In capitalism-imperialism it is conflict, distrust, and competition on every level:
– The middle management employees at a company vie for promotions within their department.
– The heads of each department vie for funding for their department within each company.
– Each subsidiary company of a multi-industry corporation vies with all the other subsidiaries for funding from the overarching corporation.
– These multi-industry corporations themselves vie for funding from their country’s collective financial capital.
– The different factions within each country’s collective finance capital war each other for control over the various industries.
– Each country as a whole competes with all the other countries within each imperialist bloc for the spoils of that bloc’s imperialism.
– And finally the imperialist finance capital blocs themselves war the other blocs on the global scale.
As a successful communist revolution attempts to turn a capitalist country into a socialist country, and as we turn a capitalist world into a communist world, there will be a tendency toward distrust, at each scale—a tendency toward thinking that each entity that draws from the same pool of resources that “our” entity draws from is misusing or overusing those resources. Each region of the country will be inclined to suspect that some other region is overusing resources, for instance.
While we should not give up vigilance on this, nor the tool of criticism where we see others making genuine errors, we must also be working to overcome the ready dubiousness instilled in us by lingering elements of bourgeois society (both base and superstructure) that may lead us to automatically suspect that each of those entities “competing” with “our own” is misusing the resources we must share with them.
Only this willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt—only this generosity of spirit, of putting the long-term desire to see a communist world built in command over the attitude of narrow, short-term profit-seeking—can enable us to make the sacrifices and compromises against our own narrow, miserly, short-term self-interest that will slowly but surely allow the building up an economy where “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” is a policy that our economic infrastructure everywhere supports with no trouble.
I sometimes encounter members of the masses at Serve the People’s servings who are taking more than the average share of resources and I sometimes catch myself thinking, “They’re taking a lot! maybe they’re just acting from a ‘greedy,’ resource-scarce mindset, and there won’t be enough for everyone else!”
But I don’t know how their need compares to the needs of others. And if this adversarial mindset is my primary attitude, I am far less likely to engage with them person-to-person but instead am going to approach them with skepticism and some amount of conflict and condescension, and it’s far less likely I will be able to effectively build connection and trust with them, gather their ideas, conduct successful agitprop, and effectively convey the current campaigns to them.
This spirit of benefit of the doubt, of seeing the person beyond the actor-who-is-gathering-resources, is utterly indispensable at every level of communist work. That attitude, which is close to the heart of the communist spirit, is in fact the only thing that can help us be patient as we collectively “dissolve” those material economic blockages and “borders” that keep our short-term interests at odds with others people’s. I write this at least partially as a self-criticism, but also partially because I was reading the “imperialism” chapter of “The Science of Revolution” and I found myself having this line of thought about socialist construction that I thought others would also find interesting.