Lucien van der Walt, 1998, “Anarcho-syndicalist Economics, or, Beyond Markets and Marxism: Is There a Future for Socialist Economics today?” paper presented at Colloquium: Justice, Policy and Change in Southern Africa, Postgraduate Forum, University of the Witwatersrand, 3 October.
Note: If I did this paper now, I would more clearly exclude Proudhon from the canon, emphasise some of Kropotin’s critiques of Marx more fully, and make more of how state intervention modifies imperialist inequalities in the world economy. Still, I think it holds up well.
PDF online HERE. Full text below.
Anarcho-syndicalist Economics, or Beyond Markets and Marxism: Is There a Future for Socialism? by Lucien van der Walt (1998).
This paper serves a number of purposes. At one level, it restates the socialist case against global capitalism. Subsequently, it critically discusses three proposed alternatives to capitalism: “market socialism”, State socialism, and anarcho-syndicalism (libertarian socialism). The paper concludes that the much trumpetted death of socialism is less the death of the socialist project than the crisis of State-centred forms of socialism; that “market socialism” is a chimera which fails to address the problems at the heart of capitalism; and that libertarian socialism- in the form of anarcho-syndicalism – offers a rich body of theory and practice which has potential to renew the socialist project. As necessary now as ever before- if not more so- socialism must find renewed strength in the theory and practice of a internationalist, stateless, socialist order based on democratic economic planning from below, grassroots democracy and anti-authoritarianism, and genuine social and economic equality for all people. A first approach, this paper is intended to spark debate about a socialist future.
1. Is there a future for socialism?
2. What is capitalism?
3. Capitalism: arguments for and against
4. Market socialism: a viable alternative?
5. “State Socialism”
a. social democracy and the welfare state
b. the collapse of the Eastern bloc: a crisis for socialism?
6. Does anarcho-syndicalism provide an alternative?
a. anarcho-syndicalist economic theory
b. revolutionary Spain and Anarcho-syndicalism, 1936-7
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR SOCIALISM?
It is undeniable that socialism – as a theory and as a practice- has stamped its mark on the face of the planet. Notoriously, however, the socialist camp has always been divided over tactics, strategies and principles. Since at least the 1860s, however, the time of the First International Workers Association- a coalition of labour parties, trade unions, born of the emerging working class movement- the international socialist movement has been divided into two main wings whose relative influence has varied dramatically over time.
The first wing may be termed the “political socialists”. This includes both those socialists who believe in the gradual reform of capitalism in the direction of socialism via the institutional structures of the capitalist regime (notably parliament), as well as revolutionaries who sought to establish new, revolutionary governments as engines for socialist transformation. This paper follows the parlance of the socialist movement in referring to the reformists as social-democrats; the revolutionaries will generally be referred to as revolutionary Marxists, and occasionally as Leninists. Uniting both of political socialist approaches is a concern with the utilisation of State power by a political party claiming to represent the working class as the road to socialist transformation.
The second wing of the socialist movement may be termed- at least, by its adherents- “libertarian” socialism. In contrast to political socialism, the libertarian socialists argued that progressive social change could not come about through the State apparatus- whether reformist or revolutionary. The State – all States- were defined as hierarchical, coercive, and typically bureaucratic structures of coercion which centralised power in the hands of unaccountable and self-interested minorities. As such, the State was less the mechanism of socialist transformation than an authoritarian structure which perpetuated the division of society into a small wealthy, ruling minority, and a large, powerless, and exploited majority. At worst, the attempt to use the State would result, at best, in co-option of the socialists, or the substitution of a “red bureaucracy” for the capitalist elite.
In place of State, the main libertarian socialist current- anarcho-syndicalism- argued that the working class could only emancipate itself from capitalism and the State through the formation of revolutionary trade unions. In the short-term, these unions would organise the workers as a class conscious force in defence of their immediate interests. In the long-term the revolutionary trade unions would provide the vehicle through which the workers will seize direct control of the means of production in a revolutionary general strike replacing the political State and the capitalist system with socialism, workers self-management and socialist economics. Revolutionary united workers at the point of production on the basis of their class interests, and against capitalism and the State. By contrast, political parties -including labour and socialist parties – were typically multi-class institutions led by non-workers: in practice these parties used workers as passive voters in a futile quest to use the capitalist government for socialist transformation.
Before the Russian Revolution of 1917- a revolution dominated by revolutionary political socialists in the form of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks – the division in the socialist movement seemed to be – crudely- a simple one between refomist social-democrats (associated with figures such as Kautsky and Bernstein) and revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists (associated with figures such as Bakunin and Kropotkin). The formula of revolutionary syndicalism clearly proved attractive. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, revolutionary syndicalist unions and were established in countries as varied as Argentine, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United States of America, and Uruguay. In addition to functioning unions, there were also numerous organisations advocating revolutionary syndicalism, including in Britain, Egypt, India, Puerto Rico, and Norway. In the “English-speaking” countries, the most successful revolutionary syndicalist union was the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), founded in the United States in 1905. I.W.W. unions and propaganda groups subsequently emerged in Australia, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa (in the latter case, a small section functioned between 1910-1913).
Indeed, this list is hardly exhaustive, and other aspects of libertarain socialist history will be dealt with later in this paper. However, after 1917, the anarcho-syndicalists were eclipsed in the revolutionary movement by Leninism. This eclipse took time, and it was only after the brutal defeat of the anarcho-syndicalist-led Spanish Revolution of 1936-7 that the libertarian socialists’ base in the revolutionary working class was crushed. The subsequent decline of the libertarian socialists was reflected not simply by the domination of social-democracy and Leninism in the socialist movement since 1945, but by the virtual excision of libertarian socialist history from left and labour studies.
Since the 1970s, however, the dominance of social-democracy and Leninism has itself been called into question. The deepening crisis of social-democracy in Western governments, coupled with the apparent collapse of the economies of the Leninist-led East bloc has had serious implications for the socialist movement as a whole (Flood 1994). Given that these two approaches were dominant in the socialist movement, their twin crisis has been seized upon by hostile forces as evidence of the “death of communism”. This claim has not been restricted to the commercial media: the twin collapse has led to wide-scale demoralisation on the left itself, represented in the refrain that there “is no viable alternative” to capitalism today. Indeed, large numbers of erstwhile socialists have abandoned left-wing politics and activism altogether, whilst a substantial part of the surviving socialist movement has retreated from a rejection to an embrace of the market: the social-democratic parties have typically jettisoned even nominal commitments to a transcendence of capitalism, whilst most of the large Leninist parties that have not collapsed into sects have adopted positions indistinguishable from the orthodox social-democracy of the past (Flood 1994). Thus, for example, we find that the “New” Labour Party in Britain has abolished the trade union bloc vote in internal policy-making, as well as its formal commitment to nationalisation in favour of a programme indistinguishable from that of mainstream economic liberalism. Similarly, the South African Communist Party now argues that the road to socialism consists of a “deepening of democracy” in the context of parliamentary government, with no “Chinese wall” separating capitalism and socialism (SACP 1995: 13, 14). Yet others have come to advocate a curious mix of capitalism and socialism termed “market socialism”.
Within this context, it is the responsibility of those who still hold to an anti-capitalist project to demonstrate both the desirability and feasibility of a socialist alternative. I hope that this paper can contribute in some measure towards such a process of reconstruction on the left. In the first section of this paper I restate the case against capitalism, and, thus, establish the justification for a socialist alternative. At the core of socialist thought, I would argue, is a concern with maximising both human freedom and equality. Although socialists have disagreed as to how these goals can be realised, most would agree an alternative to capitalism involves the removal of class distinctions, co-operative production in a commonly- owned economy, as opposed to the social inequalities, competitiveness, greed and private property associated with capitalism.
In the remainder of this paper I therefore examine four proposed alternatives to capitalism: “market socialism”, “State socialism” (social-democracy and central State planning), and “stateless self-managed socialism” (anarcho-syndicalism). What I am interested in determining is whether these different proposals realise the goals of socialism, and whether they provide genuine alternatives to capitalism. “Market socialism”, I argue, amounts to at most a form of self-managed worker exploitation and capitalism. It cannot therefore realise socialist goals. As for social-democracy, I develop the case that social-democracy failed to offer a workable programme for the transition to socialism, nor a model of socialism that genuinely transcended the evils associated with capitalism. Even its greatest achievement of social-democracy – the welfare State – failed to transcend capitalism, a limitation demonstrated by the crisis of the welfare State in the face of capitalist restructuring and crisis since the 1970s. As for the countries of the former Eastern bloc, I argue that they were not socialist, but State-capitalist. Hence, the economic difficulties and consequent liberalisation of these economies does not represent a failed alternative to capitalism, but rather yet another example of the failures of capitalism.
In the final part of this paper, I make the case that it is Anarcho-syndicalism – the historic third stream of socialism- which provides a viable and feasible alternative to capitalism in the form of its proposals for a stateless socialist economy, managed from below by worker and neighbourhood councils. I make these claims on the basis of both a theoretical exposition on this topic, and by reference to the anarcho-syndicalist revolution in Spain in 1936-7. This paper is both a critique of markets and Marxism, and a recovery and advocacy of anarcho-syndicalist theory and practice. One final point should be made at this juncture: this paper is very much a first
WHAT IS CAPITALISM?
Although, as I will argue below, Marxist political and economic practice was directly responsible for the creation of the centrally planned State capitalist regimes of the former Eastern bloc, I agree with Bakunin, a founder of anarcho-syndicalism, that Marxist economic theory contains much of value. Bakunin critiqued Marx for his failure to recognise the irreducible role of political and ideological factors in shaping society, for an authoritarian political programme that Bakunin correctly argued would sabotage the realisation of socialism, and for a writing style that is “unfortunately bristling with formulas and metaphysical subtleties, which render it unapproachable for the great mass of readers” (1990: 27, et passim.). Nonetheless, Bakunin was convinced that Marx’s analysis of capitalism was “founded on a very extensive, very detailed knowledge and a very profound analysis of this system and of its conditions” (1990: 27). Many anarcho-syndicalists today follow Bakunin in relying heavily on Marxian economics (see, for example, Flood, Elkin, McKay, and Neal 1997; for a deviation from this norm, see the book reviewed by Stein 1992b).
It would thus be more accurate to describe this mode of economic analysis, broadly, as “socialist economics” (i.e. used by both Marxists and anarcho-syndicalists). This is the usage I will adopt in this paper, although my emphasis in discussing “socialist economics” will fall on writers associated with Anarcho-syndicalism (Archinov, Bakunin, Berkman, Conlon, Flood et al, Guillen, Geurin, Kropotkin, Makhno, Proudhon, Rocker, Stein …) or “ultra-left” anti-Leninist communism (Buick and Crump, Cleaver). In other words, this paper has an additional, implicit aim: the rediscovery of anarcho-syndicalist economic thought … and practice.
Capitalism, from this perspective, has six key features (Buick and Crump (1986). Firstly, it is based upon generalised commodity production, with almost all goods being produced for sale on the market. In other words, goods are not produced primarily in order to be directly available for some individual or social use, but in order to be exchanged (thus, a commodity has both a use-value (“wealth”) and an exchange value (“value” per se)). The price of the goods is set by the socially average labour time needed for their production, and a percentage mark up set by the going rate of profit. The rate of profit is the “ratio of the increase in value to the value of the original capital” (see below for clarification on these concepts) (Buick and Crump 1986: 8). At the level of the economy as a whole, the total sum of prices equates with their values as the goods that sell above their values are matched by those which sell below them. Money acts as a universal means of exchange, as it is the one commodity through which all others can be expressed and measured.
Secondly, capitalism is characterised the investment of capital in production in order to make further profits (Buick and Crump 1986). By “capital”, I mean a stock of exchange values, possibly measured in monetary units, of wealth that has been produced for sale (Buick and Crump 1986: 4). In pre-capitalist society capital was sometimes used to earn an income through trading or usury. Under capitalism, by contrast, this money is invested in the actual production of wealth itself. The third feature of capitalism is the exploitation of wage labour. If the merchant took his profits from cheating and plundering other agents, the modern capitalist obtains wealth from within the process of production itself. Commodities are the outcome of human labour power (the capacity to work) applied to nature-given materials. In other words, it is labour power that produces wealth, and, thus, new exchange values. Thus, a given enterprise that brings together the various requirements of production finds that, once the finished goods are sold, the original capital has increased in value. Part of this new value is used to purchase replace the original capital used to purchase labour power (wages covering the costs of the training and reproduction of the labour power used); the remainder accrues to the investor (the purchaser of labour power) as “profit”.
