capitalism] with a developed economy and infrastructure", the capitalist class is much more organized and more united, and opportunism, the political ideology of the petty-bourgeoisie, is more sophisticated. You don't bother to explain why, in the face of a stronger, more class conscious, more organized, more disciplined bourgeoisie, the working class can now be weaker, less class conscious, less organized, less disciplined than it needed to be in Marx's time. No, for you, it suffices to simply assert, "These are very different situations". 

3) More on "scenarios for workers' rule" . . .

You drew a diagram labeled "Four scenarios for working class parties following the overthrow of bourgeois rule", which included among them a scenario of Stalinist repression. In my last reply I pointed out your mistake in calling this a "scenario for workers' rule", and you posted a new diagram with that scenario relabeled. I am pleased that you recognize that your scenario 4 isn't actually a scenario for workers' rule. But, then apparently without reconsidering your other scenarios from a class angle, you then challenged me to comment on scenario 3.(4)

In scenario 3, you draw a single blue circle, and a single red circle, with arrows to indicate that they are switching places. The caption reads, "A good party works to replace a party that has become corrupt or has become captured by bourgeois elements". Setting aside the inherent unclarity in your diagram, I will try to answer what I think you mean. I will assume that when you say "good party" you mean one that is based in the working class, and fights for the political and economic power of the workers. I will also assume that when you say that it "works to replace" the "corrupt" party, you mean that the "corrupt" party has state power (perhaps roughly modeled on the Communist Party Soviet Union after it had degenerated into a pseudo-communist revisionist party under Stalin).

Given these assumptions, once again we are no longer talking strictly about a "scenario following the overthrow of bourgeois rule", are we? We are in a state in which either the old bourgeoisie, or a new bureaucratic state capitalist bourgeoisie, has taken over control of a no-longer-communist party. In that case, of course I would support a new proletarian party forming and fighting for workers' power through whatever means: legal political struggle, a new revolution, whatever makes sense under the specific conditions that prevail. But once again, your promises that "we won't suppress democratic rights" don't amount to a thing, because in this scenario the workers are no longer in power and the party in power is no longer a workers' party. A resurgent bourgeoisie sets the policies, including the breadth and depth of democratic rights for workers.(5)

This confusion of yours, in which 2 out of 4 "scenarios for working class parties following the overthrow of bourgeois rule" clearly have nothing to do with actual workers' rule, reflects a deeper problem in your thinking: you don't care about the material implications of the class relations in your imagined society, and you don't care about the actual class basis of one or another party organization, today or in the future. All that matters to you is that either they promise, or fail to promise, absolute democratic rights for everyone. But the bourgeoisie today promises democratic rights for everyone. And so did Stalinist state capitalism. Much more important is the actual class basis of a regime, not abstract promises that can be kept or broken by a regime at will.

. . . and now "two views" of workers' rule

Now, your latest reply in this polemic provides a new diagram, "Two views of workers' rule", subtitled, "also known as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat". This new diagram makes exactly the same blunder that you pretended to concede when I criticized your previous diagram, and it makes it even more explicitly. In this diagram, on the left you have a box titled "Dead idea", "The cargo-cult Leninist view" which is described thus:

"POLICE STATE: Workers have no fundamental democratic rights. Decisions are made by a paternalistic merged party-state which decides: 1) what ideas in society to suppress 2) what organizations are allowed to exist, 3) what you are allowed to know 4) what you are allowed to say. Workers are kept bound, blindfolded and gagged."

On the right you put a box titled "Living idea", "The Information War view", which you describe as:

"Open struggle of ideas on a mass scale: The entire population has the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization. Workers use these rights to: 1) exercise effective control of the economy, culture and politics of society and 2) organize against, expose and defeat a) reactionary ideas of all kinds and b) incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption within their own workers' state".

Once again, you yourself have labeled the first view, the "Cargo-Cult Leninist view", as a "view of workers' rule", a view of "the Dictatorship of the Proletariat"! In your "correction" to the previous diagram, you wrote, "I did not realize that some readers might think that I considered this kind of police state to be a form of workers' rule--and have corrected the chart to make it more clear", and yet, in the same reply, you yourself describe Stalinist police statism as a view of "workers rule", of a view of "the Dictatorship of the Proletariat"(!).

To you, suppression of the workers on the one hand, and democratic rights for the workers on the other, are simply alternate models for workers' rule. For all your posing as the great anti-Stalinist fighter, you still do not seem to grasp that Stalinist rule was not a form of proletarian rule. It was a new form of bourgeois rule: a state-capitalist rule by a new bureaucratic capitalist elite.

4) Prettifying the economic face of Stalinism

You imagine yourself as a fighter against the legacy of Stalinism as it makes itself felt today, but in point of fact, you prettify Stalinist state capitalism. When you talk nearly exclusively of the root of the problem being corruption resulting in the suppression of democratic rights, you strongly suggest that you have no issue with the economic structure under Stalinism. Another way to say the same thing, you fail to analyze the class foundations of Stalinist Soviet Union. As far as I know, in the roughly 15 years you have been on this trajectory, you have never analyzed the economic relations of production under Stalinism. For communists, this is a key question, and one might expect that "information theorist" Ben would have at least thought about the question.

In fact, under Stalinism the workers were excluded from mental labor (i.e., there was still the same division between mental and manual labor as under market capitalism). Workers experienced the same class-based exploitation (that is, enterprises were still run on a for-profit basis and profits were still extracted from the unpaid labor time of the workers), and they suffered the same class-based oppression (they were still lorded over by a separate class of bosses). As a result, they faced the same speed-ups, unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions that workers face under market capitalism.

Yet, your three-part economy actually assigns state capitalism, like the system under Stalin, the most powerful role in society.(6) In fact your model, in which you predict a dominant state-capitalist sector for decades after the revolution,(7) pretty accurately reflects the Soviet Union under Stalin: a massive and dominant state capitalist sector, a small and subordinate market capitalist sector, with workers disorganized and divided as a class. Even your "gift" economy existed in the Stalinist Soviet Union: workers engaged in unofficial projects after work hours, on their own or in small groups. The only difference is that in your fantasy world, you imagine a happy ending to the tale: Stalinism -- er, the state capitalist sector -- would decide to subsidize the weak "workers do what they want after work hours" sector, until it is dominant. And in your fantasy the state capitalist sector grants this subsidy because this time Stalinism will grant the workers democratic rights (!).

