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Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy-Introduction to Socialism (1973) :: The Progressive Torrents Community
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Leo Huberman and Paul M Sweezy-Introduction to Socialism (1973)


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2016-02-13 21:00:51

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Introduction to Socialism (1973) Authors: Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy Description (from the preface): Historically, socialism arose as a reaction to the reality of capitalism. Socialist theory was first of all an indictment of capitalism, and the socialist movement aimed to create a society which would overcome or eliminate the horrors and evils which capitalism had brought with it. This explains why we believe that an introduction to socialism, if it is to provide the reader with historical perspective and insight, must focus primarily on capitalism. There was a period in the late 1940's and 1950's, aptly described by the late C. Wright Mills as the "American Celebration," when it was intellectually fashionable to assume that capitalism had reformed itself. Everything may not have been for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but at any rate that was the trend. Socialism was definitely passe, and few took the trouble to familiarize themselves with socialist ideas, programs, and accomplishments. It was during this period that most of the essays and articles assembled in this book were written. Today it is the American Celebration which is passé; the horrors and evils of capitalism have never been so obvious or so threatening. We believe that the time has come when the socialist indictment and the socialist alternative should once again receive an attentive and respectful hearing. Apart from updating figures here and there we have made no substantive changes in what we wrote between 10 and 20 years ago. So far as the indictment of capitalism is concerned—and this is the core of the book—we would not express our views much differently today. It is even an advantage to demonstrate in this practical way that this aspect of socialist doctrine has strong and deep roots and does not require to be revised every few years. When it comes to the analysis of the socialist alternative in practice—i.e. to the actual performance of the socialist countries—matters are not so simple. Here change has been extraordinarily rapid in the last two decades, and it is now clear that much more experimentation and change are in prospect. Much of what we wrote in this area is therefore inevitably dated. Our hopes led us to be too optimistic about the rapidity with which socialist performance would match socialist theory; we underestimated the time and effort needed to change people's ways of thinking and acting; we did not anticipate the Sino-Soviet split; we did not understand the extent to which the Soviet Union might be a negative as well as a positive example to others, such as the Chinese and the Cubans, seeking to build socialism and take the road to communism. We could not take account of all these momentous happenings in a brief introduction to socialism, however; and it did not seem appropriate to re-write the relatively few pages, dealing mostly with the Soviet Union, where these matters are touched upon. Instead, we have left these pages as they were written—after all, mistakes can also be instructive if they are recognized as such—and added a new essay written for the November, 1967, issue of Monthly Review in which we give our latest, but undoubtedly by no means final, appraisal of the pluses and minuses of socialist performance in the Soviet Union,the oldest of the socialist countries. Note(s): 1. Number of pages: 131



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