At the onset of the present global recession, socialist blogs flooded over cyberspace hoping the best for the end of evil empire of capitalism. Anybody familiar with the writings of Marx and Engels, may find the situation hopelessly ironic since such cycles of recession tossed the economy upside down even then in the 19th century pretty much in the same manner and due to same maladies of capitalism. Nevertheless, every time capitalism managed to float by new innovations and auto-adjustment of market. Question that Marxist theoreticians always asked themselves, how long Capitalism can manage to roll out from this seemingly endless cycles of boom and recession? Can it fail? Remember the case of Iceland-a tiny Island nation in Europe
that transformed into the most prosperous nation in last two decades following the roller coaster of free market only to fail completely in 2008 when market fell flat on their face! We have not seen that kind of catastrophic failure of market in other countries but nevertheless, miseries brought to the people by these recession cycles at least forced us to think whether or not we should seek alternative form of political system to alleviate the level of suffering.
Incidentally the empirical model of any such analysis and speculation to the future is difficult. Reason is simple. Political system in any democratic nation always followed mixed economy of socialism and free market structure. Just to cite a practical example, today I got vaccinated against Swine flu virus from a Govt. established clinic in Baltimore. Demand for Swine flu vaccine is very high and at near fanatic level in our area considering almost 20 deaths reported last month in the state of Maryland. Given such high volume of demand all over the countries, champion of free market would have advocated vaccination through private clinics and vaccine production left to the hand of the pharmaceuticals to ensure success of vaccination. But supreme advocate of free marketers of the world could not rely on free market in this critical matter of public health. Instead US Govt. produced the vaccine on mass scale and distributed for free to the people barring business of any private clinic and pharmaceuticals to profit from the situation.
Why did the advocate of free market lose faith on market on this matter and adopted to socialist practice for vaccination? Reason is simple. Market could have created a huge artificial demand by intentional short supply that would have triggered a massive public outrage among poor Americans who are not covered by any insurance. Even the champions of the free market know very well where to stop with the wheel of capitalism and adopt to socialist practice. I can clearly envision even in coming years US education and health care system would be adopting to more socialist reform or else even those who profit from this sector would be losing money.
Therefore , why not we ask for more socialist reforms even in other spheres of industries such as housing and consumer technology? Trouble starts with the history. Every consumer technology of 20th century whether it is automobile or electric bulb or Internet,has been invented in the USA on the spinning wheel of capitalism. Market is the only force that stimulates meaningful invention for the people. Soviet Union did great in military technology but when it came to innovation for people that makes our life more comfortable, socialist system was a complete failure-they could not discover anything in the field of medicine that is worth mentioning.
After the death of Leninism, it is more worthwhile to think in what alternative form the society would evolve to more socialist and then to communist society. By communism or socialism, I am not definitely indicating autocratic party rule which is nothing but red fascism which we have experienced throughout the failed experiments with Leninism from Moscow to Kolkata. We would rather concentrate on the basic definition of socialism and communism and try to understand whether that structure can still evolve.
An evolution of such structure does not need any bloody revolution that Maoists are seeking in India. Indeed, we even do not need any socialist party or socialist thinker or mass processions to bring socialism. All we need is true democracy and the evolution guaranteed in the political system of democracy. Any political movement to achieve socialism is indeed counterproductive to the emergence of structure of socialism. Such misadventure would actually decelerate the evolution towards socialism. And since my comments are against the known parochial thought process of socialist thinkers, ( except Karl Marx who indeed supported free trade exactly for the same reason I stated above) I need to explain why and how socialism and communism would be final structure of the human society. Certainly it is not the way Lenin or Bernstein envisioned but it definitely follows closely with the way originally Marx propounded. It will not be through any revolution of working class but by the gradual changes of the society due to technological revolution.
Biggest drawback of Marxism is rooted in its complete exclusion of reproductive fitness as the key driver of the society and the people. Marx was oblivious to Darwinian Historical Materialism ( the subject emerged only in last two decades in Social Science) which can explain the emergence of structure or self organization of our society in more details than Marxism. It’s simple. Survival of our genetics or genetic group is key to our evolutionary process. Political systems also go through same selection and deletion process as biological beings are also subjected to, in the process of evolution. Like the way species are not born all of a sudden and in one sunny morning, political systems ( more correctly self-organization of the society) are also result of gradual evolution rather than revolution. They are selected because they adopt to environment better or in more academic term, they render more reproductive fitness to the society.