This brings us to the first main point I'd like to raise:

Misunderstanding the class foundations of post-revolutionary society

The aim of anti-revisionist Marxism is to end the existence of classes in society. Key in this is an end to private ownership of the means of production --- factories, machinery, tools, and so on. Either these are owned by individuals and groups, or they are owned by society as a whole. For example, worker-owned factories and workplaces in the US today still represent private ownership of the means of production. While such private ownership can give the worker-owners greater control of their working conditions, this is not guaranteed. And even in the best of conditions, over time such ownership results in a gradual divergence in wealth between the owners of successful enterprises and the owners of less-successful ones. Yet, in all your writings, you muddle this critical question.

More on the difference between workers and worker-owners

In my last reply to you I showed that in your "gift" economy, what you call "workers" are really worker-owners. I showed that, as workers-owners, their class interests would drive them to use their control of the means of production to further their narrow interests as owners. Not only do they control the means of production in your scheme, they also own the product of their factory, according to you: they have the right to decide how that product is distributed. I showed that as owners of the means of production, they would tend to uphold their sectional interests in their factory or their industry above the interests of society as a whole. I further showed that out of this form of private ownership, a form of exchange would arise.

Your reply to this reasoning was that any form of exchange "would represent corruption of the first order" of the pure system you designed in your head. You again assert with no evidence beyond your vivid imagination, that such "corruption" "would be exposed and smashed up by the masses". Never mind that it is the worker-owners themselves -- the "masses" of your society -- who would be engaging in this "corruption", and it is these "masses" whose political and economic power would depend on furthering this "corruption". No, all that is needed is for Ben, Information Theorist, to declare that "the masses would not permit" it and, problem solved!

You ask, in bizarre and overwrought prose, "Will workers sacrifice their children to a pagan god?" And you assert that my objection to your "gift economy" is that it would "inevitably fall victim to corruption". And after several extremely long quotes, you conclude, "the problem with Eric's argument is that he assumes that an economic law emerging from commodity production has already become dominant. But this can only happen when exchange and commodity production are already well-established."

But my argument rests on no such assumption. It is simple: by your declaration, the workers in a particular production unit control that production unit completely. They can decide to slow production, speed it up, or stop it altogether: "workers [could] stage a labor action (possibly similar to a strike or a slowdown)". But not only this, they also control the distribution of the product of that unit: they can "refuse to supply" factories in dispute with them about some policy decision.(8) By any measure, this is ownership, both of the means of production and of the product. Society may use a legal definition of ownership that contradicts the practical one, but the practical one will always trump the legal one.

You did get one thing right in your reply to my description of how your "gift economy" is no gift to the workers: it is quite true that in my description, commodity production is "well established", because it was never abolished in your scheme.

On a related question, you claim "Both Eric and I see production in future classless society as being under social ownership and control.  Our difference concerns whether this ownership and control requires formal structures and mechanisms that can force workers to take actions that go against 'what they want'." But this is untrue. Your vision is clearly not "social ownership" in the sense that it is commonly understood by Marxists. The Marxist notion of social ownership is ownership by society as a whole: the factories and machinery and land and resources of the land owned in common, and run for the common good. By contrast, your scheme represents not social ownership, but ownership of the means of production by the individuals who run a given factory. These are very different notions. And if there is a "pagan god" that the workers are "sacrificing their children to" in your scheme, then they themselves are that "pagan god". They are the ones who materially benefit from asserting control over the output of their production in your scheme. This assumes nothing beyond the principles you yourself have set down for this "gift economy".

More on ownership in your "gift economy"

Someone conceding the obvious -- that these really are owners of the means of production -- might then argue as follows: Since everyone is an owner of their workplace, since there is no non-productive class owning the means of production, and since there is no laboring class owning nothing but their labor power, that therefore exploitation has been abolished. Perhaps given these conditions, there is no class with an interest in suppressing democratic rights. But this would be a shortsighted view. In your scheme, democratic rights would in fact belong to those who are members of the most powerful consortiums of producers. Certain industries are inherently more central to modern society: today, for example, oil, steel, transport and other industries. This will be true in future society, although as technology changes we may see a shift to slightly different industries. In your scheme the worker-owners associated with these industries will inherently have greater power than those in more minor industries. You mock this truth by giving it a name -- "Joseph Islands" -- but mockery isn't the same as refuting the point.

You yourself describe great battles for power:

. . . the various sides may fight it out. Or they may negotiate a compromise. Or, as in other kinds of war, they may do a little of both, engaging in skirmishes of various kinds in order to gauge their own strength and support and the strength and support of their adversaries. The outcome would depend on the strength of the convictions of the combatants, the correlation of forces and their ability to mobilize "troops" (ie: producers, consumers and the mass consciousness) for their "war".(9)

You imagine that, stripped of the corrupting power of money, these battles would somehow be a pure expression of "democracy", completely divorced from differential economic power. Clearly however, the worker-owners in certain key industries will have greater power than those in more peripheral industries. For example, can you really argue that energy or steel production units in your "gift economy" would not find themselves in a more key position than, say apple growers? And that, from the outset, they would not have a distinct advantage in their "ability to mobilize 'troops' for their 'war'"?

In the abstract, your scheme may sound not too terrible. You're just saying that the producers (worker-owners) control who uses their product. But looking at it in the concrete, you are advocating that production units, for example energy production units, be allowed to blackmail the rest of society into acceding to their political and economic demands. A few years ago we saw one effect of a small group (in this case owners of one company) controlling access to energy supply. Enron held an entire region hostage to its demands (the payment of exorbitant prices), and staged the capitalist equivalent of work slowdowns, shutting down capacity in order to drive up prices. While strictly speaking, at least initially there would be no prices in the system you've dreamed up, there would be every reason for the worker-owners to wield their power every bit as brutally and self-interestedly as the Enron parasites did. You advocate a system in which the terrible destructiveness of anarchic, dog-eat-dog capitalism is multiplied, not reduced.

