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The United Socialist States of The Communist Blocs Book Club


via The Communist Bloc

The All-Union of Unified Communist Councils

While I have not yet finished our mandated readings, I am certainly halfway through the Principles of Communism. I believe it was an exceptionally wise choice of readings, due to its easily digestible structure. You can easily bookmark where you left off and continue reading from there, would certainly look forward to owning a physical copy of this one day.

For fellow book club readers, an important question we should ask ourselves could be how we can apply these principles into the modern day.

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The People's Republic of Eriadni

Unified Communist Councils wrote:While I have not yet finished our mandated readings, I am certainly halfway through the Principles of Communism. I believe it was an exceptionally wise choice of readings, due to its easily digestible structure. You can easily bookmark where you left off and continue reading from there, would certainly look forward to owning a physical copy of this one day.

For fellow book club readers, an important question we should ask ourselves could be how we can apply these principles into the modern day.

You can get a copy here for $6 USD and it comes with the Manifesto too!

https://foreignlanguages.press/foundations/manifesto-of-the-communist-party-principles-of-communism-karl-marx-frederick-engels/

Shipping is pretty cheap but it does take a while though :)

The People's Republic of Pajonias Pona Library

Unified Communist Councils wrote:While I have not yet finished our mandated readings, I am certainly halfway through the Principles of Communism. I believe it was an exceptionally wise choice of readings, due to its easily digestible structure. You can easily bookmark where you left off and continue reading from there, would certainly look forward to owning a physical copy of this one day.

For fellow book club readers, an important question we should ask ourselves could be how we can apply these principles into the modern day.

If you prefer a physical copy, aq's link above is recommended. However, if you'd prefer a free digital copy you can read it here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm

The United Socialist States of The Communist Blocs Book Club

Yeah, there's a link to both in the WFE and dispatch. Let me know if you have any issues!

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The Non-Existent Nation of Socialist Heronia

i have actually already read this month's poem
if anybody didn't already know how screwed up war is they will now
also: us army please read this poem and stop advertising "serve your country" to 16 year olds plz thanks

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The Non-Existent Nation of Socialist Heronia

i have now also made a first reading of "the principles of communism"
small handful of questions:
1. how shall the state, at any given moment in time, be able to determine exactly how many resources are at its disposal and exactly what society needs?
2. am i correct to identify the "petty bourgeoisie" defined in the paper with the modern middle class?
3. the ussr's doctrine of "socialism in one country" seems to directly contradict the assertion that a revolution everywhere will follow a revolution anywhere. what happened?

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The People's Republic of Eriadni

Socialist Heronia wrote:i have now also made a first reading of "the principles of communism"
small handful of questions:
1. how shall the state, at any given moment in time, be able to determine exactly how many resources are at its disposal and exactly what society needs?
2. am i correct to identify the "petty bourgeoisie" defined in the paper with the modern middle class?
3. the ussr's doctrine of "socialism in one country" seems to directly contradict the assertion that a revolution everywhere will follow a revolution anywhere. what happened?

I'll offer my takes on a couple of these, but I'll chuck em in spoilers so comrades reading aren't coloured by my take whilst they do a first reading themselves...

Engels is basically making an observation that the increase in productive forces and technological advancement has led to a situation where resource scarcity is increasingly rare. The assertion that the state can determine resource levels and needs is, for him, a logical conclusion that there's no longer any need for scarcity and the power of the state is enough to distribute resources as it sees fit.

This has taken a couple forms historically, prominently command economies like those of the USSR, China under Mao, the Eastern Bloc, etc. Today, an argument can be made that state ownership of the commanding heights of the economy in China, Vietnam and increasingly Cuba, alongside promotion of private enterprise, also achieves these goals.

Yes and no. There's a distinction and it arises from the modern usage of the word middle-class. Middle-class today is usually used to describe "middle income" and encompasses, amongst others, white-collar professionals, unionised blue-collar workers as well as business owners and perhaps landlords. The usage in the modern context is usually associated with a certain lifestyle, liveable because "middle-class" persons make a certain amount of money each year. The modern use of the "class" is usually based on a person's income.

