Fran Girard reply about labor time vouchers


Frank Girard
reply to Dmitry Fomin and to
the De Leonist Society of Canada
on the subject of labor time vouchers
reprinted from the Discussion Bulletin
Jan-Feb 2001 #105, pages 21-22

Dear Comrades,

As Dmitriy Fomin points out elsewhere in this issue, Marx, in The Gotha Program, is not describing an exchange function, as you term it, but rather an exchange principle. According to this principle the individual producer contributes a certain amount of labor time to the collective effort that produces the totality of social production and, after certain deductions, receives back his share (the equivalent) in the form of other products and services that took an equal amount of time to produce.

Wouldn't you agree that Marx is saying that the exchange of labor time for money (wages) and then for goods and services is the same in principle (exchange of equal values) as takes place in the market under capitalism? But of course no market is involved in the socialist society. Markets, whether using money or baiter, assume owners and buyers and sellers. The individual producers in a socialist society-no matter what the stage of socialism-will simply be taking their rightful share of the social product, not buying it Who or what would they buy it from? They, as a part of society, are already the owners.

Now to what you regard as my charge that the DLSC has adopted the idea of a two-stage socialism held by Marx and Lenin: Let me begin by saying that I do indeed believe that the problem of scarcity-the only currently legitimate excuse for the idea-has been solved planet-wide. The sweat and suffering of our class over the past 200 years has created the conditions that will enable us to produce goods and services for everyone - in excess of needs. There is no need now to ration consumption of goods and services, nor to construct a social mechanism to do so.

I followed your advice and reread your article "Socialism and the Market" in DB101 and found the following, beginning at the last paragraph break on page 18:

"Not the least moral hangover from capitalist society that could be expected to plague a newborn socialist society would doubtless be a continuing belief, shared by the dethroned capitalist class and its supporters, that the wages system had been too rewarding a system to be scrapped. It should go without saying that this element, a rapacious element, would stop at nothing in order to abort a socialist revolution. And how does Marxism prepare to meet such eventuality? Marxism safeguards the 'first phase' of Socialism with a market economy that revolves around the labor voucher. On the other hand, Crump etc. "safeguard" the new social order by rejecting the labor voucher and moving directly to non-market Socialism-that is to say, by providing free access to consumer goods for one and all including the aforesaid destructive element bent on the restoration of wage exploitation!"

This raises all sorts of questions, not the least of which is just how a "stage-one" socialist society will go about repressing the "dethroned capitalist class and its supporters.... a rapacious element" We know how Lenin and his successors went about it I'm not suggesting that the DLSC, with its roots in the SLP's anti-Stalinism advocates the dictatorship that the Bolsheviks used to maintain social control. But it seems to me that further explanation is necessary.

-- Frank Girard