Proletarian power in post-revolutionary society

The "absurdity" of expanded proletarian economic power

You wrote that the CVO doesn't say "jack shit about the need of the working class for the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization". To show that the CVO does indeed stand for the rights of the workers, and does indeed talk about this question, I raised a quote from Joseph in the current polemic, that "Step by step, the working class must learn how to control the economy", and I pointed out how democratic rights are tightly bound to the workers learning how to control the economy.(10)

You denounce my raising the notion of workers learning to control the economy as proof that the CVO does indeed discuss workers' rights. You state, "The problem is that this argument does not help the CVO even a tiny bit. It actually highlights the absurdity of their position". In keeping with your idealist outlook, to you the only democratic rights which matter are political rights (rights of "speech and organization"). But workers' power over basic economic decisions is an extremely important political right, and one area where workers' power will see a qualitative expansion, far beyond what is possible within the confines of capitalism. Of course it is also true that workers will have greatly expanded political power beyond the proscribed and continually eroded rights possible under capitalism.

These economic-based democratic powers which workers will have include decisions that are made within the workplace, as well as decisions that affect society as a whole. Of course, the line between workplace decisions and decisions that affect the local community, or the region, or the whole society is in practice fuzzy. Society will have to work out what questions will be decided by whom. A balance will need to be struck between prioritizing the wishes of those most directly affected while giving voice to the broad range of all who care about a question.

Within capitalism, workers have only those rights they fight for, and often the fights are vicious and bloody. This means that within the workplace, workers will need to see great improvements in their power after the revolution. As long as the revolution is on track, they will exercise ever-increasing control over assembly-line speed; length of the workday; protections against toxic chemicals; selection of management; and a thousand other ways. Some of these changes will involve rapid and dramatic overthrow of old methods, and some will require a more gradual, stepwise approach. In some cases, there may even be steps backward, as when a great crisis grips society. But far from being "absurd" as you call it, these are critical democratic rights in the economic sphere, and they mark a major step forward for the working class.

Society-wide economic decisions are also critical and workers will need to see improvements in their democratic rights there as well. Joseph discussed in detail the notion of material balances, (11) an idea that you wrote off in the most philistine way as nothing but a "big spreadsheet". Joseph went into the question in some detail that I find quite interesting, discussing systems which have been used both by state- and market-capitalism at certain times and in certain sectors, to plan their economies. You assume that this sort of planning under the dictatorship of the proletariat means a repressive hand using "some form of external coercion (ie: a swift kick in the rear--or a carrot dangled in front of their nose) to make [workers] do the right thing".

On the contrary, in my last contribution to this polemic, I wrote about all of society taking part in this planning effort: "The whole of society could, and would be encouraged to, participate in making these plans at all levels. In other words, part of everyone's workday would consist in participating in this planning."(12)

Below I discuss a number of examples of decisions that would draw the interest of large parts of society. But of course most planning decisions will be utterly routine, and at a level of detail that most people will have no desire to participate. In addition, it would be impractical to expect everyone to participate in such routine decisions. I believe the general rule would be that where someone is interested in the decision, they could participate, but of course, future society would have to work out the practical details.

If everyone participates in the effort, and no individual or small group is in a position of power to override the decisions of the majority, tell me, how is this "external coercion"? Your denunciation of it as such shows your true attitude toward workers' democracy: for all of your chanting about democratic rights, it is clear that you don't have the slightest grasp that democracy means subordination of minority will to that of the majority.

I reiterate: everyone in socialist society will take part in the process of planning what gets produced. As well, decisions about where to increase production; how much effort is put into conservation and restoration of the environment left to us by capitalist plunder and defilement; where exploration needs to be done into new technologies, and on and on: these are decisions in which everyone will take part. These are major expansions of the very concept of democratic rights beyond the bourgeois definition, and the degree to which these rights are a reality for everyone who works (which will be everyone who is able) is the measure of whether post-revolutionary society is developing towards communism.

The future of non-proletarian parties

You crow that "the cat jumps out of the bag", when I wrote that "Other parties, specifically parties representing other classes, may be allowed to operate if they don't organize to violently overthrow the proletariat, sabotage production, or otherwise directly disrupt proletarian rule."

You claim to have found proof in the word "may," that supposedly the CVO does indeed stand for suppression of democratic rights. Why, "may," you crow, also means, "may not". You imply that the CVO advocates that the proletarian dictatorship should allow or disallow other parties to exist using arbitrary, top-down, and undemocratic methods.

In writing that sentence, I was excessively cautious. The main point I was making is that, as long as parties do not organize to directly disrupt proletarian rule, they will have the freedom to operate as they see fit. In your attack, you have turned that into its opposite, an assertion that what I really meant was that, even if parties do not directly disrupt proletarian rule, they could, and even likely will be arbitrarily suppressed.

When I originally wrote that sentence, I used the word "may" because I was thinking that there might be activities which do not fall strictly within the definition of "directly disrupting proletarian rule", but which in some other way would fall sufficiently outside of proletarian legality that it would be necessary for the proletariat as a whole to suppress them. But on further reflection, the phrase "otherwise directly disrupt proletarian rule" covers any case that I can imagine, so I stand corrected.

To expand on this question a little: In the period shortly after the revolution, parties representing classes hostile to proletarian rule will not restrict themselves to "legal" opposition methods. They may engage in sabotage, assassinations, and other such activities. During this period, the masses will support, and participate in, and even lead, the suppression of those parties that break the bounds of legitimate political discourse. Perhaps the suppression will be against particular proscribed activities, and perhaps it will be against the party as a whole, depending on the breadth and extent of the counter-revolutionary attacks that the party engages in. However, that suppression would be limited to those parties or activities that do rise up in revolt against proletarian rule.

If the revolution survives beyond this period of open and often-violent class warfare, struggle will likely settle into less violent political forms debate, polemic, and other forms. In this phase, the masses will remain vigilant against open "illegal" revolt, and will smash it up whenever it rears its head. Depending on the form that these revolts take, the masses will act either through their government, or in some cases they may simply take matters into their own hands. It's my sense that under stable Marxist-Leninist rule, in practice the line between government initiative and mass initiative in such matters would be quite indistinct. This is because the government would be acting at the behest of the masses, who will recognize their power in acting through the government.

