"Real" Socialism Wouldn't Work? Kevin McFarlane's Attempt at Criticizing non-State Socialism.

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Maphisto86's picture
Maphisto86
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Aug 3 2011 08:28
"Real" Socialism Wouldn't Work? Kevin McFarlane's Attempt at Criticizing non-State Socialism.

I am surprised I did not come across this article sooner since it was published way back in 1992. It is often typical in form and function to usual right-"libertarian" arguments against common ownership and economic democracy. It is a paper by one Kevin McFarlane of the so-called Libertarian Alliance newsletter, which I believe is still in print. The link can be found here: link . Still at the very least I appreciate McFarlane's attempt at addressing socialists who are not automatically lumped as Bolsheviks and addressing proposed libertarian theories on applying socialism. Still it lacks specific anarchist ideas concerning a non-market economy, instead relying mostly on Trotskyist literature. The closest analogue to libertarian communism is from the "impossiblists" over at the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

I am sure many of you have seen these issues or concerns addressed elsewhere but I am a neophyte still pondering the practicality of anarcho-communist ideals in todays society. True in a revolutionary era changes of great import would occur but I doubt anyone would embrace communist ways of organizing production if people were not convinced it would create conditions above scarcity and not chaos. Wrong or not, I often here similar claims voiced by Kevin McFarlane in everyday discourse when discussing the infeasability of a non-market economic order.

yourmum
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Aug 3 2011 09:23

your link needs a dot removed at the end to work. will read this, thanks.

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Aug 3 2011 16:36
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Note that, according to Marxism, Kylie Minogue is exploited be- cause she does not receive the full income from her record sales. She may receive something like 15% of the retail price. The profit is collected by her record company bosses who probably, individually earn substantially less than she does. This is an ex- treme example but it just shows how stupid the Marxian theory of exploitation really is.

laugh out loud laugh out loud laugh out loud , it's not an extreme example. It is a stupid pedantic and borderline irrelevant example! I think Marx would be more concerned with the production of the records, taking into account the mode of production rather than, ya know, just Kylie Minogue in a magical vacuum. However, I think an interesting critique of my position here, is what does labour theory of value mean in the age of digital reproduction (MP3s?).

In all honestly though, i haven't read all the article yet, just skimmed some of it. The section on the 'morality of the market' section looks like a nice bone to chew/stew on....

Maphisto86's picture
Maphisto86
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Aug 3 2011 20:07
yourmum wrote:
your link needs a dot removed at the end to work. will read this, thanks.

I edited my post accordingly! Thanks for pointing that out as I always seem to make that very mistake.

As for the contents of the article, I think that McFarlane, despite some of his old canards concerning socialism, brings up a good point about the division of labour in a world without heirarchy or traditional market factor concerning jobs. For example he brings up the problem of job allocation. If a society is truly free then people should be able to persue any occupation they wish. Of course in the real world there can only be so many engineers, doctors, etc for a specific task or project. How a non-market system without coercive forms of planning would handle this is something I have never heard explained in any great detail.

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Aug 17 2011 21:03

The solution to the division of labor is simply to get rid of labor. Coercive economic planning is not concerned with specific occupations so much as time. Capitalists dont care what job we do so long as we spend 40+ hours per week doing it plus another 1-3 hours per day commuting there at our own expense. Two things you should read are "The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black and "Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs" by the Curious George Brigade. Black's essay breaks down the problem of work while 3 chapters of the latter "book" explains an alternative to work that they call "affinity groups." Instead of dividing life into work (productive and unpleasant activity) and play (unproductive and maybe pleasant activity) anarchist economics aims to make productive activity playful and frivolous activity far more enjoyable.

As to your question about elitist intellectually restricted labor, the answer is you share it. If children were not "educated" in schools but rather learned by accompanying parents, friends, and neighbors to meetings of affinity groups, and taught one-on-one by same trusted adults, then the collective intellectual capacity and creativity would be much higher. This would allow all people to share not only the fruits of their labor, but the (hopefully) enjoyable labor itself - whether it be gardening, cabinet making, architecture, computer assembly, brain surgery, or just sitting around smoking pot. And none of those activities can be mutually exclusive or intellectually exclusive. Grow tomatoes on monday, build a house on tuesday, smoke pot on wednesday, do doctory things on thursday, design a house on friday, smoke more weed while growing strawberries on saturday, have lots of sex on sunday, then build the new house on monday, more doctory things on tuesday, play football wednesday, etc. You meet up with affinity groups on a free flowing or democratically decided upon schedule.