Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Social Justice, New Communists in Iran's Opposition, and Differences of Marx's Critics

Sam Ghandchi

عدالت اجتماعی، کمونیستهای جدید در اپوزیسیون ایران، و تفاوتهای منتقدان مارکس

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It maybe surprising but in Iran's opposition we are witnessing a revival of the left and despite Iran's opposition being focused on democracy and secularism for more than three decades, nonetheless, contrary to the pro-democracy movements in former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc which rejected any socialist solution to social justice, in today's Iran, due to a mixture of neo-liberal economic policies used by various administrations during the last 40 years, a significant part of opposition now considers some form of socialism as a way to achieve social justice in Iran, and although Marxism has been criticized all these years because of despotic experience of Communist countries, Iran's opposition is not like the Vietnamese or Chinese opposition that are oppressed by a Communist state and a significant part of the opposition is not only the left, but it has a lot of hope in some forms of socialism and communism. This is why although I have discussed in the past about the differences and agreements of futurists and the left in Iran, the following discussion about differences of Marx's critics in the last 100 years may be of interest to all political activists of Iran.




Basically there has been two types of critique of Marx among those who opposed his views but cared for social justice. One type was generally the approach of liberals who saw Marx's socialism undermining freedom. A prominent thinker among those authors was Bertrand Russell who saw Marxism as a religion with its Chosen people being the Working Class and he even exhaustively criticized socialism in the schemes of Sir Thomas More who lived three centuries before Marx, and Russell opposed Lenin's view of socialism which he described from his visit with Lenin in Moscow right after the October Revolution as the beginning of Communist Despotism; Bertrand Russell turned out to be right in his prediction about Soviet Union. Later critics like György Lukács thought Utopianism was responsible for the dictatorship of Communism but we know even Comprehensive Liberalism of Kant was a Utopia before it materialized in Western Democracies, nonetheless, did not end up in despotism despite being utopian. Later we have critics like Karl Popper who saw socialism as a plan to sacrifice freedom for social justice and he rejected socialism. Popperian view was best prescribed by Leszek Kolakowski in his later years long after he wrote his Magnum Opus "The Main Current of Marxism" and I have written about Kolakowski's rejection of engineered societies which he considered socialism to be one of those, in a paper entitled "Marxism and Futurism" (2). Beside Popper and Kolakowski, John Rawls was another critic of Marx who formulated UBI as a way to bring social justice in property-owning societies because as all liberal theorists have shown, abolition of private property would put the society at the mercy of those in charge of state economy as we have seen in all socialist countries (3). I have discussed John Rawl's alternative in details in a paper entitled "Is Socialism more Just" (4). To summarize, all liberal critics of Karl Marx share the view expressed in the following short paragraph written by Karl Popper himself:


"I remained a socialist for several years after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this is as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree." [Karl Popper, “Lessons of This Century”, 1997, P.5]


But among all the prominent thinkers, there was a critic of Marx's theory who always said he was socialist in economy, liberal in politics and conservative in culture. He was Daniel Bell. I used to be in contact with him. Although his theories were used by Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt and many other futurists to challenge the Soviet Union and other Communist states, and he also opposed Soviet Union and other Communist countries in no uncertain terms, but Daniel Bell always considered himself a Marxist and would laugh at those leftists who called him anti-Marxist. Actually I remember some of those leftists who made fun of Daniel Bell calling him a sociologist who is acting as an economist. In my opinion, since Marx's Capital no other book has really dealt with the economic foundations of modern economies and in particular the Information Economy, better than Daniel Bell's book entitled "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society" although all leftists hated him and called him all kinds of names but Daniel Bell in that book really went beyond Marx, which many of the leftists did not even understand. Daniel Bell considered his book "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society" as the fourth volume of Capital. We know in the past, the notes of Marx called Theories of Surplus Value were edited and published by Karl Kautsky and were referred to by Marxists as the fourth volume of Capital. But those notes really had nothing new in them. They were Marx's notes about the ideas of Adam Smith, Ricardo and other major economists. Whereas the only other work of Marx that really goes beyond Capital that deserves to be called a preparation for a fourth volume, is Marx's unpublished work Grundrisse which Daniel Bell brought up in his letter to me when discussing my Theory of Uniqueness Value (5), which shows he was on the path of proposing a knowledge value theory for post-industrial society, although he never published and I only saw it noted in Daniel Bell's letter to me when he mentions Grundrisse (6). What Bell is noting in that letter is exactly what Marx refers to as abundance in his Grundrisse as the solution to dilemma of social justice. This is what I have discussed in details in a book entitled "New Variant to Meet Human Needs" (7) with several appendices at the end including articles and comments by Ray Kurzweil.