Note that this differs from your scheme, in that you propose that the license for the government to suppress other parties will extend to whatever vague "emergency measures" that the government deems necessary, rather than including only those that do act to directly disrupt proletarian rule. You speak of the possible need to suppress all opposition during the early post-revolutionary period, and consider this legitimate: You speak of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in "embryo" form, and speak of how "effective criticism from outside the ruling party/state can easily be shut down by the ruling party/state". In other words, you support the suppression of rights whenever the state feels it is needed. This is in rather sharp contrast to your posing as the defender of democratic rights in post-revolutionary society.

Planning and energy production

One crisis that capitalism might well leave for post-revolutionary society to clean up is that of energy: reliance on dirty energy sources, and energy shortages. Because of the distorted power held by the Big Oil, due to their monopoly position in a key sector of the economy, no serious challenge has been made to their hegemony, and it is quite possible that their power will not be successfully challenged until the oil runs out, some new "miracle" energy source is discovered, or Big Oil is expropriated via revolution.

In a recent polemic with the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee you took a position that "clean" coal and nuclear energy are legitimate alternatives to oil, and that you thought nuclear energy generation was going to be necessary. Even when it was pointed out to you that nuclear energy is "inseparable from [the imperialists'] proliferation of nuclear weapons" you held to your position. In fact, you insisted that the SAIC could make no reference to the question of nuclear energy without first developing a worked out energy program (while you're apparently free to state that nuclear energy is "necessary" without having a worked out program yourself). You said that opposing nuclear power without having such a program amounted to "whining" (13)

Today, the masses hate the idea of nuclear power, because it is unsafe. In the short term, running a nuclear power plant is horrifically dangerous to its workers, as well as to the local community where it is situated. In the long term, waste disposal is a problem of a type that humankind has never grappled with before. Generating waste that is lethal in even tiny doses for longer than human culture has existed on the planet places nuclear energy off the table as a reasonable solution. Future technology may resolve these apparently intractable issues, but you make no such caveat when you promote nuclear power.

So let's look at how you envision immediate post-revolutionary society addresses the problem, and compare this to how nascent socialist planning might address the problem:

In your society during the first several decades post revolution, the dominant state capitalist sector may rightly consider the situation an emergency, and you believe that an emergency warrants planning by fiat during what you call the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat (Embryo)" period.

You write that during this "embryo" period the state is "compelled [!] to suppress all organized opposition", "effective criticism from outside the ruling party/state can easily be shut down by the ruling party/state" [your emphasis], and "critics will [!] face threats of job loss, imprisonment and execution [!!]" by the state. All of this to you is legitimate behavior for the new post-revolutionary state if it "feels threatened".(14) Your labeling this anti-democratic form as "embryonic" strongly suggests you view it as an inevitable, though temporary, stage on the way to utopia. And from this monstrous embryo, you imagine that an angel will be born.

Thus, you promote a vision of a neo-fascist state that could legitimately impose nuclear power on the masses, and do so with no consideration of workplace safety needs, or the safety of communities near the existing or new power plants. And, further to you it is fine for this embryonic state to decide that any opposition to its imposition of nuclear power is "counter-revolutionary", and to execute workers who raised any objection to unsafe working conditions. It's hard to imagine building an enthusiastic movement for the overthrow of capitalism around a vision for future society that mimics the most repressive capitalist state apparatus known today, or the worst of the failed pseudo-communist societies. And it is hard to imagine workers enthusiastically building such a society or defending it from the dispossessed bourgeoisie.

In the past, in conversations with me, you have said that these measures will be necessary because the socialist state will be forced to undertake unpopular measures, and if allowed, bourgeois forces will whisper into the workers' ears whatever they want to hear. Then, once they have gained sufficient support among the masses, the bourgeoisie will turn on the revolution and destroy it. In other words, you envision the new state starting from a patronizing position vis a vis the workers: it must protect the workers from being exposed to the lies of the ousted capitalist class. You warn that this "embryonic period" mustn't last too long, but you don't discuss the process by which the working class is transformed from one which must be protected from the lies of the bourgeoisie to one which can stand on its own two feet. Perhaps you envision that the bourgeoisie will be so profoundly changed at the end of a few months or years that they will no longer lie?

By contrast, in a system in transition to socialism, the democratic planning process would spark a full society-wide debate about energy generation alternatives. This would likely be true from day one after the revolution, depending only on how critical the energy crisis is, and what other crises society was faced with upon the workers taking power.

Post-revolutionary society will likely inherit an economy dependent on the numerous existing nuclear plants. In a society in the early stages of transition to socialism, there will need to be a debate over how to deal with these, as well as with the waste that has already been generated. A democratic planning process will need to answer questions such as how quickly to replace existing plants, and with what. Mothballing existing plants and replacing them with other energy sources will take significant resources in materials and labor. The decision to allocate resources for mothballing and replacing plants will have to be considered in the context of other needs facing the new proletarian state, such as fighting anti-communist white armies, reorganizing nationalized industries, and addressing other capitalist legacies such as a poisoned environment and global warming.

Since they will perform the labor to produce the energy, and will consume it in production and at home, the masses of workers will be in the best position to sort out how to allocate resources for these various tasks, which won't be possible to tackle all at once. In the transition period, before all capitalist production has been eliminated, the proletarian state would throw its weight behind the demands of the workers; the elected and recallable representatives of the proletariat in the state would intervene in the favor of the workers and against the not-yet dismantled bourgeoisie. This will also be true later, during the period of socialism, which is ushered into being by the expropriation of the last of the capitalists, the only difference being that during this period, there will be no moneyed interests resisting the imposition of the people' will.

Likely, the masses would prefer other options such as conservation, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and other energy sources, since they involve far less danger to the workers, environment and future generations of people than nuclear. But, after a full airing of the pros and cons, there is the possibility that the masses as a whole might well decide to delay mothballing existing plants until other energy sources could be developed. But the difference from your vision is that such a decision would be a democratically made one. During the debate on the question, there would certainly be a broad airing of the workplace and environmental safety questions. And it is quite certain that any decision made in this way would seek to protect the workers and communities in and near these plants, whether they were to be mothballed immediately or only after a period of time.

