A strange concordance of factors has coincided in one crisis: we have the looming calamity of climate change, then a pandemic, and now in the US a massive revolt against racism going global.
In this context we should bring in the issue of socialism in the context of some formulated aim in a collapsing society. This is not the same as conventional marxism with its slogans, but a giant question mark at the point where on one level the socialist answer is obvious while on another it is the nexus of many confusions, in a long history, with bolshevik failure looming overhead and a dozen pecks of capitalist fanatics at the ready to denounce the idea.
The point here is that ecological socialism, freed of bolshevik red herrings, is the only platform that can address or unify the issues of climate calamity, pandemic madness, and race. Ditto for a dozen other issues, starting with feminist initiatives, to say nothing of green new deals, renewable energy schemes, and …etc…
The real issue here is the failure to define what is meant and to provide some path to socialist realization that is more intelligent than what we have seen so far. Our resolution of this is a construct or model of ‘democratic market neo-communism’ as ecological socialism. We do not use marxist terms and make no distinction between ‘socialism’ and communism and are careful to speak of neo-communism. In our view the prior history of socialism/communism was based on false premises and should be left to the past. It did however point to the future beyond capitalism. That was enough. Now we have to do it.
Our strategy in speaking of socialism as a neo-communism is to create a system that can function, that can be explained without pompous theories or marxist boilerplate and is understandable in a hour’s description, can be realized in clear steps via revolutionary ‘starting points’ and/or reformist efforts, and which can provide a Commons beyond private capital, that, is the expropriation of property. A reformist approach can vote in nationalization of capital and then bestow it on a commons, so the debate, revolution versus reform is not so clearcut. This is not a bolshevik war on petty shopkeepers but a construct in the large of the resources of capitalist enterprise turned into a Commons. Marxism was too complicated and noone understood it. There are some points it got right and we will annex those to our platform. A new communism in this vein may have markets using resources licensed from that Commons, adopt planning in parallel, have a threshold or indifference level below which the state lets things be ( we are out of time to worry about Dr.Zhivago, petty bourgeois or not), and both a democratic parliament of multiple parties, along with a one party top level presidential system with limited powers, but mainly the power to enforce the Commons and guard a neo-communist foundation. The core politics is democratic and/or with worker coops til you red in the face,it that is what you find sociaist. No Trumps will ever make it to the top of this system. this balance of democracy and power is necessary given the harebrained onesidedness of prior marxist contraptions as democrach promised on the way to stalinist death traps. Our DMNC will have external referees as ombudsmen to review and observe a neo-communist transition.
Beyond that a host of checks and balances will create an ecological socialism that can change gears between growth and no-growth, make economic rights fundamental, create and operate ecological courts, and much else, as depicted in our two manifestos listed here.
The point is not some indecipherable marxist state as socialism based on theories in Capital, an unfinished text, taken in the abstract, but a basic liberal society turned into a (neo-)communism, and at the same time a (neo-)communism turned into a liberal system. The result is something that is specific, can be realized, will have an economy that can work on day one and be ready to brave the calamity of climate change on its way. This system is based on a combined analysis of both the working class and the universal class and can look at and deal with any number of social constructs in parallel and which can become parallel tandem formations in the social politics: e.g. Black Lives Matter, or feminist movement as a subset of the universal class can be codified into mutual association with all the others, the core case being the subset ‘working class’ that is not universal but is probably the majority class. This method of mutual association of classes in a universal class can harmonize the multiplicity of any postcapitalist solution.
The value of this approach is that it is simple, can work if what it replaces can work (it resembles what came before) and is able to remorph novelties incrementally. The attempt to completely create a new socialist society from scratch was a disaster for the same reason that computer programs top down usually are a disaster. In a large program you have to remorph something then debug it, and then more of the same. That is not reformist logic as such: a revolution is a better starting point for that remorphing, maybe…
This approach will remorph a liberal system into a neo-communist system and still be basically liberal save that capital is part of a Commons in a shared whole.
The basics of socialism were transparent from the start: Exxon et al. have stolen the resource of oil and turned that into a private resource. Marx fairly well described that as ‘primitive accumulation’. So it is intuitive, fair, and ecologically sane to return the resource of oil to a Commons. That used to be called insane socialist thinking, but now given the climate calamity on its way the idea is sanity 1.0, and once we see the capitalists in Exxon willing to sacrifice a planet for cheap gains we can see that what was once considered ideally unrealizable is now all too obviously essential for survival.
