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Source: Sorry, Not Buying It

“The communist system tried by the soviet union did not work and the capitalist system of the Western world is failing due to wealth being sucked up to the top tier and perpetually always less for the middle and none for the lower tiers of society.”

Source: Summitflyer

Yes, it’s failing for that reason, but you don’t explain WHY it’s happening for that reason. This is where capitalist macrodynamics come in. As Lenin said, the type of capitalism in the imperialist countries is the highest stage of capitalism. The concentration of wealth is a manifestation of the concentration of capital, which characterizes the current capitalist era. This is one of the defining features of capitalist-imperialism, along with the increasingly central role played by finance capital, the export of capital (as opposed to just goods and services), and the formation of capitalist trading associations.

Lenin, during the New Economic Period in the Soviet Union (in which small capitalists were allowed to operate), was explicit about the dangers of allowing even small private enterprise market relations. The reason is that capitalist modes of thinking, action, organization, and more importantly accumulation dynamics continually intrude into the political-economic relations of society, and these relations need to be overcome and vanquished if socialism and then communism are to be built (that is, if the working class is to be truly emancipated from the virus of capitalist exploitation). Many socialist and even Marxist writers have treated small businesses and capitalists as essentially “no big deal”, arguing that there are bigger fish to fry (namely, the big capitalists who own or control gigantic corporations). But in reality, they are a big deal. It’s certainly true that qualitatively they are not the same as Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil or General Motors; it’s certainly true that they are nowhere near as harmful as the big bourgeoisie, but it is nevertheless still true that capitalist-imperialism has its germ in capitalist relations per se, and that includes small scale private enterprises in a competitive market. What many bourgeois and petty-bourgeois commentators always seem to fail to understand is that in a competition, those who win are in a better position to win again. Hence, accumulation, and the ultimate subordination of everything to that singular drive.

Note how you’re arguing from your own class interests (it’s a fundamental tenet of historical materialism that people will tend to believe what is in their perceived class interests to believe): the “communist system tried by the Soviet Union did not work”, and current monopoly capitalism in the West squeezes you out (or at least this seems to be your gripe: that it denies you your “fair share” of the economic pie owed to you for being a small capitalist). The remedy, in your eyes, is to restructure the economy to ensure that more of the proceeds make their way to “the middle” and to the bottom, but doesn’t even so much as imply the need to eliminate the big bourgeoisie as a class, only to make the system “fairer”. And what, in the end, will this greater fairness lead to? More accumulation, more crass materialism, but with “everyone” partaking in it. In other words, more ecocidal outcomes as well. More aspirations to be part of the “middle class” and to live the “good life”. We’ve seen these sorts of reformist tendencies in the rhetoric of Sanders and others, who cast themselves as “progressives”, even “socialists”, but who cap their demands with some extra taxes here and there on the super rich to help pay for some social programs. That’s the extent of their “socialism”. They are in fact social-imperialists: socialists in name, imperialists in deed. This co-towing to small business is guaranteed to fail as a solution to the problems of the working class. As Richard Wolff has noted: reforms of this sort leave intact the very institutions that have a structural imperative to undo them. And the individuals who lead these institutions have become experts at doing so. The socialist solution is to deprive them of the power to make a come-back, to pull out from under their feet the fertile ground of capitalist market relations.

Some think that the problem is “corporate capitalism” or “crony capitalism” rather than capitalism in and of itself. I beg to differ. 1) Capitalism is built entirely upon the exploitation of the working class, at whatever scale, and at all times; 2) it has objective laws of accumulation, beyond the reach of any individual capitalist to put a stop to for personal or ethical reasons These accumulation dynamics always lead to ever greater concentrations of wealth; 3) the bourgeoisie, while it can and has played a progressive role in social struggle (such as against feudalism in Europe, and in China where the small and national bourgeoisie helped fight against the comprador big-bureaucrat state capitalist bourgeoisie allied with land-lordism and imperialism), its essential characteristic is that it wavers, vacillates and is uncertain, jealously on the lookout for its own narrow and parochial interests. This is especially so in an imperialist country like the United States. In a revolutionary New Democracy phase, small-scale capitalist relations and enterprises may be necessary for a while if we are talking about an oppressed semi-feudal country fighting against imperialism; there, the forces of production are not yet sufficiently powerful to ensure security against incursions from the imperialist states, and some concessions must be made to drawn from the expertise and networks of the small bourgeoisie. Even so, this represents a temporary phase on the road to proper socialist organization. But in an advanced capitalist-imperialist country like the United States, Japan, France or Germany, it would probably not be necessary to retain small-scale capitalist market relations, because the forces of production and the social nature of production in large-scale capitalist enterprises are such that the working class could simply expropriate the bourgeoisie and convert existing big capital to the needs of the working class.

The reasons for the failures of Soviet and Chinese socialism failed is a topic that needs to be honestly and diligently investigated. But that is emphatically not the same as issuing sweeping statements about the “unworkability” of socialism. The history of these socialist experiments provides the international working class with a rich bosom of experience and lessons to draw upon in its historic mission to seize political power for itself; that mission has not dissipated simply because the largest challengers to the capitalist system were defeated. We must not squander these lessons and must not sink back into capitalist assumptions about the “need” for private enterprise. Such platitudes as the latter only serve the imperialist bourgeoisie and put a choke-hold on the possibility for true emancipation.