What the late, great James Connolly got right about socialism and oligarchies

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/11/what-the-late-great-james-con.html


I think that’s exactly correct. And of course the hidden assumption is that “the State” would be effectively controlled by “the workers” which is where the model has historically broken down, as “the State” develops its own agenda of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement.


This quote…

Schemes of state and municipal ownership, if unaccompanied by this co-operative principle, are but schemes for the perfectioning of the mechanism of capitalist government-schemes to make the capitalist regime respectable and efficient for the purposes of the capitalist;

…is exactly why Thatcher and Tory bastards ever since have found it so easy to privatise state-owned organisation, like the water and power utilities, the railways, and so on.


*happy mutualist noises*


Is it him that gets mentioned in the song “The Patriot Game”?

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It never seemed that complicated to me: if everything is treated as an asset, it’s capitalism, whether public or private. If people are treated as people, then it’s socialism, whether public or private.
The issue is that one of those models is easy and quick to iterate and adapt, the other is much more intricate as it involves something other than merely the bottom line.

Oh, and the other key development, drawn to my attention by Matt Stoller (cf his excellent interview on Harry Shearer’s LeShow this week), was the clever conflation of “people” with “consumers” during the last century. So it became easy to argue that something that was to the benefit of ‘consumers’ must, by definition, be good for ‘people’ - and, by extension, therefore would not need close government regulation. On the surface, this sounds very convincing but it has been used to justify some very dodgy processes.


As I get older, I haven’t found myself getting more conservative, like the Boomers told me I would

Amen. I distinctly remember growing up in the 70s thinking how neat corporations were. They brought products and prosperity to many Americans. What I didn’t understand was that they are like mindless beasts, only need to be continually redirected by constructive regulation. Heck, it’s even good for them to be regulated — look at the innovations brought about by CAFE standards.


Tied to a chair, because he was too ill to stand.


I never knew before that he was born and raised in Edinburgh, on the Cowgate.

That would explain this:



I always recommend this book to people, as it’s critical to this point…


From the November 1, 1918 edition of the NY Call, the Socialist daily of that time comes my working definition of Socialism -
“Art Young’s Political Primer: What is Socialism? It is business operated for public benefit instead of private profit.”

Sounds like a B or Benefit Corporation to me. You know, like Vermont’s largest public utility, Green Mountain Power.

This also fits in with the Gandhian economics, the principles of a nonviolent economic system and with Kropotkin’s ideas on voluntary association as an organizing principle for society.

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It’s time to sop letting pundits and propagandists being the only ones who define socialism, b/c they have weaponized that definition.


I’m getting the tingles.

One thing to start with - socialism is NOT the economic system of Denmark or Sweden.

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Very few in the United States knows what socialism is. For example, Bernie would be center right in Europe.

If Bernie would have said “I want capitalism with a solid social safety net”, which is what Denmark really has, he would have been a lot better off.

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You can both, a mixed economy where public and private enterprises compete. It would be a kind of social capitalism.

I think you can have that only if the the public controls a significant part of what is required for people’s basic needs: food, clothing, housing, healthcare, education, research, transport, and production of related raw materials, appliances etc.

Otherwise it’ll go pear shaped pretty fast.

Exactly, if people want to know how we get there its through mutualism.