Marx, Orwell and State-Cartel Socialism
Marx, Orwell and State-Cartel Socialism by Charles Hugh Smith – Of Two Minds
When “socialist” states have to impose finance-capital extremes that even exceed the financialization of nominally capitalist economies, it gives the lie to their claims of “socialism.”
OK, so our collective eyes start glazing over when we see Marx and Orwell in the subject line, but refill your beverage and stay with me on this. We’re going to explore the premise that what’s called “socialism”–yes, Scandinavian-style socialism and its variants–is really nothing more than finance-capital state-cartel elitism that has done a better job of co-opting its debt-serfs than its state-cartel “capitalist” cronies.
We have to start with the question “what is socialism”?The standard definition is: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
In practice, the community as a whole is the state. Either the state owns a controlling interest in the enterprise, or it controls the surplus (profits), lanbor rules, etc. via taxation and regulation.
The problem with equating the community with the state is the community is a completely different order from the centralized state, which is operated and controlled by a self-serving clerisy class that institutionalizes benefiting the few at the expense of the many.
The more accurate definition of socialism is: the means of production are owned and controlled by those who produce the goods the services. Marx wrote a great many things in his career, and those who view his writings as scripture will argue endlessly over various interpretations and passages, much like people argue over the Bible.
In my view, Marx was a political-economy philosopher, not a demi-god, and so he retained the right to be completely wrong about some things, to contradict himself, to have missed important second-order effects, to have gotten some things half-right, etc., and most importantly, not to have been clairvoyant about the trajectory of history and capitalism, which he correctly identified as disruptively dynamic, i.e. everything solid melts into air.
One of the things Marx got right was the alienation of the producer/ worker from the output of his/her labor. The alienation is not just a loss of ownership; it’s also a loss of agency and a psychological alienation from the entire mode of production.
The workers’ alienation from the output of their labor doesn’t vanish just because the state owns the means of production; rather, the “capitalist” elite is replaced by a political elite and a state-clerisy managerial class.