Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stella criticise, but don't distort to win political points - Rajendra Bisessar

Stella in her article captioned “Guyana is no place for political wimps” dated Thursday January 5, 2006, may have concluded that we have a lot of political wimps around. She may be right as some are afraid to make their support for third forces and new parties open to the public.

Some of the bravest seem to be living outside of Guyana . Maybe their independence allows for that kind of bravery.

I have no problem with Stella criticising or for that matter broad-siding the PPP, however I am concerned about her pedaling misconceptions and distortions to de-educate readers, in her efforts to do so. Stella seems to be adopting the strategy of Roar, that of using ideology and calling the PPP communist. She writes, “It has been difficult to stave off the communist whip in the last year.” What is she talking about? Is she mixing up countries in her article?

She continues, stating that she is a socialist (she needs to define this) and adds that there is a significant difference between socialism and communism and that “most communist governments - apparently some do not - impose rules on society without feeling a need to explain itself to the people. I am not aware of the existence of any communist countries, socialist yes, according to the definition of the founders.

There was primitive communism and for a period the practice of Christian communism.

With regards to dictatorial rule, I have stated before that there are types of economic systems, forms of government and methods of rule. Some of the bloodiest dictatorships were in capitalist societies.

Obviously Stella understands the concept of socialism and communism differently from people like me, Dr. Walter Rodney, Dr. Cheddi Jagan and those who came up with the concepts in the first place. The issue here is not whether we accept or reject these concepts, whether we believe in them or not but whether we understand them.

It is important for us to operationalise concepts as we enter into discussions or we may be using the same words but meaning different things.

Karl Marx - recognised as the brain of the millennium by the BBC poll - arrived at his understanding of socialism/communism by his particular analysis of history and the way society was transformed in the past. It must be noted that Fredriech Engels and Vladimir Lenin also made tremendous contributions to the development of these ideas.

Marx, using the materialist dialectics, a methodology that he developed, arrived at a method of analysing history known as “historical materialism”.

Historical materialism accepts the existence of objective economic laws that caused the transformation from communal to slave to feudal and then to capitalist society and predicts the transformation of capitalism to communism. It concludes that the development of technology facilitated the development of the productive forces resulting in the division of labour. This caused the transformation of a society with collective ownership to one where private property became dominant; and created the technological basis for the enslavement of people which resulted in the rapid expansion of private property. Society became class-based and the state emerged to protect not only the collective but also the superior economic class and private property. In this sense the state is oppressive especially when the ruling class is threatened.

As technology continued, slavery became retrogressive and revolution resulted in the emergence of feudalism. In the same way, technology resulted in manufacturing and the emergence of the capitalist class. The peasants had to be freed from the land to enable them to move to the cities to work in the factories. This was accomplished by the capitalist revolution, the first of which was in England , where through civil war the capitalist class took power.

Slave, slave master, serfs, lords, worker, capitalists are referred to as production relations.

Marx came up with the law of the constant development of technology and the idea that specific relations of production corresponded to specific levels of ‘productive force' development. Production relations that facilitated the further development and utilization of technology for increasing benefits, become retrogressive and a brake to production at a certain stage of technological advancement. Revolution takes place and the old relations are replaced by new ones, which correspond to the new level of development of the productive forces and facilitate further advancement.

The question to be considered is whether capitalism would face the same fate as its predecessors or would it be the last of the socio-economic formations. The issues are whether capitalism continues to foster real growth and development; whether the production relations of capitalist, workers and the way it distributes society's wealth, income through profits on the one hand and wages and salaries on the other, have now become retrogressive and a brake to growth and development.

Dr. Rodney and other Marxists saw the major contradiction of capitalist society being resolved and capitalism being replaced by socialism/communism, where the workers in unity with the intellegentia and the peasants would become the owners of the means of production through public ownership and the new ruling political class, replacing the ruling capitalist class.

Now one may disagree, but if one were to use the terms, it has to be defined in the manner and within the framework of those who coined them.

The theory concluded that, because of the peculiarities of the transformation of capitalism to communism, a transition period was required. Socialism is regarded as the transition period. The principle underlying socialism is, “From according to ability, to, according to work done”, while the principle of the futuristic communist system would be “from according to ability, to, according to needs” on the assumption that high technology with the correct production relations would be able to cater for the needs of all. It also assumes a successful cultural revolution that transforms man's attitude.

As for Stella believing that “there is some merit to certain capitalistic notions, Marxists theory assumes spiral development where the development facilitated by the past that are positive are retained. In the search for alternative to the capitalist mode of production man has to define in a creative way alternatives. Mistakes can be made and historical retrogression can take place.

But history has a way of bringing up again for action, that which is historically necessary in accordance to the theory of praxis. This is why we need to educate and why Marxist books were banned in America and in other countries.

I have in my article “Rich capitalism poor capitalism” explained the two side of this system and pointed to the accelerated increase in poverty and inequality in countries and between rich and poor capitalism.


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