Meszaros says that communism concerns control and asks:

> what sort of control? In the past it was assumed that political control would do

It was not political control that was at the heart of Communism but
the control of the means of poduction, short and simple. Communism is
effectively about people controling there own production. In fact, in
the sense he seems to be inferring, political control (i.e. via the
state) is precisely what communism seeks to surplant. The phrase 'the
withering away of the state' as a definition of communism comes to

> If you look around the world today, most of the former communist
> parties have abandoned the name 'communist'. The original CPGB now
> calls itself the 'Democratic Left'.

Well a small section of reformist members who won control of its 
assets do (and some of them may still consider themselves to be
communists regardless of the party name). There was an interesting
article on its collapse posted to the Marxist-Leninist list I'll check
the url if anyone's interested. 

> In the former Soviet Union and the east European countries, there
> has been a complete change, a complete abandonment of all
> principles. The former communist leaders of eastern Europe have
> turned themselves into capitalists

It was the captialism forces both within and without the CPs which
brought about these changes not because they changed their minds but
that the economic conditions changed with pressure from Imperialism. 
This meant that their own economic interests no longer accorded 
with communist priniclples but with the re-introduction of the 
capitalist market. The same forces have also arisen in China and 
Cuba but for the time being they haven't brought about the same 

He then goes on to Stalin (ignoring Lenins advocation of the same
point - and I presume even Trotsky!):

> For him, communism meant overtaking the United States in coal, pig
> iron and steel production. How seriously can you take any notion of
> 'communism' which defines the idea in such totally vacuous and
> utterly fetishistic terms. You can double the United States pig iron
> production, and you have not moved one inch in the direction of
> communism.

Communism is exactly about the question of production. Without large
scale production (regardless of its relation to other countries) it
would be impossible to bring about the radical shift necessary from a
largely backwards, peasant-ridden, mostly agricultural society 
(as almost all these countries were) into an industrial one. But 
perhaps Meszaros' view of communism has more in common with Proudhon 
and some anarchists view of small farmholds. A sort of peasant 
society without the feudal lords and other classes bothering them. 
There can be no move to what Marx's means by communism except in 
relation to the improvement of production to provide for all and not 
just a few.

The other problem with Meszaros' obsessive attacks on 
so-called Stalinist communism is that he does what many do when 
attacking these countries and that is to start out by attacking first 
a hate-figure like stalin and then the communist parties and then to 
slip un-noticed the 'fact' that these countries were Communist. It is 
not a mere oversight that the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics was 
not the USCR as it made no claim to have attained Communism, the 
state had far from withered away (in fact it was quite openly a 
dictatorship of the proletariat). They did not claim that one could 
build 'communism in one country'. No one was more aware of the then 
inability to achieve a move to a communist society than the people in 
the Communist Parties. 

What they achieved was not communism but what they did show was that 
a break from Capitalism in the intense period of Imperialism was no 
longer merely a Utopian pipe-dream. Those who condemn these countries 
out-of-hand (such a Simon's 100 year old SPGB) have to come to terms 
with the fact that their belief in the transition to Communism - if 
not a Utopia - has not got off the planning stage. Which after a 
century and a half would certainly convince me that Marx was just 
wrong or at least so wildly optimistic that we can have no idea how 
long capitalism will last. Marxism then slips from a science of the 
historical development of human society to quasi-religious belief 
that humanity must be liberated one day. For some that is solice 

I could go on but I have to have something to eat. I will be back.

John Walker

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