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Posts Tagged ‘socialist state’

“It is of course true that Marx and Engels acknowledged the obvious, namely, that the overthrow of capitalism demands the overthrow of its state. For them, the political aspect of the proletarian revolution exhausts itself in overwhelming the capitalist state apparatus with all the means required to this end. The victorious working class would neither institute a new state nor seize control of the existing state, but exercise its dictatorship so as to be able to realize its real goal, the appropriation of the means of production and their irrevocable transformation into social means of production in the most literal sense, that is, as under the control of the association of free and equal producers. Although assuming functions previously associated with those of the state, this dictatorship is not to become a new state, but a means to the elimination of all suppressive measures through the ending of class relations. There is no room for a “socialist state” in socialism

though there is the need for a central direction of the socialized economy, which, however, is itself a part of the organization of
the associated producers and not an independent entity set against
them. 

Of course, for reasons not as yet discernible, this might be altogether
utopian, as thus would be a socialist society in the Marxian
sense. It has to be tried in a revolutionary situation if a serious
effort is to be made to reach the classless society. It may be forced
upon the workers by objective conditions, quite aside from whether
or not they understand all its implications. But it may also fail, if
the proletariat abdicates its own dictatorship to a separately organized
new state machine that usurps control over society. It is
also not possible to foresee under what particular concrete social
conditions the revolutionary process might unfold, and whether or
not the mere extension and intensification of dictatorial rule will
degenerate into a new state assuming independent powers. Whatever
the case may be, it is not through the state that socialism can
be realized, as this would exclude the self-determination of the
working class, which is the essence of socialism. State rule perpetuates
the divorce of the workers from the means of production, on
which their dependence and exploitation rests, and thus also perpetuates
social class relations. 

However, it was precisely the attempt to overcome the apparently
utopian elements of Marxian doctrine which induced the
theoreticians of the Second International to insist upon the state
as the instrument for the realization of socialism. Although they
were divided on the question of how to achieve control of the
state, they were united in their conviction that the organization of
the new society is the state’s responsibility. It was their sense of
reality that made them question Marx’s abstract concepts of the
revolution and the construction of socialism, bringing these ideas
down to earth and in closer relation to the concretely given possibilities. 

Indeed, the construction of a socialist system is no doubt a
most formidable undertaking. Even to think about it is already
of a bewildering complexity defying easy or convincing solutions.
It certainly seems to be out of reach for the relatively uneducated
working class. It would require the greatest expertise in the understanding
and management of social phenomena and the most careful
approach to all reorganizational problems, if it is not to end
in dismal failure. It demands an over-all view of social needs, as well as special qualifications for those attending to them, and thus
institutions designed to assure the social reproduction process.
Such institutions must have enough authority to withstand all irrational
objections and thus must have the support of government
which, by sanctioning these decisions, makes them its own. Most
of all, the even flow of production must not be interfered with
and all unnecessary experimentation must be avoided, so that it
would be best to continue with proven methods of production and
the production relations on which they were based.

– Paul Mattick, Marxism: Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie?  Armonk, New York: M. E. SHARPE, 1983. pp. 160-162.

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