We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Socialist Values and Culture

by James Petras Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 1:18 AM

The micro-centers of socialist communities found within the MST cooperatives in Brazil, the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, in the demilitarized zones of Colombia provide important points of references for an eventual socialist society...

errorRebelion: Petras Essays in English

Socialist Values and Culture

January 4, 2002

By James Petras

A discussion of socialist values and socialist culture begins with a discussion of the values and interests of the socialist intellectuals. "Values" can be understood in two ways: as verbal or written expression of ideals and as the practices in everyday life and in political activity. This distinction is essential for several reasons. For example, in the current world the U.S. and E.U. justify their military activity by referring to their defense of "democratic values." The "values" serve as ideology to mask conquest and exploitation. The best indicator of values is practice. Values can only be understood by examining the real behavior of nation-states, classes and individuals.

History teaches us that the values of many left intellectuals are contradictory, and change with their political and social situation. In opposition and exclusion, intellectuals embrace egalitarian and democratic values in theory and sometimes in practice. However, once integrated into the power structure their expressed socialist values are contradicted by their embrace of material rewards, social status and positions of power.

The distinction between mental and manual labor is an important source of class distinctions which can be reproduced in a socialist society.

In political and social movements, intellectuals "monopolize" knowledge, by only inter- acting among themselves, thus creating a hierarchy of decision making based on the "informed" elites and the "uneducated" mass base.

The style of pedagogy of left intellectuals is an important determinant of whether a socialist culture or a new class society will emerge in the post revolutionary period. A basic distinction is between intellectuals of the desk or intellectuals of the field. Intellectuals in the field educate in the working and living context of the workers and peasants ,intellectuals of the desk educate in the University or in the bourgeois urban centers.

What does it mean to be a intellectual of the field? To muddy your boots, to swat mosquitoes, to eat out of the common pot, to listen to questions, to accept criticism. To adjust theories to workers experience. To adapt to changes as well as to defend principles.

In a socialist society values have a dialectical relationship to socio-economic interests. Housing ,recreational facilities, health, education, sport, cultural activities, and livable income are available to all and are equally distributed: equality of material conditions and opportunities are basic values of a socialist society.

Socialist values include cooperation, generosity, individual and collective creativity, personal dignity, solidarity in family, neighborhood, class and nation. Responsibility in the performance of work and community duties, and active participation in workplace and community assemblies guide the pursuit of socio-economic interests. Thus class interests define the immediate content of a socialist society, while values direct the method, direction and spirit in the pursuit of those interests.

A revolutionary in a socialist society is defined by their practice in everyday life- in work, community, family and nation and the spirit with which these practices are realized.

Practice in everyday life means to be consequential fulfilling tasks agreed to by the collective - in both quality and quantity. Practice means to equitably share with workers, neighbors and family members the everyday chores. Practice means kindness and care for the incapacitated, and firm discipline toward anti-social transgressors (thieves, swindlers, etc.) and exemplary punishment to violent criminals.

Affection and love toward those with whom one shares an intimate relation. Hatred and hostility toward those imperial powers who would invade, conquer and destroy a socialist society.

A revolutionary is one who "revolutionizes" socialist society, renews ideas and practices in the evolving context. Socialist society is dynamic, it evolves not only out of capitalist society but from its earliest "heroic" stages to its "institutional" phase, and beyond. New cultural, family and individual norms, interests and values emerge and may conflict with early institutional practices. The tensions and conflicts should not be repressed, nor should new norms be uncritically accepted. A revolutionary should in open, free assemblies, debate and discuss new family, gender, age codes, while conserving the essential core values of equality, assembly democracy and collective ownership of the means of production.

The construction of a revolutionary militant based on humanitarian values is realized through example not preaching. When leaders teach solidarity but secure privileges, they produce cynicism among the bases. The ideological and practical coherence of leaders is a key element. The second is the extension of revolutionary practices from public spaces to private household. As one Brazilian militant complained, "our husbands are Che Guervaras in public and Pinochets in the house." Humanitarian values are learned not only from practice, but from open debates, the study of past experiences and reading and discussion of texts. The practice of humanitarian values is defined by the parameters of class relations and class struggle. The first priority is to act humanely among the comrades, family and friends and to resist the inhumanity of oppressors and exploiters. Misplaced humanitarianism can encourage aggression and destroy the fabric of social relations. Humanitarianism must be tempered by issues of protection of the socialist regime, the lives and livelihood of this and future generations. Universal, classless humanitarianism presumes the absence of violent antagonism to the new socialist society.

Within the boundaries of socialist society, humanitarian values are taught in schools, families and in the media; it is taught in children's stories, television cartoons and sports. Most of all it is expressed in state budgets by allocating funds for the disabled, children, elderly, etc. Incentives and symbolic rewards at the neighborhood, workplace, regional and national level for exemplary behavior reinforce collective humanitarian behavior.

