The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Second Reply to Mr. Aseem on the incorrect insinuation that Marxism is Utopian

with 4 comments

Thank you for replying again, Mr. Aseem. I will deal with both messages separately for your ease.

Statement 1) Im so sorry, i had wrongly framed the topic, It was ” A functional dictatorship is better than a dysfunctional democracy”, i forgot to stress on the dysfunctional part!!!!

My Response: It does not matter whether a democracy is functional or dysfunctional – it will always have a greater measure of public opinion or influence involved than a dictatorship. The reason is that even a sham democracy involves political agents who are part of that society (though they definitely represent the interests of their own classes) and therefore has some measure of accountability involved.

A dictatorship, however, revolves around one person or institution which is cut off from public accountability and therefore has no reason for ‘softening’ its impact on the lives of the people.

As a Marxist, however, i must state that any democracy which is not a socialist democracy is, by definition, dysfunctional though to varying degrees. The reason, as I explained to you earlier, is that the will of the Majority i.e the Proletariat, is not taken into account as commensurate with their numbers in society.

I hope this explains my thoughts on this particular account.

Statement 2) I was going through some of the theories of Marx, like his concept of dictatorship of the proletariat. Don’t you think Marx spoke more about a Utopian world? His idea of a class less society also seems to be Utopian. Marx in all his theories actually addressed the proletariat and prescribed methods on how they can improve their standard of living. But at the same time I feel Marxism is something which is read and analyzed only by the intellectuals, I have never found any members of the working class discussing Marxism which was originally targeted towards them. Marx and Engel end their book “Communist manifesto” saying “Unite workers of the world” My question is, has this message in so many years even reached the workers of the world??

My Response: Mr. Aseem, I would like to bring your attention towards the fact that, as Marx described, society is indeed made up of different classes. I will not go into the definition of a ‘class’ since you have already read the Communist Manifesto.

What i will do, however, is to explain to you WHY Marx’s ideas are not utopian.

First you must familiarize with the concept of what society is and how it has come to its current form.

You can do this by reading an excellent book, written by Engels, called ‘Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State’. Once you have read this book you will realize the simultaneous evolution of Patriarchy, Monogamy, Private Property and the State.

To summarize, there was a time when Private property or classes or even the State did not exist. This is the most primitive stage of society and is referred to as the stage of “Primitive Communism” by Marxists.

Then society outgrew this stage due to societal evolution and the new stage of ‘Slave owning societies’ came into being. It was in this stage that Private Property came into its more defined form. In order to keep the Slaves in line the State also emerged as a loose confederation of Slave Owners.

Then a revolution occurred and society transcended into “feudal society”. In this society slave-owning was, more or less, abolished and now serfdom was propagated.

Following this was the modern Capitalist society where a new revolution brought the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat as the two most relevant segments of society. This is the society we find ourselves in as regards to Pakistan today.

Marx merely outlines the logical next stage of society i.e Socialist Society. This society has been seen in many parts of the world such as the former USSR, Cuba, China, Laos, Algeria, Latin America etc. Private property does not exist in a socialist society.

Therefore, no it is not a Utopian concept at all that socialist society will come into being.

The stage immediately after a socialist society is one of a Communist Society where everyone becomes a wage-earning member of society and where Private Property, even as a concept, does not exist anymore.

Since we have seen from ‘Origins of the Family, Private Property and The State’ that the State came into being to safeguard the class-interests of the dominant class – the nullification of Private Property will, consequently, lead to a condition where the State is not needed anymore.

If you want details regarding this you can read a beautiful book called ‘The State and Revolution’ By V. I. Lenin.

The reason we have not seen the rise of the Proletariat in the Sub-continent is because, until very recently, the Sub-continent was a very backward society which was primarily feudal in nature. Therefore since Capitalism, and by extension large scale industry, did not exist – the Proletariat i.e Industrial workers, could not exist either.

Now we are in a society where the Proletariat DOES exist.

Therefore to say that the idea of the Proletaritat not rising up is utopian is incorrect since you are obviously overlooking a wider dynamic.

I would suggest you read all the aforementioned books for your better understanding of the involved concepts.

If i can be of any further help please do not hesitate to contact me.

Online copies of these books are available at http://www.marxists.org

In Solidarity,
Mobeen Chughtai.

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Written by redtribution

September 16, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Hello, you have been very kind to give a detailed explanation on my comment. I’m preparing a detailed reply too, give me some time and i will post my analysis in the form of a comment.

