—One of the most difficult conflicts that plays out in the heart of the real socialist system is the divergence between individual freedom on the one hand and the power of the State and its institutions on the other. The social system is so determined to distance itself from bourgeois democracy that they end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater, i.e. renouncing important achievements of that society.
Those of us born in a socialist society know we should be very careful when we question our government officials, because the enemy that constantly lies in wait could take advantage of this confrontation, of this lack of faith in the leadership. While this is true, such a pretext always ends by generating unchecked power which ultimately alienates the individual, similar to the way that capitalism alienates workers according to Marx.
This “process” has its defense mechanisms: any criticisms of the system are almost always interpreted as an attempt to return to a government of the rich, and anyone who humbly proposes any type of reform, or a rethinking of an existing dogma, runs the risk of being categorized as a worm, a dissident, a counterrevolutionary or other stigmas that are carried for life.
Individual and personal rights, on the other hand, are considered mechanisms used by the bourgeois to maintain power and they become too dangerous to even mention. In this way, those who govern use fear to guarantee that people not stick their noses into matters concerning the distribution of power.
To me this is one of the ways that Socialism digs its own grave. The recognition of this phenomenon is not exactly a recent discovery of the Social Sciences but a story that has been often told, insistently, but appears condemned to fall on deaf ears among those who have the ability to make change.
Isn’t it time that socialists begin to think about and pay attention to this terrible situation? Isn’t this one of the weakest points of a social system that prides itself on being so just and human? Isn’t it true that this is one of the phenomenon that keeps men and women of good will, people of the left and progressive people distanced from supporting today’s socialism? Is a trusteeship of the vanguard -enlightened in the best of cases- an irreplaceable part of socialism? Isn’t it already public knowledge that it was precisely that type of socialism that Marx so repudiated in, for example, “The Critique of the Gotha program?”
I believe that such socialism is simply unsustainable. In the best of cases it leads towards a system where the social consciousness and values become progressively more infantile. The result is a much stronger extreme individualism that rejects all social control, and its antithesis: the collectivism of the masses, where any characteristic of individuality constitutes a threat.
I am a living example. I am so unaccustomed to confronting institutional power and have so little practice in such activities, that when I do so, I almost feel shame over how ridiculous I seem. But my embarrassment would be greater if I didn’t immediately remember that I’m not the one guilty of why things have reached this regrettable state.