The issue of social justice in 21st Century is all about abundance and the best way to achieve it. It is not about dividing poverty, and in fact, it is about creating more wealth and using private property and not abolishing private property, is a key to creating more wealth. Simultaneously we need to use all schemes of welfare state as we create abundance in every realm of society, and with exponential growth of wealth, such schemes of welfare state will not cause stagnation in society. Going back to Marx with all the mistakes of Dictatorship of Proletariat which originate from Marx's Critique of Gotha Program is not the solution for Iran's future, we need to go *beyond* Marx and seek exponential creation of wealth and actually the difference of capital and wealth is what Marx discusses at the beginning of his Critique of Gotha Program which Lenin who loved this work of Marx because of suggesting the dictatorship of proletariat, never mentions the beginning of Critique of Gotha Program where Marx provides detailed explanation about wealth, and not capital. Basically countries that failed the most because of socialist schemes were those that had not accumulated capital before embarking on socialist plans, in other words wealthy countries of Europe like Sweden were successful with socialist plans, it was poor countries of Eastern Europe and third world which ended up in a downward spiral under socialist schemes. We should be careful not to advocate plans for future Iran to divide poverty, rather we need plans to create wealth and abundance. Even Marx had fought for parliamentarian rights for years in Germany and knew the difference of a liberal democracy like United Kingdom but in Critique of the Gotha Program simply because of dominance of capitalists in a liberal democracy, he obliterates the difference of democracy and dictatorship. At any rate, what is important here is not historical details, rather we need to make sure not to think Iran would be better off to become another failed economy like North Korea in the name of social justice. This is why last year I wrote an article entitled "Futurist Party Aims for What Marx Deferred to Distant Future" (8). We need to remind ourselves that we can learn from all thinkers of the past including Aristotle or Marx, but there is no point to consider them as prophets and call ourselves Aristotelian or Marxist, although as noted, Daniel Bell till the end considered himself a *Marxist* but the terminology for him surely was something out of *respect* and not a religious following that we see many in all these communist groups and countries adhered to and still do. I neither call myself a <Marxist> nor an <Aristotelian> but respect a lot of the works of both of them despite seeing grave errors as well that has been discussed about both Aristotle and Marx.

Hoping for a democratic and secular
futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi
18, 2019




1. Futurists and the Left: Differences and Agreements, Second Edition
آینده نگرها و چپ: اختلافات و توافقات، ویرایش دوم


2. Marxism and Futurism
مارکسيسم و آينده نگری


3. After Democracy, How to Prevent Regeneration of a Tyranny in Iran
بعد از دموکراسی، چگونه از بازتولید استبداد در ایران جلوگیری کنیم


4. Is Socialism More Just?, Second Edition

آیا سوسیالیسم عادلانه تر است؟ویرایش دوم

Rawls's Rebuttal of Marx's Critique of Liberalism


5. A Theory of Uniqueness Value
یک تئوری ارزش ویژه


6. Daniel Bell's Letter to me discussing theory of uniqueness value, Grundrisse and abundance




7. New Variant to Meet Human Needs-An Electronic Book
واریانت جدید برای تأمین نیازهای بشر- کتاب الکترونیک


8. Futurist Party Aims for What Marx Deferred to Distant Future
حزب آینده نگر در پی هدفی که مارکس به آینده دور موکول می کرد
















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For a Secular Democratic & Futurist Republican Party in Iran