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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Socialism, Schmocialism

WaPo:

Of course, if China permitted the establishment of unions, wages would rise. But for fundamentally political reasons — independent unions would undermine the Communist Party’s authority — unions are out of the question.

One of the myriad flaws with Marx is that he saw proletarian revolution as the only way to fix things for workers.  Ironically trapped by his own historical frame of reference--perhaps ossified around the time of the 1848 revolutions--I don't think he could anticipate the potential rise of unions a generation or two later.

Really, between stronger organized labor and the New Deal, I think the United States fended off socialism and revolution.  That's what is so infuriating about cries that ObamaCare is Marxist and whatnot: they're reality-challenged on many, many levels.

There's a reason the Chinese Communist Party resists unionization, and why Poland tried to destroy Solidarity.  Wanna avoid the Reds' taking over here?  Do things that obviate the need for revolution, like, you know...treating people decently.  Strong unions, universal healthcare, et al, are good for workers and good for your precious capitalism, too.

ntodd

December 13, 2012 | Permalink

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Comments

Other than his excellent critique of capitalism, Marx was pretty much full of soup, as my father used to say. The older I get the more convinced I am that it was his materialism and consequent determinism that led him wrong. I gave up on materialism but because I believe that equality and justice are real and moral obligations are as real as atoms and molecules, I'm a lot more of a socialist than I ever was.

Posted by: Anthony McCarthy | Dec 13, 2012 3:36:37 PM

I don't think he could anticipate the potential rise of unions a generation or two later.

Or, alternatively, he could foresee that barring actual revolution by organized labor, capital would one day tire of sharing and start clawing back the crumbs, to the point where state legislatures of the Upper Midwest get purchased by billionaires to bust unions, and the political elite keep making noises about the need to roll back more of the New Deal because The Deficit! is going to kill us all in our beds. Inequality has risen dramatically for decades, and capital is getting almost all of the pie again ... as is their whole raison d'être. This is why Marx felt that a victorious proletariat had to overturn the existing economic system, not simply win temporary concessions from it. Where I think Marx really went off the rails was in his requirement for violent revolution. It's as if transformative non-violent mass action were unthinkable.

Posted by: mds | Dec 14, 2012 9:16:21 AM

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