Sunday, June 2, 2019

An Historical Coincidence (1969)

Pamphlet Review from the June 1969 issue of the Socialist Standard

Appeal for the International Re-organisation of the Revolutionary Marxist Movement 
‘Programme Communisté' 3s.

Those interested in historical coincidences will find intriguing this pamphlet produced by a group which broke away from the Communist International in the 20s. For, despite having a Bolshevik vision of the socialist revolution (contempt for political democracy, armed uprising, vanguard party, minority dictatorship, terror, and all), on many issues Programme Communisté has come, quite independently, to conclusions similar to ours.

First, they know clearly what Socialism (or Communism) is: a world society based on common ownership with no production for sale, money, buying and selling, prices, wages, or profit. But they still favour ‘labour-rime vouchers’ as a form of rationing in the early days of Socialism.

Second, they recognise the capitalist nature of the Russian economy (and call the ruling class there the capitalist class), with its commodity-production, wages system, and capital accumulation; though, as dissident Bolsheviks, they subscribe to a ’degeneration’ theory of state capitalism.

Third, they refuse to advocate reforms or join others in doing so. arguing that on the political field socialists should be aiming solely at the capture of power for Socialism.

Fourth, they add that this “does not apply to the immediate and specific demands which arise from the concrete antagonism of interests between wage-earners and employers in the economic sphere”. So, like us, they draw a distinction between ’reforms’ and the day-to-day economic demands of the workers.

Fifth, they regard the second world war as ’imperialist’ and refused not only to take sides but also to join in ’anti-fascist’ fronts, saying that the way to combat fascism was not to join with pro-democratic capitalist parties but to oppose them as well as the fascists on a straight class or socialist programme.

We point this out only to show that some of our ideas are held by workers in other countries. Not, we hasten to add, that we would urge workers in France and Italy to support Programme Communiste. Far from it; as Bolsheviks they are peddling dangerous nonsense and we are as opposed to them as to all others.

This pamphlet cannot be recommended since it is badly translated from the French and besides is written in the difficult style of the early ’theses’ of the Communist International.
Adam Buick

Letter: The Obstacle of Ignorance (1969)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1969 issue of the Socialist Standard
  A friend of the Party in Paris has sent us the following letter outlining part of the. case for Socialism:
What stands in the way of the advent of Socialism?

Certainly, it is the power of the State. So let us not be afraid to bring out in significance of the State. Let us advise the reading of The Origin of Private Property, the Family, and the State. Let us not hesitate to distribute this pamphlet among the workers.

It is also the ignorance of the majority of the exploited as to what Socialism, and even what capitalism, is. We must understand the cause of this ignorance and remedy it.

We must repeat that the economic system of production for profit is capitalism; that this system is inconceivable without the exploitation of man by man, without competition between individuals and between groups, without the robbery of; human labour by rich parasites. We must also admit that capitalism will continue to reign over the planet until it has been replaced by a more evolved, more human, economic system. The future system which Marx and Engels interchangeably called ‘socialism' and ’communism’ cannot be imposed by a group with any chance of success. It is essential that first it is wanted by the workers of the entire world and thus universally understood. This system in which there will be production to satisfy human needs is called Socialism.

There is no need for a conscious minority to lead the working class. That’s what we have already in Paris, in London, in Prague; in Moscow, in Peking, in Havana. That’s what we have already in Algiers, in Tel Aviv, in Washington, in Dakar, and at the Cape. The present-day ruling minority itself joined with the people at a given moment. Then it took advantage of being an 'élite' to impose its authority on the people. Revolution by an élite inevitably leads to government by an élite.

The change from private capitalism to state capitalism does not free the working class. Those who produce continue not to own the means of production. Property changes hands and the exploited remain exploited. To put an end to private property is to end the very existence of the State, whether it is capitalist or alleged communist. It is to organise society to provide for the satisfaction of the needs of mankind. It is to establish Socialism.
Georges Valentino