State Socialism versus State Capitalism

“It has ever been the tendency of power to add to itself, to enlarge its sphere, to encroach beyond the limits set for it…” –Benjamin R. Tucker, 1888 “State Socialism and Anarchism”

In the Capitalist social order, the great vast majority of people must take orders daily from their bosses — or be denied their wages, and in connection, their right to live, eat, and be happy, as well as all essential activities of liberty. The workers compete with each other for employment, because there has never been enough jobs for all. Even where there is enough land, enough machinery, for each person to work only a few hours, and to receive wealth surpassing kings, even here, the workers are turned away. It is profitable to maintain a constant army of unemployed and desperate, when you own the lands, the factories, and the farms. Whether you can work, can make a living, or can participate in society at all, these are decisions that you have no control over. You must be obedient to your master, or starve. Coercion has only come with the title of property.

But throughout the world, there are endless governments calling themselves Labor, Socialist, Marxist, or even Communist. In 1917, there was the establishment of the first state to openly call itself a Socialist, Workers’ government. While the USSR was authoritarian and viciously despotic, new governments came around accepting the title of “Socialist.” Throughout Europe, the Left has arranged itself as a wide array of Socialist Parties, some confederated with each other, some considering each other enemies. But even in these governments, where the worker is described as the master of society, the workers must still take orders. There are still bosses and managers, and they still live in better housing, they eat better food, and their claim to the wealth of society is that they manage society.

“He [Marx] says, ‘Poverty produces political slavery, the State,’ but he does not allow this expression to be turned around to say ‘Political slavery, the State, reproduces in its turn, and maintains poverty as a condition of its own existence; so that, in order to destroy poverty, it is necessary to destroy the State!'” –Mikhail Bakunin, ~1870’s “Marxism, Freedom, and the State,” Chapter 5

The similarity between State Capitalism and State Socialism should be very evident. They are each top-down systems, that accept no competition to their rule. Any Capitalist that competes with others soon finds themselves expelled by the state and the other capitalists — or cooperating with them. It is the same type of social power that the Capitalists force upon us. If we reject the wages of the Capitalist, we are forced out of society. Thrown out of the homes our fathers and mothers built and denied the land that our ancestors made useful for agriculture and civilization. Or, we can accept. We can take our eight-hour, ten-hour, and twelve-hour days, and suffer through it. We take orders from those who have an infinitely weaker will, who have tremendously more selfish interests, and who are far more stupid than any other set of human beings — so that we can eat, but not because we like it.

The Socialist state uses the same tactics. It becomes the New Employer, or the New Association of Employers United Together as Employers. It is a type of equivalence of Capitalism. The Socialist politician argues that they are organizing society “in the interest of the workers,” but we have heard this slogan a million times. The stock investors and Capitalists of the world have always used these phrases, have always talked about organizing for the interests of the people.

When the worker in Capitalism revolts, they are first ostracized, but if they are successful in getting others to revolt, then they are imprisoned or killed. The Capitalist quickly apologizes, and the law immediately forgets that murder happened — as it was for the murder of workers done by Andrew Carnegie. They’ll immediately distribute the lies, through newspapers and pamphlets and television. “We had to kill the rebel, because if we did not, everyone else in society would have been negatively effected! We stopped that rebel, because they were going to stop the mines and the farms, they were going to throw all workers out onto the streets and spread poverty to every corner!”

“While there cannot be socialism without workers’ control, neither can there be real workers’ control without socialism.” –Paul Mattick, 1967 “Workers’ Control”

Workers of the Socialist state revolt just as much and sometimes with even greater intensity. The same old battle as Capitalism, the war between the two classes, the one that suffers and the one that dominates “with an interest for the sufferers.” The Socialist politician always argued that those they slaughtered were killed for the Revolution. It was “to stop poverty, to end exploitation, and to give everyone the right to life and society they were born with.” In the first state Socialism, Leon Trotsky ordered the mass killing of the Kronstadt sailors, because they had supported a workers’ strike in St. Petersburg. The one “with an interest for the workers” was the one who ordered firing upon the workers.

Under a state, whether it calls itself Socialism or Capitalism, the decision-making power is in the hands of a few — those who hold the exclusive privilege to society’s productive wealth. If the worker, of either situation, wants to improve their condition, they must ask their master, and it is ultimately up to their master to decide one way or another. If workers want to change the working hours, the concentration of production, the mode of distribution, or the rate of wages, they must ask their boss. In Capitalism, it is your manager, and in Socialism, it is your politician — but in both systems, you must submit to the will of the property-holders. You must give in to the standards defined by your masters.

“With the October Revolution the working class had hoped to achieve its emancipation. But there resulted an even greater enslavement of human personality.

“The power of the police and gendarme monarchy fell into the hands of usurpers –the Communists –who, instead of giving the people liberty, have instilled in them only the constant fear of the Cheka, which by its horrors surpasses even the gendarme regime of Tsarism…. Worst and most cruel of all is the spiritual cabal of the Communists: they have laid their hands also on the internal world of the laboring masses, compelling everyone to think according to Communist prescription.” –The Kronstadt Provisional Revolutionary Committee, 1921 Broadcast over radio, just before the Bolsheviks crushed the Kronstadt uprising From “The Kronstadt Rebellion,” by Alexander Berkman, 1922

This is all completely contradictory to the theory of Socialism. The Socialist ideal has always fought for worker self-management, worker self-emancipation, and a world organized, managed, owned, and controlled by the workers themselves. In state Socialism, what we find its just a perversion of state Capitalism. We find a new minority dominating the entire society, controlling what the workers read in their schools, what they see on their TVs, and profiting from possessing wealth. The worker has no control over their master in either case. They can give in, or walk away and starve. Submissive, dominated, controlled, abused, exploited, and oppressed. This is the situation of the worker who is at the mercy of a master — whether that master calls themselves a Capitalist investor or a Communist Party delegate.

State Socialism is not worker-management, a workers’ world, or even a true form of Socialism. It is a reiteration of the state — it is a system where the few dominate and control the many. It is still a social order where the worker is alienated from the land beneath their feet, where the individual holds no sway of influence over the people who determine their life. It is a system that compromises true liberty to allow your master’s orders. In order “to make the workers free of the economic tyranny,” State Socialism makes them obedient slaves of political tyranny.

“So we ask the believers in the State, who pretend that we can never do without a central Government, were it only for regulating the traffic, we ask them: But how do European railways manage without them? How do they continue to convey millions of travelers and mountains of luggage across a continent? If companies owning railways have been able to agree, why should railway workers, who would take possession of railways, not agree likewise? And if the Petersburg Warsaw Company and that of Paris Belfort can act in harmony, without giving themselves the luxury of a common commander, why, in the midst of our societies, consisting of groups of free workers, should we need a Government?” –Peter Kropotkin, 1892 “The Conquest of Bread,” Chapter 11, Part I



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  1. Pingback: Socialism: A Perfectly Good Word Rehabilitated – LibertⒶrianous

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