-- the contribution of the Socialist system
-- theoretical positions on Socialism as the first, lower stage of Communism
-- Socialism in the USSR - Causes of the victory of counter-revolution
-- The necessity and relevance of Socialism, Enrichment of our programmatic conception of socialism
Certainly we in the United States are now living through a period of fundamental restructuring in the economic system due to the global crisis of Capitalism today. However, a restructuring is not a revolutary activity when it leaves the old power structures and priorities in place. As the Theses declare in their opening:
The development of capitalism and the class struggle inevitably brought communism to the historical limelight during the middle of the 19th century.Communism is back in the limelight today in the United States, though seen through the lens of capitalist distortions and some liberal anti-communism.
However, the financial crisis forces fundamental questions before the working class and the capitalist class both, and in some ways capitalists have been more effective than the working class in responding. Just looked at in economic terms, the tally today would be capitalists $1.5 to $2 trillion, working class about zero.
There is much hope that this will change post-inauguration, with the administration of President-elect Obama. However, there are both good and disturbing signs of future plans. For example, the $700 billion fiscal kick-start to put people to work is a very positive down payment on what should end up being $1 to $2 trillion in funds if the need is to be met.
However, on the disturbing side one finds talk about the need to review "entitlements" like social security and medicare, two programs at the very heart of our limited but vital social support system for working people, and especially the elderly. Both these programs need to be protected and expanded, not reviewed due to a fake lack of resources for the Federal government. A good recent action that would argue against the idea that an attack on Social Security and Medicare might be waiting in the wings is the recent vote for the extension and expansion of the SCHIP program.
I say "fake lack of resources" in the paragraph above because the obscenely disproporationate distribution of wealth to the top 1% of the population's benefit has not been addressed. Until the distribution of wealth is made more democratic and realistic through very progressive and redistributive taxation, there should be no talk of anything but protecting and expanding programs that help working families, immigrants, the disabled, and the young. There is plenty of money available; it is just tied up in the hands of the very few richest people in the United States.
The Theses mentions that
Despite the various problems of socialist countries, the socialist system of the 20th century proved its superiority over capitalism and the huge advantages that it provides for peoples’ lives and working conditions.
While the anti-Soviet mill continues to spew out its selective and distorted vision of an evil empire, the reality was as more complex. The Theses outlines:
[E]veryone had guaranteed work, public free health care and education, the provision of cheap services from the state, housing, and access to intellectual and cultural pursuits.These are huge victories for working families and compare favorably to the United States, where there is much hunger, vast numbers of people without effective access to health care, housing is tenuous as shown by the mortgage crisis, and work is a disappearing luxury as the government's computers die under the onslaught of requests for unemployment insurance aid.
One can look at the Cuban experiment to see the flowering of the Socialist project in our hemisphere. While blockaded by the US, Cuba has continue to flourish and provide a good life to that nation's population. The US media forgets the blockade, which has been attempting to strangle Cuba. Capitalist and bourgeois media presents the problem of new cars in Cuba as if it were not due to the US embargo that prevents the cars from being imported but were somehow a result of the weakness of the socialism system. Capitalist media never mentions the thousands of doctors that Cuba has sent around the world to help the poor and those in need for free.
When viewed with an objective and partisan eye, the Socialist countries were and are able to provide a much healthier and more stable life for their working class populations.
Section A concludes that:
The gains that were undoubtedly achieved in the socialist states, in comparison to their starting point as well as in comparison to the living standard of working people in the capitalist world, prove that socialism holds intrinsic potential for dramatic and continual improvement in the lives of humankind and the development of the human personality.
The level of development of socialism in each revolutionary worker’s state was not the same and to a large extent was dependent on the level of capitalist development that existed when power was seized - an issue that must be taken under consideration when assessments and comparisons are made.
The most significant fact, however, is that the historic leap that was attempted and accomplished with the October Revolution in Russia as the starting point, gave an important momentum to the development of man, as the main productive force, in his scientific and technological achievements, in the advancement of his living standards, educational and cultural level.
What was historically new, was that this development concerned the masses as a whole, in contrast to capitalist development which is intertwined with exploitation and social injustice, with great devastation such as that, which occurred with the native populations in the American continent, in Australia, with the massive slavery system in the USA in the previous centuries, with colonial exploitation, with the anarchy of production and the ensuing destruction of the great economic crises, with imperialist wars, child labour and so much more.
The contribution and the superiority of socialist construction in the USSR should be judged in correlation with the imperialist strategy of encirclement that caused great destruction, continuous obstacles and threats. The imperialist strategy took various forms during different periods of revolutionary workers’ power (direct imperialist attack in 1918 and 1941, declaration of the Cold War in 1946, differentiated political diplomatic relations in relation to other states of Central and Eastern Europe).
This fact does not annul the need to focus our attention to internal conditions, to the economic-political relations, with the decisive role of the subjective factor in the dominance, development and supremacy of the new social relations.
There can be much discussion on these Theses. Certainly the assertion of the "decisive role of the subjective factor in the dominance, development and supremacy of the new social relations" deserves further exploration and discussion. The implication is that the ideological struggle is now on the forefront of the struggle for Socialism, a struggle that many see as decisive in regards to humanity's survival due to the prediliction for war and for destroying the environment that capitalism exhibits. Were subjective factors the primary reason for the victory for counter-revolution in the Soviet Union? Did the second economy that developed there play a decisive role as well? Did other issues? What was the relationship between the subjective and the objective/materialist contradictions that resulted in the set back to the workers of the Soviet Union that resulted in the loss of Socialism in that nation?
Regardless of the conclusions drawn the times have presented working people with fundamental questions to resolve:
How should our financial system be structured?
Why are we at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly elsewhere
What is globalization and how can working people unite to turn the positive aspects of globalization to our benefit and end the negative aspects that result in a race to the bottom of the wage scale, unemployment, and other social problems.
How can we fix the environment in a society whose financial system structurally demands the rape and pillage of every natural resource?
How can we develop a positive set of relations with our neighbors, tolerant of differences, and expressing strong internationalist solidarity with the working families, the working class, in every area.
How can we win peace in a capitalist system the demands resources and disrespects people? What are the contradictions in the social system that tend toward war?
How can the systemic and demonstrable impacts of racism be eradicated, such as the health differentials between Black and white people in the United States.
How can we create a society able to provide health care to all?
At the end of the day, the challenges demand a structural solution. Is Socialism the answer to the question: how can man survive for the next two hundred years. I think so. What do you think?