    Aseem Naphade

    September 19, 2007 at 7:30 pm

  2. Again, Mr. Aseem you are very welcome. I look forward to your explanation – take as much time as you feel necessary.

    In Solidarity,
    Mobeen Chughtai.

    redtribution

    September 20, 2007 at 12:00 am

  3. You have described the stages in which society has developed and evolved, starting with “primitive communism” and here I would say that many societies of the past have been dictatorships, in fact before democracy as a form of government existed we only had dictatorship and rule of force and not the rule of law which we have now. You have further mentioned the concept of “societal evolution” i would interpret that term as sociocultural evolution where the culture and ideas of mankind go through a substantial change through the passage of time. But a noticeable feature in this change is that it is becoming more and more beneficial. And therefore, democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression and fundamental rights are a result of this sociocultural change. Now in this process of change where we have advanced from dictatorship to democracy, Marx’s view that we will again have dictatorship (of the proletariat) is questionable. In my earlier post i had mentioned that Marx and his work is completely devoted towards the working class and the improvement of their standard of living, but at the same time Marxism is a subject which is only discussed by the intellectuals, “Unite workers of the world” Marx and Engel’s gave the message but Marxism in my view has not yet reached the working class as of now it is still discussed and analyzed by the educated like you and me and the intellectuals. I would further say that, in the process of social evolution Darwin’s rule of survival of the mightiest also will have to be taken into account. And therefore the one who posse’s powers either economical or political will also exercise it substantially, whether in a good way or a bad way is a different matter. Even if we assume the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is not a guarantee that they will rule in a fair manner, dictatorship of any nature can become tyrannical. In this statement “The stage immediately after a socialist society is one of a Communist Society where everyone becomes a wage-earning member of society and where Private Property, even as a concept, does not exist anymore” I would say that first of all there are very few socialist societies in the world today. Socialism as a form of government has failed in many countries; most countries today have adopted capitalism. Countries like China where they have communism they also don’t have freedom of expression. So when socialist societies are seldom found, to determine the stage after that is very inexact and uncertain. Also private property becoming nonexistent will imply that the state will own everything which will again lead to an unbalanced government which can become tyrannical. And finally with globalization and privatization influencing many countries Marx’s view of dictatorship of the proletariat seems irrelevant till the next century atleast. All theories written and spoken have a certain time frame, Marx’s theory has been established for more than 100 years now, but society has not yet turned in any direction as mentioned by Marx so far.

    Aseem Naphade

    September 20, 2007 at 6:34 pm

  4. You have described the stages in which society has developed and evolved, starting with “primitive communism” and here I would say that many societies of the past have been dictatorships, in fact before democracy as a form of government existed we only had dictatorship and rule of force and not the rule of law which we have now.
    Mr. Aseem, I think it would be pertinent to define what we mean by dictatorship and democracy. The definitions provided to us by political texts are as under:
    A Dictatorship:
    is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. It has three possible meanings:
    Roman dictator was a political office of the Roman Republic. Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency. Their power was originally neither arbitrary nor unaccountable, however, being subject to law and requiring retrospective justification. There were no such dictatorships after the beginning of the 2nd century BC, and later dictators such as Sulla and the Roman Emperors exercised power much more personally and arbitrarily.
    In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.
    For some scholars, like Joseph C.W. Chan from the University of Hong Kong, dictatorship is a form of government that has the power to govern without consent of those being governed, while totalitarianism describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior of the people. In other words, dictatorship concerns the source of the governing power (where the power comes from) and totalitarianism concerns the scope of the governing power (what the government regulates). In this sense, dictatorship (government without people’s consent) is a contrast to democracy (government whose power comes from people) and totalitarianism (government controls every aspect of people’s life) corresponds to liberalism (government emphasizes individual right and liberty). Though the definitions of the terms differ, they are related in reality as most of the dictatorship states tend to show totalitarian characteristics. When governments’ power does not come from the people, their power is not limited and tend to expand their scope of power to control every aspect of people’s life.
    (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictatorship)
    A Democracy:
    describes a small number of related forms of government. The fundamental features of democracies include government based on majority rule and the consent of the governed, the existence of free and fair elections, the protection of political minorities, respect for basic human rights, equality before the law, due process, and political pluralism. With origins in ancient Greece, Rome, South Asia, and North and South America democracy has generally grown and expanded throughout history. The principles of democracy emphasize the importance of the individual in the context of government and, today, are a major influence around the world. Though the term democracy is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to other groups and organizations.
    (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy)

