De Leonist Society of Canada, reply to Frank Girard

The De Leonist Society of Canada
Letter to the Discussion Bulletin
in response to Frank Girard's comments
in the DB Sept-Oct 2000 #103, page 20
Reprinted from the Discussion Bulletin
Jan-Feb 2001 #105, pages 19-21

Frank Girard

Discussion Bulletin

Dear Frank:

Responding to your "Reply to the De Leonist Society of Canada" -- which reply appeared in DB103 appended to our article, UTOPIAN SOCIALISM -- "NON-MARKET" VARIETY.

In your introductory blurb you state: "The De Leonist Society of Canada sees my tentative departure from the ranks of labor voucher proponents as desertion to Utopians. My reply is an attempt to point out the errors in the DLSC s article." What errors? Are you saying that we were wrong to group you with the Utopians? If wrong, we sincerely regret it. But where is your proof? Your effort to dissociate the EXCHANGE function from Marx's labor voucher concept not only confirms our conclusion that you are indeed on a slide to Non-market Utopia but it also exposes a number of errors that you yourself appear to have made in the exercise. For example:

(1) As to your cooperative vegetable garden illustration: Granted that "there has been no buying nor selling"-at least not in the commonly accepted sense of the terms. However you cannot use this as a springboard from which to claim that there has been-no exchange! The fact is, at harvest time you would receive vegetables in exchange for your voucher of hours worked.

(2) You state that you knew that the SLP pamphlet Socialism: Questions Most Frequently Asked and Their Answers suggested that in place of money workers would use labor vouchers in "exchange"(!) for goods and services. You also state that "When this was called to my attention, I explained it as an unfortunate mistake in the pamphlet." You right and the pamphlet wrong? Here you have certainly bitten off more than you can chew, for the best you can offer by way of proof of your correctness is a flawed attempt to pull Marx to your side, thus: "It's worth noting also that the pamphlet also quotes the passage in The Gotha Program where Marx explains the use of labor time vouchers without comparing them to money or using the word 'exchange." But the pamphlet does not quote the entire Program! A further passage states: "Evidently, there prevails here the same principle that today regulates the exchange of commodities, in so far as it is an exchange of equivalents." (Our emphasis.)


As to our charge that you "unjustly implied that [we] shared the 'two stage transition fiction advanced by Lenin and his followers.'" The charge sticks! You did indeed "misread" our article, Socialism and the Market! We suggest that you reread the article, this time with more care. So doing you will discover that you blundered by asserting that we "quote approvingly from Marx s The Gotha Program on the need for a two-phase [i.e., two-stage!] transition to communism..." What's moire, your error in this instance leads us to conclude that ydu~ have been laboring under a veritable logjam of misconceptions. No wonder you say you are "at a loss"!

Then what material could you study which could help you free yourself from your predicament? Apart from The Gotha Program itself we can recommend no finer treatise than the SLP pamphlet, Marxism versus Soviet Despotism. As traced back by Arnold Petersen in this work, it was Lenin himself who fathered a train of confusion by assigning different meanings to the terms Socialism and Communism! Quoting as follows:

"Having given credit to Lenin where credit was due, I now find it necessary to show that in certain important respects he distorted Marxism and to that extent corrupted the Russian movement and revolutionary thinking, followed by similar corruption elsewhere, particularly among the American robots, who mechanically and stupidly toed the Bolshevik line...."

"It has become an article of faith with every blind worshiper of Lenin that Socialism is [was] established in the Soviet Union, and that this 'Socialism' constitutes the first or initial stage of Communism-and I use the term here in its scientific Marxian sense.... Lenin is guilty of having perpetrated this fraud, though his reason for doing it remains somewhat obscure. However, the reason for its having been picked up by Stalin and his robots is not at all obscure. For it is [was] used as a justification for labeling the Russian setup as 'Socialism,' which, so the rationalization goes, is that lower stage of post-capitalism which precedes 'Communism.'"....

"The brashhess with which Lenin projects his fraudulent invention that there is a 'scientific difference between Socialism and Communism,' invoking Marx as an authority for this 'scientific difference,' takes one's breath away! For Marx never -- I repeat, never -- made any such distinction."

Well then, in the light of the foregoing revelations what has puzzled you should puzzle you no longer! In short, we do NOT "quote approvingly from Marx's The Gotha Program on the need for a two-phase [or two-stage!] transition..." and we do not do so for the good and sufficient reason that, contrary to your premise, The Gotha Program does NOT harbor the Leninist "two-phase transition" fantasy! Accordingly, if you also recognize that Marx (and Engels) took Socialism and Communism to mean exactly the same thing, you will perceive that -- (1), A "transition" from one to the other has to be a non sequitur; (2), Marx's terms "first phase" and "higher phase" cannot differentiate between Socialism and Communism but must merely refer to different stages of socialist (i.e., communist) development; (3), The "need" Marx is talking about here is of course not a need for "transition" but a need for labor vouchers in the first stage of a socialist (i.e., communist) society. Quoting Marx:

"What we are dealing with here is a Communist society, not as it has developed on its own basis, but, on the contrary, as it is just issuing out of capitalist society; hence, a society that still retains, in every respect, economic, moral and intellectual, the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it is issuing."

As to your concluding question: "And why can't our class simply use the means of production we built up to produce goods and services needed by a socialist society and make them available to everyone including the old parasite class without recourse to exchange or the forced labor we find in capitalism?" Why indeed? Our answer is staring right at you out of the pages of our article which you claim to be replying to! Apropos, your reply is still due to our question: "If you throw labor vouchers overboard, how then will you prevent the aforesaid slackers [the old parasice class] from continuing to take what they want from society untroubled by the necessity of having to work for it?"

In sum, Frank, we think you have been trying to defend the indefensible! It appears clear to us that the Non-market Utopians, thinking they know better than Marx, do not help equip workers for socialist victory but help divert them instead into cul-de-sacs of defeat!