[P2P-F] Erik Olin Wright on the role of the state

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Mon Jul 27 11:34:01 CEST 2015

source:  from an article he published in 2007 ("Compass Points").

strongly recommend you read this:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Daniel Chavez <chavez at tni.org>
Date: Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 3:49 PM
Subject: Re: [NetworkedLabour] Fwd: [WSF-Discuss] Gindin and Panitch (from
Athens): A Real Plan B
To: networkedlabour at lists.contrast.org

On 26/07/15 08:17, Michel Bauwens wrote:

> but the old question of the state has not been solved ... if you don't
> take care of the state, will that stop the state from taking care of you ?
> in other words, in highly unequal class societies, the state remains a
> powerful player representing legitimate violence and the alternative in
> most places without a state is still private class violence, not popular
> power.

I fully agree with Michel's arguments.

And coming back to the debate on socialism and the state proposed by Peter,
these notes from our friend Erik Olin Wright might be useful. The language
if certainly different (no mention to the commons and many references to
civil society...), but it'd be interesting to see what are our real
differences (if any) with this kind of approaches.

Capitalism would be an unreproducible and chaotic social order if the state
played the minimalist role specified in the libertarian fantasy, but it
would also, as Polanyi argued, function much more erratically if civil
society was absorbed into the economy as a fully commodified and atomized
arena of social life. Pure communism is also a utopian fantasy, since it is
hard to imagine a complex society without some sort of authoritative means
of making and enforcing rules (a ‘state’). Feasible, sustainable forms of
large-scale social organization, therefore, always involve some kind of
reciprocal relations among these three forms of power.

Today, few socialists believe that comprehensive statist central planning
is a viable structure for realizing socialist goals. Nevertheless, statist
socialism remains a component of any likely process of social empowerment.
The state will remain central to the provision of a wide range of public
goods, from health to education to public transportation, and in spite of
the record of central planning in the command economies, it could also be
the case that efficient and democratic forms of central planning over
certain kinds of goods production may be viable at some point in the
future, under altered historical conditions. The crucial question for
socialists, then, is the extent to which these aspects of state provision
can be placed under the effective control of a democratically empowered
civil society. In capitalist societies, typically, public goods provision
by the state is only weakly subordinated to social power through the
institutions of representative democracy. Because of the enormous influence
of capitalist economic power on state policies, often such public goods are
more geared to the requirements of capital accumulation than social needs.
Deepening the democratic quality of the state is thus the pivotal problem
that will have to be solved in order for direct state provision of goods
and services to become a genuine pathway to social empowerment.

Many will be sceptical about the possibility of achieving this. The failure
of command-and-control bureaucracies in both state-socialist and capitalist
economies has fuelled calls for the privatization of state services, not
for their democratization. Yet a range of innovative designs provide reason
to believe that more energetically participatory forms are possible,
especially at the local and regional level, and that these can enhance both
the effectiveness of public goods provision and the accountability of
democratic institutions. In Brazil, the system of participatory budgeting
developed during the 1990s involved large numbers of ordinary citizens and
secondary associations in real decision-making over city budgets, and
especially over state production of local public goods. While it lasted,
the participatory budget contributed to a significant redirection of
infrastructure investment by the local state towards the needs of the poor
and working class.

Socialism is an economic structure within which the means of production are
owned collectively by the entire society and thus the allocation and use of
resources for different social purposes is accomplished through the
exercise of what can be termed ‘social power’. Social power is rooted in
the capacity to mobilize people for cooperative, voluntary collective
actions of various sorts in civil society. This implies that civil society
should not be viewed simply as an arena of activity, sociability and
communication, but also of real power. Social power is contrasted to
economic power, based on the ownership and control of economic resources,
and state power, based on the control of rule-making and rule-enforcing
capacity over a given territory. Democracy, in these terms, can be thought
of as a specific way of linking social power and state power: in the ideal
of democracy, state power is fully subordinated and accountable to social
power. Democracy is thus, inherently, a deeply socialist principle. If
‘democracy’ is the label for the subordination of state power to social
power, ‘socialism’ is the term for the subordination of economic power to
social power.



NetworkedLabour mailing list
NetworkedLabour at lists.contrast.org

Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at: http://commonstransition.org

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens

#82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: https://lists.ourproject.org/pipermail/p2p-foundation/attachments/20150727/30214007/attachment.htm 

More information about the P2P-Foundation mailing list