While individual humanitarian acts in dramatic circumstances should be recognized, more important is the everyday occurrences which create the humanitarian culture. While humanitarian behavior is central to a socialist society, so is individual creativity, competitiveness, excellence in performance, and the right for time and place for self-indulgence. Socialist persons are not saints devoted always and everywhere to humanitarianism. Writers compete with themselves to improve their writing; boxers and runners compete to win their matches; workers take time to go fishing and not to attend all workplace, neighborhood, solidarity, etc. meetings. There is a tension between "sainthood" and "selfishness" which needs to be addressed by each individual recognizing the needs of the human being to be humane through solidarity with others and fulfilling their personal desires. Humanitarianism cannot be forced; anti-humane actions should be dissuaded. Civility and solidarity are learned, internalized and practiced best in a socialist society where people are not alienated from each other in their social relations. Under capitalism, many work and few benefit; where elites talk and masses listen; slogans substitute for analysis and debates. Under capitalism humane values are compartmentalized in certain spaces and time while inhumane values are practiced everywhere.

There are powerful reasons for believing in the possibility of living in a socialist society. First of all because even in the present society, we see and experience examples of socialist practices and values in a variety of political contexts. In everyday life, there are numerous examples of working class and peasant solidarity, sharing of resources and cooperative action.

There are numerous large scale social political movements today which are advancing collectivist values, practicing participatory democracy and the egalitarian distribution of goods and services. The "seeds" of a socialist society are found in the self-convoked popular uprisings of the unemployed and middle class in Argentina; in the mass popular peasant and landless workers movements in Brazil, the workers and peasant movements in Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, the Zapatista Indian movement on Mexico. The growing anti-capitalist (anti- globalization) movements in Europe and to a lesser extent in North America embody socialist values. The "consciousness movements" reject competitive, consumerist practices and ideologies as well as the prolonged, authoritarian workday, adulterated food and the mainstream electoral political parties.

The micro-centers of socialist communities found within the MST cooperatives in Brazil, the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, in the demilitarized zones of Colombia provide important points of references for an eventual socialist society.

What is clear however is that socialist values can and must begin in the practice and teaching before a socialist society comes into existence.

Socialism is a process not an event: the values and culture involve a continuous inter- action between individual and collective in a multiplicity of spheres of life over time. We all come out of capitalist society, we are all affected to a greater or lesser degree by capitalist culture and values. Struggles and movements are spaces within which to teach and learn socialist values, they are not an automatic result. The transformation of property forms, provides a context for the transformation of social relations - it does not automatically produce it. The question of the administration, goals, structure and priorities of collective property can only lead to a socialist society if the collectivities which decide are infused with socialist values.

The transformation of social relations of production is an important step toward the creation of self-managed socialism. However, relations of productive are only one aspect of social relations. Transformations in the spheres of family, race, gender, ethnic and personal relations are necessary in themselves and also to ensure that every social strata participates in the self-management of production.

Today these social transformations and struggles take place in the society at large and within the spaces of social-political movements and collectivist communities. The process of creating a socialist society is long and challenging. But the examples of collective action, solidarity, workplace assemblies, gender equality in the living experiences today, with all their contradictory features, is reason for hope. We do not strive for a socialist utopia of individual thinkers, but for a socialist society derived from the collective practices and egalitarian values we experiences in our struggles today.

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
and i thought i was long winded.... schmocialism Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 7:50 AM
All it takes is a $ & a dream- NY lotto motto wuba Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 11:29 AM
Anachronistic throwback Guy Berliner Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 1:07 PM
comment reginald sullivan Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 3:24 PM
"The revolutionary developments" Guy Berliner Thursday, Jun. 20, 2002 at 12:26 PM

Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News


FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM



PR Debt Cancel, Judge Reviews Cofina Debt J16 9:04PM

Réseautage, fragmentation du capital J16 4:20PM

Paraphysique de manipulation mentale et sociale J15 9:51AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

Markets as a Fetish, Globalization, and Dissent Management J14 1:03PM

State Debts - The Primal German Fear J13 5:09PM

Sans liberté, sans égalité, sans fraternité J13 8:09AM

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump - and Beyond J12 9:22PM

Copper Cures Cancer J11 1:42PM

Steven Taylor, Investor who Evicts J11 9:24AM

Du sectarisme, des sectes, des clans J11 8:10AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J10 6:34PM

Patrick Kilpatrick discusses and signs Dying for Living J09 11:51PM

SexActs vs Sexuality USA 2018 Invitations to Power Marriages without Affection J09 8:36PM

Changer de mentalité, changer de société J09 9:17AM

Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies J09 6:26AM

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update J08 10:12PM

Paraphysique de la désespérance J07 9:38AM

The Unification Church with Rev Moon is in La and Orange Counnties J07 9:07AM

Time to Start Imagineering a Post-Ayatollah Iran J05 10:00PM

L'écomorphisme, du culturel et du temporel J05 10:33AM

Sexual Harassment Charges of Men Suing Women who are accused of Harassing Men are now 10% J05 4:08AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy