Thread: Titoism, Is It Socialist?

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  1. #21
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    Socialism is impossible in any meaningful sense unless there is democracy. We can quibble endlessly over what this entails, but democracy is essential. To quote Engels in 'the principles of communism', 'what will be the course of the revolution? Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat'. And it is quite clear to any observer that the DPRK is far and away from any semblance of democracy, and hence cannot be socialist.
  2. #22
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    Anticommunist BS. The DPRK is the closest thing to Engels' "democratic constitution" ensuring "the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat" around today. You can be damn sure that Engels' definition of democracy has nothing to do with the sacred right to a quadrennial ritual to choose betweem a swindler or a thief.
  3. #23
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    Socialism is impossible in any meaningful sense unless there is democracy. We can quibble endlessly over what this entails, but democracy is essential. To quote Engels in 'the principles of communism', 'what will be the course of the revolution? Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat'. And it is quite clear to any observer that the DPRK is far and away from any semblance of democracy, and hence cannot be socialist.
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    Anticommunist BS. The DPRK is the closest thing to Engels' "democratic constitution" ensuring "the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat" around today. You can be damn sure that Engels' definition of democracy has nothing to do with the sacred right to a quadrennial ritual to choose betweem a swindler or a thief.
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  4. #24
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    Simply equating ALL forms of democracy with liberal capitalist democracy is spurious and foolish in the extreme. I am not a supporter of liberal capitalist bourgeois democracy, what I AM a supporter of is a society in which the workers and producers maintain a control over production, as well as over society as a whole, and if this is done in a socialistic manner, the consent of these workers and producers will be required for any kind of decision making. That's democracy. The DPRK is a strict caste society, which of course contradicts any kind of egalitarian social order, as the rule of the workers and producers would be. The DPRK is about as close to socialism as conceived by Marx and Engels(or Bakunin, or Kropotkin, or ANY revolutionary communist for that manner)as feudal Europe.
    The supreme mystery of despotism, it's prop and stay, is to keep men in a state of deception, and with the specious title of religion to cloak the fear by which they must be held in check so that they will fight for their servitude as if for salvation. - Benedict de Spinoza
  5. #25
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    Simply equating ALL forms of democracy with liberal capitalist democracy is spurious and foolish in the extreme. I am not a supporter of liberal capitalist bourgeois democracy, what I AM a supporter of is a society in which the workers and producers maintain a control over production, as well as over society as a whole, and if this is done in a socialistic manner, the consent of these workers and producers will be required for any kind of decision making. That's democracy. The DPRK is a strict caste society, which of course contradicts any kind of egalitarian social order, as the rule of the workers and producers would be. The DPRK is about as close to socialism as conceived by Marx and Engels(or Bakunin, or Kropotkin, or ANY revolutionary communist for that manner)as feudal Europe.

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  6. #26
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    Here's a question for those who would defend North Korea: are the socioeconomic preconditions for building socialism present in North Korea, in almost complete isolation and in fact against extraordinary foreign hostility? Marx would have said no and Lenin's Bolsheviks would have said no. Admittedly, Lenin would probably not have advocated the kind of revolution he actually produced if he had known that Western Europe would remain thoroughly anti-socialist for what by now amounts to a century. Perhaps Lenin and Marx, in other words, are not 'radical enough' for some of us? In any case, one cannot be socialist in Marx's sense without convulsive loathing for socialism in Kim Jong-un's sense.

    And, to be sure, the same reasoning applies to Tito's Yugoslavia. In what sense can one call any of the 'actually existing socialisms' genuinely socialist? In the sense that in them those who organized production also happened directly to control the repressive apparatuses that are necessary to enforce production standards in exploitative societies? In the sense that the proletariat, whose abolition advanced not one iota in any 'actual socialism', was legally prevented from forming the kinds of independent institutions necessary for fostering proletarian class consciousness? I understand the obvious fact that Marxists who have managed to come to political power–Lenin himself being a great example–have faced enormous internal and external pressures that have effectively prevented them from advancing genuinely socialist agendas (and all real Marxists in this position admitted as much, possibly with the curious exception of Trotsky), and have accordingly been forced into repressive holding patterns for better days. Holding patterns of this kind are only justified insofar as they are temporary: insofar, therefore, as better days can reasonably be expected to arrive in the near-future. Unfortunately, the most fundamental precondition for progress toward socialism in the present day, namely social revolution in the United States or at least international civil war for a global regime of collective property, does not seem exactly imminently, however much it needs to be.
  7. #27
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    In what sense can one call any of the 'actually existing socialisms' genuinely socialist?
    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia's definition of socialism is as follows: "The first stage of the communist formation. The economic basis of socialism is social ownership of the means of production; its political basis is the power of the toiling masses under the leadership of the working class, headed by the Marxist-Leninist party. Socialism is a social structure that precludes the exploitation of man by man and develops in conformity with a plan, with the objectives of improving the well-being of the people and comprehensively developing every member of society."