Now, of course, everything will not be all sweetness and light in a system developing toward socialism. The former ruling class, while disrupted and in many cases dispossessed, will not yet be utterly destroyed. It will take a period of socialism, where everyone works, and everyone is paid equally for equal work, to crush the remnants of capitalism. And up to that point, the former ruling class will not likely limit itself to legal opposition. This is the import of my earlier point that those who organize to directly disrupt proletarian rule will be ruthlessly suppressed. They may well be executed for their actions, say assassinations, fielding opposition armies, or sabotage. In this area, the new system would likely act swiftly and harshly, but only in the realm of actions and planned actions, not merely for beliefs or speech, as you promote.

Planning and scarcity

The masses might decide to prioritize mothballing nuclear plants quickly, even despite the knowledge that doing so would result in energy shortages for a period of time. They may decide, for example, that the existence of what is essentially a massive "dirty bomb" nearby communities, farmland, water sources or other critical locations would present too grave a temptation to the dispossessed bourgeoisie to make it safe to continue to operate them. Or shortages may arise in the early days of the revolution for any one of a number of other reasons, such as sabotage, ecosystem collapse as a result of global warming, or even organizational errors in the early stages of learning how to reorganize production for the good of all, rather than for the enrichment of the few.

It is well enough to imagine how a post-revolutionary society might organize production in conditions of relative abundance. But how would your early post-revolutionary society deal with the shortages that may arise in the early days?

You indicate that you foresee a massive state-capitalist sector, far outweighing the private capitalist and gift economy sectors.(15) And as is made clear in the previous section, you see nothing wrong with the state capitalist regime addressing emergency shortages by fiat. They might well use their emergency powers to force long work hours, and anyone who complained could be branded a counter-revolutionary and jailed or executed. The state-capitalist based Stalinist regime justified exactly such measures by pointing to the supposed demands of "building actually existing socialism". Just how does your vision of early post-revolutionary society differ from the Stalinist model you claim to be opposing?

On the other hand, in a post-revolutionary society moving toward socialism, decisions relating to scarcity will democratically made, through something like the planning process that I've outlined.

There will be broad political struggle as society comes to an understanding of the source of any shortages. Shortages resulting from sabotage will be broadly exposed and dealt with harshly, by the masses themselves or by the state acting at the masses' behest. There will also be struggle over the best ways to address shortages resulting from capitalist despoliation, and these will lead to the widespread understanding that these are the natural fruits of capitalist production. And there will also be struggle over the causes of any shortages that resulted from errors in planning, for the purpose of righting the plan.

There will always be a certain fuzziness in the plan, because it is not always possible to estimate exactly what will be produced. Natural disasters and other disruptions of supply or production are not predictable. And on the other hand, fortuitous circumstances might well result in production beyond what had been planned.

When talking about products that are in short supply in the plan, the question of overages becomes particularly critical. Say there is a significant shortage in energy production due to the shutdown or sabotage of a number of nuclear power plants. Until new production capacity comes on line, the overall plan will be deeply affected by this shortage. And, there will be a high priority placed on expanding energy production capacity. If highly motivated work teams or high sun or rainfall creates an unexpected excess over the planned energy production, there will need to be a method of deciding who uses that energy.

For these reasons the overarching planning process might be periodic, while at local and regional levels there might be a more continual planning process, accounting for shortages and overages, and continually adjusting the plans to meet changing conditions.

Trashing planning to bolster individualism

You, on the other hand, write that there is no need to plan the production of "airplanes and automobiles, almonds and apples, aspirin and antihistamines, antennas and amplifiers, apartments and aluminum alloy axes, applications and animated cartoons" etc.(16) However, consider the production of aspirin: the production of aspirin requires weighing, screening and mixing of ingredients, compression into tablets, and so forth, and therefore it requires not insignificant machinery to manufacture. The details are less important than the fact that, to exclude the production of aspirin from the planning process introduces error into the entire plan, from resource extraction, to heavy machinery production, to transport. And then you would multiply this error to a whole list of products.

And what is your reasoning for wishing to cripple planning in this way? Fear of "depriv[ing] production units of the initiative to choose" what they produce. But this is only a reasonable concern if you assume that all planning is done from the center, without so much as consultation with the localities. Once again, this is your assumption, not mine.

Far from stifling initiative, on the contrary I think it would be quite inspiring to first participate in developing an overall plan for the economy in a democratic way, and then to participate in executing that plan by working to retrofit a production unit to meet the plan, and then working to actually produce the required item, and to do so efficiently. Or perhaps that plan might require a number of workers to relocate from one region to another, to increase the harvest of apples, for example -- and it is not far fetched to imagine that, having participated in the development of that plan, and understanding why such an increase was desirable for the society as a whole, that workers would be quite enthusiastic to volunteer for such duty.

In contrast, you grudgingly accept that planning is needed for building airplanes and freeways. But to you, this appears as a "centralized authority [which] in some forms will always exist". That is, you assume that in the case of certain large projects, it is fine for a centralized authority to trample on local initiative, and democratic processes be damned. You'd toss out the democratic process for big projects, while I make no such undemocratic assumption. I believe that freeways and airplanes ought to be planned through the same democratic process that aspirins and apples are. If a "centralized authority" plans to expand its production by 50 airplanes in a given year, what good is this, if the manufacturer of some required part decides to decrease its production that same year? So this undemocratic planning process that you believe would be necessary for large production processes would actually have complete dictatorial control over very large parts of the economy, from resource extraction to the production of the smallest parts, all the way through the chain to final assembly. And you say that this trampling of democracy "will always exist"!

But beyond this, your insistence that the majority of products of society be unplanned utterly handicaps any notion of planning, dictatorial or democratic. Even products requiring relatively small resources would potentially affect the rest of social production through cascading effects. To take the example you give of "6 millimeter left-handed titanium screws", perhaps they use very little labor or raw materials or machinery to produce, and a superficial view suggests that it wouldn't hurt to exclude them from the plan.

