Thursday, October 16, 2008

Socialism and liberation

Or socialism and real liberation since there's a party and magazine of the same name that doesn't seem to have much to do with either. The way I see it is that after a revolutionary struggle there would be two parllel structures in place: the structure determining the economic life of society and the structure regulating what was previously regulated by the political structure of the former society. One of the ways that socialism deals with liberation is to transform the fundamental structure of society so that problems based on it are eliminated. These are usually problems that have to do with the economic, class, and work aspects of society. Sometimes the sorts of rights that we associate with the term in our society right now are dismissed as being "bourgeois". I think that although they're incomplete that they do serve a function, that things like legislation against discrimination by race, gender, sexual orientation, ethic origin, or religion, are necessary for society and so wouldn't be completely superceded in a socialist regime. If these rights are going to still be recognized, albeit restructured within a socialist regime that puts economics as a more primary public concrn, there needs to be a parallel structure in place that can deal with the issues and enforce the laws against discrimination--as well as those for personal freedom within a socialist society. The overall goal of liberation in socialism is to provide the opportunity for self realization and self determination to everyone.

Self realization is only possible with self determination, that is determination to pursue your self realization in any way you so desire, which in turn means legal rights on top of socialist provided opportunities. One doesn't function without the other.

The political sphere would be subjugated to the economic sphere, with economics having to do with the social determination of the distribution of goods, of work, and of society wide decisions about where society should be going. But it may be a mistake to label social, economic, concerns as more important than conventional political rights in a socialist society. Instead, they're just different sorts of rights, and economic and social rights only come first because they effect people on a more fundamental level than political rights usually deal with. While it's certainly possible to have a society that guarantees social rights while denying personal rights, the situation right now in many societies is the reverse: political rights existing but undercut by social inequalities. Of course it's also possible for both the social and the political spheres to be oppressive at the same time. Social rights and political rights are symbiotic, but social rights and their enforcement entails overt management of the economy while political rights usually don't involve that much action on the part of society as a whole to implement. Because of this difference social rights get priority in a society that's gone over the critical mass into real socialism, whether that is achieved by a formal revolution or by a progressive, constant, movement towards revolutionary change.

*On edit: Venezuela would be a good example of how to produce revolutionary change without a formal revolution.

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