So, where does Marxism go wrong…?
January 16, 2019
Time is short and the global crisis of capitalism and ecology is accelerating. And yet there is no real left in the old sense. We have gotten Bernie Sanders but a close look shows a very weak leftist platform that co-opts the language of socialism and revolution for something that isn’t even social democracy. If he can get elected and do some
good ,let him do so, but I fear he will put us on a treadmill where the term ‘revolution’ has been bankrupted. But the radical so-called revolutionary left is hardly any better and has no real activist platform at this point. The reasons are the legacy of bolshevism which turns off virtually the whole population and the flaws in Marxism that bedevil all
attempts to create a real movement. The various left groups repeat Marxist slogans over and over but the result goes nowhere.
We have a large number of critical perspectives here and elsewhere. We can make some suggestions for a new approach:
• The revolutionary left in the early modern has created democracy, of a sort, but has never produced a real socialism, let alone a version of communism
• Bolshevism was a fiasco so total that communism may never find a future
• The Bolsheviks had no real defining model of what they were to do and regurgitated their Russian/Tsarist social conditioning and called it communism
• Part of the problem is the theoretical confusion of Marxism and Marx’s theories: attempts to produce a science of history have always failed. History is not physics.
• The problem springs from the way Marx obsessed over ‘grand theory’ and produced a theory of history and this ended up misleading the left: the result is confusing and doesn’t work
• The theory of ‘historical materialism’ is hopelessly flawed and far too limited to really create a useful future social system. The debate over materialism and idealism is a long lost episode of the anti-Hegelian reaction and the rise of
positivistic scientism, a phase now very dated. The issue of ‘idealism’ and its critique is tantamount to saying that physics can’t use equations because they are idealistic propaganda.
• The issue of Hegel is a botch by Marxists: we need to look at the larger phase of idealism, one that considers the revolutionary version produced by Kant called transcendental idealism, very different from anything in Hegel who is very elusive in his perhaps destructive post Kantianism…
• To turn Hegel, who is almost always misunderstood, upside down to get to ‘a materialist dialectic’ is an incomprehensible fantasy that vitiates sound logic and enters Hegel’s treatment of ancient philosophies of ‘triads’ with a heavy handed invention of nonsense. Those who seek economic justice should never have been subjected to this confusing bilge.
• Historical materialism in Marx makes some dubious claims about the economic factor in history. But is economic logic the real backdrop of history? The whole complexity of social culture is reduced to a very limited obsession with economic questions, everything else dismissed as illusion
• The related theory of ‘stages of production’ is simply a false set of claims: the progression of epochs from feudalism to capitalism to communism is a made up historical fiction that doesn’t correspond to the facts.
• Capitalism is not really a stage or epoch of history: it has existed in primitive forms since the Neolithic and its modern apotheosis is a function of the industrial revolution and the various financial innovations of that period
• Marx refused to define ‘communism’ yet assumed its future was inevitable leaving a void that was filled with the total idiocy of Stalinism
• Stages of production theory made communism seem inevitable and this was said to be science. But without defining what we mean we call hardly call its future inevitable. We must construct ‘communism’ step by difficult step…
• We must instead take the future of communism on provision on the basis of attempting to define and create it: free agents must create it, there is nothing inevitable about it
• This failure has been a windfall for capitalists: communism is Stalinist, so the evidence suggests. The term communism must be defined to exclude such dangerous nonsense
• Capitalism is equated with markets, but there is a possibility of a communist market in the context of a social commons that makes resources shared but still open to both market and planned operations. We could, say, license resources from the commons to socialist entrepreneurs: the issue of planning was not resolved by Marx in the context of the counterattack over the ‘economic calculation’ argument…
• Marx was cogent on the way that democracy could be compromised by capitalism but the end result was the total rejection of liberal thinking which in the Bolshevik era entered as explicit rejection of democracy.
• But without democracy communism can’t be communism. It is also true that a strong authority is needed to safeguard the ‘commons’: there are many ways to create this balance.
• Marx’s distinction of utopian and scientific socialism was totally muddled: his theories were not science yet sacrificed values on the altar of science, dismissing those who promote socialist values as utopian idealists…It is hard to think of a bigger botch of a subject….
• There is more here, but we can stop for the moment…
• the issue of ecology hasn’t even been discussed…