Sunday, May 29, 2011

Individualism: The Myth of Utopian Socialism

This is part 1 of a 3-post series dealing with the Marxist concept of Socialism and Individualism.

Part 1: The Myth of Utopian Socialism

Socialism: the penultimate state of equality. Everything shared, the power and interests of each individual so intertwined that the most minor discomfort will be done away with: Utopia. But Utopia is, by definition, an unattainable state of things: it means "no place." Nature itself precludes perfection.

But socialism isn't a utopia, either. The closest proximity it ever gets to Utopia is that socialism defines the conditions which allow for humans to strive for utopia. The daily struggle to subsist, wherein basic human need resolves itself into conflicts between individuals, stands in the the way of Utopia more than nature. But the triumph over the conditions which create these conflicts could allow humans to redirect their efforts.

If the problem of hunger is restricted to our history, we can then seek to resolve the intricate issues of human inter-personal relations. The state of the individual in need is a state of oppression, for the simple reason that it disallows the free actualization of the human being: in such a state, one is tied above all to the very struggle to exist before one can exist as a free person:

"Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation."1
"The realm of freedom really begins only where labour determined by necessity and external expediency ends; it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper. ...Freedom, in this sphere, can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power..."2
You may note (and it is sure to disappoint propertarians) that there is no Utopia here. No vision of perfection. Here, socialism is the solution of one problem, only to focus on other problems. It is the foundation of a society presupposing the satisfaction of basic human consumption.

Part 2 will deal with the material differences between socialism and capitalism.

1Marx, Karl: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Preface.
2Marx, Karl: Capital Volume 3 P. 959 (Quoted in Fromm, Erich: Marx's Concept of Man P. 59)

7Fromm, Erich: Marx's Concept of Man. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. New York. 1966. Pp. 59-61, 66-9

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