The fourth definitive feature of capitalism is the regulation of production by the market through a competitive struggle for profits (Buick and Crump 1986). In order for goods to be exchanged they need to be regarded as belonging to some or other segment of society. Under capitalism, this ownership is vested in enterprises: economic units that own and control separate capitals, or sums of value seeking to expand through investment in production. These enterprises might assume different internal structures or legal forms, ranging from individually owned firms, to joint stock enterprises, nationalised companies and so on. Nonetheless, “what is crucial to capitalism is not a specific form of ownership of the means of production, but rather the capital relation, that relation in which the direct producers are dominated by the means of production and the incessant drive to develop and expand them” (McNally 1993: 180, emphasis in original; also Buick and Crump 1986). This position is in obvious contrast to the notion, defended by Trotsky and others, that capitalism is defined in part by individual legal ownership of firms (see Buick and Crump 1986: 56,147).
There is no overall co-ordination between these units, as economic decisions are “made by a number of autonomous economic units acting without reference to one another” (Buick and Crump 1986: 7). Instead, these enterprises compete with other capitals seeking to increase their own value, and they do this by seeking to realise the surplus value created in production through sale on the market. Generally speaking, the rate of profit tends to be the same in all lines of profit, and the different enterprises therefore tend to make profits in proportion to their size. Given this tendency, the amount of profit each firm makes can only be increased at the cost of other actors in the market. This tendency also explains why under capitalism goods sell at prices equal to their cost of production plus a margin allowing an average rate of profit to be attained. Capitalism is regulated are co-ordinated through buying and selling transactions: all firms exist on the market both as buyers of the elements needed for production, and as sellers of the goods that they themselves produce; the enterprise makes its decisions about what, how, where and in what quantity it should produce “in light of the market prices for the commodities it has to buy and sell and on the basis of uncertain predictions as to how these might change” (Buick and Crump 1986: 9). An increased selling price of a good implies a higher profit, and, thus, an inducement to increase output; a lower prices signals a need to reduce production in this area. This unplanned regulation and co-ordination was termed the “law of value” by Marx (Buick and Crump 1986: 10).
The fifth feature of capitalism is the accumulation of capital out of profits, which leads to the expansion and development of the forces of production (Buick and Crump 1986). Firms compete primarily by cheapening commodities, although they will also try to increase their profits by raising their prices of lowering the prices of the elements of production if and when they get the chance. Given that the latter two options are not necessarily available, the key to competition is a reduction in the costs of production through an increase in workers’ productivity (by productivity I mean “a measure of the number of articles of wealth as use values that can be produced in a given period of time” (Buick and Crump 1986: 10-11)). In other words, by methods that reduce the average social labour-time required to produce a good, such as more intense work, a better organisation of the process of production, and, in particular, “by employing more and better machines and techniques of production” (Buick and Crump 1986: 11). In turn, the adoption of new and better machines by one company forces all others to do likewise in order to remain competitive. The weaker enterprises are eliminated from the struggle, and their capital is passed into the hands of others (the “centralisation” of capital); the stronger enterprises increase the stock and power of their instruments of production (the “concentration” of capital) (Buick and Crump 1986; Flood et al 1997).
This expansion is underwritten by the expansion of production, and hence, of surplus value and profits, the bulk of which are reinvested in production to ensure the survival of the enterprise “this imperative to accumulate is, in fact, the dynamic of capitalism” (Buick and Crump 1986: 12). This is not to say that motivations such as greed and the desire for wealth do not also play their part in motivating capitalists: the point is that, due to the nature of the system, capital accumulation becomes a goal in and of itself (Bakunin (1994) treats both sets of motivations as equally important).
Finally, capitalism is a world economic system (Buick and Crump 1986). Capitalism has historically operated on an international scale, expanding over time to embrace, today, virtually all areas and states. Marx points out that capitalism is an inherently expansive system, which “chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe” in search of new markets in which to sell goods and purchase cheap raw materials and labour power (Marx and Engels, 1995: 42).This means that the economic laws outlined by capitalism operate on a world scale, and that “there is no such thing as a ‘national capitalist economy’ and there never was” (Buick and Crump 1986: 13). Although individual states have always clearly played an important economic role by applying their political power to promote the profits of their own capitalists at the expense of those in other countries by such means as the imposition of tariffs, they have done so in the context of a capitalist laws that dictate, inter alia, the need to lower costs, limit consumption etc.
It is, however, a noteworthy feature of the global expansion of capitalism that its establishment in the periphery has often been characterised not simply by the dissolution of pre-capitalist modes of production in favour of the wage- labour relationship as had taken place in the metropolitan centres of world capitalism, but by the conservation, restructuring and creation of non- capitalist modes. A useful theoretical tool for understanding these dynamics is that of the social formation or “economic system,” which can be understood as a historical inter- relationship between different modes of production (or even productive units and economic sectors), existing in specific relationships of domination and subordination to one another, and articulated through such means as trade (for example, the production of petty commodities), and labour supply (for example, migrancy) (cf. Laclau 1971). Clearly, a social formation dominated by capitalist mode might include a variety of relationships of production, ranging from wage- labour to household- based family production, all of which were subordinated to the imperatives of competitive market production.
CAPITALISM: ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST
The model outlined here has both similarities and differences from the models associated with mainstream tradition of liberal economics. According to the latter model, “economic action” is undertaken by sovereign individuals who compete in the market place in order to attain their individual goals (Etzioni 1988). These individuals are regarded by economic liberalism as not only self-determining, but also motivated by self-interest, and guided by “rationality” in the instrumental sense of seeking to maximise benefits and minimise costs (Holton 1992). Thus, self-seeking and competitive economic behaviour is seen as essentially rational (Swedberg and Granovetter 1992). The economy is seen as a distinct and autonomous sphere of society which can be adequately analysed in its own terms, and which operates according to its own internal logic (Etzioni 1988). Furthermore, private property rights are regarded by economic liberalism as a means through which “sovereign individuals secure command over economic resources in order to satisfy their wants” independently of others and in the most efficient manner possible (Holton 1992: 58).
Within the market, there are two key sets of actors: the sellers, whose self-interest lies in maximising profits; and the consumers, who aim to maximise the satisfaction derived from freely chosen goods (Holton 1992). At the heart of the market is a freely operating price system, whose signals help bring into adjustment supply and demand within the overall context of scarcity (Lekachman 1981: 21). In this way, prices provide incentives and information which guide behaviour within the market, as well as rational basis for ascertaining the value of goods in a complex and dynamic economy (Holton 1992; also see McNally 1993). Markets thus link needs up to issues of investment and labour allocation in the economy in an effective manner. Thus, the search for private advantage is the very basis of society, and altogether compatible with the public good, for it leads to the satisfaction of the needs of the majority of the population (for example, a producer can only survive in the market by meeting buyers’ needs), to economic efficiency and thus well-being (competition, in particular, promotes innovation and penalises inefficiency), and to individual freedom from arbitrary external coercion and stifling societal codes, as it allows individuals to operate as they please in the market (Hayek 1944; Holton 1992; Lekachman 1981). The State should thus steer clear of involvement in economic issues, and limit itself to setting general codes of conduct which allow the market to operate effectively (Hayek 1944; Holton 1992).
It should be clear from what I have written above that both socialists and economic liberals agree that the market is regulated through the forces of supply and demand, that capitalism is based on competition and the development of productive forces, and a search for profit. Nonetheless, socialists reject the notion that individuals enter the market as equals able to maximise their individual goals through competition and freely accepted agreements. Naturally, the labour market and wage labour are an absolutely central part of capitalism. However, what makes the labour market possible is not individual freedom but necessity: the labour market originates in the dispossession of the producers from the means of production (Berkman 1989; Holton 1992; Kropotkin 1987). In the European centres of world capitalism, this process typically took place through such means as enclosures of common lands, the creation of a market in land and the commercialisation of agriculture, rent increases, and the squeezing out of small peasants by large commercial concerns; in the peripheries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, factors such as land seizures under colonialism and large-scale land nationalisations have had the same effect (on Europe, see Kemp 1969; McNally 1993; on Africa, see, for example, Keegan 1983; Legassick 1974; Lewis 1984). Late nineteenth-century imperialism is closely related to the need for competing capitalist elites to establish new markets and sources of cheap labour and raw materials. As the anarcho-syndicalist Kropotkin eloquently discussed this development in an 1887 article (1987: 39; also see Berkman 1989):
the workmen being unable to purchase with their wages the riches they are producing, industry must search for other markets elsewhere, amidst the middle classes of other nations. It must find markets, in the East, in Africa, anywhere; it must increase, by trade, the number of its serfs in Egypt, in India on the Congo. But everywhere it finds competitors in other nations which rapidly enter into the same line of industrial development. And wars, continuous wars, must be fought for the supremacy in the world market -wars for the possession of the East, wars for getting possession of the seas, wars for the right of imposing heavy duties on foreign merchandise. The thunder of European guns never ceases; whole generations are slaughtered from time to time; and we spend in armaments the third off the revenue of our States- a revenue raised, the poor know with what difficulties.
Thus, imperialism creates unequal power relations on global scale: both within the imperial countries, and between these countries and the colonial and semi-colonial regions. The latter do not compete on the world market as free and equal agents whose development is determined largely by their efficiency, innovation and so forth: on the contrary, imperialism, as Berkman argues, “tries its utmost to keep such countries … industrially backward in order to exploit their natural resources, and at the same time to be assured of foreign markets for ‘over-production’ at home” (Berkman 1964: 77; this point is also central to the “underdevelopment” theory).
These global processes create a class of wage labourers free both of independent access to the means of production, and of extra-economic coercion. It is this “freedom” which impels workers to enter into wage labour. Thus, the very “freedom” to enter into contracts in the labour market obscures the power asymmetries between the contracting parties which makes this process possible (Mouffe 1981). Bakunin discusses these issues as follows (1994: 6-7):
Do not both meet at the market as two equal merchants -from the juridical point of view at least – one bringing a commodity called a daily wage, to be exchanged for the daily labour of the worker on the basis of so many hours per day; and the other bringing his own labour as his commodity to be exchanged for the wage offered by the capitalist?
… Of course, nothing of the kind is true. What is it that brings the capitalist to the market? It is the urge to get rich, to increase his capital … And what brings the worker to the market? Hunger, the necessity of eating today and tomorrow … Juridically they are both equal; but economically the worker is the serf of the capitalist … because this terrible threat of starvation which daily hangs over his head and over his family, will force him to accept any conditions imposed by the gainful calculations of the capitalist, the industrialist, the employer.
Now, given that, as I have argued above, it is labour that creates value, it follows that the expropriation of the working people from the means of production allows a subsequent act of appropriation from the direct producers, the working class. The products and value produced by the labour power of the worker belong to the employer in question; part of these values are used to replace the exchange values of workers’ labour power, whilst the remaining surplus value accrues to the capitalist. Hence, although wages may appear to repay workers for the sale of their ability to work, they conceal that fact that a substantial part of the worker’s product -perhaps the greater part- is acquired by the capitalist at no cost (Bakunin 1994; Berkman 1989; Buick and Crump 1986; Holton 1992; Kropotkin 1987). In other words, workers’ reward for providing capitalists with profits is the lowest possible wage, “the price considered by the proletarians of that country as absolutely necessary to keep oneself alive” (Bakunin 1994: 3). Thus, “had there been equality between those who offer their labour and those who purchase it … the slavery and misery of the proletariat would not exist” (Bakunin 1994: 2-3).
Socialists do agree with economic liberals that competition is a key aspect of capitalism. However, socialists argue that the processes of concentration and centralisation which are inherent in capitalist competition render the assumption that the market is comprised of individual agents absurd. Moreover, where the economic liberals praise competition, socialists argue that the negative effects of competition outweigh any advantages that it might bring. Firstly, socialists have argued that competition is a less effective way of organising society than co-operation and mutual aid. Kropotkin, in particular, sought to demonstrate whilst selfishness and competitive individualism are part of social life, there was also “an inherent tendency in human society, as well as in a variety of other animal societies, for individuals to co-operate with other members of their species and help each other rather than to compete in a war of all against all” (Cleaver 1993: 3; Kropotkin 1939). In Kropotkin’s reckoning this tendency towards “mutual aid” provided the key to the evolutionary success of animal species (including our own), to social progress and technical innovation, and to the potential self-emancipation of the working classes from class oppression (Cleaver 1993). By contrast, capitalist egoism was of relatively recent origin, and pre-eminently destructive in its effects.
Secondly, socialists have attacked competition for eroding communal values and solidarity by promote acquisitiveness and in cases making co-operation individually irrational (Albert and Hahnel 1992; Berkman 1989). Thirdly, socialists have argued that competition weakens the position of wage-labourers in the market are revealed, as competition between workers for a limited number of jobs exerts a downward pressure on the wages of all workers (Bakunin 1994; Berkman 1989; Thompson 1989). New recruits are added to the so-called “reserve army of labour” (the unemployed) by business failure, attempts by capital to minimise the number of employees through mechanisation and extracting the greatest possible output from the fewest possible workers, and through a growth in the size of the proletariat itself due to population expansion and the proletarianisation of other sectors of society (Bakunin 1994; Berkman 1989). Contrary to the notion that capitalism is a smoothly running, rational system, socialists point out that capitalism has been characterised by constant economic crises, although, admittedly, there is much debate as to the precise causes of capitalist crisis.
Whilst economic liberals argue that the market is essential for individual freedom, socialists have argued that capitalism is a site of authoritarianism, class domination, and national, racial and gender oppression. This is true not only at the level of the labour market, but also at the levels of the workplace, the State and the world system as a whole. Firstly, capitalism is also associated with authoritarian forms of work organisation which arise from capital’s need to ensure that the labour power it purchases is actually transformed into profitable production (Bakunin 1994; Holton 1992; Thompson 1989). This control may be effected through hierarchical management systems and through attempts to control labour through the restructuring of the labour process itself. By the “labour process” I mean the actual process, whereby the material means to satisfy human needs are produced, a process characterised by purposeful human activity, raw material, and the instruments whereby work is performed (Thompson 1989: 38-40). Thus, Bakunin (1994: 8):
Once the [labour] contract has been negotiated, the serfdom of the worker is doubly increased … Because what merchandise has he sold to his employer? It is his labour, his personal services, the productive forces of his mind, body and spirit that are found in him and are inseparable from his person- it is therefore himself. From then on, the employer will watch over him, either directly or by means of overseers; everyday during working hours and under controlled conditions, the employer will be the owner of his actions and movements. When he is told, “Do this”, he is obligated to it; or he is told “Go there”, he must go. Is this not what is called a serf?
Secondly, whereas economic liberalism hopes that the State will provide a neutral watchman over the capitalist market, socialists have argued that capitalism is based on the domination of the owning class over society as a whole. Capitalism effectively denies political equality between different classes through hindering the capacity of the exploited class(es) to be engage in political activity on an equal footing with their erstwhile exploiters: “it will still always be true that exploitation precludes brotherhood and equality” (Bakunin 1994: 2; also Bakunin 1990; Berkman 1989). Moreover, the State apparatus is itself the machine whereby the rule of the economically dominant class is exercised, and the existence of a State is itself testimony to the presence of such a class. As Bakunin put it (1990: 32):
The State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class or other; a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class, and finally, a bureaucratic class, when, all the others classes having become exhausted, the State falls or rises, as you will, to the condition of a machine; but it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of the State that there should be some privileged class or other which is interested in its existence.
Socialists and other analysts have identified a number of mechanisms which the ensure this link operates: these include the power of capital to exert pressure on the State to meet its demands, the prominence of scions of the capitalists class in key parts of the State apparatus, the privileges and “re-socialisation” of elected politicians which leads them to identify increasingly with elite interests, and the dependence of State apparatus on revenues generated in processes of capital accumulation (Bakunin 1990; Berkman 1989; Yudelman 1984).
Two characteristic features of the State follow from its role as an agent of the ruling class: its centralised nature, which allows a minority group to concentrate decision-making power in its own hands; and secondly, its coercive force, which is used to suppress resistance by the dominated class and maintain the status quo (Bakunin 1990: 31-6; Berkman 1989). Despite agreeing on most of these points, however, it has been the issue of the role of the State in the establishment of socialism that has most divided socialists: on the one hand, Marxists have argued that the State apparatus (either the existing one in the case of social-democrats, or a new “revolutionary” one in the case of Leninists) can be used to create the new society from above , either through parliamentary action by socialists or the forcible seizure of State power by a “vanguard party”; for the anarcho-syndicalists, socialism could only come from below through mass action at the point of production in order to place the means of production under self-management and abolish the State entirely (see Flood 1992; also Buick and Crump 1986). For the anarcho-syndicalists, the hierarchical and coercive nature of the State would necessary result in even the most progressive State leadership assuming the characteristics of a ruling class.
Thirdly, at an international level, the creation of a capitalist world system has been historically associated with imperialism, underdevelopment, and racism. For socialists, imperialism is directly rooted in the capitalist system: on the one hand, States exist within a competitive State system which generates pressures towards national conflicts, to wars, and foreign conquest; on the other, capitalist States have sought to improve the competitive position of their “own” companies through providing protected consumer markets and sources of raw material and cheap labour through colonial occupation (Bakunin 1990: 29-30; Berkman 1989; Kropotkin 1987). These unequal power relations on global scale lead to the underdevelopment of colonial regions as imperialism “tries its utmost to keep such countries … industrially backward in order to exploit their natural resources , and at the same time to be assured of foreign markets for ‘over-production’ at home” (Berkman 1964: 77; see Holton 1992). In turn, imperialism, colonial land seizures, and the establishment of cheap labour systems such as slavery were typically justified through ideologies of White supremacy (Callinicos 1981: 101). Racism got a further boost from capitalism from the competition of workers in the labour market for jobs, which often promoted national and racial antagonisms which were also promoted by the bourgeois media (1981: 101). A similar case may be made that capitalism is a key source of women’s specific oppression, which it promotes and maintains in order to divide workers on gender lines, secure women as a cheap and flexible labour force, and organise the cheap reproduction of the workforce through non-waged domestic “women’s work” (child-rearing and home-making) (Walker 1981; Young 1981).
A final set of socialist critiques of the market relate to the issue of economic co-ordination through the market mechanism. Firstly, in contrast to the economic liberal notion that markets provide an effective means of matching the supply and demand for given commodities, socialists argue that given that price signals reflect only effective demand, there is no necessary correlation between “demand” in the market, and the actual needs of the majority of the population (Berkman 1989; Flood et al 1997; Kropotkin 1987). Since the wage system systematically impoverishes the working class, it follows that workers’ needs, in particular, are misrepresented by the market mechanism (Flood et al 1997; Kropotkin 1987). The clearest case of this situation is the common practice of food being exported from areas in which many are suffering famine (for example, Ethiopia in the mid-1980s continued to export coffee as well as beef for dog food). On the other hand, the market is biased towards the provision of goods for those with the most purchasing power (Flood et al 1997). It is precisely this perverse situation that promotes the search for new markets associated with imperialism (see above). In any case, due to the fact that supply and demand are only matched after the fact of production – a necessary outcome of an unplanned economy – capitalism is an enormously enormous wasteful system because many goods never get sold, or can only be sold at ruinous prices.
Moreover, whilst markets may provide information about a range of private economic choices available to isolated individuals, they fail to provide meaningful information about the social effects of private economic transactions. Now, markets generally misestimate social benefits and costs in addition to their tendency to misallocate resources (Albert and Hahnel 1992; Flood et al 1996; McNally 1993). A good example of these processes is pollution, which can generally be transferred with impunity onto third parties whilst failing to appear on corporate balance sheets (Lekachman 1981). Thirdly, market information is unable to provide rational criteria for investment in either public goods (like hospitals and parks) or in items involving a long time-horizon (McNally 1993). Investment decisions require long-term estimates of collective needs, yet prices reflect only current data, and these data are themselves changed over time by the effects of the investment itself (for example, new incomes, changing technical conditions of production and so forth).
“MARKET-SOCIALISM”: A FEASIBLE ALTERNATIVE?
So-called “market socialism” can be dealt with somewhat more briefly than the other models. Briefly, “market socialists” propose a “socialist” system based on a combination of self-employment, and worker-owned and State-owned firms operating within an economy co-ordinated primarily through the market (see, for example, Nove 1990). However, market regulation implies the retention of wage labour, given that genuine commodity prices can be formed only if the value of the labour input into the production process is itself priced through the market (McNally 1993). Market regulation also implies the perpetuation of market competition to accumulate a growing surplus from their own labour in order to invest in new means of production which will give them a chance of competing effectively in the market (McNally 1993). Thus, under “market socialism” both exploitation, and the priority of capital accumulation over consumption will be retained.
The absence of individual ownership of enterprises would not, as I argued earlier, affect these outcomes, as the functioning of capitalism does not, in fact, require individual ownership of the means of production (see above). Furthermore, it is probable that authoritarian workplace relations designed to maximise the production of value would also exist, resulting in practices ” increasing the fragmentation of work, bloating managerial prerogatives, and substituting the goals of managers for those of workers” (Albert and Hahnel 1992:44). In addition, the reliance on market signals posited by the market clearly means that all the problems associated with price signals – the disjuncture between effective demand and actual need, the question of externalities, and the absence of a adequate criteria for investment decisions- will also survive. Yet to subordinate the dynamics of the market to another logic, such as need, would be to destroy the very rationale for market socialism (McNally 1993). Finally, there is little reason to suppose that “market socialism” would fail to reproduce the gendered, racial and national oppressions associated with capitalism, particularly given that writers such as Nove (1990) pay no specific attention to these dimensions of capitalism.
Thus, so-called “market socialism” thus reveals itself to be, at most, a system of worker self-exploitation. It is for this reason that I have consistently problematised the term with inverted commas and the prefix “so-called”. “Market socialism” is emblematic of the retreat of the socialist left from a critique to a nearly uncritical embrace of the market whose inequities ultimately provide socialism’s very raison d’être.
a. An assessment of social-democracy and the welfare State
Since the Russian Revolution, two key currents have dominated the socialist movement: the more traditional Marxist model of social-democracy (which sought to introduce socialism through electoral methods); and Leninism or Bolshevism (which advocated a revolutionary seizure of State power) (Flood 1994). Despite their tactical differences, both of these tendencies shared a common vision of socialism as State control of the economy. It is for this reason that I am grouping them together. Moreover, given that both camps were able to attract widespread support in the intervening period -the Communist Parties built real mass organisations in many countries, whilst most Western countries have had a social-democratic government at one point or another- their identification of statism with socialism has been widely accepted as definitive of the socialist project per se. “Although there were other significant movements, including the anarchists, what shaped the left today were the splits between these two camps and the perimeter of debate laid down around them” (Flood 1994: 1). This section of my paper will consider the records and prospects of “State socialism” under Western social-democracy and Eastern “already existing socialism”. Although I will not be explicitly discussing the statist economic systems that were, until recently, common in the Third World, almost all of the points developed in this section are directly applicable to such cases. Overall, I will argue that neither social-democracy nor Bolshevism was able to provide a genuine alternative to capitalism, and that the very term “State socialism” is oxymoronic.
Social-democratic politics is based, essentially, on the notion of a reformist route to a post-capitalist society: as Esping-Andersen, one of the more sophisticated recent theorists of this tendency has expressed the point, the social- democratic model suggests that the cumulative effects of reformist policies can be revolutionary in their implications (1985,1990). He argues that “[a]s the balance of power gradually shifts in favour of wage earners” organised into strong labour movements allied with leftist parliamentary parties, the latter “may pursue salami tactics, slicing away at traditional capitalist prerogatives and replacing them with democratic forms of control” (1985: 9,23,29). Given the prominent role of Marxist ideology and leaders such as Engels in the early social-democratic parties, later Marxists such as the Leninists have argued that such gradualist approaches represent a deviation from “true” Marxism. Nonetheless, such a view will not stand close examination as gradualist approaches were common enough amongst social-democrats even in the pre-1914 period.
Typical tactics in the arsenal of social-democracy have historically included State regulation of the macro-economy, the promotion of tripartite modes of economic policy formulation, the nationalisation of key economic sectors, and the expansion of the public sector to provide various welfare services (Teeple 1995; also Esping-Andersen 1990). According to Esping-Andersen, these welfare policies are integrally linked to the gradual approach towards socialism as they increase economic efficiency (for example, by providing a better trained workforce), thereby helping lay the material basis for socialism, and because the eradication of poverty, unemployment and complete wage dependency strengthens the working class in its struggle against capitalism (Esping- Andersen 1990). Thus, these reforms supposedly introduce a “socialist element” into the capitalist political economy and continually alter the balance of power in favour of labour, with the supposed finale being the democratisation of the economy and the redundancy of capitalists as control over capital accumulation and investment passes into the hands of the wage – earning classes (Esping-Andersen 1985). It is assumed here that “parliaments are, in principle, effective institutions for the translation of mobilised power into desired policies and reforms” (1990: 16).
Social- democracy has often been regarded as a key force behind the formation of welfare States in the West after World War Two. The welfare State was characterised by unprecedented State interventions in the formal provision of most of the social needs pertaining to the reproduction of the working classes (Teeple 1995: 16-7). Indeed, whilst chronic levels of working class revolt in this period provided a powerful impetus for far-reaching social change, it was the institutions of social-democracy which helped channel this disaffection into a reformist path to socialism ( Teeple 1995; also see Manning 1993). However, it is important to note that social-democracy was by no means the only cause of the emergence of the welfare State: other relevant factors included calls by capital for State intervention in the reconstruction of the devastated national economies of Europe (and Japan); the growing acceptance by policy-makers of Keynesian economic theory which provided a theoretical rationale for State intervention to influence levels of investment and domestic income; the political and operational framework for the welfare State provided by the nation-State; and conditions of massive economic growth which helped provide the fiscal basis for welfare programmes (Manning 1993; Teeple 1995).
The key point here is that the welfare States were by no means the creature of social-democracy, despite its undeniable role in their formation; instead, there were powerful forces within capitalism itself which impelled the increased role of the State in economic regulation and welfare provision. This clearly indicates that social-democracy was less an alternative to capitalism than a programme entirely compatible with the needs of capitalism within a given historical framework. This point may be further demonstrated by a discussion of the issue of nationalisation, often regarded as a typically socialist action. (Certainly for most social-democrats and Leninists, nationalisation is synonymous with the common ownership of the means of production implied by the concept of “socialism”). If, as we have argued above, the basic principles of capitalism may operate alongside a variety of forms of legal ownership of enterprises, it follows that the nationalisations associated with, and promoted by, social-democratic governments, were not necessarily in conflict with capitalism. On the contrary, they represent “merely a change in formal ownership which leaves intact the basic social relation of wage labour to capital” (Buick and Crump 1986: 29). The nationalised firms were thus State- capitalist corporations whose continuing commercial nature meant that they were run on similar lines to their corporate counterparts: wage labour, commodity production, profitability, and capital accumulation (Buick and Crump 1986; Teeple 1995). In no case did nationalisation take place without compensation – instead, the legal right of private capitalists to an income from their property was maintained through such means as the issuing of government bonds to “former” owners (ibid.). Nationalisation was no means a socialist programme, a fact which accounts for the fact that it was implemented in the post-war period by governments ranging from the rightist regime of De Gualle in France to fascist Spain under Franco (Teeple 1995).
It should not, therefore, come as surprise that the social welfare measures implemented by the social- democrats (among others) after 1945 failed to challenge to the patterns of social and economic inequality evident in metropolitan capitalist societies. Although the welfare States provided some basic social services, minimum standards and a degree of social stability, they did not redistribute the accumulated capital assets of society (Teeple 1995). Most indicators of inequality point to little significant change between 1945 and the 1980s- the heyday of the welfare State and social reform. For example, permanent or structural unemployment showed a long- term rise between the 1940s and the 1980s, poverty and illiteracy were never eliminated in the industrial capitalist economies, and rates of morbidity and mortality remained closely tied to class membership (Teeple 1995: 45). Even in the famed Swedish model, a report submitted to the LO (Landsorganisationen- the main union confederation) in the late 1960s found that not only had there been no marked change in income distribution since 1948. However, the fraction of persons with 40% or less of mean income had considerably increased, whilst the group with “normal” income decreased and the proportion with higher incomes increased (cited in Panitch 1986: 149). This was matched by a growing concentration of wealth (Panitch 1986; also see Teeple 1995: 38-50). What the welfare States redistributed were not the profits of capital, but a portion of working class incomes, collected by the State through taxes, premiums and deferred income (Teeple 1995).
Of course, a defender of social-democracy could argue that such failings are unavoidable given that the social-democratic reforms mentioned above were just that: a “minimum programme” operating within the shell of capitalism. Therefore (the argument might continue) such partial reforms do not exhaust the programme of social-democracy, and are, indeed, essential steps on the road towards the final transition to socialism.
There are, however, a number of reasons to doubt the ability of social-democracy to realise its “maximum programme” through social-democratic tactics. Firstly, the social-democrats faith in the political institutions of metropolitan capitalism is arguably misplaced. As I noted in the first section of this paper, the capitalist State is dominated, logically enough, by capitalist interests (Bakunin 1990; Berkman 1989). Consequently, there is little reason to suppose that the capitalist class would tolerate a parliament that threatened its own interests (Teeple 1995). Military intervention, economic sabotage, capital flight, and the enforcement of pro- capitalist policy decisions by unelected institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are some of the means that that can and have been used to deal with governments threatening the logic of capital accumulation. Parliamentary activity itself hampers a move towards socialism as it replaces the activity of the mass of the working class with the actions of a few score representatives who are themselves subject to pressures which weaken their commitment to socialist transformation. These include material privileges and absorption into routine parliamentary matters and elite political circles (Berkman 1989).
Secondly, the “minimum programmes” which supposedly lay the basis for further transformation operate within capitalist society itself. Consequently, these reforms are subject to the laws and tendencies of capitalism. Although in some cases social-democratic goals and the imperatives of capitalism coincide (for example, in the post-1945 period in the form of the welfare State), they contradict one another in other circumstances. In such instances, it is social-democratic reforms which succumb, not capitalism.
Thus, from the 1970s the welfare State itself has come under increasing pressure from a number of sources. The result has been that welfare States were increasingly replaced by neo-liberal policy regimes which centred around economic liberalisation and deflationary macro-economic policies (Lehulure 1996; Teeple 1995). Firstly, the increasing internationalisation of capitalist enterprises has not only eroded the capacity of the nation-State to regulate the “national” economy, but has rendered Keynesian policies of national demand management increasingly anachronistic. Instead, the more advanced sectors of capital have increasingly identified their interests with laissez- faire policies conducive to competition at the international level and the levelling of the conditions of national economies (Pontusson 1984; Teeple 1995). Secondly, the fiscal basis for welfare policies preconditions of the welfare State was undermined from the early 1970s by falling rates of economic growth, declining returns on Third World investments, falling wages arising from the emergence of a global labour market, inflation, wage controls and rising structural unemployment, and the ability of transnational companies to play States off against each another in pursuit of lower taxes whilst maintaining or increasing existing concessions (Lehulure 1996; Pontusson 1984; Teeple 1995). Finally, ideological factors also played a role: the erosion of trade union powers, the retreat of the socialist movement, and concomitant rise of neo-liberalism as a potent political force (both amongst conservative and Christian-democratic parties, and, more recently within the social-democratic parties themselves) has acted to erode the very bases of the welfare State (Lehulure 1996; Mouffe 1981; Teeple 1995).
Moreover, even had the “maximum programme” of social-democracy been realised, the outcome would not, in fact, have been socialism. The “maximum programme” of social-democracy failed to provide a genuine alternative to capitalism: at an economic level, this programme envisaged the retention of key aspects of capitalism such as wage labour, capital accumulation, and money (Buick and Crump 1986). What would distinguish socialism from capitalism in this view would be the nationalisation and centralised of the means of production by the social-democratic State (Buick and Crump 1986). Whilst leaders of the SDP such as Liebknecht carried resolutions condemning the take-over of industries by capitalist-controlled States as non-socialist, they regarded a similar take-over by a State under they control of social-democracy as “socialist”. However, the intentions of those who control the State is irrelevant, as I have sought to demonstrate: given that the specific form of ownership of an enterprise is secondary to the issue of whether or not that enterprise embodies the capital relationship, it follows that the effect of the implementation of the “maximum programme” would be to create a form of State-run capitalism.
This inability of the “maximum programme” of social-democracy to transcend capitalism would, secondly, be reinforced by the political tactics seen as necessary to accomplish the task of socialist transformation: the use of the State power. Given that, as I argued earlier, the State is a hierarchical organ of coercive power over a territory, it follows that the seizure of power by the social-democratic leaders would reproduce, or rather, reinforce, at a political level the structures of class rule created by nationalisation in the economy by concentrating political power in the hands of a small elite of politicians. Thus, instead of a co-operative society run by the workers, the outcome of “maximalist” social-democracy would have been a State-capitalist class society presided over by the managers of State enterprises and the erstwhile leaders of social-democracy. There is thus a direct contradiction between the use of the State apparatus and the goals of socialism.
b. The collapse of the Eastern bloc: a crisis for socialism?
The experience of the countries of the former Eastern bloc – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the “peoples’ democracies” of Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, and China – provides an interesting point of comparison with the experiences of social-democracy. In contrast to the situation in the West, “socialism” in these countries was established not through parliament, but through force: either through a revolutionary seizure of power by internal forces with a Bolshevik programme (Russia in 1917, China in 1949); or through external military and political domination (Eastern Europe after 1945); or through a shift, once in power , from a reformist to a revolutionary programme (Cuba in the 1960s). Thus, the problems that have arisen in the course of attempts to reach socialism through gradual and cumulative reforms did not present themselves in these contexts. On the contrary, the “maximum programme” of nationalising the key means of industrial production (and, more rarely, land) was rapidly applied, frequently without any compensation to the former owning classes (Buick and Crump 1986). Often nationalisation took place on a far more sweeping scale than was the case under even the most ambitious social-democratic governments, although, as I note below, substantial swathes of private ownership survived in most of these countries. Again, whereas social-democratic governments (with the obvious exception of countries such as Sweden) have often only served one or two consecutive terms in office, many of these revolutionary governments held power for decades, with most only collapsing in the late 1980s.
Finally, whilst social-democratic governments have typically operated within metropolitan capitalist countries, the Leninist or Bolshevik parties almost all came to power in situations of economic backwardness, as manifest in low levels of industrialisation and enormous and undeveloped agricultural sectors (Buick and Crump 1986). In power, the revolutionary parties have typically focused their energies on programmes of large-scale, rapid and frequently brutal “modernisation” (Buick and Crump 1986). One indicator of the results of such programmes is an enormous extension of wage labour and heavy industry. If, in 1913, the vast majority of the population of the Russian empire (about 161.7 million people) were peasants, by 1980 there were nearly 113 million wage workers employed by the Soviet State, whilst the number of peasants had declined to 13.5 million (out of a total population of 264.5 million people) (Buick and Crump 1986: 55). In 1913, Russia’s production of key industrial products lagged far behind that of the Western countries: coal output was only 5.6 percent of that of the United States of America (USA), whilst pig iron and steel production were only 13.3 and 13.5 percent, respectively (Buick and Crump 1986: 43). By 1978, the Soviet Union produced 10.5 percent more coal, 197.6 percent more iron ore, and 21.8 percent more steel than the USA (Buick and Crump 1986: 48).
Such regimes habitually described themselves as “socialist”, and have generally been accepted as such by Western commentators. Consequently, the economic decline experienced by the eastern bloc since the 1970s onwards, and the shift in almost all of these countries from an economy dominated by the State towards more deregulated market systems characterised by the growth of private ownership of the means of production through the sale of State assets has commonly been regarded as signalling the collapse of the key examples of “already existing socialism”.Clearly, any discussion of whether there is a future for socialism has to confront the question of the nature of the regimes formerly comprising the Eastern bloc, and, consequently, the implications of their collapse for the future of socialism. In what follows, I will be focussing on the economic nature of these regimes. However, it should be borne in mind that all of the problems that I raised above with the probable outcomes of the implementation of social-democratic “maximum programmes” are directly relevant here- these countries are characterised by precisely by the implementation of such programmes. Conversely, the characterisation of the economic nature of the ex-Eastern bloc that I develop below would probably have provided an accurate description of the situation in any country in which gradualist tactics of achieving socialism actually succeeded.
Earlier, we defined and discussed both capitalism and socialism primarily as modes of structuring society, rather than in terms of either intentions or ideology. Following this practice, my starting point in this part of the paper is to disregard for the purposes of analysis the self-descriptions and rhetoric of the revolutionary governments of the former Eastern bloc and proceed at once to an analysis of the basic features of these countries. My implicit focus is on Russia and China in the period between the establishment of revolutionary governments (1917, and 1949 respectively), and discernible moves away from such systems in the 1980s. My argument is that these countries were not socialist, but recognisably “State-capitalist” in that, despite the presence of wide-spread State ownership of the means of production, they exhibited all of the features of capitalism we identified earlier : commodity production and monetary calculation; the exploitation of wage labour; production for profit ; competition; capital accumulation; and engagement in a capitalist world economy.
As I have already indicated above in my discussion of forced “modernisation” in these countries, wage labour is prevalent : in almost all sectors of the economy workers could “only gain access to the means of production and engage in social production by selling their labour power to enterprises which (whatever the legal fiction) confront them as employers” who decide how their labour power shall be used (Buick and Crump 1986: 73-4). Such wage labour, of course, implied that the workers did not own or control the means of production. In addition, the purchase of wage labour implied that “all other commodities will have their price too, by reference to labour power and by cross-reference to each other” (Buick and Crump 1986: 80). The production of commodities -goods or services produced for purposes of exchange – is widespread: almost all items of popular consumption, such as food, clothes, and consumer durables, were marketed through retail outlets. Clearly, this means that most agricultural produce and light consumer goods are distributed for exchange.
The presence of both wage labour and commodities indicates that sectional property, rather than common ownership, is characteristic of these countries. The prevalence of State property by no means indicates the absence of capitalist relations of production (as Trotsky and others have claimed). Firstly, as I have argued earlier, individual legal ownership is by no means necessary to capitalism: what is important is not the legal form of ownership but “the fact that the means of production function as capital and that wage labour is exploited” (Buick and Crump 1986: 57). The existence of a State-capitalist class who collectively own the means of production and use it within a monetary framework to make profit and accumulate capital is quite feasible in theory, and, moreover, I would hold, an accurate description of the situation which obtained in these countries. Secondly, although capitalism could theoretically exist without providing privileged consumption to capitalists, a higher standard of living on the part of this class relative to workers does tend to occur in most Western countries. This was also apparently the case in the East. For example, in the Soviet Union the cash incomes of enterprise managers were reported to have been up to eight times the minimum wage (Buick and Crump 1986: 58-9). In addition, the upper stratum characteristically also received payments in kind, bonuses and perquisites which doubled or tripled their basic incomes; by contrast, workers’ incomes consisted almost entirely of money wages. A network of exclusive shops, schools, housing projects and the like from which workers and peasants were physically excluded rounds off the picture. That the upper stratum of the countries of the former Eastern bloc – party bosses, the upper levels of the State bureaucracy, and the senior management of economic and military institutions – certainly did enjoy such privileges strengthens the claim that these were class societies.
These points bring us to a central point of contention in analyses of the countries of the former Eastern bloc: the role of economic planning and State ownership of the bulk of the economy. For if these economies were based entirely on the comprehensive central planning of all aspects of the State-owned economy, as many claim, then many of the points I have made so far are seriously weakened. Firstly, it could be argued that no genuine market in labour power existed because real wages were not set by market competition but by the sole employer, the State authorities: either directly (through government directives), or indirectly (real wages were set in advance by central plans which stipulated the total quantities of consumer goods available) (Buick and Crump 1986: 77). What these arguments failed to acknowledge was that whilst general wage levels, the size of enterprises’ workforce, and, in many (but not all) cases, parts of the labour force were directed by central State authorities, a large proportion of hiring was undertaken by the enterprises themselves, often at the factory gate, and there was competition between both enterprises and ministries for labour (Buick and Crump 1986). In some estimates, a majority of labour was recruited at the factory gate (Buick and Crump 1986: 76). Moreover, at least a third of labour recruitment bypassed official channels according to observers (Buick and Crump 1986: 77).
A second set of criticisms which might be levelled against the State-capitalist thesis which also took economic planning and State ownership of the principal means of production as their starting point denied the existence of commodity exchange within the former East bloc. Whilst some analysts recognised the existence of markets in consumer and light industrial goods in these countries, they denied that commodity exchange proper existed (Buick and Crump 1986). They argued that, firstly, the distribution of the means of production was planned in advance by the State (rather than being effected through market transactions). Secondly, it was held that no real exchange could actually take place between enterprises given that they were all owned by the State in any case (and thus unable to trade with one another, and given that most prices were supposedly set by that same State. Moreover, according to these analysts, the different enterprises were subject to legal restrictions against dealing with one another directly and freely (Buick and Crump 1986). In sum, these arguments maintained that the appearance of buying and selling in these economies hid their non-capitalist content.
However, this line of argument was and is highly problematic. Firstly, the notion that the State was able to set real wages through the planning the output of consumer goods exaggerates the precision and scope of planning. As numerous commentators have pointed out, there was a high degree of fragmentation within the bureaucratic planning apparatus which greatly lowered efficiency in the allocation of inputs (Nove 1990:131, 132-3,225; also Hudson and Louw 1992:39-4). Thus, for example, at least 11 ministries involved in heavy industry were involved in the production of refrigerators (Buick and Crump 1986: 77). Moreover, the very complexity of planning a modern economy places limits on the extent of to which central directives could be developed and applied (Buick and Crump 1986: 82-3). In the case of China, Xhue Muqiao (then-director of the Chinese Institute of Economics and advisor to the State Planning Commission) admitted that (cited in Buick and Crump 1986: 82):
only a few hundred products, accounting for a little over half of the GNP value, are handled by the State Planning Commission. While the commission can work out accurate figures for a few dozen products, it can only make rough estimates for the rest. Even in the case of the former, the figures cannot possibly cover all varieties and specifications, which can only be determined by business agencies or between supplier and user.
Secondly, it can be argued that the role of State economic plans was not to “supplant the market by means of the plan, but rather … to plan market transactions between enterprises” by laying down production targets, allocating raw materials, directing transfers between different enterprises and setting prices (Buick and Crump 1986: 82, emphasis in original). From this perspective, State-directed transactions between enterprises were less non-market transactions than centrally arranged contracts, whilst the plan did not so much abolish exchange relationships between enterprises (these continued to take place through buying and selling) as seek to anticipate the quantities involved in such exchanges in advance (Buick and Crump 1986).
Price fixing itself cannot be taken as a definitive feature of “socialism”, given that monopoly capitalism in the West is characterised by corporate domination of markets on a scale that allows systematic price setting (see, e.g. Holton 1992). Nor does the fact of common State ownership of enterprises demonstrate, ipso facto, the absence of exchange relations: sales between the subsidiaries of transnational corporations at fixed prices (“transfer pricing”) are common enough, yet this does not mean that such companies are non-capitalist (Elson 1988; Lekachman 1981). Moreover, within the east bloc, prices were not arbitrarily set, as constant efforts were made to match even pre-set prices at their value; in this way, the role of money and exchange value in the economy retained capitalist characteristics (Buick and Crump 1986). As for the scale and scope of commodity exchange even within these limits, even Trotskyists such as Mandel admit that “some categories of producer goods” were “bought and sold on the market” (Buick and Crump 1986: 80). Taken in conjunction with the existence of substantial markets in consumer and light industrial goods, this indicates the existence of a very substantial exchange sector.
Thus, although State plans may have formally prohibited direct commercial relations between firms, the links between firms were often links through the market, the stipulation of quantities and prices notwithstanding. In addition, the effect of placing the onus on individual firms to meet planned production targets was often to turn “enterprises into competing rivals, each narrowly pursuing its own sectional interest” (Buick and Crump 1986: 84). Finally, the “black market” or “alternative economy” must be mentioned. Although the “alternative economy” dealt mainly with “frustrated consumer demand” it also traded in producer goods (Buick and Crump 1986). What was distinctive about the “alternative economy” was not that it dealt in commodities (as argued above, commodity production was characteristic of the official economy) but that it did so through extra-legal channels. Moreover, much of the trade in the “alternative economy” was in goods produced as commodities elsewhere (Buick and Crump 1986). Thus, the distinction between legal and illegal trade was essentially arbitrary in the sense that there was no fundamental difference between economic activity in either sphere.
Overall, then, whilst we have argued that these economies existed were not “strictly speaking” “planned” economies, this is not to “deny that production at the enterprise level” was “subject to a process of planning which … imposed by the central authorities” and which included, on the one hand, ” a battery of targets expressed in physical and monetary form”, and, on the other, a variety of checks and efficiency measures such as labour productivity, profitability and cost reduction (Buick and Crump 1986: 85-6). This is not dissimilar to the accounting processes which take place within some large Western firms where similar goods are measured in physical units alone, whilst more heterogeneous lines are aggregated through a common monetary unit. Nonetheless, the use of money in the State-capitalist countries ultimately reflected the State’s concern with comparing the rates of surplus value in different enterprises and economic sectors with that of its rivals: despite some exceptions, the vast majority of enterprises in these countries were expected to make a monetary profit. That is to say, the purpose of State-capitalist production was not just to produce more use-vales, but to extract surplus value through the mechanism of wage labour (Buick and Crump 1986).
Two points here require further explication. The first relates to the issue of why it should have been be important for State-capitalists to make sure that they were acquiring surplus value at the same rate as their “rivals”. The answer, as would be indicated by the first section of this paper, is that this is required in order to maintain a competitive rate of capital accumulation (Buick and Crump 1986). Effective competition requires constant investment in larger and more efficient plat in order to reduce the quantity of socially necessary labour time required to produce commodities (and hence their prices). The second issue raised by the earlier discussion that will be dealt with here is the issue of who the State-capitalists’ rivals were, and, concomitantly, at what level the need to accumulate capital operated under State-capitalism. Although there was, as we have argued, competition within the State-capitalist economies, it was at the level of the international economy that the State-capitalists confronted their rivals: other State-capitalist blocs and countries in the East, as well as the private capitalists of the West (Buick and Crump 1986). Although East-West competition was often seen as purely political and military competition between “capitalism” and “socialism”, the argument presented here is that this competition was competition between capitalists. Thus, it necessitated capital accumulation on the part by the State-capitalists; given that individual enterprises in these countries are dependent on financing from the centre, it follows that the pressures towards capital accumulation operated at the level of the State. Thus, the State-capitalist countries each operated as a bloc of capital on the world markets. The actual extent of integration into the world economy through “foreign” trade with Western capital, and between state-capitalist countries, varied between different blocs of State-capital: in the case of the Soviet Union, it has been estimated that in 1977, exports represented 6.7 percent of GNP, and imports 9 percent of GNP- approximately the same as the USA in the 1970s; in the case of Yugoslavia, foreign trade equalled about one-third of GNP , whilst “Hungary exported about 50 percent of its national income” (Buick and Crump 1986: 98-9).
Against this background I wish to make several points regarding the implications of the crisis and restructuring of the economies of the former Eastern over the last decade. Firstly, given that these countries were not “socialist” but State-capitalist, it follows that their changing fortunes represent less a “crisis for socialism” than an example of capitalist crisis. This capitalist crisis had two main dimensions. On the one hand, the crisis was political: it was in part “brought on by pervasive grassroots opposition” (Cleaver 1993: 1) and widespread popular support and pressure for political and economic change (Kumar 1992; Manning 1993; Weigle and Butterfield 1992). A recognition of the importance of working-class resistance at this point suggests a new interpretation of factors such as low worker productivity in the crisis that struck these regimes from the late 1980s: rather than being the inevitable product of protected jobs under “socialism”, we can recognise in such phenomena elementary and informal worker resistance in situations characterised by prohibitions on formal worker organisation (see Cohen 1994 for a discussion informal resistance in the African context). Secondly, the crisis was economic in the sense of long- term economic decline rooted largely in State-capitalism’s inability to compete effectively with rival capitals, particularly in the production of high productivity, high-value-added goods in the context of an increasingly globally integrated capitalist system (see Manning 1993; Weigle and Butterfield 1992 on these points, albeit it not from a State-capitalist position). By contrast, such economies had proved to be highly effective competitors in the production of heavy industrial goods. It was these forces which prompted a period of economic restructuring (glastnost) and political liberalisation (perestroika) whose explosive consequences need not detain us here.
The second point to make here is that State-capitalism had concrete roots in the ideologies of the revolutionary governments who seized power in an era of State-capitalist revolutions that took place between 1917 and the 1980s (cf. Buick and Crump 1986). In contrast to the view of some writers that the pattern and model of State-capitalism was only established in the late 1920s when internal dislocations and the failure of the revolution to spread internationally sabotaged the genuinely socialist project championed by Lenin and Trotsky (Cliff 1987), the roots of State-capitalism (and the one-party State) are to be found at least in part in Lenin and Trotsky’s vision of socialism itself. Lenin and Trotsky openly argued that socialism was State-capitalism under the control of a revolutionary government. As Lenin put it (cited in Buick and Crump 1986: 114):
For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly. Or, in other words, socialism is merely state -capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the interests of the whole people and has to that extent ceased to be capitalist monopoly.
This was the theoretical underpinning for pre-1921 Bolshevik government’s retention of monetary calculation and accounting, abolition of worker control over the factories, suppression of worker protests and trade union organisation, introduction of piece rates and Taylorist work methods (Brinton 1984; Buick and Crump 1986). Lenin’s differences with the social-democrats did not, therefore, centre around the form that “socialism” would assume, but around the tactics which could be used to achieve that goal (Buick and Crump 1986; Flood 1994).
DOES ANARCHO-SYNDICALISM PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE?
There is one sense in which the twin crisis of social-democracy and Leninism could have potentially positive effects for socialism as a whole: the bankruptcy of both of these hitherto dominant alternatives, and the disorientation of their support base, helps create a context in which other socialist tendencies can be seriously re-examined. The tendency upon which I will concentrate in the remainder of this paper is Anarcho-syndicalism (also referred to as “anarchism” or “libertarian socialism”- I will be using the terms interchangeably) .
There are several reasons for this focus. For one, “in a period where all other sections of the left have been in decline, anarchism has re-established itself and started to grow” and is currently “the only substantial anti-Leninist but revolutionary movement in existence” (Flood 1994). Over the last decade, anarcho-syndicalist organisations have been rebuilt, or established for the first time, in countries across the globe: there are organisations throughout Europe, the Americas, as well as in parts of Asia and Africa. In some of these countries (for example, Venezuela) they are the biggest or only force on the revolutionary left (Flood 1994). It is thus seems likely that the anarcho-syndicalist tendency has the greatest potential for reinvigorating and redefining the socialist movement as a whole.
This contention is strengthened by three further points. Firstly,the anarcho-syndicalist movement has from the 1860s to the present consistently developed an accurate critique of the pitfalls of both social-democracy and Leninism, and, indeed, in a very real sense “crystallised around opposition to the idea that socialism could be introduced by a small elite on behalf of the majority” (Flood 1994: 12). Thus, in 1873, Bakunin accurately predicted the consequences of the Marxist programme as follows (1873: 332-3):
… according to Mr. Marx, the people not only should not abolish the State but, on the contrary, they must strengthen and enlarge it, and turn it over to the full disposition of … the leaders of the Communist party, meaning Mr Marx and his friends … who will then them in their own way. They will concentrate all administrative power In their own hands, because the people are in need of a strong guardianship; and they will create a central State bank which will also control all the commerce, industry, agriculture, and even science. The mass of the people will be divided into two armies, the agricultural and the industrial, under the direct command of the State engineers, who will then constitute the new privileged political-scientific class ….
This position was caricatured by Engels: “They say ‘abolish the state and capital will go to the devil’. We propose the reverse” (in Renshaw 1967: 41). In point of fact, Bakunin argued for the simultaneous abolition of the state and capital, arguing that the Marxist position that the state was necessary for socialist transformation (following which it would “wither away”) was untenable.
Similarly, the anarcho-syndicalists were amongst the first to recognise that the Russian Revolution had been transformed from a workers rising to a State-capitalist system: for example, the August 1918 issue of the journal The Free Voice of Labour (soon banned by Lenin) argued that the Revolution had resulted in the replacement of private capitalism by State-capitalism, and the rule of nobility and bourgeoisie with that of a “new class of administrators … born largely from the womb of the intelligentsia” (cited in Avrich 1967: 192). This outcome, the piece continued, was the product not of the personal defects of the Bolshevik leaders, but the necessary outcome of the use of centralised State power to introduce socialism.
The priority placed by Anarcho-syndicalism on issues of worker-peasant self-management and self-organisation as opposed to authoritarian State and capitalist power resulted in a constant engagement with issues of developing and implementing structures of mass organisation based upon democracy (Flood 1994). This concern was reflected in stress on developing non-bureaucratic, shopfloor based trade unions. It was also reflected in the development of a variety of proposals for the organisation of a self-managed, stateless socialist system, which, as I argue below, have great relevance to this paper’s focus on discussing the necessity and feasibility of socialism in the 1990s.
Finally, Anarcho-syndicalism historically showed itself to be capable of establishing mass working-class based movements. The tendency of many historians tend to treat the history of socialism as synonymous with that of Marxism (for example, Southall 1995) obscures the substantial size of anarcho-syndicalist movements in the pre-1939 period. Without a long exegesis on anarcho-syndicalist history, it is worth noting that many would be surprised to learn that, for example, Anarcho-Syndicalism was the dominant influence on the revolutionary left in the first two decades of thus century, that at one point or another Anarcho-syndicalism was the main political influence on the trade unions of countries as varied as Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay, that anarcho-syndicalists built the first modern trade unions in China, or that the anarcho-syndicalists played a central role in anti-colonial struggles in the Ukraine (1918-21), Korea (1920s to 1930s), and Nicaragua (1927-33) (see Arshinov 1987; Bendana 1995; Dirlik 1991; Fernandez 1986; Ha Ki Rak 1986; Marshall 1994; Renshaw 1967; the pieces collected in van der Linden and Thorpe 1995). More importantly, in a number of cases – for example, Baja California in 1911, Italy in 1920, Ukraine in 1918-21, Manchuria between 1929-32, Nicaragua between 1927-33, and Spain between 1936-7- there were attempts by anarcho-syndicalists to implement their vision of a socialist society, all of which are of great relevance to our discussion. The experience of Spanish Revolution of 1936 in particular, I will argue below, is most instructive in this regard.
a. Anarcho-syndicalist Economic Theory
It must be noted at this point that the anarcho-syndicalists developed a variety of possible frameworks for a libertarian socialist economy. These included Prouhonian mutualism (a form of market socialism based on exchanges between workers co-operatives), and “anarcho-collectivism” (based on workers self-management of industry, with distribution according to need of essential goods and services, and labour cheques whose value was proportionate, essentially, to the amount of hours worked, and which could be exchanged for more discretionary items in communal stores) (these are usefully discussed in Stein 1992a). My focus, however, will be on the third (and most commonly accepted) tradition, that of “anarcho-communism”, which shared the concerns with the establishment of a stateless, classless society based on the socialisation of the means of production, workers’ self-management and economic co-ordination from below. However, in contrast to mutualism, and in common with anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism rejected co-ordination through the market in favour of economic planning and co-ordination from below through workers associations; in contrast to both mutualism and anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism rejected any notion of payment according to hours worked in favour of the distribution of goods and services on the basis of need (with scarce items rationed to ensure equitable distribution).
In what follows, I first outline the various dimensions of the anarcho-communist model, and, secondly, move on to assess both its achievements and failures when applied in practice in the Spanish Revolution of 1936-7. It is important to note at this stage that all of the models of an anarcho-syndicalist economy discussed so far share a common concerns. As Rocker put it (quoted in Flood et al 1997: 150):
Common to all Anarchists is the desire to free society of all political and social coercive institutions which stand in the way of a free humanity. In this sense Mutualism, Collectivism and Communism are merely assumptions as to the means of safeguarding a free community.
Rocker even held that these systems could coincide within an anarcho-syndicalist society as “free experimentation and practical testing out” took place. However, as I will indicate below in my discussion of the question of wages, there are good reasons to suggest that he exaggerates the extent of compatibility between these various systems, Nonetheless, the general point here is that the common concerns of these different sets of proposals leads to a high degree of continuity between the various systems. I will thus draw on a wide variety of writers to make many of my general points.
As noted earlier, both social-democrats and Leninists have been partisans of an economy directed and restructured from above. For Marx and Engels, socialism required the centralisation of the means of production in the hands of a State that would conscript agricultural and industrial workers into “armies of labour”; for Lenin, under socialism, not only must we “organise in Russia the study and teaching of the Taylor system” but impose on workers “iron discipline … [and] … unquestioning obedience to the will of a single person, the Soviet leader, while at work”; for Trotsky (quoted in Brinton 1984: 41, 61; Buick and Crump 1986: 116; Guerin 1970: 43-4),
… the working class must be thrown here and there, appointed, commanded, just like soldiers. Deserters from labour ought to be formed into punitive battalions or put in concentration camps …
By contrast, Bakunin argued that “every command slaps liberty in the face” and argued for a socialism based on workers and peasants “organised from the bottom up in completely free and independent associations, without government paternalism though not without the influence of a variety of free individuals and parties” (1871: 240; 1873: 328). In such a situation the State, regarded by the anarcho-syndicalists as no more than a tool of the ruling class, is abolished. Similarly, class itself is abolished because the distinction between owners and producers disappears with the direct take-over of the means of production by the workers and peasants: “capital itself, industrial establishments, raw materials, and capital equipment … become the collective property of workers’ associations for agricultural and industrial production, and these are freely organised and federated amongst themselves” (Bakunin quoted in Guerin 1970: 56). In most anarcho-syndicalist accounts, these embryo of these future workers’ associations are the trade unions. For Bakunin, the trade unions “bear in themselves the living germs of the new social order, which is to replace the bourgeois world. They are creating not only the ideas but the facts of the future itself ” (quoted in Rocker 1988: 27-8). However, anarcho-syndicalists stressed that the trade unions would only be able to accomplish this historic task if imbued with revolutionary purpose, and organised in a non-bureaucratic and federalist manner that placed power in the hands of shopfloor structures representing the union rank-and-file (Makhno, Archinov et al 1926; Rocker 1988).
This concern with self-management is clearly expressed by Proudhon (quoted in Guerin 1970: 45):
We, the workers … do not need the State … Exploitation by the State always means rulers and wage slaves. We want the government of man by man no more than the exploitation of man by man. Socialism is the opposite of governmentalism … We want these [workers] associations to be … the first components of a vast federation of associations and groups united in the common bond of the democratic and social republic.
Proudhon goes on to outline the features of self-management at the level of the workers association as including the sharing of unpleasant and heavy tasks by all workers, the widest possible training of the worker in all aspects of the industry in question, the democratic discussion of all decisions by the associates, the election of any management staff, and the selection by workers of technical specialists such as engineers and architects: “there is room for all in the sunshine of the revolution” (Guerin 1970: 46). However, as Bakunin points out, there is no reason why such specialists should receive economic privileges (1994: 5):
But isn’t administrative work also productive work? No doubt it is, for lacking a good and intelligent administration, manual labour would not produce anything or it will produce very little and badly. But from the point of view of justice and the needs of production itself, it is not at all necessary that this work should be monopolised in my hands, or above all, that I should be compensated at a rate so much higher than manual labour … If [under capitalism I as an employer] concentrate in my hands the administrative power, it is not because the interests of production demand it, but in order to serve my own ends, the ends of exploitation.
Thus, at the level of the individual workplace, key decisions would be made through democratic assemblies, and a committee of delegates and specialists from amongst the workers themselves would be elected and mandated to implement these decisions. In addition, new criteria for “efficiency” would need to be developed. Under capitalism, the key criterion for “efficiency” tends to be maximum output for minimum work-time, because this approach is essential to effective capitalist competition (Buick and Crump 1986). In an anarcho-syndicalist society, other considerations would need to be taken into account. For example, many writers have emphasised that every effort should be made to ensure that work was a pleasant and safe as possible (Berkman 1989). Similarly, care should be taken to minimise harm to the environment, both because of the planet’s finite resource base (Stein 1992a), and because the immediate victims of a polluting workplace would be its workers (and nearby communities).
The anarcho-communist model rejects the notion that goods should be distributed in accordance with the productivity of individuals. Thus, they reject the anarcho-collectivist proposal that entitlement to goods should be proportionate to the numbers of hours worked. Firstly, this model neglects factors other than duration in determining the value of labour: skill, intensity of work and so on. Thus, as Cafiero, one of Bakunin’s associates, put it, “three hours of Peter’s work may be worth five of Paul’s” (cited in Geurin 1970: 49). Would it be just to give Peter almost fifty percent less goods than Paul merely on account of the hours worked? Secondly, this model fails to relate distribution to the actual needs of workers. For example, distribution on the basis of the number of hours worked fails to take into account the family needs of workers (Geurin 1970). A third point of criticism of the labour-cheque system is that it presupposes that we can meaningfully talk of individual production and of individual entitlement to goods. However, given that the wealth of a country is the collective product of the workers as a whole, and given that the very usefulness of given facilities -for example, coal mines- derives only from their integration into a broader, complex and interdependent economy, there is no basis for special individual claims on the output of society as a whole (Kropotkin 1987; Makhno, Archinov et al 1926: 26-7). In light of these points, money and labour cheques are abolished: the guiding principle is the maxim “from each according to his production, to each according to his need”. Where goods are scarce, they are rationed so that all have an equal entitlement This has a further implication that all are equally entitled to work; those who place themselves outside of the system of collective labour can make no claim on the collective products of society.
Having established how goods ought to be distributed, let us turn our attention to questions of how the goods themselves would be produced in the first place. Where will the workplaces acquire the inputs they require, and through what outlets will the products be distributed? How will need to be matched to supply? The solution to these questions is the federation of the various workers associations, and a process of planning from below. As Proudhon’s reference to organisation at a countrywide level (“the common bond of the democratic and social republic”) indicates, the anarcho-syndicalists were not at all, contrary to popular myth, advocates of disorganisation. The point, however, was that unity between different social units would be achieved through the free federation of workers associations at local, district, regional, national, continental, and, ultimately, international levels (Guerin 1970). Thus, a united, borderless world is constructed on the ruins of the State system. Typically, the anarcho-syndicalists envisaged such economic federalism as taking place both between units within given industries (for example, textiles or metals), as well as between different industries in given localities (or “communes”) (Rocker 1988). There would thus be both industrial and territorial interconnections between the different units on the basis of workers democracy. Clearly, the task of federation along these lines is greatly facilitated if the workers’ associations emerge from revolutionary trade unions with national and regional levels of organisation (Rocker 1988). Thus, at the level of the economy, (Makhno, Archinov et al 1926: 27):
Management will pass …. to the administration especially created by the workers: workers’ soviets, factory committees or workers’ management of works and factories. These organs [are] interlinked at the level of the commune, district and finally general and federal management of production. Built by the masses and always under their control and influence, all these organs constantly renew and realise the idea of self-management, real self-management, by the mass of the people.