    As we can see, the most crucial difference between the two is of ‘consent’. I would not agree with you when you say that most society’s of the past have been dictatorships – every epoch is defined by its own socio-political system and, as a consequence, defines the class which holds dominance and power. Society does not develop ‘freely’, as our Neo-liberal friends would tell us, rather has been maintained and nurtured by several checks and balances. Dictators coming into power, even in today’s world, has been a phenomenon supported, implicitly (as in the case of Musharraf in Pakistan) or explicitly (as in the case of Batista in Cuba), by Imperialism.
    If you have read V. I. Lenin’s book titled: Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism you will realize that this support is nothing more than the Bourgeois class trying to ensure its hold on the world’s resources – it is an exercise on the part of the, now, Imperialist Bourgeoisie to ‘dominate’ the world and enforce its own class-interests at the cost of the class-interests of the rest.
    Therefore, it would not be correct to display dictatorship as a abstract phenomenon since it is clearly connected to class-politics.
    If one is to use this framework then even democracy becomes one form of ‘dictatorship’ – only a much MUCH better form in which general consensus is kept into view before some decisions are taken. It is a more inclusive form of a dictatorship. In other words – It is the dictatorship of the Bourgeois Class but has been tempered by the lessons learnt from the past. It will remain ‘soft’ as long as the Bourgeois class can ensure the smooth functioning of its designs but will turn ‘undemocratic’ as soon as these interests are threatened.
    The pre-socialist ‘democratic’ set up might sacrifice small profits in order to maintain control over society and, in doing so, avoid bloody revolutions however larger profits and interests are almost always maintained, even by force.
    You have further mentioned the concept of “societal evolution” i would interpret that term as sociocultural evolution where the culture and ideas of mankind go through a substantial change through the passage of time.
    Yes, Mr. Aseem, ideas and human culture do undergo change. However, this change, again, cannot be seen abstract from society – It’s not like someone wakes up one day and says ‘hmmm… this aint right’. There is always some factor which influences human consciousness and, in turn, dictates the necessity of a revolution – the engine of sociocultural evolution.
    If you read Engels’s book Origin of the family, Private Property and The State, you will realize that the real necessity of a revolution comes through shifts in the delicate balance between entropy and progress. Production of commodities, such as food, clothing etc. has always been essential for human society. However, as population develops old methods of production become insufficient for fulfilling the needs of society. It is at this time that the old order is demolished and new production systems, along with new classes of people linked to new production systems, come into existence. It was the same way that slave driven production systems were ousted by the Feudals and, later, serf-driven production systems were ousted by the Bourgeois Capitalists.
    Therefore to imply that sociocultural evolution where the culture and ideas of mankind undergo substantial change is the ‘seed’ of societal evolution would not be incorrect but also unfair to the thousands of years of human evolution.
    But a noticeable feature in this change is that it is becoming more and more beneficial. And therefore, democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression and fundamental rights are a result of this sociocultural change.
    Yes that is correct that democracy is a more consensus-oriented and inclusive form of government – as compared to a dictatorship. However, in a class divided society we must understand what exact do we mean by consensus and how are decisions made?
    A decision is made by Bourgeois-governments by analysing the nature of the problem – by analysing what class of people it involves and how many they are, numerically speaking, and what the repercussions would be if the Bourgeoisie, as a class, safeguarded only their own interests. It is this delicate balance between class-interests and class-power that dictates the nature of the decision taken.
    For example due to the decreasing power of the working class, in recent years, coupled with a dictatorial government which is not answerable to the people – the decision to increase the work hours from 8 hours to 12 hours was taken, in 2006, in Pakistan.
    Now in this process of change where we have advanced from dictatorship to democracy, Marx’s view that we will again have dictatorship (of the proletariat) is questionable.
    I strongly disagree, Mr. Aseem. As I have explained earlier, even Bourgeois democracy is merely a series of smoke and mirrors – that the ‘consensus’ that is lauded as a part of Bourgeois democracy, in fact, follows a very different dynamic of class-intimidation and counter-intimidation.
    In a socialist society the dominant class is the Proletariat. The term ‘dictatorship of the Proletariat’ is an honest one – an unapologetic one – because since Capitalist societies have endured the dictatorship (the unchallenged will of the Bourgeoisie), socialist societies will live under the dictatorship of the Proletariat (the unchallenged will of the working class). There is no moral dilemma here, as might seem at first glance. This is because the working class forms 70-90 percent of the population of any Capitalist country – in fact the more advanced a Capitalist country the greater percentage of working class it has. Therefore, what is the evil in instituting the will of the majority i.e the working class?
    It is a far fairer system of governance that Bourgeois democracy where the class-interests of only 1-2 percent of society were safeguarded rather than the rest. In the words of Comrade Lenin, the father of Soviet Socialism:
    It is sheer mockery of the working and exploited people to speak of pure democracy, of democracy in general, of equality, freedom and universal rights when the workers and all working people are ill-fed, ill-clad, ruined and worn out, not only as a result of capitalist wage slavery, but as a consequence of four years of predatory war, while the capitalists and profiteers remain in possession of the “property” usurped by them and the “ready-made” apparatus of state power. This is tantamount to trampling on the basic truths of Marxism which has taught the workers: you must take advantage of bourgeois democracy which, compared with feudalism, represents a great historical advance, but not for one minute must you forget the bourgeois character of this “democracy”, it’s historical conditional and limited character. Never share the “superstitious belief” in the “state” and never forget that the state even in the most democratic republic, and not only in a monarchy, is simply a machine for the suppression of one class by another.

    The bourgeoisie are compelled to be hypocritical and to describe as “popular government”, democracy in general, or pure democracy, the ( bourgeois ) democratic republic which is, in practice, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the exploiters over the working people. The Scheidemanns and Kautskys, the Austerlitzes and Renners (and now, to our regret, with the help of Friedrich Adler) fall in line with this falsehood and hypocrisy. But Marxists, Communists, expose this hypocrisy, and tell the workers and the working people in general this frank and straightforward truth: the democratic republic, the Constituent Assembly, general elections, etc., are, in practice, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and for the emancipation of labor from the yoke of capital there is no other way but to replace this dictatorship with the dictatorship of the proletariat.
    The dictatorship of the proletariat alone can emancipate humanity from the oppression of capital, from the lies, falsehood and hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy — democracy for the rich — and establish democracy for the poor, that is, make the blessings of democracy really accessible to the workers and poor peasants, whereas now (even in the most democratic — bourgeois — republic) the blessings of democracy are, in fact, inaccessible to the vast majority of working people.
    V. I. Lenin: “Democracy” and Dictatorship
    Written: December 23, 1918
    First Published: January 3, 1919 in Pravda No. 2
    Source: Lenin Collected Works, Volume 28 (p. 368-72)
    Link: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/dec/23.htm

    In such a situation it would be foolhardy to say that Marx’s concept of the dictatorship of the Proletariat was ‘questionable’. Indeed it was far from questionable – it’s the way to go.

