The question of socialism is mostly hot air on the left. We have tried to explore the reasons here in terms of what we called our DMNC model of ‘democratic market neo-communism’: this phrase is really a quadruple dialectic of ‘democracy/authority’, ‘markets/planning’, based on a Commons where capital/property has undergone expropriation. This requires about five new legal system adjuncts, an immensely complex task that obviates the idiocy of state capitalism, etc…Such a system can use the market method and/or degrees of planning and banish the hayekian obsession with market clearing.
This so-called ‘model’ is itself incomplete but is useful as an exercise is seeing how hard it is to conceive on paper let alone in practice a working socialist model. At the end you will be embarrassed to indulge in empty sloganizing with terms like ‘socialism’…Forget marx. Chasing down the right quote from his writings isn’t enough.
Every effort without fail to create a marxist-style post capitalism has failed. The hayekian analysis (starting with mises) is cogent enough and barely studied on the left but has failed to see that markets might just as well exist in a socialist context. This is not the same as the ‘market socialism’ that was the object of multiple books on the subject thirty years ago which are nonetheless worth studying. The problem is not insoluble but the marxist legacy throws thinking off the track. Forget marx for a moment and start over. How create a viable economy under socialism? There are many solutions to the problem. But for some reason marxists never get it right. In one extreme simplification, at least as a thought experiment, you simply expropriate capital but leave everything else in place: capitalists, now resource managers, license resources from the Commons. There are endless possibilities but the stale thinking of the older left is inhibiting thought. The point here is that despite marx’s refusal to think in specifics which served its purpose long ago, the left must have provably viable systems in advance.
This article rejects ‘socialism in one country’. But, despite the obvious issue of an international, a viable socialism must have a viable realization in one state, possibly in some respects incomplete. The expectation that the whole planet must go communist in all or nothing fashion is unrealistic.
That means that a case like Venezuela, which seems to show the insoluble character of local transitions, should have a model that can prepare itself with a viable national version of near-communism that can also be ready to move into a new international context. If the bolivarians could have managed (as did the cuban case) to simply expropriate the bourgeoisie and thence move to something like our DMNC success might have been realizable.The Bolivarian case is but one of endless examples of empty sloganizing with terminology. Chavez never intended socialism. Alone the cubans managed the transition, but then marxist basics failed them and the result is a pseudo=communism.
The issues of planning are not so intractable as they once seemed given the rapid explosion of computational technology but the nexus of the possible, as with our DMNC model, suggests a hybrid of markets and planning based on a Commons. A Commons is not state capitalism: it is a set of guarantees of getting an equal share and a legal basis to back it up. The revolutionary state with a cadre of one-party state revolutionary celebrities isn’t much of an answer.
In any case, the DMNC model confounds thinking with so many potential solutions that the legacy of socialist/communist mantra chanting of empty slogans seems now to be almost primitive. The legacy of marx/engels is misleading the left with its archaic formulas and bad theories. Consign marx/engels to the status of a heroic saga and move to create something viable for the first time. Marx had little to offer in practice and the endless scrounging for the right quote from his works is a useless exercise. He belongs to the generation blindsided by mises in the twenties, just a leninism was set to go over the falls in a barrel, ending in stalinism.