Imperial Blog 19 Harvest 4703
This blog is a first fragment of expression on The Social Contract in the context of Socialism and its Other. The content in the former link here (q.v), is worthwhile and mostly concentrates on Rousseau, generally acknowledged as the author of the term in his work of the same name ¹ which he defines as
"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before". This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.
We would enlarge this statement of the problem that society solves, in a way which Binmore would characterize as being on the left side of the Egalitarian-Utilitarian dichotomy (he, Binmore claims to be a "whig" and to strike a (right leaning) compromise between these posited opposites³) by adding that the "good" society is one which attempts, as a goal, to solve the problem of providing both for optimal production of the goods and services demanded by the entire association, and that providing for the optimal development of each associate.
We frame the loaded expression "Socialism and its Other" to refer to the implicit understanding that forms of society where elites rule for their personal self-interest at the expense of the rest of society are in principle non-solutions of either the egalitarian or the utilitarian problem. That is to say they are travesties of the very essence of the concept of society.
In principle, such forms of association which today are universal on the Earth, with a "right" wing ranging from states like Saudi Arabia to the semi-facist order of the United States4 and a "left" wing ranging from the eroded Social Democracies of Europe to the Stalinist regimes of Cuba, China, and North Korea, could be solutions to the Utilitarian problem alone. Trivially but not optimally so when it is framed as providing for the good of the ruling elites at the expense of the rest of society.
In practice though, optimality (or technically, even suboptimality) is precluded, even for a nakedly asserted class structured social order, at least as currently consitituted, because the production possibilities are restricted by the capitalist mode as such. No significant production can occur outside of the the model of the production of surplus value, i.e profit, which takes the place of a generalized objective function even for the production of goods for the ruling elites. Any activity undertaken outside this model does so with whatever meager resources associates or associations may have to devote to such after thier participation in the existing common contract (i.e the one based on the extraction of surplus value). More importantly. many worthwhile purposes cannot even be expressed in the profit system, indeed most of the really worthwhile goals such as health, longevity, personal well-being and fulfillment, etc. only find sham and scam within the the framework of exploitation of labour as the ground purpose of society.
The analogy can be made to the lesser and more evolved stages of human history and societies within that progression. Even the poorest members of modern states are the recipents of items of production which the wealthiest members of primitive societies could never even concieve of.
We mean the attempt referred to at the end of number 1 above in more than just the empty nostrums mouthed by politicians of all stripes today. We mean an explicit program which can be taken seriously as a problem in an applied mathematical sense supported by the appropriate political framework. It is a given that such a framework will be in oppostion to the existing order which rests on the local domination of working peoples within the nation state framework and will involve a uniting of workers on a global basis to form the only force which can effectively oppose said order.
¹ The Social Contract. J.J. Rousseau. Published 1762. Available online at http://www.constitution.org/jjr/socon.htm
² Book I, § 6, The Social Compact, ¶ 4, G.D.H. Cole translation, quotes and italics due to JJR.
³ Game Theory and the Social Contract. Ken Binmore. MIT Press. Vol 2, "Just Playing", Ch. 4 "Yearning For Utopia".
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini