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20 May 2006
Socialism & old rope
Neil Clark seems to have got involved in an interesting little spat with the former warmonger, Johann Hari. Neil wrote Hari on an unrelated matter and got this reply from the ex-'monger:
Yuck. I really have no interest in engaging with you on any level. You believe the state should kill its own citizens in peacetime using the death penalty, so please don't offer me any lectures on anything, ever.
Now, Hari's nonsense actually raises one interesting point: why can't a socialist also believe in capital punishment?

The point is that socialism is about collectivising the economy and nothing more. We socialists may debate how this is to come about, should argue about whether old style nationalisation is better than a system of co-operatives, but that is the only debate that should take place within socialism.

Other matters need to be debated, but not within the socialist movement. Cuba is a socialist country that uses capital punishment. I wish that they didn't, but that is not the point: the point is that socialists can believe in old rope.

For that matter, Cuba used to forbid the entry of homosexualists into the Communist Party, and the German Democratic Republic used to use electro-shock aversion therapy on them. One may say that this is wrong - alternatively one can believe that it is a good idea - but it is impossible to say that it is anti-socialist. The GDR was a fully collectivised economy and Cuba still is.

Let the socialists get back to debating what they should be debating: how and in what form should the economy be collectivised and run. The rest can be ignored.

You can't be this reductionist, Exile. Socialism is a transition state between two modes of production -- capitalist into communist -- and so it is also about the transition from one mode of existence into another. Entire worldviews are involved here -- and certainly the Right knows (and fears) this. Thus all the "totalitarian" thinking and doing all `round. And so the issue of human and individual rights is very much to the fore here. Over and above the mere and vulgar particulars of material, daily existence.

As I've stated earlier on this blog, I myself not only don't believe in capital (or any) punishment, really -- AFAIC these are all functions of a class and oppressive society -- I am certain that all this social pathology will melt away under a "New Model" society, where want and privation will be only historical curiosities: to be studied, but not lived. At arms' length. However, that will be then, and this is now; and I have no problem with putting mass-murdering capitalists and their stooges to the sword today -- because these are not idealist, absolutist moral positions we take: they are practical and fair ones, based on the material and historical circumstances at hand. And now is not the moment to 'love thine enemy', when he's trying to murder you. Especially when he wraps himself in the flag of established Order and Right...

And so our job is to see this new economic and social system into being, and by any means necessary too; knowing that all "criminality", and all social pathology of any type you could possibly think of -- at foundation being simply unwanted by-products of unequal distribution of resources -- will, at some point, simply cease to have a rational basis for even coming into being. Is this a "utopian" vision of the future? Not at all -- but that is something else to be discussed some other time.

21 May 2006 at 04:14  

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