From: Manchester, U.K.
Many thanks for your work in producing such an interesting journal.
With reference to the April 2000 issue, the article by ‘Inter’ on ‘Stalin and the Theory of Socialist Reproduction’ demands a comment... the writer says that a worker in a capitalist factory is unhappy all day long, whereas (the reader is expected to think) in a socialist factory he would not be unhappy.
Observation of human nature shows that people who have not learnt to accept their daily work philosophically and have not acquired compensating personal interests for their free time, will not be happy in any factory, capitalist or socialist.
J. Harry Edwards
Inter replies :
I am very grateful that you raise such a relevant issue for socialist and communist construction as the ideological question side associated with the study of the relations of productions in this transitional period. You correctly note: ‘the writer says (with regards to the article ‘Stalin and the Theory of Socialist Reproduction' - My note) that a worker in a capitalist factory is unhappy all day long, whereas (the reader it is expected to think) in a socialist factory he would not be unhappy'. Needless to say the article in discussion was not meant to deal with the ideological side of the matter that basically comprises the massive transformation of the relation to the workers towards labour that has to take place during the period of socialist and communist construction.
Is it true that the worker is bound to be happy in a socialist factory? No, of course not, definitely not. Is it possible that the masses get satisfaction while working in the long run? Yes, definitely yes. However, it would be a terrible mistake to think that the material conditions of the new mode of production will create by themselves the new man. Much to the contrary, the creation of the new man is a long standing process of transformation of the way of thinking, in particular of the way man understands his relation to labour, whether labour is to remain a daily torture or, on the contrary, to become a gratifying satisfaction, a delight. It is, on the other hand, true that the completion of such a transformation requires such a development of the productive forces that was never reached in the Soviet Union.
The question of the ideological transformation of man in the first stages of the development of socialist society turned out to be a rather complex subject to which Lenin and Stalin devoted much of their revolutionary activity. Marx and Engels had produced the guidelines for the ideological transformation of man in communist society. They claimed that in communist society man will treat labour an a source of satisfaction, but they were not in a position to concretize the complexity of the ideological transformation of the formerly exploited masses in the period of the transition to communist society, never mind the low level of the development of the forces of production.
The ideological transformation of the new man in the first stages of the development of socialist society infers a complex interplay between the material and moral incentives to labour. By moral incentives here one should refer mainly to forms of non-material stimulation that brings moral gratification to the socialist worker for being productive to the socialist society. These forms of moral gratification are implemented by means of social recognition according to the values of the society. If you think about it, both forms of socialist stimulation, material and moral, are actually external to the particular process of production in which socialist society is regularly involved, the latter a being superior form of stimulation; in the form it emerged historically in the Soviet Union, it still has little to resemble the future communist forms of stimulation of labour. On the other hand, it would be unfair not to note the emergence of the communist approach to labour among the socialist workers in the first stages of socialist society. It is a well-established fact that the over-fulfillment of the technical norms in the Soviet factory by the most developed sectors of the working class during Stalin’s times implied the existence of a certain degree of satisfaction during the progress of the intrinsic process of production. This unequivocally becomes the embryo of the future communist approach to labour.
The material basis of socialist society provides the conditions for the ongoing process of the ideological transformation of the formerly exploited worker into a fully emancipated man to proceed. This long standing process of transformation is not straightforward, requires a continuous effort of self-education of the socialist masses led by most developed sectors of the working class. It is in this light that I wish to understand the last sentence in your letter: 'Observation of human nature shows that people who have not learnt to accept their daily work philosophically and have not acquired compensating personal interests for their free time, will not be happy in any factory, capitalist or socialist.'
From : Boston, Mass., U.S.A.
Enclosed is a revised and hopefully improved version of the article we recently sent to you on Mumia Abu-Jamal and the world proletarian revolution. If you and the Editorial Board see fit to publish our piece, we would greatly appreciate it if you would publish the enclosed, latest version.
We continue to be impressed with the high ideological level of the material that appears in Revolutionary Democracy and we unite with its optimistic, Stalinist revolutionary spirit as well as much of its content. Especially encouraging to us is the increasing emphasis on the contemporary situation of the revolution in India and its environs. Certainly, the Indian subcontinent is not only one of the most populous regions in the world but one of the most fertile for the proletarian revolutionary cause today.