    I'd say that describes the system that existed/exists in the USSR, GDR, Yugoslavia, Cuba, DPRK, China, etc.

    the proletariat... was legally prevented from forming the kinds of independent institutions necessary for fostering proletarian class consciousness?
    In the USSR citizens participated in unpaid, voluntary work within the soviets, trade union, people's control committees, comrades' courts, etc. on a far wider scale than in any capitalist country. If by "independent institutions" you mean different parties, there was no reason for said parties to exist. There were no antagonistic classes in Soviet society after the construction of socialism, and the remaining classes and strata identified in general with the CPSU.

    Socialist society in these countries was committed to fostering a proletarian class consciousness, from museums extolling labor revolts against capitalist exploitation to workers being awarded and praised in the press similar to how the newspapers and TV of capitalist countries extol CEOs and others embodying the "entrepreneurial spirit."

    Your last point is just silly, as if the communists of Cuba, China, the DPRK, Vietnam and Laos should just pack it up and surrender their countries until some unknown time when the United States falls to a proletarian revolution, ignoring that it is precisely the existence of these countries that provides a counterweight to imperialism and a good example of the sort of gains for ordinary people only socialism can achieve (e.g. abolition of unemployment.)
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  9. #28
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    At least in my own usage of the term 'socialism', the ideas of Karl Marx are absolutely decisive: whatever authority I am willing endow a Soviet Encyclopedia, however Great, will be entirely secondary and indirect. That said, and despite its defective vagueness in my opinion, the given definition seems to me clearly to disqualify the socialist credentials of the USSR, the GDR, China, Yugoslavia as well as North Korea (I do not feel I know enough confidently to put Cuba in the same company as these latter cases), if I can at least assume that the terms employed in the definition are meant in the same way they are meant in Marx's writings (they certainly didn't mean the same thing in Stalin's mouth). It is somewhat difficult to say, even in Marx's writings, exactly what constitutes 'social ownership' of the means of production. Clearly, however, the nationalization of production has no a priori relationship with establishing such social ownership. The state apparatuses are, admittedly, the most obvious institutions with which to entrust the means of production so that some socialization of production can subsequently be pursued. But as Lenin points out in his notorious 'Left-Communism and Other Infantile Diseases', the genuine socialization of production simply cannot be undertaken by the mere decrees of a vanguard party–no matter how 'determined' that party may be–without the well developed proletarian class consciousness that comes with victory, as Marx says, in 'the battle of democracy'. October was undoubtedly a momentous step for the Russian proletariat, as it was for other classes that suffered under the rule of the Tsar and in a somewhat different way as it was for all its foreign witnesses, but, like all socialist revolutions (which might for this reason be better conceived as revolutions of socialists than revolutions in the relations of production themselves) and more generally like all merely political events, October evidently had no immediate impact on the mode of production actually prevailing in Russia, aside from the temporary and steep economic losses suffered during the civil war. It was not until years after Lenin's death and Trotsky's demise that Stalin, dizzy with the 'successes' of his first five-year plans, would venture the patently absurd notion that he had succeeded in building the foundations for socialism and then impose this view on his comrades. In summary, I want to emphasize that, in my opinion, the case for the actually existing socialisms must show that they amounted to more than mere nationalizations of property. Against your definition, however, I will add that 'precluding exploitation of man by man' is probably too high of a bar to set for socialism, and in any case is manifestly not met in the cases we are discussing when it was not explicitly contradicted by the ruling Communist Parties themselves, who were often happy enough to admit to systematically appropriating surplus-value from workers.

    And yet we owe the Nazis' defeat to Stalinism: this is, it seems to me, precisely the kind of case in which it can be argued that 'actually socialist states', in the form they so far actually taken, become defensible and even agents of the greatest progress. In the astonishingly slim window of a decade, Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union and transformed it from the laughing-stock of Europe to its ruthless conqueror. Some historians, of course, have even argued that Stalin's industrialization campaign, whose more than mind-boggling costs simply cannot be justified uniquely on the basis of its economic benefits, was undertaken with clear-eyed foresight of German fascism's insatiable drive for Lebensraum. (Many of the same historians, to be absolutely sure, will also point out that the ferociously arbitrary brutality of Stalin's collectivization policies in agriculture probably considerably reduced the resources the Soviet Union would have had its disposal against the Nazis, though not nearly so much as to cancel out the advances that came with rapid industrialization.) Stalin is a shockingly hard human being to like, considering the fact that he played such an important role in stemming the Nazi tide, but I will defend him in certain contexts. Will you seriously claim that Kim Jong-un, who is an unsurprisingly difficult human being to like, stands a position analogous to Stalin's? The difference between these monsters–for that is what they both are, if you can bear to look at the facts objectively–is almost as significant as the character flaws that qualify them as monsters:

    1) Backwards North Korea is a million times more backward, relatively speaking, than backwards Russia at the start of Stalin's tenure;

    2) North Korea possesses neither the early Soviet Union's capacity to rapidly develop its industry, nor the resources to make the coercion that goes along with rapid industrialization worthwhile

    No matter how much money the North Korean government diverts from its own people to its military, it will not be defeating the United States for the foreseeable future. If, on the other hand, the North Korean regime sent more of its resources to improving the country's infrastructure and agricultural industries, fewer people might starve. The behavior of such a regime is altogether beyond justification.
  10. #29
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    1) Backwards North Korea is a million times more backward, relatively speaking, than backwards Russia at the start of Stalin's tenure;
    That is a comically absurd statement. The DPRK is an industrialized nation with nuclear energy, heavy industry, satellites, IT, etc.

    No matter how much money the North Korean government diverts from its own people to its military, it will not be defeating the United States for the foreseeable future. If, on the other hand, the North Korean regime sent more of its resources to improving the country's infrastructure and agricultural industries, fewer people might starve. The behavior of such a regime is altogether beyond justification.
    Sounds just like talking points from the US State department or some western "human rights" pimping NGO. Total Monday morning armchair fantasizing to boot.
  11. #30
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    I will make the significance of my qualification, "relatively speaking", more explicit: North Korea in 2017 is probably less backward in an absolute sense than Tsarist Russia in 1917 in several categories (but certainly not all or even most categories), but, relative to the major powers of the day (Germany for Stalin, United States for Kim Jong-un, if I am right in supposing that you accept the analogy I intentionally formulated in such a way as to be unacceptable) and even relative to the average powers of the day, North Korea has significantly greater disadvantages today than Russia did. This becomes obvious when, in a counterfactual thought-experiment, one imagines that North Korea's government somehow embarks in the near-future on a massive industrialization campaign of the Stalinist kind (It seem clear to me, by the way, that Kim Jong-un's government apparatus does not possess much of the ultra-competence of the cadres that Stalin inherited from Lenin, which was certainly a critical ingredient in whichever successes one feels inclined to attribute to the young Soviet Union; take a look, for instance, at the propaganda the North Korean leadership regularly produces, all of which is characterized by merely perfunctory sloganeering and lazy catechism (and, incidentally, only mentions socialism as an after-thought), and none of which generates a fraction of the energy that Stalinist propaganda was able to extract from its Soviet consumers, despite the fact that both forms of propaganda employ transparently cynical falsehoods at a perhaps comparable rate). Ten years from now, then, let's suppose that North Korea's government spending not only triples, as it has from 2000 to 2014, but grows tenfold (which is, I will add for those of us with some sense of scale and reality, simply not going to happen) while its military industry likewise grows at a reliably and impossibly impressive compound rate. On the obviously absurd presupposition that all new government funding goes straight into the military, North Korean outlays for defense would amount to $30 billion (a sum that is, I feel obligated to add, itself already greater than the entire GDP of present-day North Korea). Do you really suppose that such a contemptibly meager military budget is going to tip the balance against a national military that receives $600 billion a year, that as of today leads the world in military research and development by a significant margin (measured in years, and certainly decades when measured against North Korea), and that, after accounting for all of its allies as well as actual foreign military bases must be called omnipresent in the most literal sense (with the exception of a few places like North Korea, I suppose)? Does Kim Jong-un himself really think he can tip such scales in such circumstances? It seems clear enough that he is either a moron or is predominantly concerned in the most narcissistic way about maintaining his impeccably tight grip on the North Korean state, the latter obviously being a good deal more likely.

    How talking points from the State department and NGOs figure into all this, I have no idea. It is obvious enough that representatives of the State department would in any case not waste a single breath in 'announcing' to the world that the United States knows that it would annihilate North Korea in a conventional war. What, then, are we talking about? Either we are talking about an American invasion of North Korea, which would presumably have a number of unconventional elements, but would clearly serve the interests of socialism much less well than the imperialist interests of the United States, or we are talking about nuclear war, which in my opinion, and not just in my opinion, has no place in building socialism. To fight the class war with hydrogen bombs would be like going to the pond to fish and shelling the water, or rather it would be like something a good deal more idiotic and antisocial than even that.
    Last edited by New Guard; 21st November 2017 at 02:05.

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