Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

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Joe H

Thanks, that clarifies matters. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but here is another question that inspired some of this.

Ernest Mandel has an article called “Why The Soviet Bureaucracy is not a New Ruling Class” which is the clearest expression of the orthodox Trotskyist view I could find. The substantial point behind this is that “Stalinism, the victory of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, is the result of partial defeats of world revolution.” I.e. we anti-capitalists don’t have to worry too much about bureaucratic rule, it will take care of itself. He argues that we shouldn’t call it a new class because it’s not stable in the way the owning class is, and would be swept aside without much trouble by workers in the absence of outside pressure. Why is it not stable? Well, as opposed to capitalists who have an interest in expanding production, which perpetuates the system and reproduces their class, the interests of the bureaucrats get in the way of production and destabilise their own position. In the end they wouldn’t be able to reproduce themselves in the face of worker opposition. With outside pressure they might slide back to capitalism (which happened after he wrote this). So let’s not bother calling them a class.

He has lots of other points and I can guess some of the answers you might give to many of them. What do you think about the argument paraphrased above? Roughly, don’t bother putting so much stress on “bureaucracy” or “co-ordinatorism”, whatever you want to call this group they’ll be a push-over after we deal with the owners. Their rule is a transient thing and not to be compared to stable economic systems. I guess you think that (a) a less bureaucratic, more desirable system could have been achieved in the USSR even without world revolution if more anti-captialists of the time had recognised the problem, (b) even with world revolution we might get stuck with co-ordinatorism. Now, (b) seems to entail that you think such a system wouldn’t immediately implode, that they wouldn’t be a push-over. Why do you think that, if so? Do you have an opinion on how stable that system could be or what would happen afterwards if not? It’s difficult to see how we could know that given the state of our understanding (which I think Marxists sometimes overestimate).