The lead editorial in the April 2000 issue lays out clearly the revisionist betrayal of the Indian working class and the resultant triumph, however temporary, of the ‘Hindu communalist-fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’ as the leading trade union centre in India. Likewise, the material on the strikes of the Uttar Pradesh power workers was clear and seemed solid. Only the conclusion with its call for a ‘broad mass workers’ party’ seemed reformist - rather than placing the working class at the centre of the Indian revolution. The exposures of the BJP and the RSS in the second and third articles were valuable. Obviously, more such exposures of the reactionary forces in Indian state power are needed. Keep up the good work!
Finally, the article on the Seattle events as viewed by Steve Zeltzer, a US Trotskyite, did make a number of observations similar to our own - in the enclosed brief article entitled, ‘No to WTO!—The US Working Class Takes a Step Forward in Seattle’. However, our Stalinist focus was on the fact that (as we state in our first sentence), ‘On November 30th, 1999, for the first time in 50 years, a significant section of organized labour in the USA demonstrated opposition to important international policies of the US ruling class.’
Zeltzer’s first sentence describes the same Seattle events as ‘the biggest global victory for workers in decades.’ Depending on how many decades back we go certainly the Soviet led victory over world fascism 55 years ago, the victory of the Chinese national democratic revolution a few years later, the Cuban revolution 40 years ago or the Vietnamese national democratic revolutionary victory over US imperialism 25 years ago, among many others, were far more significant global victories for workers! Even the election of the Mongolian Communist Party back to power a few days ago represents a bigger global victory for workers than a one day take-over of the city of Seattle, WA. Rather than a significant victory, the anti-WTO forces in Seattle, including the Canadian workers, the other international representatives of workers from around the world, anti-imperialist fighters, the environmentalists, the anarchist youth, etc, made a successful beginning- in the fight-back against the WTO and other such agents of imperialism, headed by US imperialism.
For the US section of the international working class, the massive US worker opposition to WTO in Seattle represented a turn. As we described it, ‘...the organized section of the US working class which has tragically been broken away from the rest of the international working class for the past half century and has been allied instead with its own imperialist bourgeoisie, has begun, at long last, with the anti-WTO struggle in Seattle, to break with its own bourgeoisie and make links once again with the rest of the international working class.’ Unfortunately, a turn back toward the fatal embrace of the US imperialist bourgeoisie was taken this Spring when the AFL-CIO ‘s John Sweeney and Teamsters President Hoffa made a concerted effort to lead the organized section of the US working class once again to the banner of national chauvinism, protectionism, and anti-China (and anti-communist) bashing.
Our assessment of the Seattle events had contained the following:
In conclusion, the struggle continues-on both sides. There is no doubt that US led international capital will continue to negotiate among themselves as best they can with all their internal contradictions to try to achieve maximum unity of the exploiters over the exploited. They will continue to use and try to expand the WTO. They have the IMF and the World Bank. They have not given up NATO, the EU, the UNO, NAFTA, APEC, etc. Nor have they disbanded the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bildeberg Group, the Cecil Rhodes Group, et al.
On our side, the international communist movement will have to struggle for maximum unity of the international working class and for working class unity with the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. For the proletarian revolutionary cause one significant question is, will the working class of the USA be won back to the side of Clinton and US imperialism on the basis of protectionism, legalism, and great-nation chauvinism? Or will the US workers continue the journey, only just begun, away from the fatal embrace of their own imperialists and into the arms of their brothers and sisters of all lands-the international proletariat? Or will they be stalled half-way by the vacillation of petty bourgeois leaders of organized labour (Sweeney et al), ‘the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class’, and the petty bourgeois milieu of the environmental movement?
Whatever the ultimate answer to these questions, there is no doubt that the US section of the international working class has made its first significant positive contribution to the class in many years by opposing and exposing WTO in Seattle and there is no doubt that the cause of international capital was dealt a blow in Seattle in the Fall of 1999.
Zeltzer claims victory too easily. He fails to recognize the bitter struggle for power that will be required to win ‘victory’ over WTO and its imperialist sponsors. A struggle that will require a protracted war to win the hearts and the minds of the world’s workers for proletarian internationalism and communism. Consequently, Zeltzer buries the need for the establishment of proletarian vanguard parties of the proletariat and a new Communist International to lead the world’s workers and oppressed peoples to victory over US led imperialism. Instead, he concludes with the petty bourgeois democratic projection that somehow ‘internet and communication technology’ will enable the workers of the world to build a ‘new internationalism without borders and with complete democratic communication’.
Zeltzer’s contribution reminds us of the great warning of comrade Lenin: ‘For the proletariat needs the truth. And there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable, petty bourgeois lies.’ Toward a new Communist International.
With proletarian internationalist greetings,
Ray O. Light
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