Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Wallpaper Heir Sinks On Yacht: World Continues to Go To Wrack & Ruin.......

A bit too much of the left blogosphere is reveling in the tawdry but minor issue of who's fit to board a plutocrat's yacht for my liking today. All good knockabout stuff no doubt, but hardly the key issue before us.

Why is it, after an unprecedented global financial crisis and a looming recession of uncertain dimensions, the Left is so very silent on what it would do differently? It's because we no longer have a vision of socialism I suspect. & we've even forgotten that we don't have one, so we busy ourselves with denunciations of this or that or, alternatively, the administration of things in what we perceive to be the most ameliorative manner available to us. The downfall of the Soviet Union casts a long shadow: when the '1917 moment' came to an end it left us all hesitant to speak convincingly of a different world. Who now know what a world 'built on meeting need, not generating profit' might actually mean?

Almost everyone is now against command-type centralised planned economies. So how much of the economy should be centrally controlled? Even the part anarchist-inspired advocates of parecon see the need for a balance of democratically generated 'nested' local and enterprise level plans coupled to some use of the market mechanism - but what should the balance be? Many people talk of workers control but the idea of constant meetings is some folks' idea of a nightmare. So how do we prevent super-democratic mechanisms turning into 'the dictatorship of the constantly committed': in other words, what kind of balance are we looking for between direct and representative democracy, whether in our political institutions or in any future forms of economic democracy? How do we organise to deal with disagreements over resource allocation - which are inevitable (e.g. between those that want higher wages, those that want shorter hours and those that more spent on welfare/educational functions) - if we get rid of a national plan completely. How do we close down whole industries - say nuclear power - on socially or ecologically progressive grounds if the workforce, impeccably working class quite often, oppose this?

God that last paragraph is naive, isn't it? What a bonzo, posting such 6th Form stuff I can hear the higher Theoreticians say. Fine. So tell me, someone. Because I can't really find anyone discussing this outside the rather sparsely populated discussion boards of Red Pepper.

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