Sunday, July 13, 2008

The thing I always say is that socialism was partially realized in the Soviet Union

I say that not because of admiration for the police state that the Soviet Union became but because of some fundamental honesty through being a socialist. One of the barbs thrown at everyone, including Anarchists but mostly non-Anarchist socialists, is that any bad example of socialism is disowned as not really being socialism, leaving real socialism always untouched and pristine. The barb points out that it's pretty convenient to disown all of the experiments where bad things have happened. Me, I go the other way. At this point I say that the Soviet Union was a partially socialist country, Maoist China was a partially socialist country, and both Cuba and the hell that became Albania were both manifestations of socialism. I'm not going to avoid the question. Instead, I think it's useful to work through the historical guilt and responsibility that people who are real socialists today have for the policies of states in the past, and maybe one state in the present...the DPRK.... It's a good work and the process identifies where they went wrong, how they went wrong, what lead to the really bad things happening, where they were right, why those aspects succeeded, and how can we build a viable socialist society that's informed by the experience of the past but not conditioned by it, if that makes any sense. Sort of historical analysis of socialism combined with current concerns about decentralization, anti-Statism, questioning of industrialization.

So yeah, no avoiding it, I'm a socialist who's part of the same movement that unfortunately produced Stalin and equally unfortunately let Mao assume dictatorial leadership of China.

Socialism unfortunately includes gulags as well as substantially equal living conditions even within countries like the Soviet Union. It includes the formation of the KGB, as a nightmare descendent of the Cheka, as well as the positive accomplishments of the Communist International, or Comintern.

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