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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Correa outlines "Socialism of the 21st Century"

Translated from El Comercio, September 11, 2007

"Socialism of the 21st Century" is not only under construction, but it will never be acheived.
This was one of the concepts that President Rafael Correa outlined on Wednesday night at the forum “Socialisms of the 21st Century”, organised by movements close to the Government.

Correa, in an intervention that lasted a little less than one hour, outlined what for him constitutes the ideological line of his government. The matrix of the intervention by the President was to establish the points in common between classical socialism - that is to say, leftist thought anchored in dialectic materialism - and the new socialism of which he said that there is not one kind but many.

Before outlining their differences and similarities, Correa gave a political introduction. There he said, amongst other things, that “finally Latin America is producing its own ideas, rather than simply accepting those from outside”.

For the President, the sprouting of this thought takes place after the defeat of the Washington
consensus, where a liberal model was applied to the running of the economies of the region.

According to Correa,
Socialism of the 21st Century is in fact several socialisms. Amongst those he mentioned were: Utopian socialism; Andean socialism, which includes the work of the Peruvian Juan Carlos Mariátegui and which he described as most flexible; Christian socialism, where he mentioned Monsignor Leonidas Proaño; self-management (or "autonomous") socialism, the socialism of the Cuban revolution, the poetic socialism of Jorge Carrera and the critical socialism of Agustín Cueva.

After this preamble came the main part of Correa's attempt to define Socialism of the 21st Century.

He said, for example, that unlike Capitalism, the new socialism establishes the supremacy of human labour over Capital. “The Socialism of the 21st Century says that all other factors are subordinated to human labour. In that it agrees with classical socialism”, said.

Then he spoke of the importance of the State. “We recognize that the Market is a reality, but that does not exclude the importance of collective action exerted through the State”.

He said that one of the similarities with classical socialism is the critique of price and value. “We believe more in use value than in exchange
value. Capitalism works by setting prices, which is an inefficient way to represent value. What is the price of peace or civil security? ”, Correa said, adding that, in theory, price represents value but that in societies with a bad distribution of wealth that does not work.

He gave an example to illustrate the point: “There is a picture that I like but it costs a thousand dollars and I have barely 100 dollars. However an ignoramus who has $20,000 pays
the 1 000 dollars for that picture and does not know if it is upside down or back to front but he has arranged to pay the thousand dollars. Those thousand dollars did not reflect the value that the picture had for someone that could not buy it, it simply represents the amount of dollars that the person who bought it had”.

On that point he said that the challenge for the economy of the Socialism of the 21st Century is to generate use values, that is to say, things that have the capacity to generate human
well-being. In this, he said, Ecuador is marking a landmark in economic history with the project to keep the petroleum of the Yasuní Reserve underground, financed by countries interested in conserving the environment.

Another shared aspect with classical socialism is the emphasis on social justice. Marx and Engels already criticised the exploitation of humanity and that view is valid for us as we live in the most inequitable region of the world. Neoliberalism has exacerbated that difference, he said.

The differences

Classical socialism was dogmatic whereas the Socialism of the 21st Century accepts that class struggle is not the explanation for all social phenomena.

The classical theory spoke about the nationalisation of all the means of production, whereas modern socialism seeks the democratisation of those means with only strategic nationalisations.

Socialism of the 21st Century, according to Correa, adds new forms of property such as 'co-operativism' and the 'association'.

Correa pointed out that an error of classical socialism was that it had the same concept of development as Capitalism. The USSR always competed industrially with the US. This is not the conception of development of the new socialism.

There can be no models, no copies of classical socialism. According to Correa the socialism in a Caribbean country like Venezuela will always be different from the socialism of country with a temperate climate like Chile.

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