However what Engels means by the petty bourgeoisie is a more limited. He's not interested about income as the determinant of socio-economic class, but rather the relationship particular persons have with private property and the means of production. The bourgeoisie are the owners of the means of production, for example, and the proletariat forced into selling their labour power for a wage. The petty bourgeoisie sit somewhere in the middle. First, they do actually own private property and the means of production, but on a limited scale. They might own a shop, or a cafe, or a small workshop that makes certain tools or furniture. What differentiates the petty bourgeois from the bourgeoisie is that although they own the means of production, the differences in scale mean that they will ultimately be outcompeted by the bourgeoisie, and at the end of the day be reduced to selling their labour power for a wage, like the proletariat.

This is also why Marxists consider the petty bourgeoisie to be among the most reactionary members of society, because they stand to lose the most from any changes to the status quo. The bourgeois as a class are safe from major changes to social relations, as they make a lot of profit, ownnearly all the means of production, and accumulating large amounts of capital . The proletariat as a class are already losing out, as they are forced to sell their labour. But, the petty bourgeois can go from making some profit and owning some of the means of production and accumulating some capital to being forced to sell their labour alongside the proletariat.

In summary, their interests as a class in the economic sense lie with the proletariat but their consciousness generally lies with the bourgeoisie.

An important thing to note is that Engels wrote this in 1848 and Socialism in One Country arose in the 1920s and quite a lot of stuff happened between those two periods. In summary, when the Russian Revolution began, the Bolsheviks were fairly sure that Engels would in fact be proven correct and the world proletariat would rise up and we'd have a socialist commonwealth by Christmas. That's why the Russian government made such major concessions at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Germans, for example as they believed the German working class would rise up in their own revolution and then they'd be super friendly and renegotiate or bring about an entirely new concept of nationhood.

As it turns out, this kinda happened, with a couple revolutionary efforts erupting after the First World War in Germany. These included a soldiers and workers strike, followed by the establishment of a soviet in Hamburg, strikes and the establishment of a soviet in Munich and the Spartacist Revolt in Berlin. These were put down by the social-democratic government at the time, who allied with right-wing soldiers (the Freikorps) returning from the war to crush the socialists.This was compounded further by a lack of socialist revolutions in the victorious Allied nations, and their own interventions on the side of the White Army during the Russian Civil War. The rise of fascism in Italy, a nation with a strong communist/socialist political tradition alongside these events convinced Soviet leadership that perhaps the world revolution concept wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and that focusing on building and protecting socialism in one country was necessary for the survival of the revolution.

Whether this position was correct, and the questions of why the revolutions in Germany failed and fascism's triumph in Italy have been subject to a great deal of theorising and debate ever since, and are by no means settled discussions. There are a great many writings on these subjects.

I hope this helped at least a little bit!



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The Interstellar Fleet of Dynamic Revolution

https://youtu.be/BmtQcXhAWwo

Principles of Communism audiobook esque for free

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The Planar Isotopies of The Passerine Islands

That is awesome, thank you!

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The Interstellar Fleet of Dynamic Revolution

It’s been a while.

I wonder how Engels insistence that monarchy is followed by a bourgeoise state followed by revolution followed by communism squares with the two greatest examples of Marxist states that we’ve seen in both the Soviet Union and The Peoples Republic of China.

The Soviet Union went from tzarist russia and skipped to Soviet Union

The PRC went from feudal warlords to The PRC

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The Proletarian rule of AJ Empire

Lol I thought we have to chat in our original board. BTW will I get updates through telegram about voting for books and sources etc. or I have to search here?

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The Planar Isotopies of The Passerine Islands

AJ Empire wrote:Lol I thought we have to chat in our original board. BTW will I get updates through telegram about voting for books and sources etc. or I have to search here?

