Franz J.T. Lee, October, 2007
Not Marxism is obsolete, the State and Private Property are already archaic
Here in Venezuela, in the current heated social atmosphere, totally covered with the political dust of the last few days, fighting the raging global 'war of ideas,' our 'battalion' of San Onofre, which unanimously has elected me as its 'commissioner' for revolutionary philosophic training, is continuing the serious praxical, theoretical debate about constitutional reform, about article 115, ideology and private property.
Concerning the latter, the militants want to know: What is property?
Strangely enough, it seems that centuries of colonial ideological education for barbarism, that decades of capitalist dissocialization for fascist megalomania, progressively have already darkened our very minds, by disabling them to identify the prime 'root of all evil': private property of the means of human existence.
The militants of the future United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) want to know: What is property?
This is an age old question which many a sage has tried to answer. It is not a matter of having different forms of property, it is an issue of abolishing all class, and therewith, all property relations in their totality in Venezuela and elsewhere.
A lonely voice out of the cradle of Western Christian Culture, two and a half millennia ago, exemplifies the real socialist attitude towards labor and its dangerous possessive alienating products. According to Cicero, in his "Paradoxes," Bias of Priene (6th century B.C.), one of the 'Seven Wise Men' of Ancient Greece insisted that: all that I have, I carry with me, omnia mea mecum porto. According to scientific socialism, this is the world outlook of simple, natural communalism, of social communism. This is the property-less world of the 'noble savages,' who were not yet discovered, Christianized and killed; a place where 'primitive' accumulation of capital did not yet strangle human relationships, did not yet strangulate the free evolution of the means of human creation and creativity.
This was Guayana, the Caribbean, before it became "Small Venice," before it even became America. An indigenous, humanistic world without capitalist property, without colonial property relations, without mixed state and private property of the means of production.
Nowadays, perhaps such small societies still exist only in the remote hidden regions of the Orinoco, in the Essequibo, in Amazonia or in the Congo rain forest.
At that level of human evolution, in pre-colonial millennia, in spite of adverse living conditions, in all probability the labor process, the deepening contradiction 'nature versus society' did not yet reach the perverse production stage of private property; According to Marx, the latter development definitely "gave rise to the stupid habit of regarding an object one's own only upon physical possession of it." As we should know, this physical mania to possess property as an object, Marx has taken from Hegel's Philosophy of Right, where property is being described as "one's own, as one's object" (Hegel).
This contrasts sharply with the views of Bias of Priene.
Logically, Marx "concluded that without complete and true emancipation of labor, people could not become human and society could not become human society."
Of course, as we experienced it in the 'puntofijista' epoch, across many decades, also here in Venezuela, everywhere the ruling classes never will teach the workers Marxist political economy, that is, what property and profits are all about. However, after the Industrial Revolution (1830) in Europe, as intrinsic element of the bourgeois democratic capitalist revolution, the central question, "what is property?" urgently had to be answered by all the parties that favored or opposed capitalism.
Just like then, at this moment of constitutional reform, the burning question remains: which property rights, which class rights are we going to guarantee in our new, red, socialist constitution?
Until the Bolivarian revolution has not defined its class nature, its class interests and its class objectives, it cannot transcend into the realm of global emancipation. It needs the above determined factors to counter a mighty class conscious international corporate ruling elite.
In 1840, when Marx and Engels were still in their early twenties and did not yet take the dialectical leap from utopian to scientific socialism, that is, when both were not yet 'Marxists,' in his book, 'What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government,' one of the fathers of anarchism, the French thinker, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) gave us the political gist of the economic problem that surrounds Article115 of our Bolivarian Constitution:
Property is theft! (French: La propriété, c'est le vol!)
Of course, in his work other slogans appeared, which depended on the objects of his analysis. He wrote about "property is impossible," "property is despotism" and in Orwellian style even that "property (slavery) is freedom."
