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Friday, May 11, 2012

In Praise of Socialism

“The present distribution of mountains and rivers, of fields, of meadows, of steppes, of forests, and of seashores, cannot be considered final. Man has already made changes in the map of nature that are not few nor insignificant. But they are mere pupils’ practice in comparison with what is coming. Faith merely promises to move mountains; but technology, which takes nothing ‘on faith’, is actually able to cut down mountains and move them. Up to now this was done for industrial purposes (mines) or for railways (tunnels); in the future this will be done on an immeasurably larger scale, according to a general industrial and artistic plan. Man will occupy himself with re-registering mountains and rivers, and will earnestly and repeatedly make improvements in nature. In the end, he will have rebuilt the earth, if not in his own image, at least according to his own taste. We have not the slightest fear that this taste will be bad….”

                                                                              Leon Trotsky
    I'm not sure how much the decline of socialism is due to its acceptance of the "green" Luddites into its ranks and how much that acceptance is a result of the failure of centrally planned socialism to produce the technological progress its founders were dedicated to, causing them to redraw the target around the economic failure they achieved and say that that was the goal all along.
    I am sure that if there were people as brilliant as Trotsky undoubtedly was, willing to call themselves socialists and to be accepted there, the "left" would still have something intellectually meaningfulul to say.
  I don't think one could name any current political leader on the "right" who is as unambiguously on the side of human progress as against Luddism as Trotsky here shows himself. By comparison Sarah Palin is simply a tree hugger. Trotsky would certainly have supported the NAWPA though that dell to the relatively weak "envioronmental" movement of 50 years ago.
    On a slightly related note this is from a new post by Joseph Friedlander about why the future (now present|) of Mankind developing the solar system didn't come to pass. The entire thread repays study but this particular section describes the 2 year period when the USSR won the Cold War
.in June 1949, America had an atomic monopoly, was on top of the world.  By September of that year, the Russians had an atomic bomb, China went communist and America basically went into shock. By January 1950 development of the hydrogen bomb was authorized, by June 1950 Communist North Korea invaded US trooped South Korea, by October 1950 the US was in effect at war with Communist China, in December 1950 President Truman was making veiled nuclear threats, and by June 1951 the country was fully expecting an atomic war as a real possibility—just two years after the last days of the atomic monopoly.  From my readings of history I think that was perhaps even a greater shock than the later Sputnik shock in October 1957, and it possibly explains the reaction to Sputnik—the USA was alarmed about surprises in the level of Soviet weapons building capability
   I don't think I am overstating when I say they won the initial Cold war then. Before that Russia was a devastated country rightly fearing a genocidal nuclear attack at any moment from an untouchable America. Afterwards they were almost equal, partners/antagonists in a world 1/3rd of whom were ruled by communists.

    What happened over the next 60 years was that bureaucratic sclerosis set in. so that by the end of that time they had collapsed economically , far more than the gathering decline of the western powers had reached by 1989. Nonetheless when the USSR shattered the western powers were not able to launch the totally destructive war they could have if such a collapse had happened before 1949 and had to make do with offering up the Yugoslavs as their sacrificial victims.

   I have previously dated the start of the decline of western civilisation to the late 1950s - average growth rates peaked in 1959and started their decline. In the USSR it may have been a little earlier, with the death of Stalin, that bureaucracy for its own sake took over.

   In any case it is reflected in our political life where neither "left" nor "right" now endorse the progressive vision Trotsky and Henry Ford, endorsed.

   This is from the 4th International, the tiny group of people who claim to be Trotsky's followers & the vanguard of socialism, today. It is about why catastrophic global warming dooms us all and we must give up all the progressive ambitions of their mentor.
Climate change is a fact without precedent ....The explanation of present global warming by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions as the major cause is more than 90 per cent certain and is no longer the object of credible contestationabsolute lowering of energy consumption in the developed countries is the condition for the passage to renewable energies and the rescue of the climate.

  And so on and on and on rehashing every piece of Luddite nonsense fed to them by the governing international bureaucratic parasites. I admit to having skimmed a bit but there does not appear to be a single statement there that is in context unambiguously true or more than rehashing of the nonsense they have been fed*.

    Societies need intellectual competition as much as individuals or economies do. Thus the disappearance of socialism as an intellectual movement and its replacement by bureaucrats and those who are scared of progress, is to be decried, even, perhaps particularly, by capitalists.

* I have a regular self elected nemesis called Skip, who came here from "scienceblogs", having there been acknowledged as an eminent scientist published "in the finest journals" (presumably including Nature) on catastrophic warming. He maintains this eminence by insults, obscenity and complaints that I do not always let them stand. But just occasionally he says something that purports be factual (and can almost always be easily proven not to be). Perhaps, with this expertise, he could do the useful but unexciting job of going through the 4th International's Report to find something which might be worth treating sensibly, because it is too long for me.

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