Socialist accumulation - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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As either the transitional stage to communism or legitimate socio-economic ends in its own right.
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By Paradigm
#14265439
When the Soviet Union started, it created several workers' councils, otherwise known as "soviets," which gave workers control over the means of production, just as socialists had always advocated. However, this didn't last long before the state stepped in and took command of the economy, implementing 5-year plans that directed what the soviets would produce through a centrally planned economy. This has often been criticized as a step away from socialism, and in many ways it was. But the idea behind it was that of socialist accumulation. The idea was to provide a counterbalance against capitalist primitive accumulation, so that instead of empowering private capitalists, it would empower the worker's state in order to achieve victory over capitalism. The Soviet worker's state needed to be able to compete against the capitalist west at its own game, and this central planning was the way they went about doing it.

While I have problems with the way the Soviet Union went about it, I think all socialists, including anarchists, need to consider socialist accumulation as a revolutionary strategy. One way this can be done is through worker co-ops. One of the competitive advantages of worker co-ops is they don't really need to earn a profit, because they just have to make enough for the workers to be compensated as part of overhead costs. However, co-ops could engage in profit-seeking ventures and put all their profit into some mutual aid society that would connect different co-ops and credit unions together. The accumulated funds of this mutual aid society could be used to help struggling co-ops get back on their feet, or to help finance new co-ops, thus spreading the network of co-ops and creating greater ruptures in the capitalist system.

This, of course, is just one more method of socialist accumulation to consider. I'm sure there are other possibilities as well.
Last edited by Paradigm on 03 Jul 2013 03:36, edited 1 time in total.
#14265443
Socialism has to arise in a globally dominant or at the very least self reliant location; without this no plan possible can halt the inevitable push backs by capitalism, so says the prophet Marx.


ps: Unless we get replicators. Fuk all economic systems if we get replicators.
#14267121
First of all and IMHO, the soviets did not just get replaced by state-planning just like that.

After the October Revolution brought the soviets to power through the convocation of a multiparty All-Russian Soviet Congress, attempts were made to implement workers' control in the economy.

However, clashes between workers and management led to the near-total shutdown of Petrograd's factories and plants; The Soviet authorities moved to establish a Supreme Council of the National Economy (VSNKh) and to nationalize key industries as to prevent owners from closing them down in the chaotic first months of 1918.

According to The Bolsheviks In Power, 'spontaneous workers' control, coupled with these institutional zigzags, only caused the further disintegration of Petrograd industry'

From the start workers' control proved to be unmanageable, leaving the economy more prone to collapse as factory committees warred for control of local industry.

And by 1918, the Soviet revolution was prone to turmoil caused by unrest from workers and sailors, foreign intervention, and/or domestic counterrevolution.

Furthermore, even if the soviets had gotten there way and regional workers' control was implemented nationwide this wouldn't have solved the myriad economic problems permeating revolutionary Russia.

Hence the decision to centralize the economy by 1918, which was in free fall at that time due in part to the chaos caused by workers trying to take over industry from management.

A similar example can be found in the Chinese Revolution of 1949, wherein the Chinese Communist Party sought to prevent the destruction of the economy by safeguarding certain key industries from expropriation.

Later, these industries were nationalized in the 1950's after the 1949 revolution but at the time (the late 1940's) the communists feared the economy's deterioration in the northern base areas.

In both Russia's and China's case, management of the economy proved to be a delicate affair, and in Russia's case workers' control threatened to break the economy which was already under stress by 1918.

Revolutions are full of zigzags and sharp turns, making such concepts as workers' control and expropriation of the expropriators harder to carry out.
#14944543
Paradigm wrote:
[A]ll socialists, including anarchists, need to consider socialist accumulation as a revolutionary strategy. One way this can be done is through worker co-ops. One of the competitive advantages of worker co-ops is they don't really need to earn a profit, because they just have to make enough for the workers to be compensated as part of overhead costs. However, co-ops could engage in profit-seeking ventures and put all their profit into some mutual aid society that would connect different co-ops and credit unions together. The accumulated funds of this mutual aid society could be used to help struggling co-ops get back on their feet, or to help finance new co-ops, thus spreading the network of co-ops and creating greater ruptures in the capitalist system.

This, of course, is just one more method of socialist accumulation to consider. I'm sure there are other possibilities as well.



Maybe you can elaborate on how this approach would be revolutionarily progressive at all -- I've heard this kind of 'market socialism' before and it just sounds equivalent to worker-owned workplaces, which we already know to be collectively self-exploiting.

In other words localist co-ops would have to be *competitive* in the existing capitalist marketplace in order to even *exist*, requiring worker co-managers to increasingly *exploit* themselves, as businesses do.

I also don't understand why the yardstick should be one of *capital* (for alleged socialist accumulation), instead of a more communist-type *direct distribution* of materials, as empirically necessary -- if people are *politically* on-board with socialism then they would willingly collectivize (socialistically-accumulate) whatever infrastructure and resources would be appropriate to that general task.
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