THE BASIS OF A SOCIALIST MANIFESTO … Intro & Chapter 1: Capitalist Economy

The Transition To SocialismPublished: 5 May 2016.
Author: Jonathan Clyne (TSN Policy Coordinator).
Intro by: TSN Editor.

One of the key tasks agreed at the founding meeting of The Socialist Network in Istanbul in August 2012 was the need to discuss and develop a Socialist Manifesto. It is hoped that 2016 will be the year when we are able to deliver on this commitment.

An important contribution towards such a Manifesto is the first draft of a book currently being written by Jonathan Clyne entitled ?The Transition to Socialism?. The early Chapters of the book have recently been the basis for a series of discussions on the TSN?s international Coordinating Committee. As a result of the discussions Jonathan has reorganised the book and updated its content.

Below is then updated Introduction and a new first chapter entitled Capitalist Economy. The  chapters that follow are being prepared for publication shortly on our website. For this discussion around the book we wish to encourage the widest participation and feedback from members of the Network and the socialist movement in general.

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Mandela and the communist spirit

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Nelson Mandela’s death aroused a global chorus of praise for the man and his work. At the premiere of his biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wept when news of Mandela’s death reached her and Prince William. Bill Gates, who, with $67 billion, is the second richest man on earth, expressed profound admiration for Mandela’s struggle against apartheid and his campaigning on HIV/AIDS issues.

For the wretched of the earth – its 2.4 billion people living on less than $2 a day – Mandela was also their hero. This global carnival of tears; this celebration of his life and struggle, this festival of memories of revolutionary dreams is classless. Mandela’s death signals a momentary lapse into a universal emotional state that commemorates the colossal revolt of the masses against oppression. By unifying the psychic state of the princess and the pauper, the billionaire and the beggar, Mandela, in death, has awakened a moment of global mental unity, in which the idea of communism – of a society where there are no classes – temporarily penetrates the universal mind.

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Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice — part I

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Democratic socialists believe that the individuality of each human being can only be developed in a society embodying the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. These beliefs do not entail a crude conception of equality that conceives of human beings as equal in all respects. Rather, if human beings are to develop their distinct capacities they must be accorded equal respect and opportunities denied them by the inequalities of capitalist society, in which the life opportunities of a child born in the inner city are starkly less than that of a child born in an affluent suburb. A democratic community committed to the equal moral worth of each citizen will socially provide the cultural and economic necessities ? food, housing, quality education, healthcare, childcare ? for the development of human individuality.

Achieving this diversity and opportunity necessitates a fundamental restructuring of our socioeconomic order. While the freedoms that exist under democratic capitalism are gains of popular struggle to be cherished, democratic socialists argue that the values of liberal democracy can only be fulfilled when the economy as well as the government is democratically controlled.

We cannot accept capitalism?s conception of economic relations as ?free and private,? because contracts are not made among economic equals and because they give rise to social structures which undemocratically confer power upon some over others. Such relationships are undemocratic in that the citizens involved have not freely deliberated upon the structure of those institutions and how social roles should be distributed within them (e.g., the relationship between capital and labor in the workplace or men and women in child rearing). We do not imagine that all institutional relations would wither away under socialism, but we do believe that the basic contours of society must be democratically constructed by the free deliberation of its members.

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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?

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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

Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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On the irrationality of modern capitalism


Many on the left still seem to be trapped in the strange concept of ?human nature? as something solid, rigid and fixed. And to justify this ? rather having little to do with science ? approach they claim that in fact, ?human nature? is predisposed for socialism which many aspects of today?s capitalist decay show. Such a reasoning can only be described as utopian.

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No matter what social and economic transformation in history we take it has never been based on any kind of shifts in human nature, but on conditions around the people, that is around the ?humans? and their ?nature?. And no matter how important the latter is it can hardly have any priority before the first. What we should be looking for is not socialist traits in human nature but processes within capitalism that exhaust its possibilities and render existing relations among human beings obsolete.

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