This is the third article in my series on having an economic transition prior to a political seizure of power, which stands in contrast to the dominant view in the radical left that emphasises the seizure of political power from which an economic transition is forced through. In this article I will attempt to argue the more constructive element of my argument in contrast to the more critical parts that came before this. But it needs to be said that my capacity to make this argument is limited as it requires extensive knowledge of history and economics, knowledge that I do not see myself as having yet in its entirety. Nevertheless I will try to construct at least a basic and fairly solid argument.
The previous two articles posted in this series are:
In short my argument is that it is necessary to construct a socialist mode of production within or besides the capitalist mode of production that is now in existence. Now sadly enough this line of thinking has been contaminated in the minds of radical leftists as it is chiefly associated with either naive young socialists with little theoretical basis for their arguments, or utopian socialists and hippies separating themselves from society to go live in communes. The prime object of this article is thus to disassociate this line of thinking from the people it is often associated with and provide at least a basis for a seriously argued position based on actual research and experience instead of lifestylist enthusiasm.
The position held by many advocating creating a socialist mode of production within capitalism bases itself on trying to make the socialist mode of production simply outcompete the capitalists. This notion is highly faulty and has directly or indirectly led initiatives like cooperatives or the kibbutz to start adopting capitalist practices and disregard their more or less socialist starting principles. The notion that socialism can outcompete capitalism is based around the idea that the capitalist market and economy works in a way that causes the more efficient businesses to outcompete the less efficient ones, the reality is naturally very different. The capitalist economy is naturally shaped to accommodate to capitalist businesses: logistical practices, financing methods, economic practices taught in business schools, mentalities towards work…etc. are all shaped by capitalism and are thus most effectively used by capitalist businesses. Therefore it is absurd to think a business that deviates from capitalism can adequately outcompete capitalist ones without adopting capitalism itself, as it will naturally clash with the limitations provided by the capitalist economy.
In contrast the socialist mode of production within capitalism should develop itself in a nature of struggle with the capitalism, not in a nature of competition. What this means is that the socialist mode of production should integrate itself with a wide struggle movement that can lay fire to the heels of the capitalist mode of production, and lower its economic capacity compared to the socialist one. It would mean not trying to compete or necessarily work within the capitalist market, but develop separate institutions that could at best make the socialist mode of production work within its own economic sphere and at worst shield it from the worst excesses of the capitalist mode of production. It would mean the forceful expansion of the socialist mode of production just as capitalism forcefully expands itself, nationalization based on workers control of companies that want to transport their facilities to low wage countries would be an example of this.
Also contrary to what I appear to be suggesting in my first article I do not completely reject the use of revolution. As for example the more limited, some would say political revolutions, are generally vastly more successful than their more invasive counterparts of the type the radical left argues for. And can be used to expand the reach and power of the socialist mode of production and the socialist movement. Although again the most effective policy to follow on the use of revolution is something that exceeds my knowledge at the moment and is also strongly determined by the local situation of the specific individual revolutions.
So in essence my position comes down to the attempt to build up a wide movement that can allow itself to be a dual power within society, and which has an expansive build up of economic means within its ranks that can challenge and encroach upon the capitalist economy, destroying the material base of capitalist society and actually preparing the working class for the management of society through real experience in the economy (this is for example particularly important in relation to getting socialist managers that can work on a democratic basis and have developed democratic practices, as they fulfill a crucial role in managing an economy yet are generally dominated by pro-capitalist sentiments). And very importantly this movement needs to be a durable one that can stick to its principles even under adverse conditions (something the left hasn’t done very well throughout the last two centuries), with a solid economic basis that can adapt itself to changing economic circumstances (not as the cooperative movement associated with the social democratic parties did, which generally just focused on accommodating to party members with most of the cooperatives consisting of things like bakeries and printing presses), and which consistently puts itself forward as oppositional towards capitalism.
Again the story I sketched here might have been somewhat vague while leaving a lot of questions open, nevertheless I hope I have been able to sketch at least a somewhat cohesive picture as to what could be a successful alternative towards the model of revolution for the socialist transition that is currently being presented by the radical left. But at this moment I feel that my capacity to further materialise my viewpoint will inevitably go towards asserting positions based purely on hollow rhetoric instead of actual research, something I think I have done already too much in this article. This further research I hope to conduct in the future and the progress of which I might detail in further articles on this blog.