I enjoyed and appreciated the Meszaros article very much (as I seem to
whenever he puts pen to paper).  Thanks to Jim for the post.

Writes John:

>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

I'd remind John that, given the circumstances that pertained, and given
Bolshevik responses to those circumstances, 'actually existing socialism' in
the SU was indeed marked by close political control at the centre -
throughout its 70-year history.  Economic control resided there, too.  And
there was trouble in Moscow's streets by 1920 for this very reason.  I'm not
interested in rearguing whether there was any alternative to the April
Theses and to what I see as their bureaucratically centralist legacy, I just
suggest that the communist rhetoric vis the death of the state was not quite
what happened in fact.

>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.

I happen to think 'socialism in one country' was not ever gonna cut it in
the SU.  It's just what they were stuck with.  And communism is about the
democratic control of production, John - or at least a path coherently laid
in that direction.  I dunno if that's what was happening in the SU.

>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. 

Meszaros is a real comrade, for mine.  This article is not anti-communist,
John.  For Meszaros, communism is humanity's only hope in the long run, I

>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). 

We all seem to have different ideas as to what a dictatorship of the
proletariat means.  That transition is a difficult and fragile time,
requiring organised responses and much vigilance, is fair enough.  Muscovite
proletarians and a lot of hitherto loyal sailors and an awful lot of
peasants quickly got to find out that whatever kind of dictatorship was in
train, they were most definitely not part of it.

>They did not claim that one could 
>build 'communism in one country'. 

Fair enough.  They got left holding the baby after Germany went pear-shaped,
and no mistake.  Eventually it was officially decided that this was to be
the new revolutionary warcry, and Lenin's name was invoked in its defence.

>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. 

Less so now than then, I reckon.  But for now the problem is not one of
sustaining the revolutionary project; it's one of seeing if we can't help
people to see their interests and potential as we see them (we're not at
third base in terrible times; we're reaching for first in times that seem
politically tantalising to some - well, to me, anyway).  That's the bit
concerning Meszaros now, I reckon.  It bothers the hell outa me, anyway.

>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. 

Where I am with Simon is the sensibility that we're not at the planning
stage until lots'n'lots of people are engaged.  And then they'll be part of
the planning, too, eh?  I've never worn that 'saviours waving the programme
at the masses' stuff.  Don't reckon it gets you to democratic socialism, you
see.  Also don't reckon it'd be as useful an agitational banner as it once
was, either.

But that's me.


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