However, for our current debate in Venezuela, the following reflections of Proudhon are worth serious scientific thought. By property he understood possession of land and the means of production, which are being used to appropriate and exploit the labor of others. Very placidly Proudhon explained the social ramifications and political content of the class alliance between proprietors, capitalists and bourgeois governments:
"The peasant who hires land, the manufacturer who borrows capital, the tax-payer who pays tolls, duties, patent and license fees, personal and property taxes, &c., and the deputy who votes for them ... all act neither intelligently nor freely. Their enemies are the proprietors, the capitalists, the government."
He proposed a type of labor or product right, that "the laborer retains, even after he has received his wages, a natural right of property in the thing which he has produced."
Now, according to Proudhon, capitalist appropriation of the labor forces, of the products of the workers and of their means of production is simply theft.
For this very reason, categorically, Proudhon demanded that private property of the means of production should not be defended by all types of legal excuses or institutions, should not be converted into state property, but altogether has to be abolished:
"Taking away this property of the laborer (as is normally done in an employer-employee relationship), is theft. However, "instead of inferring from this that property should be shared by all, I demand, as a measure of general security, its entire abolition."!
Surely, we have all the rights in the universe to decide what to do with our property and to defend our property rights, however, we, the workers, should know the truth about what is property, not to say later: we did not know!
Proudhon explained the above long before Marxism was born, eight years before the appearance of the Manifesto of the Communist Party. Hence, long ago, even in anarchism the revolutionary war drums of the workers, of the upsurging proletariat, of the awakening of Asia, Africa, Oceania and America could be heard.
Concerning human creation and emancipation, on a global scale, for billions of us not all is won as yet, but also, not all is lost as yet! The master-slave relations, that is, the solution of the property relations, namely, the class relations will decide the future of world socialism, of the Bolivarian Revolution.
What are the relations between the class struggle, the abolition of private property of the means of production and the creation of a new man, a new emancipator?
This very issue that is being discussed currently in the context of creating a "new man," as expounded by Che Guevara, was explained by Marx in his conception of the future "free associated worker,' who will not lose himself in a nameless collective or cooperative.
Friedrich Engels explained to us what national and world socialism would imply, if ever we could introduce it by means of global permanent revolution and constant sophisticated class struggles of billions of workers of all degrees: "the abolition of social classes presupposes a level of production at which the appropriation of the products and means of production, and with them political power, monopoly of education and spiritual guidance, by a special social class will be not only superfluous but a hindrance to economic, political, and intellectual progress."
Here it is not a matter of 'racism' or 'euro-centrism,' of glorifying or demonizing anybody, it concerns the effects of global capitalism and imperialism, and the truth that scientists of all colors have revealed about global workers' struggles. The abolition of private property directly influences the withering away of the bourgeois class State, like Engels suggested, it must be put "into the museum of antiquities, by the side of the spinning wheel and the bronze axe."
By placing control and administration of their future in their own hands, in those of the sovereign, the Bolivarian Revolution, in fact, desires to fulfill a Marxist expectation: the abolition of the bourgeois State.
However, as Friedrich Engels warned, as long as the oppressed class is not yet fully class conscious to emancipate itself, it will form the tail of the capitalist class, so to say, its Left shadow. However, in our case, here in Venezuela, thanks to the Bolivarian Revolution, to its projects, policies and missions, the working masses are maturing, are losing their master-slave mentality and inferiority complexes. At this moment, the sovereign is participating in constitutional reform and the founding of a socialist party, for its self-emancipation. The workers as a class also are constituting themselves as their own future socialist party and have just elected their own commissaries and spokes(wo)men; this not as in the past, voting for the lackeys of the capitalists.
That everything is not going smooth, this is normal; revolutions take decades, sometimes centuries, to become victorious. As dominant mode of production capitalism needed five centuries to move from 'working houses' to factories, from Northern Italy to triumph eventually in France and Great Britain.
Those who cannot live without the existence of a State or without private property, have to be reminded that the State did not exist from all eternity. There have been societies in history which neither had States, nor knew of their existence, nor had an idea of State power or private property.
Finally, it follows, that in feudal and bourgeois society, the State became a necessity, that in socialism it will become obsolete.
Not Marxism is obsolete, the State and private property of the means of production have become hopelessly archaic; they spell apocalyptic doom, that is, global fascist barbarism.