But let's assume that they are produced because there is a use for them. Otherwise, their production is rather futile. Starting from that assumption, if planning excludes these items, and allows local "initiative" to decide how many to produce, a production unit may well under- or over-estimate how many are needed. They may do this because the planning model is incomplete, and some consumers of such items are not accounted for. In your world, they may even create an artificial shortage intentionally to blackmail society to accede to its demands. A shortage of these innocuous screws then results in a shortage in the left-hand brackets that are manufactured with these screws, and a subsequent shortage in left-hand manifold hoods, ending in a shortage of left-hand engines that require these left-hand manifold hoods, and in turn a shortage of airplanes. Without planning across the economy, society would continually run into these shortfalls, because of the holes in the planning process that you believe are necessary "to preserve local initiative".

The point of the material balances method that Joseph outlined, or something like it that will evolve as the workers gain experience with planning, is to map out the production of the whole of society, so that everyone knows clearly for example, how much titanium is needed for all of production for the current planning period. Even if you plan most of the economy, but leave holes for various "unimportant" items, such as the production of left-handed titanium screws, you might be able to alleviate some of the problems of planning error by overproducing everything in your planned sector by some percentage, so you'll have the excess needed to produce the unplanned products. The unused portion of that percentage would then either be carried over to next year, or counted as waste.

Alternately, your society could choose to simply fall short in the production of certain items, because the input materials that were planned to be used in one sector got used some other product, or insufficient intermediary products were produced upstream: "Sorry, guys, no airplanes this year, because those guys over there didn't feel like producing sufficient left-handed titanium screws. But remember, we did preserve their right to produce whatever they felt like, and that is all that's important."

Sure, next year some group or groups may well decide, "those guys are unreliable, and we'd better make sure that there are other sources for those left-handed titanium screws". But it takes time and resources to set up a new factory, or even retool an existing production line, and secure raw materials, and in your world, there is no mechanism to ensure that a shortage in some item one year doesn't result in an overage in the next year, as several production units are set up independently to meet the shortage -- a variation on the anarchy of production rampant in capitalism.

Planning and authority

In my previous reply, I wrote about a planning process that involved everyone in society. Above, I addressed the strange notion that you have, that an undisputedly democratic decision-making process was somehow made undemocratic, due to the fact that the results were binding on all. You suggest that the agreement to follow the democratically-made decisions of society equates to political oppression of the worst sort by a "hierarchical authority".

I want to address the role of "hierarchical authority" -- in actuality, representative institutions -- in the planning process. Like your ideological brothers the anarchists, you appear to regard such democratic representative structures as an unmitigated evil, responsible for "unnatural and insincere relationships" in society.

You trace your dread of centralism to the Stalinist Soviet Union; however, the problem in the state capitalist economies of the last century was not that they were organized on hierarchical lines, but that they were organized on capitalist lines -- state capitalist lines -- in which enterprises were required to show a profit, and in which the leaders of industry, often drawn from the ranks of the former bourgeoisie, had significant material privileges as a result of their positions. These material realities set their class interests in opposition to those of the masses.

In discussing the question of authority and "unnatural and insincere relationships" that you raise in your reply, I will use the example of planning to address the crisis of global warming. Global warming is a growing crisis that will highly likely result in major social disruptions in the near term. Cities, and even whole low-lying nations may need to be relocated, which will result in a refugee crisis that may dwarf other refugee crises in history. There may also be cascading ecosystem collapse, as species fail to adapt to changing local conditions, which will in turn results in a series of further crises for example, a series of resource shortages. Addressing all of these will require massive coordination across large populations. But for now, let's concentrate on the central question of stemming greenhouse gas emissions.

As Joseph has shown in "The environmental crisis and economic planning",(17) under capitalism addressing global warming can only be managed through a small handful of measures. The capitalists' current chosen option, market methods, is the least effective of these. This is because under neo-liberal dogma, all policy must be tailored to enhancing profit. As the crisis develops, neo-liberal market methods may be replaced by a regulatory approach. And as it develops further, the bourgeoisie may be driven to stronger measures, such as rationing or even nationalization of certain industries. While these may be more effective than market methods (and they may not, depending on how they are designed and implemented), their effect on the masses may be quite onerous. As Joseph discussed, how onerous depends greatly on the degree to which the masses are organized and fight to put their own stamp on the regulations. Due to the ubiquitous nature of greenhouse emissions sources, for regulations to be effective they must have the buy-in of the masses. You can't simply pass a few regulations and hire a couple of EPA inspectors and hope that the problem will be addressed, if the masses don't support the program. That approach was somewhat effective in stemming air and water pollution in the 1970's, because the focus was on smokestack and pipe emissions from a limited number of factories. However, greenhouse gas emissions are far more ubiquitous, and will require far broader cooperation of the masses. Regulations that cost jobs or raise the cost of living without commensurate wage hikes, for example, will be resented and undermined by the masses.

Despite this fact, the capitalists' efforts are all aimed toward placing the burden of regulation of the masses' backs, guaranteeing the opposition of the masses. Thus, the question of addressing the sources of global warming within the framework of capitalism is fraught with the very contradictions that divide capitalist society, and those contradictions will slow the implementation of effective measures.

Now, let's imagine that global warming is not addressed within capitalism, and the problem is mainly is left for post-revolutionary society to address, as seems likely. In fact, the inability of capitalism to address the crisis promptly and effectively may even be the spark for revolutions around the globe. This would require the nascent socialist system to address the question squarely, and rapidly.

Under a Marxist-Leninist socialist system, or a society in transition toward such a system, if there is a widespread understanding of the nature of global warning, this will result in both local and central initiatives arising. Local groups would likely spontaneously organize to collect data about emissions sources in their locality. The center might coordinate and facilitate setting standard collection methods, so that the data collected can be usefully compared from locality to locality. If local groups come up in some regions but not in others perhaps where pollution seems a less pressing question, or where global warming effects are least directly felt the center might well take the lead in popularizing the development these local groups in such regions. This would be important because it is necessary to have a comprehensive picture of all sources of emissions, and it would be a mistake with potentially dire consequences to wait until all localities spontaneously decide it is an important question.