Then it is easy to see why market scored big victory over premature socialist ideals like Leninsm. It is squarely by its force of production. Force of production precedes the ideals of equality and political right as the former is directly linked with better survival and later become important when production does not reach to marginal section of the people because of uneven distribution. But if there is acute shortage of production, equal distribution does not help in reproductive fitness but the uneven distribution does, because at least a section of the society survives better for next generation instead of whole society suffers collectively as it is the case with North Korea. Therefore precondition for emergence of socialist structure is the existence of advanced production system and not the lack of it.
Therefore, we must ask ourselves this question first-why, when and how then the socialist structure can emerge superseding the market force when socialism is not even useful for extirpation of poverty? Well, that’s the point. We should not attempt for socialism for the sake of poverty. It’s wrong approach. Poverty must be eliminated by the force of market economy as market force guarantees both production and distribution if the Govt regulations are properly imposed. Then at what stage and for what reason socialism will score over market?
To answer the last question, we have to look deeply into 1) process of innovation 2) structure of market economy. We have 6B population-and we can not feed them with sustainable agriculture. There is absolutely no way, these 6B population can live without causing serious damage to our environment. Truth is-we already did great damage to the environment enough for the extinction of our future generation. And technological solution for sustaining such a large population is challenging and far more complex than ever. The sheer magnitude of impending energy crisis is just enough to engage entire scientist force in the planet. Where the investment for R&D in alternative energy, alternative public transport system, alternative agriculture and environment will come from? To secure our next generation or just to save them from extinction, we are talking about an investment in research amounting to more than 30 trillions of dollar-30 times the GDP of USA! This is beyond the capability of any market. Except for China, no other country is even remotely ready to take the challenge of future effectively. The need is immediate but we do not have enough trained man power or investment! Ground water is depleting very fast in India. Sooner or later, watering in agriculture will soar to such a high cost ( which is already happening) , food crisis or extreme high price of the food will soon create food riot. This is just one of the many such critical crisis that we are heading into next couple of decades without having technological solution.
Market economy is well positioned to risk an R&D investment of couple of billions of dollars spanning may be a maximum of five to ten years. Beyond this visibility, market can not risk any investment into R&D. But we need R&D in the range of trillions of dollars spanning more than two to three decades to make further technological progress or else we will be risking violent and unsustainable future. So how would this pressurize a socialist evolution?
The irreversible process has already started. Forget about market. Even economically the most powerful country in the world, US does not have enough resource for this. Therefore, research alliance comprising of various countries and MNCs are already forming. This is just the beginning. Complexity of research and compulsion of survival would force all the countries to work together in every field-agriculture, environment, transport, telecommunication and any significant field. And the innovation will be shared with the whole mankind. This will be the true beginning of internationalism. It will not come through solidarity of the labor movement but through the collaboration among the engineers and scientists of all the countries to solve the critical problems of the mankind to save us from the extinction.
Then what’s about people’s ownership of production? It is also simple correlation. These massive R&D effort will give rise to new mode of production that has to be owned by international organizations represented by all the participating countries. Since the R&D will be collectively owned by the people, production following it will also be owned by the public. It does not mean the end of private ownership immediately but in a later time, when these research efforts will produce excess for the mankind, even that is a good possibility. If we have excess of food, security for very high quality education and housing, the very purpose of private property will be fading away which is a kind of security we build for our next generation and for ourselves .
1) Collaboration of all the countries in the world and sharing of innovations for all. Market has already touched its limit for innovation.
2) Because R&D will be owned by public, production will also be owned by public
3) International standards and alliance have to be maintained leading to massive and ultimate globalization .
I am not a speculator. Even Marxist speculations failed. But we need to feel the pulse of change brought to us by technological revolution. Feel for a more democratic world brought to you by social networking websites.