Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Why Syriza Cannot Buckle - Part 4 of 7

In reality, the forces of conservatism, that seek not only to prevent any further move forward of society towards socialism, but even to turn the clock backwards from the existing bourgeois social democratic state, to some previous period of liberalism and beyond, have already begun to establish their own organisations to those of the existing bourgeois social-democratic state. That is what the paramilitary fascist organisations represent.

The fear that Marxists have, in such situations, is that a Workers Party that comes to power, without sufficient social support, and without the required programmatic clarity, and organisational discipline, will find itself overthrown by the capitalist state, as it attempts to fundamentally challenge the power of capital. The historical precedents of that are many, especially where such governments seek to bolster their lack of social support by entering popular fronts with the bourgeoisie. But, such fears in Greece, currently are misplaced. The threat to a Syriza government will not come from a fear by the capitalist state that it is serious about implementing its anti-austerity programme, but comes from a fear that it will not, and that the consequence will be that Golden Dawn will then run rampant.

The situation in Greece is different to the situation in Spain in 1936, or Chile in 1973. In both cases, capitalism was entering, or already in, a period of long wave crisis and stagnation. The options for dealing with that crisis were, therefore, limited. But, also at that time the USSR existed as a serious challenger to the power of imperialism. For anyone under 50 it is difficult to understand the extent to which that was a significant factor. But, in the 1930's, the USSR was the fasting growing economy on the planet, and was growing faster than any economy had ever done up to that time. At the same time, Europe had been in a period of crisis since WWI, and had entered a period of stagnation from around 1930. The US which had still been growing rapidly in the 1920's, itself went into crisis after the 1929 Wall Street Crash, that ran on through the 1930's.

The likelihood that “Communism” would simply outgrow capitalism seemed a very real danger for global imperialism. In the 1920's, the ideological apologists for capital such as Von Mises, and Hayek, had proclaimed the impossibility of socialism, because, they claimed, it was impossible to plan the economy and replace the price mechanism of the market.  With the USSR growing faster than any previous economy, on the basis of such planning, those arguments were necessarily dropped. OskarLange and others demonstrated that Mises and Hayek's arguments were wrong and that, in theory market prices could be replaced by planned allocation requiring only a series of simultaneous equations. By the time Hayek wrote “The Road to Serfdom” in 1940, the argument about the impossibility of socialism had disappeared, in favour of the argument that it necessarily leads to totalitarianism, and a loss of freedom.

Into the 1940's and 1950's, this direction of travel seemed securely in place. A partially planned economy, in Nazi Germany, had quickly industrialised, in the 1930's, and then, on the basis of the power that provided, had swarmed into the surrounding countries after 1939. The free market, capitalist economies of France and Britain had quickly been defeated, France occupied, and Britain pushed back in a chaotic retreat from Dunkirk, and then kept holed up in its island prison. The only salvation came in the form of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the USSR, a defeat again based not upon the economic power of free market capitalism, but the economic power of socialised means of production, and planning.

Despite the criminal actions of Stalin, which enabled Nazi Germany to roll over around 25% of the USSR, depriving it of a similar proportion of its agricultural and industrial production, the soviet workers and peasants, moved industrial production wholesale out of the reach of the Nazis, and within months had started production again on a massive scale. The USSR produced some of the most technologically advanced military equipment of the war, and developed methods of producing it that were also new. By December 1941, whilst Britain was essentially out of the war, and the US had not even entered it, the USSR brought about the first major defeat of Germany.  From that point on, it continuously pushed Germany back.

As the war drew to a close, the USSR had rolled into much of central and eastern Europe, and was about to do the same to Japan. We now know that the reason that Japan surrendered to the US, was not due to the dropping of the atom bombs, but a concern to surrender to the US rather than be over run by the USSR. After the war, the USSR continued this technological advantage. By the late 1950's, the USSR was the first into space, the first to put a man into space, first to orbit the moon, first to land on the moon, using robots, first to series of other planets, and so on. When Krushev banged his shoe on the table at the United Nations, and threatened to simply outgrow the West, there was every reason at the time for capital to believe him.

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