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Forum Post: The Two Socialisms

Posted 8 years ago on Feb. 11, 2012, 10:39 p.m. EST by blinxwang (25) from Johns Creek, GA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Original Text by 18th-Century French Anarchist Ernest Lesigne:

Socialistic Letter

[Le Radical] There are two Socialisms. One is communistic, the other solidaritarian. One is dictatorial, the other libertarian. One is metaphysical, the other positive. One is dogmatic, the other scientific. One is emotional, the other reflective. One is destructive, the other constructive.

Both are in pursuit of the greatest possible welfare for all. One aims to establish happiness for all, the other to enable each to be happy in his own way. The first regards the State as a society sui generis, of an especial essence, the product of a sort of divine right outside of and above all society, with special rights and able to exact special obediences; the second considers the State as an association like any other, generally managed worse than others.

The first proclaims the sovereignty of the State, the second recognizes no sort of sovereign. One wishes all monopolies to be held by the State; the other wishes the abolition of all monopolies. One wishes the governed class to become the governing class; the other wishes the disappearance of classes. Both declare that the existing state of things cannot last. The first considers revolutions as the indispensable agent of evolutions; the second teaches that repression alone turns evolutions into revolution.

The first has faith in a cataclysm. The second knows that social progress will result from the free play of individual efforts. Both understand that we are entering upon a new historic phase. One wishes that there should be none but proletaires. The other wishes that there should be no more proletaires. The first wishes to take everything away from everybody. The second wishes to leave each in possession of its own. The one wishes to expropriate everybody. The other wishes everybody to be a proprietor. The first says: ‘Do as the government wishes.’ The second says: ‘Do as you wish yourself.’ The former threatens with despotism. The latter promises liberty. The former makes the citizen the subject of the State. The latter makes the State the employee of the citizen. One proclaims that labor pains will be necessary to the birth of a new world. The other declares that real progress will not cause suffering to any one. The first has confidence in social war. The other believes only in the works of peace. One aspires to command, to regulate, to legislate. The other wishes to attain the minimum of command, of regulation, of legislation. One would be followed by the most atrocious of reactions. The other opens unlimited horizons to progress. The first will fail; the other will succeed. Both desire equality.

One by lowering heads that are too high. The other by raising heads that are too low. One sees equality under a common yoke. The other will secure equality in complete liberty. One is intolerant, the other tolerant. One frightens, the other reassures. The first wishes to instruct everybody. The second wishes to enable everybody to instruct himself. The first wishes to support everybody. The second wishes to enable everybody to support himself.

One says: The land to the State. The mine to the State. The tool to the State. The product to the State. The other says: The land to the cultivator. The mine to the miner. The tool to the laborer. The product to the producer.

There are only these two Socialisms. One is the infancy of Socialism; the other is its manhood. One is already the past; the other is the future. One will give place to the other.

Today each of us must choose for the one or the other of these two Socialisms, or else confess that he is not a Socialist.”

—Ernest Lesigne, Liberty V, 10 (December 17 1887), No. 114, p. 5.



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[-] 3 points by MsStacy (1035) 8 years ago

How would you get there without force? None of the dedicated libertarian/socialists have ever gathered together a group of dedicated followers and built such a society. His words would carry more weight if there was proof such a society could be built and sustained. I don't mean appropriating what a different system has built, as in the short lived socialist state in Catolonia.

[-] 0 points by rayl (1007) 8 years ago

the dream of democracy was long in coming.

[-] 1 points by MsStacy (1035) 8 years ago

Does that mean you think the dream has arrived? Which dream is yours?

[-] 2 points by rayl (1007) 8 years ago

it's still evolving. mine would be direct democracy, no representatives, no leaders.

[-] 1 points by MsStacy (1035) 8 years ago

I suppose if the current system were to collapse totally your system might rise out of it. i'm not sure it would be much different, without an informed electorate it wouldn't be much different from what we have now.

[-] 1 points by rayl (1007) 8 years ago

good point

[-] 1 points by SparkyJP (1646) from Westminster, MD 8 years ago

You just gotta bump!!

COMMON SENSE 3.1 http://osixs.org/Rev2_menu_commonsense.aspx

[-] 1 points by debndan (1145) 8 years ago

Hmmm, my take on this would be that the second socialism would not be socialism at all, but a blending of capitalism and democracy to their purist combined forms.

My take would be that they aligned themselves back then as both were enemies of the crony capitalism system that was building itself back up from the medieval feudalism that the american experiment broke to pieces.

The first socialism was a miserable failure, and was also the return to feudalism that they sought to end.

The Idea that the powerful few know better that the majority is a failure of history, but also the norm of history. We have always battled the oligarchy of the powerful few over the rights of the individual, wether we call it communism, nobility, divine rights of kings, rule of clerics, corporatism, globalism, facism, or even socialism, They are all predicated on subverting the rights of the individual to those deemed better able to rule.

True democratic capitalism is the future of commerce as any of the other forms of feudalism is/ are/ has been/ always will be, failures

This is in evidence in that the participating insurers, credit unions, and power and farm co-ops, and anarco-syndacist corporations like mondragon in spain, are the grandest islands of stability in this current world of turmoil.

As people seek out these truly democratic/ capitalist/ anti-monopolistic institutions they will continue to grow.

And if we wish to change the world, we need to vote, and vote with our sweat, and dollars.

When you shop, you'll find the best foods at your local farm co-op.

You'll find your best insurance rates at par insurance( the stakeholders ARE the shareholders)

You'll find the best electric rates at local electric co-ops

And your money will be safer in your local credit union

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 8 years ago

Basically, if we as a nation could get to the "second socialism" you describe or at least make an effort to come as close as possible to it then the result probably would be the best economic way of life that I can think of. The problem is that the "first socialism" can very quickly turn into the worst type of corporate monopoly, in which the corporation is the state and sooner or later venality and corruption sets in at the top and you get a repressive, impoverished mess instead of the utopia you long for. Therefore, we need to find a way to get to the second socialism that doesn't entail taking us through the hell of the first one as part of the process, and I think that doing so will be long and slow, but quite rewarding in the end.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 8 years ago

Most people have a blind fear of either one, they confuse the two and haven't seen an example of socialism working well.