The center might also collate that data, and publicize it widely. With that collation, localities might well discover that the main sources of greenhouse gasses differ from locality to locality. Localities might concentrate on finding solutions to the biggest sources in their localities. As localities discover solutions, they would share them with the center, which would manage disseminating these solutions so that other localities might take advantage of them.

Finally, all of this research would then need to feed into the democratic economic planning process discussed above and in my last reply. There will be the need to build new factories to produce pollution abatement devices. There will be the need to retrofit existing factories to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gasses. There will be the need to rebuild certain production lines to add carbon abatement devices to cars and trucks, or to switch from producing one type of product, such as private cars, to producing another, such as public transport. A broad planning process would be able to examine the entire question of transport of people and goods as a whole, in the light of greenhouse gas emissions as well as other questions, and devise the most efficient ways to meet these needs. But conducting such a study and putting the results into practice would require a society-wide effort. These are commonsense changes that would need to be made, but surely out of this broad, democratic process many others would arise.

I believe that this process would be inspiring, and would harness the enthusiasm and innovation of all involved.

All of these stages in the process would be greatly facilitated by the existence of representative structures: a coordinating center, a propagandizing organ, a clearinghouse for information, and a planning organ. However, if organized along democratic lines, the center is not as you imagine it, an oppressive "hierarchical authority", but rather, it is a tool of the masses to achieve their aims. You presume that such a center will necessarily be corrupt, simply by nature of its being central. But there are measures that a society moving toward socialism can take to address such corruption. Engels wrote of the Paris commune:

"Against this transformation of the state and the organs of the state from servants of society into masters of society -- an inevitable transformation in all previous states -- the Commune made use of two infallible expedients. In this first place, it filled all posts -- administrative, judicial, and educational -- by election on the basis of universal suffrage of all concerned, with the right of the same electors to recall their delegate at any time. And in the second place, all officials, high or low, were paid only the wages received by other workers. The highest salary paid by the Commune to anyone was 6,000 francs. In this way an effective barrier to place-hunting and careerism was set up, even apart from the binding mandates to delegates to representative bodies which were also added in profusion."(18)

Such principles were never fully implemented in the Soviet Union, were eroded as the struggling proletarian state fought to address a series of crises, and then during the 1930's they were wholly abandoned. As Engels says, these principles, and others like them that society will work out as it gains experience, are indeed "an effective barrier to careerism". These were abandoned because by that time, a new bourgeois ruing class had consolidated itself. For anyone who understands that Stalinism was an expression of class rule, rule by a new bureaucratic state capitalist bourgeoisie, the fact that industry and party leaders were transformed into the "masters of society" is no mystery.

Your "gift economy" might address global warming quite differently than a proletarian society would. To assume that future society looks like your "gift economy", one must also presume that large sections of the population share your fear of representative structures. In this case, you might well still find local initiative springing up in response to the problem in areas where the effects of warming are most acutely felt, just as it would in a new state in transition to socialism. One could certainly assume that local initiative might be very high in low-lying coastal cities; however there would be no mechanism for promoting tackling the question in areas less directly affected. For example, air and auto transport are big contributors to global warming, the uses of which will need to be decided on collectively. But in your scheme those who are least affected by the immediate impacts of global warming would be least motivated to change their actions.

If someone in your society decided to tackle the issue in a comprehensive way, collating the information gathered in numerous localities would likely be greatly hampered by your society's basic principles. You might argue that, seeing the need for centralized collation of data, some worker/owners might spontaneously decide to build an organization for that purpose. But the building up of such a central clearing house organization would be slowed by the general suspicion of centralism that you hold dear as a principle. In fact, you might well find several different organizations springing up. Then, as you describe, there would be the need for the different organizations to "fight it out", the need for local collecting groups to choose which of these clearinghouses they would share their collected data with, which of the collated data they would consider more reliable for taking action on, and so forth. Each clearinghouse would end up with incomplete data, different data, collected differently. Of course, over time, they might be able to work out ways to cooperate, ways to convert or compare different data sets. However, this lengthy process for developing coordination would greatly slow the process of taking decisive action, and lead toward greater centralization, which your scheme is supposed to avoid. Add to this confusion the fact that producers might well completely disregard the collected data, and you have a recipe for global-warming disaster.

To such an anarchist society, any coordination like this looks suspiciously like central authority. And in fact, a consortium of central clearing houses that coordinated data collection would have an amazing amount of authority, albeit informal, in a society that was is deep crisis due to global warming effects and in your world there is no mechanism to oust them from power. In a society where central authorities are truly elected to their positions, it is also possible to recall them. In your system, where there is no formal election process, there can also be no recall process. Sure, the corrupt organization could be ousted through a struggle, but replacing it would be a protracted repetition of the original formation of such an organization in the first place.

Again, you demand this level of confusion and inefficiency, supposedly to promote individual initiative, and to protect against "insincere relationships" developing toward the center. To you it is insufficient to rely on the communist principle of immediate recall of any leader a process both far more democratic and far more efficient than your anarchist notions.

Furthermore, not only would sorting out what is basically a series of administrative questions, such as standards for data collection methods, be greatly hampered, but your scheme provides ample reason for individual production units to hide or falsify their emissions data (insincere relationships of a different kind). Since a production unit's political power in society is to some extent determined by the public image they project, some worker/owner collectives might well hide information about their emissions records. This would clearly further hamper broad coordination. Just as in capitalist society, your "gift economy" would be riven by differing material interests. Out of these interests, different groups would be motivated to distort the research process all along the way. For example, the worker/owners of enterprises which emit greenhouse gasses A, B and C as part of their production process would be motivated to sew confusion regarding the importance of those greenhouse gasses vis a vis gasses D, E and F, in much the same way that Big Tobacco and Big Oil distort the health and environmental dangers of their products today. The problem here is, as I showed, that the worker-owners of all enterprises in your society have an ownership interest in the success of their enterprise.

Of course, none of this is meant to say that your anarchic anti-authority system would never be able to coordinate efforts. Over time, your society might sort out some of these questions, and a de facto central authority might emerge. But as an objective look at some of the obstacles shows, it would take a great deal of time, and be an extremely inefficient process.

