This is a chapter from the book:
The Victory of Morality over Socialism
Chapter 3. “Political morality” as a consolation vs. a solicitation
Oh yes, there is one thing people get out of it, but it is not good. The auspicious project of supplying everyone’s needs in a planned and effective way, of making labor inevitably payoff in the form of a greater abundance of useful goods for everyone, becomes an eternally unfulfilled promise in a brand of socialism which will not do without competition and a money economy as “control instruments.” It again becomes a matter of profit and state funds rather than a better and easier supply of goods; of purchasing power and wages rather than what goods are needed and how much labor they involve. The principle that labor must noticeably be worth it is not put into practice by good planning, but nevertheless continues to hold — as an article of faith.
Materialism becomes a moral title in whose name people are supposed to let their services be enlisted. This contradiction is not remedied by even the most fervent praise of the proletariat’s creative power. In their calculating celebration of it, these socialist rulers turn even the truth that the Soviet people have produced everything they have “themselves” into a moral attack on people who would rather enjoy everything they have to produce, for a change.
But not even here do “East bloc” leaders attain the standard of bourgeois/democratic hypocrisy. Customary Western morality, whose holy principles are not all that distinct from those of its Eastern counterpart, is nourished in every respect by the fact and the certainty that it is of no great importance in practice. In the homelands of the “freedom to choose a profession” and legal protection of ownership, free purchase, free competition and the like, the “labor market” ensures almost automatically that all the necessary sacrifices are made to serve wealth and its growth — quite without presupposing a massive ethos of serving and sacrifice. This ethos then arises on the basis of the circumstances, chiefly in the form of a fanatical sense of justice directed against anyone suspected of being treated preferentially without deserving it.
For it is an axiom of bourgeois morality that people who do honest work are suckers, but this morality is nonetheless recognized as a standard for passing judgment. It is consolation — fine notions which are thought to be valid, not really, but just “somehow.” And this is why morality, when used by those on top, is cynical: it idealizes governmental power as the dearest wish of all the people affected by it, against one’s better judgment but in the certainty — deriving from the habit of power — that any practical rebuttal will be answered by democratic violence.
Along with the laws of capitalist competition, the Soviet power also abolished this psychology of moral citizens. There is no right of property, no threat of dismissal, no prospect of poverty over there to force the “new person” to practice work discipline and the habits of doing without, which one can then be proud of as virtues — virtues that entitle one to all kinds of imaginary legal claims. Morality is in demand over there as a reason for working people to be self-sacrificing in spite of their liberation, and to do work that is not made worthwhile by any real planned economic system. The very state power that is dedicated to “proletarian materialism” has therefore set about trying to make every single bourgeois ideal come true, giving its citizens an education moralistic enough to allow them to prove themselves as useful Soviet citizens even without the “silent force” of need. Accompanied by a great moral fuss, there is perpetual “socialist competition” on all levels which, incompatibly enough, rewards proof of selflessness …
For democratic experts on the human soul, the insistent morality of Eastern state parties is the worst kind of tyranny. It supposedly even prevents people from thinking whatever they want. By democratic standards, this is very consistent. The mass of slogans is taken as a measure of the coercion these slogans are supposed to enhance. In reality, it is precisely the other way round. The Party keeps pestering its people with its maxims because it needs their free will and false decision to go along with the state project. The array of socialist values thus does not offer the people anything new but just some opportunities for jokes. The values of Western democracies are better off. They are elaborated most productively into opportunistic stupidities, by both those on top and those on the bottom, because nothing depends on their being taken to heart. They merely glorify the “objective constraints” of “social life” and are not intended’ to be the basis for the power that brings these constraints into being.
Thus, the peoples of the Soviet Union are not living in a dictatorship — nor is what they need democracy.