Planning would take place as follows. The different workplaces would collect data on both their capabilities and the needs of the workers and their communities (the latter possibly ascertained through communal assemblies similar to the workplace assemblies). These statistics provide a basis for economic co-ordination at all levels of the global economy. “Self-sufficiency” is a guiding principle: wherever possible, attempts are made to match supply and demand at the lowest possible level of the federation. For example, a demand for shoes should ideally be matched with shoe producers in the immediate locality, failing which attempts should be made to organise this match at the district level, or the regional level etc.There is no necessary reason why a demand for shoes in the Durban commune should be linked to shoe factories in Seoul when shoes may be made in Pinetown. On the contrary, an avoidable Durban- Seoul link adds unnecessary complications to the planning process and wastes resources.
This “vast economic federation” (Bakunin) would be co-ordinated by delegate committees at all levels, and at its apex would be an international planning council. According to Bakunin, “with the help of world-wide statistics, giving data as comprehensive as they are detailed and precise”, this council would be able to co-ordinate supply and demand on a global scale and, in Geurin’s words, “direct, distribute and share out world industrial production among the different countries so that crises in trade and employment, enforced stagnation, economic disaster, and loss of capital would almost certainly entirely disappear” (1970: 55). Buick and Crump, whose position has much in common with Anarcho-syndicalism, describe this as a system of “calculation in kind” (1986: 134). Production is organised, ultimately, around the production of production of use-values to satisfy human needs: what is of interest to the planning process is the quantity of specific goods required by the different workplaces; the function of the planning process is to co-ordinate the demands of the various workplaces to one another. In the anarcho-communist model, distribution would in turn take place through collectivised distribution networks and outlets (Makhno, Archinov et al 1926).
Space constraints make it impossible to consider all the possible criticisms that might be advanced against this model, but I will examine at least some objections before proceeding to an examination of the experience of revolutionary Spain (see Flood et al 1997 for a discussion of others). Firstly, it could be argued that the abolition of money and the market removes any basis for rational economic calculation: Mises, for example, argued that in a complex and developed economy , economic calculation was only possible through a free market which established the exchange value of all goods (cited in McNally 1993). Leaving aside the criticisms of the claim that the market is “rational” which I developed earlier, I will just point out that this argument is misleading, because “socialism, as a moneyless society in which use values would be produced from other use values, would need no universal unit of account but could calculate exclusively in kind” through the mechanism of the workers’ economic federation (Buick and Crump 1986: 135).
The model I have outlined above could also be criticised for failing to take full cognisance of the complexities of planning. Hayek, for instance, argued that efficient planning was impossible, because the knowledge is fragmented between individuals: whilst individuals are familiar with their immediate circumstances, they are ignorant of the circumstances of others (1944). According to Hayek, this means that the price system is necessary because it allows these separate agents to co-ordinate their decisions on the basis of the information transmitted through price signals. Hayek (1944) also argued that planned economies were authoritarian because they force individuals to conform to certain patterns of consumption, occupation, and so on. There is more than a grain of truth in Hayek’s point that a tiny group of central planners will have difficulty running a complex economy on their own because it will be difficult for them to have know every nuance of the economy. Nonetheless, it is precisely the strength of the anarcho-communist model that it does not place its faith in the infallibility of a group of savants. Granted, knowledge is fragmented between individuals, but the anarcho-communist model provides, through the mechanism of planning from below, an effective mechanism for the collection and collation of relevant economic data: in this model, planning does not devolve upon a few experts, but is undertaken by the workers and their delegates at every level. In this manner, not only is the international planning council at the apex of the planning system supplied with accurate data, but its task is in large part that of co-ordinating plans which have already been partially developed at other levels of the economic federation. Finally, the democratic nature of the planning process disposes of the claim that planning is incompatible with individual freedom: on the contrary, not only does the plan reflect the demands of individuals, but the goods and services it makes possible provide individuals with the means to actually attain their goals.
Of course, It could be argued that the planning process would be unable to match demand with supply on a precise basis, given that people’s needs might change between the period of planning and the actual point at which the goods are made available. What if, for example, a given community expresses a need for 200 bars of chocolate at the time of planning, but finds, after the shoes have been received, that this number is no longer adequate because many of the chocolates are subsequently spoilt by the failure of refrigerators in a period of unexpectedly hot weather. Several solutions present themselves. Firstly, depending the period of the planning cycle, and the existence of goods that may be substituted for those in short supply (for example, other confections), it may be possible to defer demand for the good until the completion of the next planning-production cycle. Secondly, the economic federation could avoid such mishaps by purposefully over-producing many consumer and some producer goods (McNally 1993). Thirdly, it might be useful to consider the development of mechanism whereby “emergency” replacements of urgent goods could take place: for example, given that accounts in kind are kept and collated by the economic federation, it should be possible to distribute surplus goods from areas in which demand has turned out to be lower than was expected at the planning stage, to areas where the goods are needed; or the general planning-production cycle could be complemented by a special short-term planning cycle that would function, specifically to deal with equilibrium problems of the sort we have just discussed.
b. Revolutionary Spain and Anarcho-syndicalism, 1936-7
Ultimately, the strongest argument that can be made for the feasibility of the anarcho-syndicalist/ libertarian socialist model that I have outlined is practice. The Spanish Revolution began in the aftermath of a failed fascist coup by General Franco on the 18 July 1936. The coup, which was sponsored by conservative sections of big capital and the Church, failed in most of Spain in the face of armed resistance by workers and peasants, which was organised primarily by the giant revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the National Confederation of Labour (C.N.T.). “Within hours of the Franco assault, anarchist workers and peasants seized direct control over rural land, cities, factories, and social service and transport networks” (Breitbart 1979a: 60; also Geurin 1970: 130-1). This outcome was the direct result of the strength of a mass anarcho-syndicalist worker and peasant movement (Amsden 1979; Breitbart 1979a), amongst whom, a German observer noted, “the problem of the social revolution was continuously and systematically discussed in their trade-union and group meetings, in their papers, their pamphlets and their books” (cited in Geurin 1970: 121). The C.N.T., which arguably commanded the support of a majority of workers and peasants, defined its goal as “libertarian communism”, a programme which it defined in great detail in its Saragossa Programme of May 1936 . Reasons of space prevent a discussion of this and other C.N.T. documents, but suffice it to say that the C.N.T. stood squarely within the tradition of anarcho-communism outlined above (for discussions of these programme, see Geurin 1970: 121-6; Guillen 1992: 8-11).
At least two thousand self-managed rural collectives were formed, over fifteen million acres of land expropriated between July 1936 and January 1938, and between seven and eight million people were directly or indirectly affected by collectivisation in the nearly 60 percent of Spain’s land area affected by this process (Breitbart 1979a: 60). Collectivisation was voluntary, and usually followed a village meeting at which a decision was taken to pool peasant plots and instruments of production, and land seized from the estate-holders into a single production unit. Artisans, barbers and other non-agricultural workers were also grouped into collectives (Geurin 1970). Within this unit, the land was divided between work teams (brigada) of ten to fifteen people on a technical basis. Within the brigada, less pleasant tasks were rotated and shared, and each person encouraged to perform those task (s) for which s/he had special competence (Breitbart 1979b; Geurin 1970). Management committees with regularly rotating memberships were elected to oversee the economic and social activities on each collective, and monthly general assemblies of both working and non-working members were held to review production plans, evaluate progress and redesign stages of production (Breitbart 1979b; Geurin 1970). Overall, no tasks were given status over others, no did any collective members get paid for doing administrative work: in most collectives, payment was done according to need: all collective members were assured of food, clothing and shelter (Breitbart 1979b). These goods were made available through elected committees of consumers who organised the supply and distribution of goods through “co-operative warehouses”, many of which were situated in old churches. Churches, convents and old army barracks, and mansions were usually turned into schools, cinemas, libraries, garages, old people’s homes or hospitals (none of which had previously been common in the countryside) (Breitbart 1979b). Education was free, and compulsory for all children under 14 (Geurin 1970).
Most collective villages were able to improve the living standards of their members, and strenuous efforts were made in most cases to increase production (Breitbart 1979b). This was often done quite successfully, as formerly vacant land was brought under cultivation, herds increased, conservation measures introduced (such as crop rotation and planting to trees to prevent soil erosion), and, with the help of technicians and agronomists, new or better farming techniques applied (for example, irrigation was greatly expanded, selective cattle breeding developed, and tree nurseries established) (Breitbart 1979b). In some cases, harvests were increased by up to five times their pre-Revolution level (Breitbart 1979b: 89). New industries -such as food processing, paper production, and soap manufacture- were also introduced or expanded in the rural areas in order to increase their self-sufficiency (Breitbart 1979b).
Production was planned, and special attention was paid to such factors as the needs of the urban workers and the workers militia (which was holding the front against the Franco’s troops) (Breitbart 1979b). In contrast to the notion that the collectives were isolated from, and in competition with, one another, several large regional federations of collectives composed of villages, districts and provinces, were formed between July 1936 and June 1937: these included the Regional Federation of peasants of Levant, the Regional Federation of Peasants of Castile, and the Council of Aragon (Breitbart 1979b; Geurin 1970). These federations helped facilitate the transfer of goods within and between the collectivised districts, and between the rural collectives and the cities. Delegates from each collective submitted records of imports and exports to a record keeper for the region, which allowed the synchronisation of production and distribution within the collectivised zones; within the local district, surplus goods were transferred between villages or used for trade within the larger region (a form of equalisation fund); the federation as a whole helped organise the co-ordination of production between the collectives, and transfers of rural products to the urban areas in return for products such as machinery; the federal structures also enabled the supply of health services to poorer districts and the organisation of research teams to advise collectives on new agricultural techniques (Breitbart 1979b). Backward and forward linkages were established between collectives, the transport system was correspondingly revamped, whilst the railway lines were themselves placed under the control of the C.N.T. National Union of Railways (see below for discussion of workers’ control in industry) (Breitbart 1979b).
Thus, “[c]ommunal proprietorship of the land and the elimination of class in anarchist areas after July 1936, replaced private land ownership and capitalist or feudal power hierarchies” with a highly efficient, integrated system of self-management and co-operative production” (Breitbart 1979b: 93). The revolution was not, however, confined to the rural areas: urban workers implemented “one of the lengthiest and most extensive experiments in complete workers production of industrial production” in history, restructuring economic and social life around their trade unions (Amsden 1979: 99). Some sense of the extent of collectivisation is provided by a contemporary observation that “railways, tramcars and buses, taxicabs and shipping,electric light and power companies, gasworks and waterworks, engineering and automobile assembly plants, mines and cement works, textile mills and paper factories, electrical and chemical concerns, glass bottle factories and perfumeries, food processing plants and breweries were confiscated or controlled by workmen’s committees, either term possessing for the owners almost equal significance” (Bolloten cited in Conlon 1986: 20-1). He continues: “motion picture theatres and legitimate theatres, newspapers and printing, shops, department stores and hotels, de-lux restaurants and bars were likewise sequestered” (ibid.). Many of these industries were vast in size: for example, nearly the entire Spanish textile industry, with nearly a quarter of a million workers scattered over several cities, was placed under self-management (Flood et al 1997: 201). According to some estimates, at least 3,000 enterprises were collectivised in the massive industrial city of Barcelona (Conlon 1986: 19).
In one sense, however, the urban collectivisations were less comprehensive than those that took place in the countryside. Some were entirely taken over and run by the workers, whilst in others, workers restricted themselves to the establishment of “control committees” with a veto power over capitalist management’s (Amsden 1979; Conlon 1986). Generally speaking, the more self-managed units tended to be those where the majority trade union was part of the C.N.T.; the units based on “control committees” were often strongholds of the General Union of Labour (U.G.T.), a social-democratic trade union, or subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms. In the self-managed factories (it was held in the latter case that full collectivisation would entail a disruption of vital linkages with the parent company). Within the self-managed firms, the basic unit of decision-making was the workers’ assembly, which in turn elected a committee of delegates from each section of the plant to oversee the day-to-day running of the firm (Flood et al 1997; Geurin 1970). The workers’ committees often included a number of technical experts as well. The functions of these committees included dealing with issues of finances, the collection of statistics, correspondence, and liaison with other plants and the community (Flood et al 1997).
Again, as was the case in agriculture, self-management was associated with remarkable improvements in both workers conditions, and productivity and efficiency. Thus, the Catalan workers were successful in restoring services in water, power, and transport through workers committees before the street battles against the Francoists had even ended (Amsden 1979: 104). The tramways had been partly damaged by the fighting in Barcelona, and there was thus more of a delay in this area. Nonetheless, the Transport Syndicate of the C.N.T. (the majority union amongst tramworkers) immediately appointed a commission to inspect the tracks and draw up a plan for repair (Conlon 1986). “Five days after the of the fighting stopped, 700 tramcars, instead of the usual 600, all painted in the red and black colours of the C.N.T., were operating on the streets of Barcelona” (Conlon 1986: 20).The number of accidents were reduced in subsequent months, whilst fares were lowered and the number of passengers carried increased: in 1936 the trams had carried 183,543,516 passengers; in 1937, an additional 50,000,000 people were carried (Conlon 1986: 20). Wages for workers were increased and equalised, free medical care was provided, and the tramway workers also began to produce rockets and howitzers for the war effort. Similarly, the workers at the Hispano-Suiza factory for luxury cars turned the lines over to war production, with fifteen armoured cars produced for the front within seven days of the start of restructuring (Amsden 1979). Similar examples of restructuring under workers’ control in other sectors abound (Amsden 1979; Conlon 1986; Flood et al 1997; Guillen 1992).
