Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Even in a socialist society we'd have to do something to reign in tendencies in human nature

A funny thing happened once it became clear that the Revolution had won in Russia. Folks who were previously apathetic to it suddenly became ardent Communists once they figured out that doing so and towing the party line could get them places. Once the horror of Stalinism was over and Khruschev's idealism had been overthrown, the same folks who in the U.S. would be serving time in corporations trying to defend their petty little fiefs and get ahead took over the bureaucracy, and appeared to manipulate it to their own advantage in the same ways that folks over here do. To cite an extreme case about how self-interest can cover up ones true motives, Slobodan Milosevic was the executive in charge of the electric company in Serbia. If we're going to build a just society, something has to be done to restrain people from using the system for their own ends.

Socialism, or at least socialist thought, has been good about prescribing positive goals, in fact this is its great power, but the good old politics of restraint, following from the Enlightenment tradition and upheld in the US of A, also have a roll to play. Something like Mao's stated 'cultural revolution' is not desirable; instead, I think it would be better to design structures of social organization so that careerist abuses are made harder to achieve.

In other words, after power is liberated, there may be reason to restrain the action that can be taken with that power in order to ensure that the system as a whole doesn't become one run by cynics who only serve time in order to try to get more for themselves.

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