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Their conflicting interests, he says, produces the distinguishing economic characteristic of “real socialism”: pervasive shortages and the consequent hoarding by enterprises of productive inputs.
The Problem of Economy Lebowitz maintains that the cause of this economic failure is to be found in the realm of governance — the manner in which political and social power was exercised. Historical Origins But why did this surrender to capitalism take place with so little resistance, particularly from the layer of planners identified by Lebowitz as, at least initially, dedicated partisans of socialism?
He proposes an alternative: “a community of associated conductors” in which workers share in guiding society and economy. At the very moment of the USSR’s collapse, the Communist leadership in Cuba made common cause with Cuban workers to defend their revolution, even though living standards were driven sharply downward.
To make this possible, extraction of the economic surplus must be maximized.
And to achieve these ends, the party must control everything and extend its influence everywhere.
Lebowitz discusses the Yugoslav experience in ) He calls these structures “real socialism,” picking up on a term coined in 1973 and used by defenders of these structures.
The words functioned as a euphemism, acknowledging that these societies, which claimed to be socialist, did in fact deviate from the socialism envisaged by Marx and Engels.
He acknowledges the need for social leadership and for an authoritative state administration. Vanguard Relations of Production In Lebowitz’s view, the resulting social system, which stands apart from both capitalism and socialism, is distinguished above all by “vanguard relations” between the rulers, organized in a political party, and society as a whole.
The party is committed to the goal of system change, of building a communist society.
If you don’t know where you want to go, no road will take you there,” Lebowitz says.
He charts this path by drawing on Hugo Chávez’s conception of the “triangle of socialism,” whose three elements are: The mature Soviet model failed to achieve any of these three goals.