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  • What Is Socialism Nowadays? (II)
Published 17 September 2014
There is no way you can sustain Socialism without a healthy and sufficient production of goods and services for all.

Before going ahead with the theoretical and practical purpose of this essay, we should establish various concepts of political economy and political philosophy, as also a short display of the historical development of society.

Let us start with political economy by stating two concepts: 

Economic Growth is the increase of goods and services production in a determinate territory (of a state) and evidence of it is taken through the indexes of economic growth that are Gross Internal Production (GIP) and Personal Annual Income (PAI), this last taken by dividing the first among the population. 

Development is measured in a different way. It is directly related with the access of the population to goods and services, this means how much of the population of a determinate territory gets a constant and sufficient share of energy, running water, alimentation, housing, health, education, culture, recreation. 

There are many other subjects that can be addressed regarding the above concepts like the territorial rent and the profits of manufacture, the concentration and distribution of both, the limits of growth, etc. Nevertheless for the proposal we'll explain later it is enough with grasping the above idea about Growth and Development because although they are different they may also be related to one another.

The thing is that Growth precedes Development. First you have to produce then you divide or share out. There is no way you can develop without impelling the production of goods and services. Perhaps it is better to state that you must produce to divide and share. This is why both concepts although different have a direct relation of precedence of the first over the second. 

Another interesting concept is that of the enterprise. As far as we know the enterprise is a unit where Capital factor meets Labor factor and delivers goods under the guidance of an entrepreneur. There is no way we can see it differently because at the end it all comes to this, no matter how you name it: corporations, collective production units, cooperatives, etc. No matter how you call the person or staff that puts together capital and labor in order to obtain the production of goods (owner, management, coordinators and workers officials or workers delegates), to produce goods and services you need capital, labor and someone to make both function together.

We explain something that is obvious because there is a trend in the leftist and progressive people to demonize the enterprise due to what is believed to be its identification with big corporations that -as it is in the capital system- have abusively profited from the value that labor adds to production. As a result of this, we observe a permanent quest to find a different way (other than the enterprise) to join the Capital factor with the Labor factor in order to transform raw material and obtain goods and we do not think there is any. Of course you can change the ownership of the enterprise from private to public or mix, individual to collective. You may also change the concept of management from technocrats to elected delegates of the workers or a mixture of both, etc. But the enterprise as a production unit is only one and remains indivisible. 

Secondly, we think is useful to share with you concepts of political philosophy and facts of social history.

Gregariousness and selfishness or solidarity and egoism are immanences of all human beings. The predominance of one or the other depends of the social organization and is achieved through a process of socialization that starts in the family, continues at school and is completed when the person moves by himself in order to develop a way of living in the current social structure.

As an example, in the paleolithic tribal society, when human beings lived in caves and collected fruits and hunted together, gregariousness and solidarity where the predominant features of social behavior, but in Neolithic tribal society, when the stone age ends and individual human beings discover better ways to manufacture weapons, tame animals, learn to do grazing, sow and harvest, make pottery, then the individuals initiate their own patrimonies and along with it emerges the trend towards selfishness and egoism. This trend becomes predominant during the Slave, Feudal and Capitalist society and can only be reversed in the Socialist Society.

History tells and explains how the stronger individuals generally with enormous fortunes, leadership and capacity to manipulate sacred beliefs start to reign above people and their word and sword are the unique and holy mandate along with judicial superstructures that regulate an iniquitous system of slaves, servants, and subjects. The Monarchy, Republic and Empire of Rome, the disruption of power that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire that caused the emergence of numerous feudal states till their unification in absolutist reigns, portrait this clearly.

Then something extraordinary happened because individualism for long seeded on almost all the people but exercised by a few from positions of power started to gain a vocation for social change. The bourgeoisie that owned workshops and small factories and had their pockets full of gold and currency decided not to be subjects anymore of the absolute king and made an agreement with the common people to eliminate the kingdom and establish the Republic with a Bill of Human Rights for all. The French Revolution appeared as a social commotion that changed History.

Naturally, we all know that the proletariat whom were represented in the National Assembly by the Jacobins at the beginning of the Revolution had important influence in the Directory. Nevertheless we also know that historic conditions did not favored the state political control by the common people as they did favor the emergent class of the owners of production means, the bourgeois. 

The 9 of Thermidor (July, 27) of 1794, Saint-Just and Robespierre where guillotined and in the following days 80 Jacobins more and the representatives of the political right (La Montagne) took control of the Directory. Nevertheless, the situation was not calmed at all because the common people (proletariat) maintained the street pushing for their rights and to complicate the situation for the Directory, there was a serious menace of the crown restoration in progress in 1795. This created the necessary political climate for the action of a “savior” of the Revolution and that was Napoleon Bonaparte, who in the 18 of Brumary (November, 18) of 1799, executed a coup d´etat, and became Consul of the Republic of France.

The result of the social and political commotion the occurred in France between 1789 and 1799 was the establishment of Liberal-Bourgeois State in the form of a Republic that erased the society of privileges proper of the absolutist reign and, indeed, left for mankind large social and political advances that still today give basis to democratic societies.

The establishment of individual human rights after centuries without any was an enormous advance for humanity, nowadays in many countries -like in Venezuela- they are enhanced with political, social and environmental rights.