The BLM movement has done something brilliant but if it has a limitation it is that it will fail at the lower end and have a working class remnant left out: our new system (DMNC) will simply recruit/steal the lower half of the movement leaving the black bourgeoisie to its devices, probably to expropriation at some point. All those pro sports paychecks are serious money, we may need some part of it. Ditto for the feminist movement, the green new dealers, the followers of Bernie (berniacs), etc… . In any case all these movements are aspects of the one universal class, and there a working class focus is prime, but not exclusive. One big happy family in the universal class.
There are a lot of things that are going to be a problem as the socialist DMNC takes over dot.gov in the US, at least: imperialism, capitalist warmongering, the Pentagon, the CIA, drone assassination, the Deep State (?), the 9/11 perps, the Jewish lobby and the Zionist mafia, the list is grim and the status and future of so many psychopaths, criminals, and machivellian svengali nutcases will be a bit of a problem. We should pledge to ruthless solutions, but no secret police, no gulags, and no liquidations. Step one, abolish the CIA but it is possible one must start over. The Pentagon, who knows. Make it a soup kitchen, and cheap lodging. The Congress is enough, abolish the senate, or make it a working class org and a homeless shelter…
The point is coming or has come when arguments over socialism as such fade away and the issue given sudden necessity of some kind of socialism is to define it so that it can work. It is possible to do that, but strangely noone on the left has ever even tried.
Meanwhile the early Marx/Engels can be taken as inspirational, with all the later Marx reclassified as too dull for reading. I have never met anyone who understand who understood Marx’s Capital, unless it is David Harvey, who I have never met. Marxists have never understood what they are talking about. So let’s make Capital into a doorstop and look at Marx/Engels in the early period of the 1848 revolutions.
The American revolution was simple and was carried out by a combination of dirt farmers and Virginia slaveholders. Its flawed foundation was clearly exposed by marxist analysis. But the american revolution is the only one that ever really succeeded and it did have a radical component: democracy, a term its perpetrators hardly even used. A revolt over imperialism. A socialist revolution is a little harder, but not much: a democratic revolution remorphed with a socialist foundation, and an antiimperialist revolt against, you guessed it, the american imperialists in Washington. The point here is that while this idea is in part silly it is also a reminder that a socialist revolution is possible if a democratic revolution was possible, with a few complications perhaps, but doable. So the problem is, you have to do it.
this post has references to many books below, and a short set of notes for a blogbook at the end.
The tide is turning towards a new socialist perspective, But if the past is any guide the left will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and end up in the same state capitalism rut run by a one party elite that was the inexorable fate of marxist incomplete models. ——————————————————–
A new socialist social system requires a lot of work, historical, legal, constitutional, and economic.
We have a set of books and materials dealing with a hypothetical movement called The Red Forty-eight Group, with a manifesto and a neo-communist construct, Democratic Market Neo-communism in the context of ecological socialism.
We have made the point that the core left legacy,viz. marxism, by never specifying the nature of what was proposed due to Mark’s reluctance to get specific has too often wasted opportunities in fruitless wrong experiments, most notably the debacle of bolshevism. In addition, marxism is far too complex a system for practical use, a point lost on many marxists. Further, the complexity of the system masks a series of wrong theories. We should consider that no science in the realm of history, sociology or economics really exists. So the pretense of having one is simply ideological propaganda. In many ways the issue of socialism is fairly simple (with complications of realization): it is question of recipes not of historical theories like historical materialism. Marx has a host of brilliant insights but his overall theoretical perspective as in ‘Stages of Production’ theory as ‘Historical Materialism’ is egregious and mostly false, subtracting form the general cogency of his general empirical observations.
Our DMNC model is just that: a recipe approach to a neo-communist system of a new type: it is both a realizable blueprint and a model you can tinker with: issues of politics, authority, democracy, economics, markets and planning, expropriation and a Commons, etc, remind us that we must create a society that people will find just, efficient, and legally sound in the context of shared resources, equality,economic rights, and an ecological socialism. A socialism (we don’t distinguish between socialism and neo-communism unlike legacy marxism) in a real sense should be immediately attractive to its publics, possibly exempting the capitalists, and we should note how the left has ended up with an antagonized public. In that case something is wrong: people prefer the exploitation they know because they fear the outcome of stalinism.