Hey! To keep everything on topic, we're holding the book club here. Otherwise we felt it would get buried in the TCB RMB. I will send out Telegram updates as well as tag you in a Dispatch monthly, so keep an eye out for those

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The All-Union of Unified Communist Councils

Socialist Heronia wrote:i have now also made a first reading of "the principles of communism"
small handful of questions:
1. how shall the state, at any given moment in time, be able to determine exactly how many resources are at its disposal and exactly what society needs?
2. am i correct to identify the "petty bourgeoisie" defined in the paper with the modern middle class?
3. the ussr's doctrine of "socialism in one country" seems to directly contradict the assertion that a revolution everywhere will follow a revolution anywhere. what happened?

1) The Principles of Communism outright advocate for the abolishment of private property, in which price for commodity forms cannot arise because there is no individual ownership of capital. As we live in a Capitalist society, businesses individually account for their own internal stock and base all judgements of who to sell, what to sell, when to sell, where to sell and why to sell, upon the conditions of the market dictated by supply and demand. In a Communist society where there is abundance, recording consumption based on inventory accounting is the most objective way to measure the demand of society.
2) Petty bourgeoise are essentially "lite" versions of the bourgeoise, they tend to take the form of small business owners or relatively comfortable accumulation of capital (Somewhere around 250k - 1M dollars in bank).
3) Socialism in One Country was more or less based on material necessity, the interwar period saw little in the way of successful worldwide revolutions and the Soviet Union's industry was just far too insufficient at the time to support these revolutions. As seen in the Cold War, the USSR never gave up the aspirations of supporting uprisings and many proxy wars were fought against the bourgeoise powers. The most successful of these proxy wars would be Cuba, Korea, Vietnam and Laos in which the socialist governments were put into power.

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The Non-Existent Nation of Socialist Heronia

Dynamic Revolution wrote:It’s been a while.

I wonder how Engels insistence that monarchy is followed by a bourgeoise state followed by revolution followed by communism squares with the two greatest examples of Marxist states that we’ve seen in both the Soviet Union and The Peoples Republic of China.

The Soviet Union went from tzarist russia and skipped to Soviet Union

The PRC went from feudal warlords to The PRC

if anything I think this is proof that theory is not a dead and rigid body of rules, everything needs to and will change depending on the conditions you're trying to build communism in

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The All-Union of Unified Communist Councils

My thoughts on the whole book

is that the Principles of Communism very clearly outlines the Marxist idea that Communist theory is born from his study on Hegal Dialectic theory.

Dialectics say, simply put, that all things have within themselves inherent contradictions that, over time, would develop constant change and development into a new being. So think of an acorn becoming a sapling, becoming a tree, and then eventually withering away and simultaneously it is a seed and a tree, living and dying, growing and withering.

When this philosophy is applied to the way in which we organize our economy and political structure, Marx traced it back to the transition of hunter-gatherers to agriculture to slavery to feudalism and then to capitalism. Obviously history doesn't just end with capitalism, and like all other systems before it, society will develop a supersessive system. Marx believed that capitalism was so powerful it will create the means and technology so advanced to the point that humans will need to do very little work yet still eat three meals a day and have a roof over their heads. However, class society and the other contradictions of society will prevent this success from being benefited by everyone, holding back the common masses of which it is all built upon, and thus Revolution will bring forth Communism.

This is very a very profound thought to me, because Marx outlines how we needed to experience feudalism to reach capitalism. This suggests that to evolve from capitalism, we inherently need to partake in it until the point is reached where it is no longer necessary. I understand now that this is the deeper meaning of the Socialist phrase "Develop the means of production"— it is not simply heavy industrial build up, it inherently requires INNOVATION.

This realization in turn, has me convinced that China for all its pros and cons, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is in-fact adhering to the Marxist-Leninist Socialism–Communism duality. When China won the revolution it was still in its feudal stage, much like the Soviet Union right after the Civil War. Mao and the CPC attempted to skip straight to Communism (I.e. Great Leap Forward, Collectivization) and these policies did in-fact spur growth at record pace. But by the 1970s, it was evident that these initiatives weren't enough and the people demanded more.

