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THE STATE OF SOCIALISM / Vol. 47, No. 1 (Spring 1980)

Henry Pachter, Guest Editor
Arien Mack, Journal Editor

Henry Pachter introduces us to the many purposes of socialism—it is the idea of a movement striving for more justice, more equality, more direct control of people over their destinies, in a word, socialism stands for a better life and freedom. It is also the state philosophy in some countries where significant sectors of the economy have been collectivized.

Paradoxically, the success of socialism in geopolitical terms has truncated its potential for liberation. Still, it would be an empty gesture of sectarianism if the word were reserved for a narrowly delimited sociopolitical structure. Realistically “socialism” has been appropriated by the most disparate types of political and economic formations: state capitalists and neo-mercantilist governments headed by military elites, reformist parties dedicated to paramilitary democracy, authoritarian regimes based on the concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as well as states and movements that have sought to merge socialism with religion.

There is no agreement on what to call “socialism.” By socialism the author proposes a definition which must be justified by the following: A social order in which men are satisfied by their occupations and are able to live together peacefully, an “association of free people” ruled neither by bureaucratic political institutions nor by the so-called “objective laws” of the economy; an order where everyone experiences the others not as a limitation but as supplementing and enriching his own life.

This essay attempts a survey with a threefold task. It wants to point out the variety of historic traditions and of present social and political conditions that have shaped the character and policy of the parties which are taking part in the Socialist International or cooperating with it. It also attempts to make clear the difficulties and limits of any attempt to arrive at an international common policy between independent parties that have developed and are conducting their struggles in such radically different conditions. Finally, it seeks to give an idea of the efforts that have taken place in the last few years to broaden despite all those difficulties the international political effectiveness of democratic socialism—not only within its European homelands but also beyond them.

The article analyzes the experience of the French Left, from 1968–78. It shows that as political parties they are immobilized, unable or unwilling to gain the national power that their local power implies. The article explores questions like, why did France prove a weak link for Western capitalism?

The essay intends to trace the role of socialists in German city politics, concluding that Social Democrats in West Germany are largely from the employed middle class, and Social Democratic politics will become increasingly dominated by civil servants and employees of public agencies.

The Tanzanian experience with international monetary institutions, primarily the World Bank, shows how easily these institutions can nudge national socialist policies toward those of the capitalist world.

This essay seeks to explore the dynamics of cultural struggle within the specific historical framework of a developing socialist cultural policy. While it is indeed true that avatars of philosophical idealism or biological positivism have helped shape the key schools of Marxist aesthetics, it is now precisely the function of such ideas which would allow us to constitute their ultimate meaning.

When Rudolf Bahro’s book, The Alternative, appeared in West Germany two years ago, it was immediately hailed as a major development in Marxism. The purpose of the article is to discuss some of Bahro’s ideas on aesthetics and the theory of culture.

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