    In my earlier post i had mentioned that Marx and his work is completely devoted towards the working class and the improvement of their standard of living, but at the same time Marxism is a subject which is only discussed by the intellectuals, “Unite workers of the world” Marx and Engel’s gave the message but Marxism in my view has not yet reached the working class as of now it is still discussed and analyzed by the educated like you and me and the intellectuals.

    I’m sorry, Mr. Aseem, but I must disagree again, in the extreme. Marxism is not a subject that has only been discussed by the Intellectuals – clearly many MANY countries of the world underwent a socialist revolution. These include:

    1. Flag of the People’s Republic of China China – People’s Republic of China (Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó) (October 1, 1949 -)
    2. Flag of Cuba Cuba – Republic of Cuba (República de Cuba) (January 1, 1959 -)
    3. Flag of North Korea North Korea – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk) (September 9, 1948 -)
    4. Flag of Laos Laos – Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao) (December 2, 1975 -)
    5. Flag of Vietnam Vietnam – Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cộng hòa Xã hội Chủ nghĩa Việt Nam) (July 2, 1976 -)
    6. Flag of Afghanistan Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (April 27, 1978 – April 18, 1992)
    7. Flag of Albania People’s Socialist Republic of Albania (Republika Popullore Socialiste e Shqipërisë) (January 1, 1946 – April 30, 1991)
    8. Flag of Angola People’s Republic of Angola (República Popular de Angola) (November 11, 1975 – August 27, 1992)
    9. Flag of Benin People’s Republic of Benin (République Populaire du Bénin) (November 30, 1975 – March 1, 1990)
    10. Flag of Bulgaria People’s Republic of Bulgaria (Narodna Republika Balgariya) (September 15, 1946 – December 7, 1990)
    11. Flag of the Republic of the Congo People’s Republic of the Congo (République Populaire du Congo) (January 3, 1970 – March 15, 1992)
    12. Flag of Czechoslovakia Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Československá Socialistická Republika) (July 11, 1960 – March 29, 1990)
    13. Flag of Ethiopia People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (September 10, 1987 – May 27, 1991)
    14. Flag of Finland Finnish Democratic Republic (Suomen Kansanvaltainen Tasavalta) (December 1, 1939 – March 12, 1940)
    15. Flag of the German Democratic Republic German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) (October 7, 1949 – October 3, 1990)
    16. Flag of Greece Political Committee of National Liberation (Greece) (December 24, 1947 – August 28, 1949)
    17. Flag of Grenada People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada (March 13, 1979 – October 25, 1983)
    18. Flag of Hungary People’s Republic of Hungary (Magyar Népköztársaság) (August 20, 1949 – October 23, 1989)
    19. Flag of Hungary Hungarian Soviet Republic (Magyar Tanácsköztársaság) (March 21 – August 6, 1919)
    20. Flag of Cambodia Democratic Kampuchea (April 17, 1975 – January 7, 1979)
    21. Flag of Cambodia People’s Republic of Kampuchea (January 10, 1979 – September 24, 1993)
    22. Flag of Mongolia Mongolian People’s Republic (November 24, 1924 – February 12, 1992)
    23. Flag of Mozambique People’s Republic of Mozambique (República Popular de Moçambique) (June 25, 1975 – December 1, 1990)
    24. Flag of Poland People’s Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) (June 28, 1945 – July 19, 1989)
    25. Flag of Romania Socialist Republic of Romania (Republica Socialistă România) (December 30, 1947 – December 22, 1989)
    26. Flag of Somalia Somali Democratic Republic (Jamhuuriyadda Dimoqraadiga Soomaaliya) (October 21, 1969 – January 26, 1991)
    27. Flag of the Soviet Union Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) (December 30, 1922 – December 26, 1991)
    28. Flag of Tuvinian People’s Republic Tuvinian People’s Republic (Tuva Arat Respublik) (August 14, 1921 – October 11, 1944)
    29. Flag of North Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa) (September 2, 1945 – July 2, 1976)
    30. Flag of People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (November 30, 1967 – May 22, 1990)
    31. Flag of Yugoslavia Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija) (November 29, 1943 – April 27, 1992)
    32. People’s Republic of Bangladesh (Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh) (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    33. Flag of Egypt Arab Republic of Egypt (Gumhūriyyet Maṣr el-ʿArabiyyah) (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    34. Flag of Guyana Cooperative Republic of Guyana (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    35. Flag of India Republic of India (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    36. Flag of Libya Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (ruled by a military junta)
    37. Flag of Portugal Portuguese Republic (República Portuguesa) (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    38. Flag of Sri Lanka Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    39. Flag of Syria Syrian Arab Republic (de facto single-party state ruled by the Ba’ath Party, retains constitutional references to socialism)
    40. Flag of Tanzania United Republic of Tanzania (retains constitutional references to socialism)
    41. Flag of Venezuela Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela) (informal)
    42. Flag of Algeria People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria (Al-Jumhūrīyah al-Jazā’irīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah ash-Sha’bīyah)
    43. Flag of Bolivia Republic of Bolivia (República de Bolivia)
    44. Flag of Burkina Faso Burkina Faso
    45. Flag of Myanmar Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
    46. Flag of Cape Verde Republic of Cape Verde (República de Cabo Verde)
    47. Flag of Chile Socialist Republic of Chile (República Socialista de Chile)
    48. Flag of Ghana Republic of Ghana
    49. Flag of Guinea Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)
    50. Flag of Guinea-Bissau Republic of Guinea-Bissau (República da Guiné-Bissau)
    51. Flag of Indonesia Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia)
    52. Flag of Iraq Republic of Iraq (Al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʿĪrāqiyah)
    53. Flag of Madagascar Democratic Republic of Madagascar (Repoblika Demokratika Malagasy)
    54. Flag of Mali Republic of Mali (République du Mali)
    55. Flag of Nicaragua Republic of Nicaragua (República de Nicaragua)
    56. Flag of São Tomé and Príncipe Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe)
    57. Flag of Senegal Republic of Senegal (République du Sénégal)
    58. Flag of the Seychelles Republic of Seychelles (Repiblik Sesel)
    59. Flag of Sudan Democratic Republic of Sudan (Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah)
    60. Flag of Suriname Republic of Suriname (Republiek Suriname)
    61. Flag of Tunisia Tunisian Republic (Al-Jumhūriyyah at-Tūnisiyyah)
    62. Flag of Uganda Republic of Uganda
    63. Flag of United Arab Republic United Arab Republic (Al-Jumhūrīyah al-‘Arabīyah al-Muttaḥidah)
    64. Flag of Zanzibar People’s Republic of Zanzibar (Jamhuri ya Watu wa Zanzibar)
    65. Alsace Soviet Republic (November 9 – November 22, 1918)
    66. Azerbaijan People’s Government (November 1945 – December 1946)
    67. Bavarian Soviet Republic (Bayerische Räterepublik) (April 6 – May 3, 1919)
    68. Bessarabian Soviet Socialist Republic
    69. Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic (October 8, 1920 – February 17, 1925)
    70. Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic (February 12 – May 1918)
    71. Estonian Workers’ Commune (Eesti Töörahva Kommuun) (November 29, 1918 – June 5, 1919)
    72. Far Eastern Republic (Dalnevostochnaya Respublika) (April 6, 1920 – November 15, 1922)
    73. Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic (January 28 – April 29, 1918)
    74. Galician Soviet Socialist Republic (July 8 – September 21, 1920)
    75. German Socialist Republic (Räterepubliken)
    76. Hunan Soviet
    77. Chinese Soviet Republic (Zhōnghuá Sūwéi’āi Gònghéguó) (November 7, 1931 – October 1934)
    78. Khorazmian People’s Soviet Republic (April 26, 1920 – October 20, 1923)
    79. Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Lietuvos-Baltarusijos Tarybinė Socialistinė Respublika) (February 27 – August 25, 1919)
    80. Republic of Mahabad (Komarî Mehabad) (January 22 – December 15, 1946)
    81. Mughan Soviet Republic (March – June 1919)
    82. Soviet Republic of Naissaar (December 1917 – February 26, 1918)
    83. Paris Commune (La Commune de Paris) (March 18 – May 28, 1871) (first socialist republic in history)
    84. Persian Socialist Soviet Republic (June 9, 1920 – September 1921)
    85. Republic of South Vietnam (Cộng Hòa Miền Nam Việt Nam) (April 30, 1975 – June 2, 1976)
    86. Slovak Soviet Republic (Slovenská Republika Rád) (June 16 – July 7, 1919)
    87. Turkestan Socialist Federative Republic (April 30, 1918 – October 27, 1924)
    88. Democratic Republic of Yemen (May 21 – July 7, 1994)
    Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_countries