When Deng came into power, he and the rest of the party looked back at the tenants of Dialectic Materialism (The Dialectic development of history through the organization of human production, I.e the hunter-gatherers to capitalism) and arrived to the conclusion that skipping capitalist development was what was holding back China's growth.

Unlike what liberals might have people believe, it wasn't a decision where "everyone decides capitalism is better and thats it". The party and Deng especially knew that, based on their recent trauma with western imperialist nations, that introducing capitalism also meant introducing a new power dynamic that incentives people to derail from human progress in order to pursue profits and personal power over society.

And thus Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is born. The Vanguard Party and the state are left in power to move the country down a path of human progress and achieve Communism, and to prevent the capitalist from taking over the state to enact anti-revolutionary reforms, as what occurred in Perestroika and the disastrous liberalization of the Warsaw Pact nations.

The country was opened up to foreign investment and production but is still regulated by the party to minimize the contradictions of capitalism and prevent oligarchs from taking overthe state through wealthy influence. The state uses its 5-Year Plans to implement programs designed to help the people with universal healthcare, free education, state jobs and economic prosperity. It has even helped small business start-ups by allowing stock trading to inject money into these small businesses for their economic expansion.

China's GDP as a result has grown x3 that of the noxious USA (6–9% per annum vs 2–3% for the US) while uplifting THREE TIMES the amount of USA population out of poverty. China's recent 14th five year plan has eradicated complete poverty from the nation during the 2020 COVID crisis to boot— and has succeeded in raising its life expectancies from the mid 40s to some of the highest in the world.

China's economic miracle is kept under wraps by western media decrying social credit scores and images of the imprisonment of US-backed terrorist as proof of a "genocide". It has a multitude of issues that some may even say are big, however the western propaganda spoilsbits images as a dystopia while the real dystopia neoliberalism helps in creating is swept under the rug through the buzzwords of freedom and (multi-party liberal) democracy.

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The Proletarian rule of AJ Empire

Now I am thinking that how underrated Engels is. Shouldn't he be as popular as marx?

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The People's Republic of Pajonia

AJ Empire wrote:Now I am thinking that how underrated Engels is. Shouldn't he be as popular as marx?

Yes absolutely lol. Marx was a terrible writer, to be honest. Most of his work would've been incomprehensible if Engels hadn't helped edit it.

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The Interstellar Fleet of Dynamic Revolution

Pajonia wrote:Yes absolutely lol. Marx was a terrible writer, to be honest. Most of his work would've been incomprehensible if Engels hadn't helped edit it.

Marx was just following in the German philosophical tradition XD

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The Interstellar Fleet of Dynamic Revolution

Socialist Heronia wrote:snip

Maybe so, but I think my point is that Engels, in this instance, seems to have thought of Marxist theory as unbending without a care for context.

A position I think modern Marxists, by necessity, have largely abandoned. I suppose there is another faction that says that the Chinese revolution has failed and is now largely a cover organization for what is ostensibly the largest capitalist country in the world BECAUSE the prescribed political evolution never happened.

Additionally, that faction gives the same reasoning for the failure of the USSR.

I also had the thought that this political evolution theory was…tainted…by western/European chauvinism(centrism?)

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The People's Republic of Eriadni

AJ Empire wrote:Now I am thinking that how underrated Engels is. Shouldn't he be as popular as marx?

He does a great job cutting through where Marx gets difficult to read. Engels published a synopsis of Das Kapital, which are his chapter notes on the original text, which helps a lot when reading it.

Engels’ other work includes Socialism, Utopian and Scientific and On the Origin of Family, Private Property and the State. Both are pretty influential, Socialism especially on the development of revolutionary parties and the Marxist-Leninist tradition, and Origin especially lays the ground for further Marxist analysis of the state. It’s also notable for contributing to popularisation of a socialist feminist tradition within the socialist and women’s movements.

(I do disagree that Marx was an awful writer generally though. He can get pretty clunky but he does have some absolute zingers)

On the poem…

This is one of my favourite poems. Wilfred Owen was a British soldier who fought in the First World War and was injured and eventually killed in action a week before the Armistice. It’s a really haunting message of futility and suffering that is present in warfare, especially for the overwhelmingly working class combatants.

For those curious, the last lines: “dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori” translate to “It is sweet and fitting, to die for ones country.” Owen’s irony here is a pretty harsh criticism of the nationalism so often used to justify war and the absolute horror it results in.

It’s a poem well worth remembering and spreading, especially as the West’s propaganda campaign for another war is well underway.

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The Proletarian rule of AJ Empire

No messages for 4 days!!??

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The Non-Existent Nation of Socialist Heronia

i do have a question
how would economically secure and highly educated specialists such as software engineers or anesthesiologists fit into engels's framework of classes?

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The Socialist Republic of Solveneia

Socialist Heronia wrote:i do have a question
how would economically secure and highly educated specialists such as software engineers or anesthesiologists fit into engels's framework of classes?

I suppose it depends on their relation to the means of productions, as always. If they have to sell their own labour to survive, they're proletarians. I'm sure that most software engineers work for some company that isn't theirs, and I presume most anesthesiologists work for hospitals in exchange for a paycheck. This would make them working class.

If they, however, own capital - i. e. the software engineer having their own firm or at least owning a large part of the one where they work, or the anesthesiologist having their private,... hospital? Practice? (I have no clue how private healthcare works, sorry) ... if they own capital, and thus make a profit from others' labour, they are bourgeois. Probably part of the petty bourgeoisie, if they still have to put in a considerable amount of work into their company themselves and don't employ many people. That doesn't mean that their relationship with their employees is necessarily any less exploitative, though.

Of course there is a bit of a fuzzy line when you consider workers owning a couple of shares in a company but generally the amount they profit from that is miniscule and their interests are 100% aligned with the rest of the proletariat.

That's just my understanding though, it's been a while since I've read this work.



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The Planar Isotopies of The Passerine Islands

Socialist Heronia wrote:re: highly educated specialists

Some long, rambly thoughts

I personally fall under this category, so there very well may be bias here, and I'd love to hear others' points of view

I hold no sway in the company I work for, and I could be fired on a moment's notice. But at the same time, it's not the same. I am not up against the same struggles as factory workers, farmers, retail employees, etc. I've worked customer service, I've worked in a warehouse, and now I have a cushy office job. Each is objectively different, and I fully understand distrust or at the very least skepticism towards those who don't bear the full weight of capitalism on their backs every day

But. What's important, and in my opinion necessary for a successful revolution in the modern era, is solidarity. Just as Engels was on the side of the proletariat despite being part of the (petit? I can never remember) bourgeoisie himself, alignment with the working class is what matters more. In my (extremely anecdotal) experience, the upper and upper middle working class are a lot less likely to want to give up their comfortable lifestyle, and they tend to think they have a lot to lose. The reality is that no matter what type of work you do or how much money you make, you would benefit from socialisation. A lot of protest around it comes from the myth that communism = abject poverty and food shortages, but that is not inherent to communism, obviously

It shouldn't be our main goal, but uniting all proletarians is important in the struggle against capitalism. Class traitors are basically inevitable, but armed with the proper knowledge, the wealthier and even the bourgeoisie are capable of compassion and change. Even if it feels like an uphill battle

Edit: thought I included this, but per Engels: "These democratic socialists are either proletarians who are not yet sufficiently clear about the conditions of the liberation of their class, or they are representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, a class which, prior to the achievement of democracy and the socialist measures to which it gives rise, has many interests in common with the proletariat."

Also I'll post some questions later this afternoon/evening

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