[ZNet Editors Note: This is part of a ZNet debate with Michael Albert found here.]
Allow me to quote my book The Politics of Bad Faith. "After sixty years of socialist industrialization, the
"More than 70 percent of the Soviet atmosphere was polluted with five times the permissible limit of toxic chemicals, and thousands of square milies of the Soviet land mass was poisoned by radiation. Thirty percent of all Soviet foods contained hazardous pesticides, and 6 million acres of productive farmland were lost to erosion. More than 130 nuclear explosions had been detonated in European Russia for geophysical investigations to create underground pressure in oil and gas fields, or just to move earth for building dams. The
"Soviet spending on health was the lowest of any developed nation....Thirty percent of Soviet hospitals had no running water,...The bribery of doctors and nurses to get decent medical attention and even amenities like blankets in Soviet hospitals was not only common but routine...As a result of bad living conditions and inadequate medical care, life expectancy for males throughout the Soviet Union was twelve years less than for males in Japan and nine years less than in the United States, and less for Soviet males themselves than it had been in 1939. 'For the country as a whole,' according to one Soviet report '21 percent of pupils are trained at school buildings without central heating, 30percent without water piping and 40 percent lacking sewerage.' In other words, despite subzero temperatures, the socialist state was able to provide schools with only outhouse facilities for nearly half its children..."
All of your goals Michael are quite noble -- and quite impossible -- and the effort to achieve them is quite destructive. I have written books about this -- notably Radical Son and The Politics of Bad Faith -- which join a century of critiques of socialism that history has validated and socialists -- like you -- have steadfastly ignored. "Socialism is dead. Long live socialism," is your rallying cry. Each generation of you thinks it's smarter than the ones that preceded it, but you are only kidding yourselves. If you want to take on my critique of socialism as an impossible dream, I'm happy to respond. But I have no desire to critique the work of any socialist who hasn't first answered Von Mises and Hayek, or who thinks that socialism in Russia or Cuba has worked, or that the failure of Soviet socialism is irrelevant because it is "authoritarian." (It is relevant because the Marxists who fell into this trap -- from Lenin to Lukacs -- were at least as intelligent as you.) If you find these terms interesting, I'm game.