Conclusion

So, to sum up, you fail to understand the class foundations of either Stalinism, or of state capitalism. You promote state capitalism as the dominant force in the early decades of the future society you envision, giving no thought to the different class interests of the state capitalist bureaucrats and the workers. You also fail to understand that when a group of people working a given factory control production, and control the output of their factory, they are not strictly workers, but worker/owners. And you further fail to grasp that as owners, they have narrow sectional interests different from those of society as a whole.

You label as absurd the idea that the workers learning to control the whole economy is at root a question of democracy, and that as their control of the economy grows, the very definition of democracy broadens beyond anything realizable in class society. I argued that not only will society see an expansion of democracy into the economic sphere; it will also see a vast expansion of political democracy. However, the very definition of democracy requires that those in the minority subordinate their will to the majority, a "fine point" of democracy that you also fail to grasp. Political parties that oppose proletarian rule will often be supported by a number of workers, even though former bourgeois may lead them. As long as these do not organize to directly disrupt proletarian rule, they will be free to organize. You on the other hand advocate that early post-revolutionary society can arbitrarily impose any policy it wishes on the masses, and even freely murder its opponents any time it feels threatened, just so long as it doesn't do so for too long.

You reflexively oppose democratic, representative institutions and broad planning of production. To you, planning is a necessary evil for certain large projects, and in those cases, you believe that a repressive apparatus is necessary and will always exist. Aside from these cases, you insist that the majority of production be unplanned. However, I showed that planning of any large projects would be greatly hampered by the remaining, unplanned economy, since in a modern economy the production of most things is deeply intertwined. Even if most things were planned, products that fell outside the planning process would introduce error into the plan, which would render the plan inefficient. You believe that worker/owners all independently doing whatever they wish will be guided by what might be called an "invisible hand" to produce what is needed by society. I showed that such a society would still be ruled by the laws of commodity production, and would be subject to the same anarchy of production, shortages and gluts as occur under capitalism.

Notes

(1) All quotes are taken from struggle.net/Ben/2008/eric/moment_of_truth.htm, unless otherwise noted.

(2) http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/Ltr080109.html in the section titled "Marx and the proletarian party".

(3) By the way, I raised that you had excised a couple of key sentences (the ones quoted here) in your zeal to prove Joseph conceded your point that there might be multiple parties. In your excised version, it sounded like Joseph had contradicted himself, and conceded your point without acknowledging it. I argued that if you reinstate the banished sentences, the whole tenor of the quote is changed, and it is clear that Joseph does not contradict himself. It is a lie to excise those parts of a quote that are inconvenient to your point. But rather than admit you distorted what Joseph wrote, you repeat your claim that Joseph contradicted himself and was "misleading to readers". The closest you come to answering my point is when you say, "So why not simply recognize that you made a goof instead of throwing around so many 'he said, she said' arguments which put readers to sleep". Is this your definition of "integrity"?

(4) http://struggle.net/Ben/2008/eric/d.htm.

(5) A little closer look is warranted: in your diagram you drew two arrows, and as I said, it looks like these two parties are switching places. In other words, in your mind, the "good" party, the opposition party, takes state power, while the "bad" or "corrupt" party in power is thrown out. Then, what becomes of the "bad" party? Well in your world, it takes the place of the opposition party, and it, one might assume, is therefore no longer "corrupt" because it is out of power, and now works to keep the party in power "honest". This is similar to the position held by the Proletarists that you promote: that power is inherently corrupting, and the proletarian party should actually avoid taking power to avoid this corruption. However, if you understand that parties are the political representatives of a particular class, and you understand that "corruption" wasn't the root of the suppression of workers' rights by the Stalinists, then your whole notion of the parties "switching places" is absurd. If this interpretation of your second arrow is correct, does this mean that you believe that if the Stalinists had been thrown out of power by a new proletarian party, then Stalin would suddenly have taken up fighting for the workers' rights?!?

(6) Discussed by Joseph in http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/Ltr080109.html. To my knowledge, you have never responded to this charge.

(7) http://struggle.net/ALDS/essay_153_content.htm, in the section titled "Economic Sectors in the Transition Period".

(8) http://www.leninism.org/stream/95/cRed-76.htm, in the section "Complex Struggles within the Communist Society and Economy".

(9) http://www.leninism.org/stream/95/cRed-76.htm, your emphasis.

(10) As an aside, you dishonestly claim:

"Eric then attempts to find some place where the CVO describes the need of the working class for the rights of speech and organization. Unfortunately, Eric cannot find anything about the rights of speech and organization because (surprise!) the CVO has not said jack shit about these rights.

"The best Eric can come up with is a formulation that workers will 'step by step learn how to control the economy'". (From "Workers' rule: Is it dead or alive?" in the section titled "The absurdity of the CVO position.")

This suggests that I scoured the entire CVO website, desperately looking for something that would support my contention that the CVO does discuss democratic rights. But, in fact, I looked no further than Joseph's last entry in this very polemic (a fact that I made clear in what I wrote), and I presented to you not one, but three quotes from that source: the quote about controlling the economy addresses workers' economic power in post-revolutionary society, plus I raised two other quotes that talk about workers' political power. But rather than admitting that you lied about CVO not saying "jack shit" about democratic rights, you simply ignore these quotes and repeat your lie.

(11) In several articles, but in most detail in: http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/00LaborHour.html.

(12) http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/Ltr080414.html.

(13) http://www.seattleaic.org/leaflets/saic_on_obama_election#comments.

(14) http://struggle.net/mass-democracy/..%5Cben%5C2007%5C909-ben.htm and
http://struggle.net/ben/2008/eric/b.htm.

(15) http://struggle.net/ALDS/essay_153_content.htm?mw in the section "Economic Sectors in the Transition Period".

(16) In Appendix C of your reply.

(17) home.flash.net/~comvoice/39cKyoto.html.

(18)"1891 Introduction by Frederick Engels _On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune", Postscript,
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/postscript.htm.


Back to main page, how to order CV, write us!

Last changed on January 27, 2010.
http://www.communistvoice.org
e-mail: mail@communistvoice.org