An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Socialism Defined




Who owns the means of production will always be the critical issue. If you own my means of livelihood, my ability to feed my family, then you will control much about how I look at the world. If identifying with your interests is the difference between advancing in my career and losing my income, then your view of the world will pervade my thoughts, whether I like it or not. If, on the other hand, I and my fellow workers own the means of production, then the whole picture changes. Then how I perceive the world and what I need becomes a factor that you have to deal with. Then we have to negotiate with each other, give a little and take a little until we come to a common agreement. From this viewpoint, simply ensuring that "the business does not pick up and move" is insufficient. What is important is that I have a voice, that my contribution and humanity are not merely a means to someone else's profit, be they local or distant, but an essential element of the business.

I agree with you that what we have in the U.S today is predatory economics, but I don't see this as an aberration from a previous non-predatory economics. Fraud and exploitation are essential features of an economy based on capital accumulation, not aberrations practiced by a greedy few. The reason quantity is dominant over quality is not due to the personal preference of the current President, but because the economic system always privileges quantity because it is measurable. Measurable means that it supports capital accumulation which is the goal of every corporation.

A pathology can also be a system, or, rather, a system can express a pathology which is inherent in what the system privileges. As a socialist, I find your description of human change, "Human systems emerge from human interaction, through various forms of communication and communities" exactly apropos. That is precisely what Marx was talking about when he talked about the "self-emancipation of the worker." We change ourselves through our activity. We transform ourselves in the process of production. "In production, the producers change, too, in that they bring out new qualities in themselves, develop themselves in production, transform themselves, develop new powers and ideas... new needs and a new language." - Karl Marx.

According to Marx, socialism is not a static set of dogmatic intellectual principles, but a method of transformation through productive action. It is inherently transformative and refers to our ability to take responsibility for our own humanity.

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