    As you can see the list is a huge one. Therefore to say that Marxism is only an ‘intellectual’ phenomenon is a misguided exercise. Have you actually talked to members of the working class regarding their conditions or seen the reaction when you describe Marxism to them?
    It’s like they suddenly see the mirror for the first time and realize whats happening with them and why. It is very empowering. I strongly suggest you spend some time with member’s of the working class, if you have not as yet, so that such mistaken preconceptions on your part can be dispelled.

    I would further say that, in the process of social evolution Darwin’s rule of survival of the mightiest also will have to be taken into account. And therefore the one who posse’s powers either economical or political will also exercise it substantially, whether in a good way or a bad way is a different matter.

    First of all, Darwin never gave a theory of societal evolution – his theory was one of the PHYSICAL evolutions of species. Secondly to just take the framework of physical evolution and apply it to society would be incorrect.
    However, there is some credence to the concept so I will refrain from going into the nuances and just emphasize the parallels.
    Darwin did not say that the ‘mightiest’ shall survive – his theory purported that the most ‘fit’ shall survive. ‘Fit’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘mighty’ for if it did then perhaps dinosaurs would still have been the dominant species on this planet.
    ‘Fit’ refers to a condition in which a species can stop, merely, existing and mould the environment to their own needs. It is the degree of triumph a species achieves in matters of conquering the environment and nature that specifies how ‘fit’ it is.
    If this framework is applied to the current Capitalist society then who do you think is more ‘fit’ to survive: Those who do not get off their collective behinds and only reap profits and live the lives of idle luxuries and decay i.e the Capitalists or those who create all essentials of human survival with their blood and toil i.e the Proletariat?
    The answer is very obvious.