The diversification of the exercise of power through the so called division of powers is another inheritance from the French Revolution. The conception of the control among powers (Administrative, Legislative and Judiciary) in order to avoid that one of them (presumably the Administrative) grew to dominate society as the absolute king did in the past, out of the theoretical creation of Locke, Montesquieu, Constant and others, still exists and is applied in republics and constitutional monarchies but, although every power is vested with proper functions that cannot be invaded by the action of another, the conception of jealous control between one another has dissipated in modern days to give place for the application of the principle of collaboration of powers in order to fulfill the public policies of the state.

In the beginning the Revolution was influenced by representatives of the proletariat, the Jacobins, which had control of the Directory till July, 27th, 1794 (Thermidor) when Saint Just, Robespierre and eighty other Jacobins leaders were guillotined. From then on, decayed that wonderful collective effort to abolish the old form of society by “striking down traditions, renovating customs and uses, empting the human spirit of respect and the ideology of obedience”, like Alexis Tocqueville says in his work the “Antique Regime and the Revolution”.

The rightwing (Girondines) took over the Directory but were not able to control the masses that kept street actions and furthermore, were not capable to fight away the revolt organized by partisans of the monarchy in Octuber, 5th, 1795 and had to call in General Napoleon Bonaparte with his troops, who finally decided to seize power for himself as Consul on November, 10th, 1799 (Broumary).

The historical rise of the owners of the means of productions finally took political control and from then on the liberalism, as philosophical model of individualism, reigned without obstacles because they had the power to make the laws and ordain society with them. It is individual liberty and particular welfare the predominant issue. The State may only do what the law allows, while the individual can do all that the law does not prohibitsLaisser fair, laisser passer, defines the State action.

The communication of people with the organs of power was conducted by representatives and what begun as a social phenomenon highly influenced by the direct demands of the people became a representative democracy. Even more, due to the conscience the rightists (capitalists) had of the overwhelming number of the proletariat, elections were only exercised by those that appeared in a census with a determinate patrimony. In example, in the France of 1831 only two hundred thousand citizens voted in national lections out of a population of 37 million French. 

 In strict comparison of fundamental concepts, Liberalism and Democracy are antagonists. So says Juan Carlos Rey, a former professor of the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) in his forewords of a book written by Benjamin Constant (Liberalism and Democracy): i) while in Liberalism the individual has a natural right of liberty that the State recognizes and protects, inDemocracy that freedom is limited by law and in compensation the individual has a participation in the formation of the general will of the people through elections; ii) Liberalism assumes the Division of Powers as a necessity in order to avoid that one of them becomes absolute, while Democracyopposes such division (J.J. Rousseau: there are no limits to the sovereignty of the people; is not that one of the powers cannot extra limitate against the people, none of them may do it.); iii) Liberalism requires the sustainment of the rights of the minorities, while Democracy establishes that the minority has to submit to the will of the majority; iv) Liberalism gives a supreme value to the individual, while Democracy delivers a limited value to the individual; v) For Liberalism, liberty prevails over equality, while inDemocracy equality prevails over liberty.

To close the chapter we must say that the tremendous initial impact that the French Revolution had was in short time intervened by the true actors of the play: the Bourgeoisie. 

The bourgeoisie at the beginning had a tactical alliance with the proletariat to upraise against the absolute monarchy. The Jacobins, the left wingers of the Convention, started to operate politically while the poets created new names for the calendar months like Vendemairi for the time of vintage (September/October) or Brumairi to point out the mist of autumn (October/November) or Floreal to recall the blossom of flowers in spring (April/May) and the social scientists modified the duration of the week, hour and minute, among other things. Jacobins not only beseted the enemies of the Revolution but also took measures aiming at the construction of a transparent and healthy society founded on small proprietors progressing from their own labor skills, limitation of private property, control of the price of goods through the General Maximum Law, reduce the power of the rich and oppressors, imposition of rigorous taxes on landowners and great fortunes, redistribution of wealth and satisfaction of social rights (Decrees of the 8 and 13 of Ventose, 1793), confiscation of big fortunes of the enemies of the Revolution, Centralization of power in order to be more efficient in the use of the resources of the country, in opposition of the Federalism that atomizes power, as was promoted by the Girondins.

In mid 1794, the Bourgeoisie, the owners of the production means or, what is the same, the capitalist, decide to get rid of the Jacobins and cut the illusion of a social revolution and promote and execute the Thermidor Coup (July, 27th, 1794). Things returned to the only historic channel capable of upholding the only possible social changes and this happened because the development of the production factors gave more political capacity to the owners of the capital than to the workers that also emerged from the social disruption but not strong enough to prevail.

Finally and to arrive at a conclusion that serves the purpose of this essay we may say that: first, the economy is fundamental and dominates any political and social system and Socialism is no exception. There is no way you can sustain Socialism without a healthy and sufficient production of goods and services for all. Secondly, since the Industrial Revolution and later the French Revolution the named workshops and ateliers, turned into enterprises and they are the units were the Capital factor and the Labor factor join together to produce goods under a third element that coordinates. This is also common to all political and social systems. The vital difference between Capitalism and Socialism is about the ownership and the management of the enterprise as a mean of production. In third place, in Socialism gregariousness must predominate over selfishness or solidarity over egoism, but we also must take into account that centuries have passed having the predominance of the contrary, so when Socialist changes start to occur through pacific means (i.e. by electoral processes), the challenge is to induce, provoke, cherish the culture of solidarity and peace, overall among the young people. Fourth, the best lesson taken from the French Revolution is to enhance Democracy and the more direct the better; Socialism is only possible moving side by side with Democracy.


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