De Leonist Society of Canada, Exploring the Gotha Program

Exploring the Gotha Program
De Leonist Society of Canada
reprinted from the Discussion Bulletin
Nov-Dec 2001 #110, pages 28-29

Frank Girard



Commenting on our submission, LABOR TIME VOUCHERS OR CHAOS (DB109), you state: "It strikes me that unless we regard Marx's writings as Holy Writ, Dr. Who is right." On the other hand what strikes us is your readiness to abandon Marx in favor of an academe who, while avowedly unacquainted with Marx's Critique of the Gotha Program, nevertheless dismisses it lock, stock, and barrel to the tune of "So what!" What indeed? We think that far more useful than Who's knee-jerk reaction to the-question of The Gotha Program's relevance today would be a glimpse or two at the document itself! For instance let's look at the following two passages as they relate to each other and as they may mirror modern conditions: (1) "What we are dealing with here is a Communist [i.e. a Socialist] 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."

(2) "In the higher phase of Communist [i.e. Socialist] society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual under the division of labor has disappeared, and therewith also the opposition between manual and intellectual labor; after labor has become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life; when, with the development of all the faculties of the individual, the productive forces have correspondingly increased, and all the springs of social wealth flow more abundantly -- only then may the limited horizon of capitalist right be left behind entirely, and society inscribe on its banners: 'From everyone according to his faculties, to everyone according to his needs!'"

"So what!" cries Dr. Who. So (quite apart from what appear tp be serious depletions of some of the earth's food stocks, as well as looming shortages of traditional energy sources and fresh water -- not to mention the problems inherent in global warming), what if modern productive capability appears to have solved the problem of scarcity? Does this capability alone warrant shelving The Gotha Program? Does it warrant your verdict: "LTVs were an idea for an equitable system of rationing. It made sense in 1875, but it makes no sense in 2001." We direct your attention to Marx's observation that as it issues out of capitalist society, Socialism will "still retain, in every respect, economic, moral and intellectual, the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it is issuing." The point is that while you concur with Dr. Who's apparent dismissal of the "economic" birthmark as being no longer relevant, neither of you acknowledges the existence of those other birthmarks which Marx characterized as "moral and intellectual." Dr. Who can perhaps plead ignorance but you are apparently well acquainted with the text. Moreover in our various submissions to the DISCUSSION BULLETIN we have repeatedly emphasized the moral depravity of the capitalist class and its lackeys as constituting a prime reason for the imposition of Labor Vouchers during Socialism's first phase. Why the silence upon this vital aspect of revolutionary preparedness? We look for your explanation.

Nor, in our opinion, can your concluding'comment pass muster as a reasoned argument against adoption of an LTV system. Your suggestion that an "undermining [of] working class control [read social control] of the system... would evolve naturally as time passed" beggars belief! A little thought should help you realize that you are putting the cart in front of the horse! In other words the need for Labor Time Vouchers will obviously be greatest, not least, on Day One of a socialist mandate and the evolution to follow, as projected by Marx, will not be a gradual undermining of social control, as time passes, but a gradual humanizing,of the "beast" that will be a carryover from Capitalism.