    So even according to a framework you, yourself, brought to the table – the triumph of the working class, the dictatorship of the Proletariat, Socialism and Communism are necessary steps in societal evolution.

    Even if we assume the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is not a guarantee that they will rule in a fair manner, dictatorship of any nature can become tyrannical.

    Of course it is a guarantee that it will remain fair. As we have come to understand that every Governance system takes into account and gives precedence to the class-interest of the dominant class in society and we have also seen that in an advanced capitalist society the Proletariat accounts for 70-90 percent of society, numerically, how can it POSSIBLY be unfair when the State safeguards the interests of such a vast majority?

    Mr. Aseem, you started this debate with the statement that you thought Marx’s ideas were utopian. I now make the same observation regarding your concepts of fairness. Nothing in this world is 100% fair – since every single decision taken in this world will affect SOMEONE negatively. The best that can be accomplished is to make the decision that facilitates the greatest majority and that is exactly what Socialism hopes to accomplish.

    It is utterly and absolutely fair according to the precepts laid down by society, itself, and I would challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

    In this statement “The stage immediately after a socialist society is one of a Communist Society where everyone becomes a wage-earning member of society and where Private Property, even as a concept, does not exist anymore” I would say that first of all there are very few socialist societies in the world today. Socialism as a form of government has failed in many countries; most countries today have adopted capitalism.

    Clearly I have attached a list of socialist countries of the world with this answer. Please look through that list carefully – it will dispel your misunderstanding that there were only a ‘few’ socialist countries in the world. Secondly, you must realize that a socialist state existing in a Capitalist world is always under threat – it is always in a state of war.

    Do you think that the Bourgeoisie Class – the Imperialists of our age are happy when they are denied access to a nation and its markets so completely?

    Of course not. They try everything under the sun to uproot such Socialist governments by killing people, declaring war on them, imposing sanctions etc. etc. etc.

    It comes as no surprise that most infant Socialist States have been demolished by the Imperialist war machine but what you must keep in mind is that there are exceptions to that rule – exceptions like Cuba which are Socialist to the core and are so strong that they survive in the face of Imperial adversity, nay, right under the gaze of Imperialist America.

    Not only do they survive but they do so well, in spite of the years and years of trade sanctions imposed against them, that even the World Bank (an institute funded by and managed by Imperialist countries) admits, reluctantly, that Cuba is an example for all third world countries.

    This is an example of good socialist governance, Mr. Aseem. Pray do not loose sight of that glaring fact.

    Countries like China where they have communism they also don’t have freedom of expression. So when socialist societies are seldom found, to determine the stage after that is very inexact and uncertain.

    What is the source for this allegation against China? Where have you heard this?

    Sometimes, in order to find the truth behind statements, we must also keep in mind where they are coming from – indeed to ignore built in biases in language and statements is a folly. Why is it that the already existing propaganda against China has found new power recently?
    It is because China has, through years and years of Industrial and infrastructure build up under a Socialist regime, come to a point where it is now a productive mega-giant. It has taken over, virtually, all industrial and productive sectors and this scares the Imperialist countries to the core.

    Do you honestly believe that freedom of expression, as a practice, cannot exist in a country yet it can be the only productive super-house of the planet?
    Of course not. The workers would simply stop working – the whole economy would fall stagnant and decay.

    Kindly do not buy into Imperialist Propaganda so easily, Mr. Aseem.

    Also private property becoming nonexistent will imply that the state will own everything which will again lead to an unbalanced government which can become tyrannical.

    Of course not Mr. Aseem. Socialist governments are not made up, qualitatively, like Bourgeois democratic governments. The Socialist State is defined by its democratic nature and culture. For an indepth understanding of the workings of the Soviet socialist state please read the following article:

    The Soviet Governance system:

    In order to understand, and appreciate Soviet Socialist democracy ( and any “democracy” for that matter) it is imperative to understand the concept in the light of its evolution.
    We will make an attempt towards answering ( in detail) all your criticisms of the Soviet model, relying heavily on the material provided in Pat Sloan’s “SOVIET DEMOCRACY”, and Sydney Webb’s book “Soviet Communism”. ( It is worthwhile to add that both these writers are NEITHER Communists, NOR were they from the former Soviet Union)

    The most popular definition of democracy is as “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

    The Greek city state has been cited time and again by historians as the birthplace of democracy. And yet, we find that in fact this was a democracy only for a narrow circle of the privileged, while the slaves who did the work of the community had no voice whatsoever in the making of the laws under which they toiled.

    The classical example of democracy, was, then a democracy only for certain people. To describe the democracy of the Greek city state without pointing out that it could ONLY exist as a result of the toil of the slaves who had no political and hardly any civil rights falsifies the real history of the ORIGIN of democracy.

