Sunday, April 23, 2017

If Socialism Is To Have Any Future It Has To Renounce It's Past - I'm Not Confident It Can Be Done Or Will Be Tried

I am reluctant to call myself a socialist anymore because what most people mean by the word isn't what I am.  It never was what I was even when I called what I believe by that name.   Socialism as the workers owning the means of production - instead of capitalists who steal, not only the means of production but also a large share of the wealth that workers produce - is what I believed and still believe in.  What most people came to call "socialism" the government ownership of those means of production and much more is something I have never believed was a good idea.  

In a different part of the text I excerpted last night from Mother Country, Marilynne Robinson's indictment of the British Class system and its results, including the official British style of elite "socialism" she said:

We must find a political and moral clarity that will enable us to address the starkest problems of survival, if the world is to have any hope.  For a long time now, socialists have claimed an exceptional interest in the well-being of the generality of people, a special inclination to humanize collective life.  But the history of socialism is disheartening.  It is too strongly associated with repression, and these ties are too casually dismissed, for socialism to be conceded the special virtues it claims for itself.  

Which you should certainly keep in mind the next time you hear someone exaggerating the accomplishments of Bernie Sanders in 2016 or the next time The Nation or In These Times claims that because a few minor offices in a few well disposed places have been won by people calling themselves "socialists".   The fact is that the crimes of governments in the name of "socialism" can match those of the Nazis - crimes which continue, overtly, in places such as North Korea even as their fellow Marxists abandon a pretense of socialism as they apply the lessons they gained from their state-socialist period in centralized, efficient organization and extraction to the rule by the billionaire - Communist class.  Of course, in places such as the former Socialist Union, especially in Russia, they're not even pretending to any form of socialism.  It turns out, not too surprisingly, that the kind of state socialism that is both the real life phenomenon of Marxism and its minor cousins in things like British Fabianism end up with the government in service to the economic and political elite.   That passage continues:

Plutonium manufacture and radioactive waste dumping are enterprises for the British government, and as good a proof as one could wish that government ownership in itself means nothing.  The pattern identified by Adam Smith and Karl Marx, the accumulation of capital through the destruction of wealth is fully present in Sellafield.  British socialism has always been no more than the left hand washing the right, and yet for years it has compelled the admiration of American socialists, who can find nothing in their own tradition to compare to it for moral grandeur. 

The American academics and writers and legal theorists who peopled the secular left did, in fact, look to the horrible British and other schools of socialism and, as Robinson so well put it, 

"... the dreary traffic in pittances institutionalized as the British Welfare State is hailed as an advance of socialism."

And that was the non-Marxist, non-Stalinist American left.  Large numbers of American leftists, and in fact the same British Socialists looked to the red-fascist dictatorships of the Soviet Union, China, various small and occupied countries as if the huge piles of bodies, the enslavement of its people, the total abolition of civil rights didn't matter as long as something they called "socialism" allegedly advanced.  Of course the denouement of the Soviet implosion and dissolution into, mostly, various levels of overt oligarchic fascism and the Chinese abandonment of any pretense of socialism shows that that isn't, in fact, what they were advancing.  I think that if human history continues the major lesson in that abominable form of "socialism" will be that people who are oppressed by such anti-democratic systems take generations to recover to the point where they might contemplate freedom and the common good in civil society.  I will add that I am convinced that can't happen if people are brainwashed in materialism or in anything other that isn't based in a full faith in equal rights and the moral obligation to respect those.*

I don't think I'll go back to calling myself a socialist because the meaning of the word which describes my position has been totally swamped by the depravity of Marxist and other state-socialist forms.   I think that in the history of applied socialism in the 20th century we have been given a lesson of what to expect of that in reality instead of Fabian sociology or other forms of academic, intellectual fantasy.    I agree with what Marilynne Robinson said was what we needed:

The most difficult struggle of our civilization has been to find the means to create autonomy for ordinary lives, so that they might not be plundered or disposed of according to the whims of more powerful people.  Ideas like civil rights and personal liberty come directly from this struggle, which is not terribly well advanced at best, and which is untried, failed or abandoned in most of the world.

I think another lesson, in the United States and elsewhere, is that people without the academic indoctrination needed to ignore the crimes done in the name of "socialism" don't buy anything that will endanger the autonomy of their lives, they have seen billions of people whose lives have been plundered and disposed of according to the whims of more powerful people.  For all of its many faults, up until the implosion of traditional American liberalism as the secularists overtook it, the American system was better at producing that autonomy than the lauded, secular "socialism" did. That such scribbling-class folk who laud the very systems that did that and the theories that fed those systems shows how removed such self-congratulating secularist, rational, educated folk can be from the reality that is staring them in the face, such scribbling folk have been doing that for most of the past century and longer.  And, yet, they wonder why they have lost credibility.

If any kind of socialism is to regain any credibility, it will almost certainly be religious in character, Christian socialism, or, perhaps, under a more general religious identity.  Secularism, in the form materialists assert, was also given its test of time in the 20th century.  Among its casualties is American liberalism as the promotion of equal rights and the conditions that secure those in mutual obligations to respect them.

*  That Trumpian fascism, Republican-fascism is fully compatible with Putin-style fascism is no great shock.   All Putin had to do to accomplish what he has is to abandon any pretense of socialism and to fully take advantage of every potential weakness and flaw in the American and other Western systems of law and government.   That he was able to take advantage of the permission our secularists on the Supreme Court gave to lie and other such things is not any big surprise.  When you "know" the lie, the lie will enslave you. .

No comments:

Post a Comment