Arguing for Socialism: Theoretical Considerations: Revised by Andrew Levine

By Andrew Levine

A values established comparability of Socialism to different political structures, together with Democracy.

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In his Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx concurred, deriding Lassalle for his dismissal of the peasantry as ‘one reactionary mass’. Moreover, he had lauded the revolutionary potential of the communal peasantry in Russia, as we have just seen. The few of their followers (Vollmar in Germany, Lenin in Russia) who looked to the 26 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS peasantry for support no doubt were swayed to do so by the circumstances in which they found themselves, rather than by the prescriptions of the ‘founding fathers’.

THE ‘FOUNDING FATHERS’ 29 Moreover, the commune-state model of direct democracy articulated by Marx, as Richard Hunt pointed out, was seriously flawed. Specifically, it lacked any criteria ‘to delineate exactly what functions should devolve upon which levels of the administration, or specify any overall degree of centralisation to be achieved, or suggest how the inevitable conflicts of and jurisdictional disputes among the various levels would be resolved’. The experience of the Soviet Union, as Daniel Doveton argued, highlighted other flaws in this model, in particular Marx’s neglect of the separation of executive, judicial and legislative powers to be found in democratic polities.

Of the institutions of an emancipated society’. Why this was the case is not completely clear. They professedly were more concerned with analysing capitalism than with elaborating utopian blueprints for a future society. Marx frankly conceded in an ‘Afterword’ to the second German edition of Capital that he was more interested in the ‘critical analysis of actual facts, instead of writing recipes . . for the cook-shops of the future’. 14 Marx’s own reflections on the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871 appear to bear out this contention.

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