    Democracy, then, from its origin, has not precluded the simultaneous existence of dictatorship. The essential question which must be asked, when social systems appear to include elements of both democracy and dictatorship is ” For whom is there democracy?”, and “Over whom is there a dictatorship”

    Let us attempt to answer this question in the light of the Soviet constitution of 1918. The constitution describes the purpose of the soviet state as “the establishment of the dictatorship of the urban and rural workers, combined with the poor peasantry, to secure the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, and the establishment of socialism.”.

    The urban and rural workers and the poor peasantry made up over 95% of the population of the Soviet Union, so that this DICTATORSHIP was to be a government by the vast majority of the population.

    The Soviet state introduced universal suffrage for working citizens, without property or residential qualifications, and irrespective of sex (The first country in the world by the way to give women the right to vote), nationality or religion. The right to vote and to stand for election was made available to all such citizens from the age of eighteen upwards.

    However, democracy has a few other important features which the Soviet model clearly shows:

    Equality of Opportunity:

    It is quite astonishing to find that many “intellectuals”, who are ardent supporters of “democracy”, almost always restrict democracy to the process of elections and politics, seldom realizing that a system cannot be truly democratic until and unless it is ECONOMICALLY AND SOCIALLY democratic— in other words until and unless there is equality of opportunity. Did the Soviet Union have that?

    Let us first have a look at the Soviet Education policy.

    A first decree of the Soviet Government, adopted shortly after the seizure of power in 1917, dealt with education:

    “Every genuinely democratic power must in the domain of education in a country where ignorance and illiteracy reign supreme, make its first aim the struggle against this darkness… it must introduce universal, obligatory ad free tuition for all.”

    In pre-revolutionary Russia well over 80 percent of the adult population could not read or write. In less than 20 years, illiterately was wiped out completely. In the year before the Revolution the number of children attending school was round about 8 million, of whom only half a million received any secondary education. By 1934, the number of children attending school had reached 25 million— more than half the population of Great Britain and over THREE times the pre-revolutionary figure.

    So far we have been considering equality of opportunity in the purely educational sphere. But equality of opportunity in the USSR extended far beyond the realms of education.

    Perhaps another of the most interesting features of Soviet life was the close link which existed between all kinds of amateur and professional activities. In the Soviet factories and collective farms much of the leisure time of the people— and this leisure time was ample since the working day averaged less than 7 hours throughout Soviet industry— was spent on amateur activities such as dramatics, literature, sport photography, art and so on.

    Equality of opportunity also extended to the domain of access to free health, and free entertainment.

    The power of the trade unions

    It is important to understand the fact that the power that the trade unions exercise on the state is directly reflective of the course of action that the state will take with regard to its policies.

    In the constitution of the Soviet republic, adopted in 1918, freedom of association was guaranteed to all citizens.

    The Soviet trade unions were represented on the management of the factories, and higher up on the boards of the State trusts. In each factory, the trade unions mobilized the workers for participation in management. They organized meetings to discuss the welfare of the workers and problems of production; and they ran a PRESS in which expression was given to the opinions of the workers.

    Every year, in every Soviet enterprise, a collective agreement was signed up between the trade union and the administration. This agreement stated the obligations of the administration towards the workers in the form of cultural and other services, and also included detailed wage scales for the enterprise. The general principles underlying such wage scales were determined by the central committees of the unions in the various industries, in cooperation with the corresponding administrative State organization. In this way, once every year at least, every Soviet working man or woman, on every job, had the chance to participate in a general discussion of the existing wage-rates.

    Freedom of Press
    We find the following clause in the Constitution of 1918:

    “To ensure for the workers effective liberty of opinion, the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic puts and end to the dependence of the Press upon capital; transfers to the working class and to the peasants all technical and material resources necessary for the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, books and other printed matter: and guarantees their UNOBSTRUCTED circulation throughout the country.”

    The Soviet Government realized that freedom of the Press could only exist together with the ownership of the printing presses and the other means for publishing newspapers. Therefore, so long as the printing presses and stocks of paper were in the hands of the well to do ( Or in the hands of the Army in the case of Pakistan), there was only freedom of the Press for the elite. Effective freedom of the Press for the working masses could only be guaranteed by giving the ownership of the newspapers to working people. Hence the abolition of the private press in the early days of the revolution, its place being taken by the press of the people themselves, from their wall-newspapers in the factories to the newspapers of the soviet state itself.

    The daily circulation of newspapers had increased from 2.7 million in 1913, to 36.4 million in 1934, and 66 million in 1937. We must also remember that there were THREE main newspapers in the Soviet Union ( the newspapers of the various factories had a circulation which was limited to the particular areas in which they operated or in particular industries): Izvestia, the organ of the Government; Pravda, the newspaper of the Party; and Trud, the paper of the trade unions.

    On the freedom of the Press, I will quote an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence, given on page 100 of Pat Sloan’s book on the Soviet Union.:

    “During the years of the first 5 year plan, the most harrowing stories appeared in our Press in Britain about the failure of one large Soviet factory after another to achieve the planned output. And to the confusion of the British reader, Soviet sources would usually be quoted as the basis for these stories. We would read how at Stalingrad for example, two tractors would come off the conveyor one day, thirty the next, then a hundred and then down to two again as some process in the production went wrong and held up the whole job.”

