Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Critique of De Leon's First Stage Socialism and Labour Time Voucher

     Karx Marx had not intended for publication. As a result this text remains fragmentary and inconsistent. What Marx was dealing with in the Gotha Programme was communist society not as it has developed on its own foundations but, on the contrary, just as it was emerging from capitalist society.

 The Critique of the Gotha Programme remained an unfinished sketch which

          Karl Marx's discussion of the future socialist society remained fragmentary and experimental. He never attempted to offer a blueprint for a future socialist society. He remained convinced that the success of Socialism depended in the last analysis on the historical circumstances that by nature vary from one country to another. Karl Marx was at most times uncertain concerning the course which Socialism was to pass through. However, he remained convinced that the workers had no ideals to realise apart from setting free the elements of the new society with which the old collapsing bourgeois society is pregnant.

          Trotskyism, Anarchism and Bolshevism are heavy-handed definitions with 19th century traditions. They remain what they are: violent versions of socialism and everyone using them stands to be ridiculed. The International Union of Socialists, the Industrial Workers of the World and the Independent Socialist Party are all leftist petty-bourgeois anarchical movements embroiled in the post-WWI socialist movements. They follow the traditions of Leninism and vanguard political socialism interested by usurping political power from the state through Trade Union labour militancy.

          Thus De Leon's interest in Market Socialism under labour-time vouchers. After the workers have usurped political power from the state, the bourgeois class would automatically abolish itself and become a part of the classless socialist society; the bourgeoisie cannot be conceived to remain as a distinct sect within socialist society.

          To believe in first stage Socialism is to discredit the vision of Socialism as a universal realisation of a classless, moneyless and stateless society. Socialism can only be propagated through a socialist party organically composed of working class members. Socialism must not be spear-headed by a vanguard of think-tank intellectuals. After Socialism has been universally realised the need for a specialised leadership would abolish itself-the Socialist parfies would be disbanded. The eradication of capitalism would denote the end of the market system and commodity exchange.

          The whole edifice of De Leon's infatuation with Socialism hinges upon belief in first-stage Socialism under a market system in which the allocation of individual needs would be evaluated upon an exchange mechanism. Labour time vouchers do not differ from money; they are all units of labour exchange. The critics of Karl Marx fail to appreciate the differences between the two stages of Socialism and thus confuse the first stage of Socialism with the second stage. They fail to appreciate the fact that during the first stage the production relations still remain dependent upon the exchange values between different individuals unpacified from the class divisions inherent under the division of labour.

          It is only during the second phase of Socialism that the market system finally abolishes itself, when human labour is freed from money and taxes and that we can inscribe on the banners of working class the slogan: To each according to his needs, and from each according to his capabilities. Needs and talents are freed from money and price restrictions and become mere activities taking place in a classless and non-market society. Needs are not reckoned under demand prices in a scarcity society, but as an individual claim. Thus Socialism will achieve a universal high standard of living and would solve the riddle of poverty.

          Trade unions are representatives of working class organised industrial militancy against private capital. They fight for wage increments, not for the eradication of private capital. Trade unions cannot be turned into jumping boards to Socialism unless when these unions are under the influence of socialist agitators. Yet trade unions even under the influence of socialist agitators remain what they are: labour arbitration movements.

          Trade unions cannot exist under socialist society because there won't be a distinct class to defend.

          Trade unions are a phenomenon of antagonistic class interests and work to organise working class industrial resistance against private capitalism. Thus a vote for a trade union is a vote for a wage increment while a vote for a socialist party is a vote for unrestrained consumption.

          Under capitalism marriage, love and happiness become inhibited by income conventions. Free socialisation becomes restricted. Class barriers check and put limits upon labour mobility. The working class sanctify themselves under the protection of trade unions, the first expression of working class organised resistance against private capital.

          Thus trade union movements and labour associations cannot by themselves succeed in usurping political power from the state.

K. Mulenga, 

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