socialism and the capitalist market economy

2013-12-31 18:30:01

In Sri Lanka, it is generally assumed that state takeover of the economy is a step towards ‘socialism’ and fair play. State sector is considered to be stable and provides job satisfaction. Of course even in the corporate sector there is relative independence of working conditions. Higher officials being state sector managers, it is assumed there will be a more humane attitude towards the subordinates. Jobs in the state sector are thus safe and respectable. One does not feel the indignity of working for a capitalist master, who is automatically expected to be a cruel exploiter, unconcerned about the employee’s benefaction. Hence there is a craze for jobs in the state sector with a general disregard for private sector working class jobs. Of course with special qualification for executive and management ability, youth eagerly go to private sector management level employment. In the private sector, salaries and other benefits such as vehicles, insurance etc. are much higher than in the state sector. At least, this is the general opinion prevailing in society. One can blame for all this the ideology of socialism which stands for socialization of the means of production as opposed to capitalism based on the market economy driven by private interests. The Mahinda regime appears to be benefited by this false consciousness in Lankan society. Yes, I say it is false consciousness exploited by short sighted fascistic leaders.

" The capitalist relationship is not done away with. It is, rather, brought to a head. But, when brought to a head, it topples over. State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution"

To understand this intellectual dispersion, one has to go through a discussion on the subject of Dirigisme or dirigisme. We are told that this word came out from Latin ‘dirigere’ meaning “to direct”. So, it was used to depict an economic system where the state exerts a strong direct influence over investment. Does that mean it includes states with large welfare systems, such as that existed in Europe under Labour or Social Democratic parties? Of course if one takes the literal meaning of the word, such states too should be included in the category of dirigisme. But due to some strange logic of bourgeoisie economics, such “socialist” states are excluded from the discussion. They say as opposed to such states, dirigisme designates a capitalist economy with a strong directive from the state, instead of a merely regulatory action. The term emerged to explain economics in European states, where non socialist parties intervened to direct the state to assume roles in the economy. Subsequently this term has been used to classify other economies that pursued similar policies, most notably the East Asian economies such as Malaysia and Thailand. Thus it is a term that has come to explain the new tendencies in neo liberal economic projects. In these examples one could notice the similarity to the economics of European fascism. In other words while condemning the experiment of Hitler and others carried out in Europe, some applications developed by fascism are used today to avoid economic crises and to expand the economy.

More than a century ago Engels explained the growth of state capitalism in the following manner “If the crises demonstrate the incapacity of the bourgeoisie for managing any longer modern productive forces, the transformation of the great establishments for production and distribution into joint-stock companies, trusts, and State property, show how unnecessary the bourgeoisie are for that purpose. All the social functions of the capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital. At first, the capitalistic mode of production forces out the workers. Now, it forces out the capitalists, and reduces them, just as it reduced the workers, to the ranks of the surplus-population, although not immediately into those of the industrial reserve army. But, the transformation — either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into State-ownership — does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts, this is obvious. And the modern State, again, is only the organisation that bourgeois society takes on to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments of the workers and of individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine — the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage-workers — proletarians. The capitalist relationship is not done away with. It is, rather, brought to a head. But, when brought to a head, it topples over. State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.”

Of course neither Marx nor Engels explained the possibility of fascism. They expected society to move into socialism before such barbarism. We cannot blame Marx for the disastrous policies of Stalin and others who paved the way forward for fascism.  But today we could witness the intrusion of state capitalism as a method of global capitalism. In this dirigisme, fascist styled political interventions to direct management, allocate resources and expand militarism, are abundantly clear. In Lanka fascistic racist ideology of Mahinda regime and its praxis stand out as an example for dirigisme leading to corruption and decadence.

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