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Economy Politics and Socialism


After the JVP achievements in the provincial council polls the discourse on the socialism has come forward. The journalists especially foreign journalists asked many questions from the party. “Do you still accept the validity of socialism? What are your principles? Do you continue with open economy? Will you welcome investors?” Such were the general type of questions asked. These questions have as a whole inquired about the model of a socialist economy and thereby raised some other theoretical questions.

Most of the questions on JVP socialism were based on the experiences of Soviet or China models of Socialism.

Some other questions raised have been entangled with the presumption that the JVP has declined to reformism. So it is worth to discuss about the socialism, its economic models as well as its theoretical difference from the reformism.

Socialism has been a topic discussed for centuries and therefore it has earned many lengthy and short definitions. In order to avoid confusion on the JVP principles among general public, socialist economy must be described both in model examples and in political analysis. To understand the socialist economy in political point of view, we have to see it from different directions. Industrial development, agricultural development, resources management, planning the economy and the centralization of economy are not the steps only implemented by socialist regimes, but also capitalist regimes follow those steps. So within Sri Lanka the importance of these steps are doubtless. Then what is the difference of socialism? For that we have to see it in a different point of view.

A social system is described not by the existence of property or the appearance of economy. The social class determines the social system, which is in state power. A society where the capitalist class rules, existence of developed industries, attentive welfare scheme and the state owned property do not make it a socialist economy. The best example is the Coalition Govt of 1970-77. It could nationalize various private owned industries in the name of socialism. But it never became socialist since the state power was in the hands of capitalists. So the ownership of “state power” is used to recognize a social system with its economy.

This is also applicable about us. Taking state power in to the hands of proletariat class is a prerequisite to create a socialist economy. In other words the political party, which represents the objectives of working class and proletariat, must come to state power. A proletariat state power should be established. The initial steps of socialism by which it specifically differ from capitalist economy can be taken after that.

Instead, mere good management of economy in a capitalist regime does not make it a socialist economy. Lenin providing socialism with a brief definition wrote that it is abolishment of classes. The meaning of this classlessness is nothing but fare distribution of the result of social production among each member of the society, secured by the planning of socialist economy. It also emphasize that by and by private property declines together with exploitation within a setup of conditions politically, legally, constitutionally and socially prepared for that aim. A centralization of economic planning is required for socialism under that political framework, not except that. If the capitalist class rules, exploitation will prevail and income difference separates the people as exploiter and exploited even within a better management. That is the basic obstacle against, development of a country as well as solving of endless public problems.

Another problem raised at the party accuses that by expecting certain private property conditions within socialist economy, JVP has declined to reformism. This is owing to the politically misjudgment of socialism for communist system and measuring socialism from the earlier models of socialist economy. Socialism is not a social stage, with common property. It is a period of transition from capitalism towards communism. It is also a period of struggle between defeated capitalism and growing communism. Defeated, capitalism viciously fights back to retain its lost glory. Having defeated capitalist state power but still feeble, communism continues its struggle for victory. Within this period of transition there will be private property as well as state owned public property. Proletariat’s govt will act to develop common (communist) property while decreasing the amount of private property. But here only capital(including property used for exploitation) we recognize as private property not the consumer items and living needs such as houses.

Within a country in socialist transition the amounts of private and common property would be determined by the capitalist development it had undergone by the time of socialist revolution. In a highly developed capitalist state the difference between common and private property would be narrower and in a backward capitalist state the difference might be broader. However in the socialism the important point is not that difference, but whether or not the whole property is put under a good development program as well as the fruits of that program are divided among people as a whole. Within the Capitalism, the process of production is alienated and anarchistic. But socialistic production is a process of well-planned complex activity. Investments will also undergo same treatment. Communism cannot prevail except with all the countries becoming communist. Socialism is prevalent while these countries head for communism. There will be socialist and capitalist countries during that transition and the relations among all these countries are inevitable. Therefore the investments will also prevalent. Especially when a backward country is seeking for socialist economic development, it may need investments and new technology from capitalist states. That is not necessarily reformism or decline, but a tasteful method for obtaining new tools for socialist economic development. It must not mistake for selling of national assets for cheaper prices, handing over the profitable institutions for investors hands.

One must understand reformism with its political basis. It is reformism to continue in the capitalist path merely with minor economic adjustments, without changing exploitative institutions and without taking state power to the hands of proletariat. Denial of taking state power to the hands of proletariat and to suggest ‘better’ changes in economy will definitely be reformism. There are enough of these types of politicians who do not recognize the importance of state power for the process of exploitation. But Marxists when dealing with the problem of socialism consider state power and property ownership play an important role.

There may be 3 types of property within a socialist state:

1. State property ( the mainstream economic property controlled under proletarian govt )

2. Common(communist) property and

3. Private property( medium scale or minor property )

While capitalist mode of production prevails in a country that depicts a growth or existence of a capitalist class. But the proletarian state acts to obstruct that to happen by means of legislations as well as socialistic aspirations, mentalities and expectations made victorious among people’s hearts.

The public mentalities are formed fit for the socialist production. The private expectations are fulfilled under the common needs basis. Socialism provides these basic needs in the place of common necessities. That surely may affect public mentalities on the direction suitable for common aspirations of people. It will create a social background, which protects and process the socialist principles.

However the need of understanding the socialism under the conditions bound with the results of a socialist revolution must be insisted. And that transition period to be created under practical situations is comparable neither with capitalist economic conditions nor with existed socialist economies. Finally the fact must be clear; socialism is not a “heaven” to be described in a political manifesto or in a political analysis but an economic structure to be erected practically among subjective socio-political conditions.