FEASIBLE SOCIALISM — a concrete programme for the left (part 4)

This article is a the last from the series of texts by Harry Ratner, a British longstanding socialist activist. Part I, part II and part III have been published previously on our website. Your comments are welcome.

The Democratisation of the State

The ?state? has been mentioned several times in the sections dealing with overall economic planning. What sort of state is envisaged?

Certainly the existing state machine has inbuilt obstacles to the achievement of socialism ? for example in Bretain the fact that parliament has no real control over the cabinet, which can declare war, introduce a state of siege, etc, without parliamentary approval, the House of Lords, the royal prerogative, etc, etc.

A radical restructuring of the state machine to widen democratic control and initiative from below is obviously necessary. But this does not mean that socialists cannot or must not use existing institutions. So long as parliament is still relatively freely elected, and so long as alternative structures have not arisen naturally, as a result of social movements, it is ludicrous for socialists to talk of ?destruction of the state machine? and its miracolous replacement by non-existent ?soviets?.

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P2P and Marxism II ? How does P2P collaboration differ from other forms of collaboration?

Collaboration has existed before P2P production and many different forms continue to exist side by side with it. It could therefore be easy to dismiss P2P as nothing new under the sun. Yet that would be a mistake. Several things make P2P unique. In order to understand that it is worth comparing with other forms of collaboration.

The most common form of collaboration, outside the private sphere, exists at any workplace. Simply in order to get the work done people must collaborate. Superficially, it would be easy to identify the difference between P2P and other collaboration on the work place by saying that collaboration at a workplace is based upon bosses deciding and ?creating? a team. Formally speaking that is true, but in practice, collaboration at most workplaces is, like P2P, more of a bottom up collaboration.

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P2P & Marxism — the death of an old model

In order to change society it is necessary to understand it. Especially new phenomena that can give a hint as to what is in the making. One important new trend has been peer-to peer production, a new voluntary form of cooperation whose products are shared freely. Based on the previous discussion on this website, here is another contribution to the discussion.

The peer-to-peer movement has been accused of utopianism. While it is true that some pretty far fetched ideas exist in the movement (as in any movement), it is absurd to accuse something which has been developing by leaps and bounds in the past 10-15 years of being utopian.

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Left behind modern times

The left in general lives far too much in the past. Society screams for radical solutions, but the left is seen as the defenders of the status quo because it lacks an alternative. The vicious demagogues of the so-called populist and extreme right parties and movements such as the Tea Party in the US are filling the gap.

Source: freedigitalphotos.net
Source: freedigitalphotos.net

As for the other sectors in society: revolution is ?le mot du jour? (Fr., ?the word of the day?): they speak about the technical revolution, the digital revolution, the bio-technical revolution, the scientific revolution, or talk about the need for a revolution in education, in business models, etc. The matter of fact is, that the only people who don?t speak about revolution, is the revolutionary left. Lots of examples ca be given. Workers understand that you won?t solve the budget crisis, the debt crisis, the migration crisis, mass unemployment, etc. with a tax on wealth or the establishment of a public bank. They know that radical measures are needed.

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