    When we look more closely at the kind of facts which received such loud publicity at the time, we find that all these difficulties and disorders which accompanied the first 5 year plan were not necessarily peculiar to Soviet conditions, but operated in one form or the other in every new large industrial enterprise everywhere. The fundamental difference between such enterprises in the USSR and similar ones in capitalist countries was that in the Soviet Union every difficulty was publicized in the Press, whereas, in the conditions of capitalism, the same difficulties are completely hushed up.

    What are Soviets

    Early in the year 1905, the workers of the textile town of Ivanovo-Vosnesnk set up a committee to co-ordinate strike action and to force the employers to bargain collectively. This example was copied by other industries in Russia, and finally by ALL the workers with the establishment of their own councils or committees. These councils came to be known as the Soviets of Worker’s Delegates. In each case they consisted of elected delegates from the workers in the factories, led the struggle against the employers by organizing strikes, and put forward political demands for freedom of speech, the Press and assembly. They became a new form of municipal authority.

    After the October revolution in 1917, there had come into being in Russia a new kind of State. In structure this new State corresponded to democratic organizations of working people all over the world. But whereas a trade union represents only the wage earners in PARTICULAR occupations, the Soviet state embraced all working citizens, in industry, on the land, and in the army.

    The Soviet State was a democratic organization of the vast majority of the people. All working citizens, had the right to vote, and to stand for election without property or residential qualifications, so long as they reached eighteen years of age.

    The local Soviets were simply councils of delegates, elected by the workers at their factory meetings, and by the peasants at meetings in the village. at these meetings the workers and peasants discussed the merits of various candidates, and then voted in the simplest and most straightforward way, by show of hands.

    For areas larger than the town or village, such as counties, provinces and national territories covering a number of towns and villages, the supreme authority was a Congress of Soviets for that area, to which delegates were sent from all the local Soviets. Such Congresses elected their own Executive Committees, which carried on the work of government between Congresses.

    For the Russian Soviet Republic as a whole the supreme authority was an All Russian Congress of Soviets. This was composed of representatives of town Soviets, on the basis of one deputy for every 25,000 electors, and representatives of provincial Congresses of Soviets, on the basis of one deputy for every 125,000 inhabitants.

    Three outstanding features of the Soviet elections (Which Mr Aqeel has been told, through divine ordinance never existed in the Soviet Union) should here be mentioned.

    First, all delegates to the Soviets, to Congresses, and members of Executive Committees were made subject to recall if their electors were dissatisfied with their work. In this way the permanency of every officials post depended on the agreement of his electors. Secondly, every elected delegate to any Soviet body was bound, not only to sit on the soviet as a committee member, but also to participate in the day -to -day work of the soviet. In this way, every member not only passed laws but was one of those responsible for carrying them out. There was thus no divorce between legislature and executive, between those who made the laws and those who enforced them.
    Thirdly, a word must be said as to the nature of the elections. In the soviet state, the system of election was based on the desire to return to the organs of government those who were best suited to represent their fellows. At every election meeting a discussion took place on the work of the soviet authorities and general instructions were adopted as to the policy to be pursued in the future. Each delegate who was elected was instructed to pursue the policy agreed upon at the meeting. And at intervals he had to report back to the electors on how he was carrying out this policy on the Soviet.
    Members of the Soviets were delegates with a mandate from their electors and subject to recall if they did not carry out this mandate to the satisfaction of their supporters. This system stands in sharp contrast to the parliamentary system, where candidates come forward with a cut-and-dried statement of policy, the electors choose the program which they think they prefer, and the candidate who is returned then proceeds to carry it out or not, as the spirit moves him.
    And finally with globalization and privatization influencing many countries Marx’s view of dictatorship of the proletariat seems irrelevant till the next century atleast. All theories written and spoken have a certain time frame, Marx’s theory has been established for more than 100 years now, but society has not yet turned in any direction as mentioned by Marx so far.

    I honestly cannot understand how you can say that with a straight face, Mr. Aseem. Clearly there have been dozens and dozens of socialist countries in the world – clearly there have been an equal, if not more, amounts of revolutions against the corrupt Bourgeois order. Clearly, even today, socialist countries exist and thrive. Clearly the most industrially advanced country on the face of the planet is a Socialist one with a Communist Party in power. Clearly, Imperialism has now resorted to open war against the world’s populace in a bid to capture all the markets in existence.

    All of these things are clear even to the blind, Mr. Aseem – then why can you not see it?

    There has never been a point in time when Marx’s theories have been more relevant to the working class, in particular, and the world at large. To say that Marx’s theories were ‘irrelevant’ is nothing more than spitting at the sun – you clearly emphasize your own irrelevance by doing so.

    I would advise you to actually read up a bit more on Marxism before making such statements in public, Mr. Aseem. Please read more at: http://www.marxists.org
    You will find almost all the works of Marx along with a whole galaxy articles written by Marxist thinkers.

    I hope this has helped your understanding on the subject.

    In Solidarity,
    Mobeen Chughtai.

    redtribution

    September 22, 2007 at 5:49 am


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