Clearly, the collectivisation process in revolutionary Spain indicates that the goals of classlesness, workers’ self-management, distribution according to need, and democratic economic planning were both realisable and quite compatible with economic efficiency, innovation, increased output, and even ecological concerns. This is not to claim that mistakes were not made. Firstly, economic co-ordination between collectives was unevenly applied. This was especially evident in industry where there were initially few attempts to co-ordinate beyond the workplace, and a number of firms began to sell goods on the market in a manner strongly reminiscent of Proudhonian mutualism (Flood et al 1997; Geurin 1970). Several solutions were applied: one was for collectives to continue operating within the market, but under the guidance of the trade union in that industry, which would seek to minimise the ill-effects of this situation; another approach was to unify whole industries through the aegis of trade unions, which would provide an organised structure to link the workers’ committees together in a democratic process of planning (Flood et al 1997). This latter option was similar to the process of regional federation in the countryside. However, none of these solutions was entirely satisfactory: the first failed to transcend the market form, and instead turned into a form of “worker capitalism” (as many militants pointed out); in the second model, co-ordination took place, at best, at the level of industry, or rural region, and did not thus provide an adequate vehicle for comprehensive planning, and, hence, the full realisation of libertarian socialism.
Thus, the collectives’ ultimate failure was a lack of unity at the national level; the financial system, in particular, was not socialised, whilst the (non-Francoist) State itself continued to exist. The capitalist State and the organs of worker-peasant self-management soon came into conflict. A series of decrees designed to bring the collectives under ever closer State supervision were paralleled by attempts to sabotage their functioning which included deliberate disruptions of urban-rural exchanges, and the systematic denial of working capital and raw materials to many collectives (Amsden 1979; Breitbart 1979a, 1979b; Geurin 1970). In May 1937, street battles broke out as troops moved against urban collectives such as the C.N.T.- controlled telephone exchange in Barcelona (Breitbart 1979a, 1979b; Conlon 1986; Geurin 1970). In August 1937, Aragon was militarily invaded, completely destroying thirty percent of the collectives and forcibly disbanding the Council of Aragon; similar attacks were later launched in the Levant, in Castile and in the provinces of Huesac and Terule (Breitbart 1979a, 1979b; Conlon 1986; Geurin 1970). In August 1938, all war-related industries were placed under full government control (Geurin 1970). In all cases where the collectives were undermined, there were substantial drops in both productivity and morale: a factor which surely contributed to the final defeat of the Spanish Republic by the Francoist forces in 1939 (Breitbart 1979b; Conlon 1986; Geurin 1970).
It should just, however, be noted in conclusion that the failure of the anarcho-syndicalists to institute libertarian socialism at a national level did not reflect an inability or unwillingness to organise at a national level (“ambivalence to the terrifying enigma of state power” ) or a desire to return to a “barter economy” (!!) as Amsden (1979: 100, 102) asserts. On the contrary, the Saragossa Programme of the C.N.T. called for both a national level federation of worker and peasant associations, as well as a national-level worker-controlled Defence Council to co-ordinate the military defence of the revolution (Guillen 1992; Wetzel 1987). This in no way requires the existence of a State. The failure of the anarcho-syndicalists to institute full libertarian socialism was not thus the product of lacunae and confusion in their programme, but, rather, the logical consequence of a perceived need to co-operate with the Republican government against what was regarded as the more pressing threat of Franco (Conlon 1986; Geurin 1970; Guillen 1992). Taken with reluctance, and in conflict with all anarcho-syndicalist principles, this basically tactical decision ultimately proved disastrous for the whole project of revolution: the self-limitations accepted by the anarcho-syndicalists as a means to facilitate co-operation possible did not, as we have seen, prevent the Republican government from moving against the anarcho-syndicalists as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Guillen summarises the lessons of this experience as follows (1992: 25-6):
…the libertarian social revolution suffers one dilemma: either it is carried out immediately and totally, above and below, or it is lost to the power of the State and to its bureaucratic and bourgeois supporters … libertarian social power must substitute and destroy the exploitative and oppressive state …
This paper has sought to examine whether a future for socialism exists. The effect of the twin crisis of social-democracy and Leninism has been to delegitimise the socialist project in the eyes of many. It is against this background that I have sought to restate the case against the market, arguing that it is an indefensible system of exploitation and domination. The next step in my argument was to critically examine the various “socialism’s” currently or previously on offer. Here I have argued that neither social-democracy, Leninism nor “market socialism” provide genuine alternatives to capitalism. At a broader level, the point can be made that discussion on the issue of the negation of capitalism should go beyond the State/market dichotomy which so dominates most current thinking on these issues. For the State does not provide an alternative to capitalism, any more than capitalism provides an alternative to the State. Both of these structures of social organisation are integrally linked to, and complement, each other. Now, given that neither structure is, as I have argued, desirable, the question becomes: is there a third way? My discussion of Anarcho-syndicalism – stateless socialism – has sought to demonstrate the intellectual coherence, feasibility and desirability of just such an alternative. The issue facing socialists should not therefore be: “is this the end of history?”. Rather, the challenge is to rediscover and learn from an important part of socialist history, the rich and historically vindicated tradition of Anarcho-syndicalism. If there is one positive side to the current crisis of the left, it is that the difficulties experienced by the previous “big traditions” opens up space for wider discussion, and hopefully, acceptance, of the libertarian alternatives sidelined since the 1920s and 1930s.
 According to one commentator, Bakunin’s anarchism was a synthesis of “Proudhonian politics” and “Marxian economics” (Kenafik 1990). This, I think, greatly overstates Marx’s influence on Bakunin, and, conversely, underestimates the extent to which “Marxist economics” often simply expressed ideas that were common in the socialist milieu as a whole.
 Proudhon, often identified as a founder of Anarchism, advocated an early form of market socialism (“mutualism”). However, Proudhon’s views were marginalised in
the Anarchist movement from the latter 1860s by the Bakuninists (see Woodcock 1961).
 For a briefer definition from the same viewpoint, see Giddens (1989: 612).
”Of course,” as McNally (1993: 254, note 7), “extra-economic coercion only ‘pulls back’ from centre-stage. It is always in the wings waiting to be used when economic compulsion alone does not suffice to maintain the stability of capital accumulation”. To this point, I will just add: the use of extra-economic coercion varies between periods and regions. It was characteristic of South African mining and farming throughout the twentieth-century (see Legassick 1974).
 My focus here is on orthodox social-democracy, but Labourism in Britain, Australia and New Zealand was characterised by a very similar programme in the period between the end of World war One and the 1980s (Buick and Crump 1986).
 After 1914, not even the leaders of the Russian social-democratic party, such as Lenin, could maintain their illusions in the socialist pretensions of the Second International: in 1914, party after party voted in favour of the imperialist war; in 1918, the prestigious German Social Democratic Party forcibly crushed incipient German revolution. Thus from 1914, Leninists have distanced themselves from the Second International to which they previously adhered, arguing that that organisation had somehow been corrupted by such factors as the trade union bureaucracy, the conservative “labour aristocracy”, and “parliamentary cretinism”. However, even of founded on an ostensibly revolutionary programme, the revolutionary rhetoric of the organisations such as the gigantic German Social Democratic Party (SPD) had long been belied by the party’s essentially reformist practice and vision of social change. In the 1890s party leaders such as Engels suggested that the task of the SDP was to increase its electoral support until the party became “the decisive power in the land” whilst Kautsky argued that socialism would be attained in successive, cumulative, stages: first, the workers (presumably through the SDP) would take State power; then the minimum programme would be implemented; then the capitalists would want to willingly sell their enterprises to the State; then State control (“socialism”) of the economy could be implemented (Buick and Crump 1986; Milliband 1977: 80). Although openly “revisionist” reformists such as Bernstein were officially condemned by the leadership, in practice only rhetoric distinguished the ostensible revolutionaries from the heretics (Rocker 1988).
 Of course, it is true, as Hirst and Thompson point out, that many of the transnational firms retain national bases, and that both foreign trade flows and patterns of foreign investment remain concentrated within the core capitalist countries and a few NICs (Newly Industrialising Countries) (1995). Nonetheless, even these writers recognise that capitalism has become increasingly internationalised and difficult to regulate at the national level. Now, it should be noted that the thesis that such developments undermines the welfare State does not require the full “globalisation” of capital for its proof, only an unprecedented level of capital internationalisation. Moreover, I argue that changes in the organisation of capital are only part of a complex of factors undermining the welfare State.
 Some Trotskyists have argued that these privileges were analogous to those enjoyed by trade union bureaucracies i.e. that countries such as the Soviet Union were essentially “workers’ states” distorted by a parasitic bureaucracy, in the same way that workers trade unions are distorted by the presence of a trade union leadership. What this approach seems unaware of is that, unlike trade union leaders, the ruling stratum (or, more accurately, class) had control over vast territories, the means of production and the coercive power of the State: the inability of a Scargill or a Shilowa to exile political opponents to labour camps, or to annex neighbouring countries seems to have passed these writers by.
 This issue is also discussed in Hudson and Louw (1992) and Nove (1990), but these writers treat it purely as an argument against the desirability of central planing, rather than as a description of the actual functioning of such economies.
 Losses in some industries can be tolerated because the State is able to redistribute surplus value from some sectors to others (Buick and Crump 1986). Nonetheless, the State cannot remain indifferent to profitability at the level of the economy as a whole, whilst, as I have argued earlier, prices must generally take into account the actual value of the commodity (ibid.).
 A discussion of the roots of political dictatorship in the former Soviet Union falls outside the scope of this paper. However, it may be worth noting that defenders of Lenin and Trotsky who point to Lenin’s State and Revolution and Trotsky’s clash with Stalin in the mid-1920s as evidence that the Bolsheviks were opposed to a one-party dictatorship (e.g. Harman 1987) can only sustain their case by ignoring Lenin and Trotsky’s crushing of worker and peasant resistance, repression of other socialists, and statements to the contrary. For instance, Trotsky in 1921 lambasted critics of Bolshevik domination for questioning the domination of the Bolshevik party: “As if the Party were not entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers democracy”(cited in Nove 1990: 181).
 Some of the attempts to develop entirely new socialist alternatives by sections of the left are critically discussed in Flood (1994).
 Those socialists who criticised these measures were denounced by Lenin as “representatives of petty-bourgeois laxity” against whom a struggle must be waged with the aid of both “propaganda and agitation” and “coercion” (the phrases are Lenin’s, the source is Buick and Crump 1986: 116).
 Such statements surely dispose of the myth that Marx and Lenin believed in a democratic socialism based on “planning from below” on the model of the Paris Commune (e.g. Briccanier 1980: 40). Similarly, the notion that “Marx’s socialism was simultaneously anti-statist and anti-market” (McNally 1993: 3) flies in the face of the facts.
 This, of course, disposes of the notion that peasants are inherently attached to private property. Where individuals refused to join the collectives, they were not forced to do so; they were allotted as much land as they could work without hiring wage labour (Geurin 1970).
 In some collectives, anarcho-collectivist forms of distribution (according to hours worked) were applied. More common was distribution on the basis of need through what were effectively ration cards designed to ensure that even where goods and services were scarce, each family would have its needs satisfied (Breitbart 1979b; Geurin 1970). This system was not “money” as Amsden incorrectly asserts (1979: 102).
 Whilst making reference to Amsden (1979) here and elsewhere, however, I do not associate myself with his fundamental misunderstandings of the Spanish Revolution. I hope that this comes across clearly in subsequent footnotes and the body of the text.
 It is true economic restructuring in the cities was partly “imposed by immediate social necessities”, such as war production and the need to restore public services in the wake of the flight of many employers (Amsden 1979: 102). Nonetheless, it was arguably the influence of Anarcho-syndicalism that ensured that workers self-management came to provide the key solution in this regard.
 The claim that the tiny Unified Marxist Workers Party (POUM) “was the second most important workers’ organisation” in the industrial Catalan region (Amsden 1979: 101) simply cannot be sustained. The only other tendency in the labour movement with an influence comparable to that of Anarcho-syndicalism was social-democracy. Unfortunately, Amsden is all too consistent with a pattern in the left-wing literature of exaggerating the role of the POUM (for example, Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom).
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