A model like our DMNC has nothing to do with any of that, and frankly may even leave behind Marx and marxism, save for their historical epic saga. We can put Marx on posters, and skip the rest. Let us consider the American Rebs: they had no theory, only a set of recipes, between republicanism and a barely conceived democratic idea (suffering ironically the same kind of discredit now suffered by socialism) inherited from antiquity under a cloud of discredit. How ironically similar to our current situation. they brought it off, but the result clearly suffered the diagnosis of Marx and the socialists as to bourgeois revolution and democracy captured by capitalism. So they sermonized about ‘real socialism as real democracy’.
The point here is that the left can’t just chant mantras of socialism: they have to win over a new public with some real guarantees and future projections that are realizable, just and resolve ecological crisis and economic terminal capitalism.
The current moment stands transfixed by the moving calamity of climate change, and now in our immediate present, in the US, the tragedy/farce of the Trump presidency. The eerie strangeness of such a drone fascist pretender has generated a mysterious revolution in reverse gear, a sort of tragicomic coup d’etat that moves in the tide of reactionary anti-democratic forces attempting to undo modernity as such.
The place of the left is to stand ready for a rescue operation that can diagnose the tragedy unfolding via capitalism and take the path to a new social formation, assuming it can envision what that might be. It might be socialism but the term is too vague at this point and we become specific about what that means.
The left arises in the early modern as does the modern novelty, revolution. The early Greek city-states, and elsewhere, essentially invented the genre, no doubt, but it is not until modern times that the process takes a formal rendering. We can see the Reformation as the starting point and the beautiful and preposterous Utopia of More prophecies a new genre.The English Civil War, despite its confusing history is a key moment in every respect. But then in the Restoration we see the confusing mix of counterrevolution and oligarchy smothering the democratic potential of the triumphant Parliament. This phenomenon reflects the critique of Marx of such compromised democracy manque.
The charge of utopianism is castigated from the right, and the left, and is charged by Marx himself as a mere precursor to his ‘scientific’ socialism. But if a later age finds his science wanting we are thrown back to the philosophical if not utopian ‘blue print’ formulations that pass through the early modern gestation of revolutionary action. The early modern most naturally equivocates a kind of dialectic of revolution, democracy, and finally socialism. The classic phasing of the French Revolution produced the modern version of socialism and communism in its wake, during which the issues of class, ideology and liberalism were the object of world-historical debates. There Marx’s unique contribution was to show the framework of liberalism, to spawn democracy, was de facto captured by the capitalist regime. From there he proceeded to a set of theories that seem less useful now, as they provoke their own metaphysical ideology, based on economic fundamentalism. World history is a curious enigma and will not yield easily to the regime of science. We can invoke the world of ‘models’ to consider a continuum of applied socialism in practice.
The legacy of marxism propounds a view of history that is of dubious scientific value. The tenets of productive force determinism seem dated now but served to generate a tremendous early tide of movements
The core of marxism is useful, but we must start from the beginning all over again.
Marx/Engels are almost perfect as epic figures in the core heroic saga of 1848 and the gestation of socialism in France in the wake of the French Revolution.
Our task here is to posit a new leftist formation, The Red Forty-eight Group as a superset and exit point for all the endless Socialist This/Socialist That sects that can’t fathom their deadlocked condition in the current situation which in the US is practically begging for a revolutionary action.
The idea of the red forty-eight group looks to the year 1848 whose seminal significance is a forward pass to our time of the basic milieu of revolutionary action and the emergence of modern politics.
Most of this already exists in various books which we will cite at the end of this short summary of their issues.
At a moment when in the US the shennanigans of Trump have almost singlehandedly created an invitation to revolution we find the whole left paralyzed.
In addition the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown a grotesque further horror demo from the Trump and his gang. It is a moment when, if you can’t revolt, you end with your just desserts, slavehood. Slavehood and slavery are technically not the same but the difference seem marginal at this point.
We can conclude a set of books available via the web, for sale, or free, that animate a revised leftist platform and deals with a set of issues pointing to a new kind of platform. After that we will outline still another blogook as a work in progrees outlining the issues raised. We need an instant book done in one sitting and this is both a book and a mere outline of a book…
Appendix: notes toward a platform for the Red Forty-eight Group
1. The Crisis of Civilization
We are at a moment of emerging social crisis and collapse in the sudden decline of incomplete and fragmented modernities in which the capitalist phenomenon has started to metasthesize into a malignant social formation. We reject the idea that this is an age of capitalism: it is form of modernity that allowed unchecked capitalism to overtake the whole social formation
1.1 Ecological Calamity
The industrial revolution reaches its nemesis as capitalism turns malevolent and becomes a destroyer of an entire planetary system..
1.2 the reign of neoliberalism
The current period is designated as the reign of neoliberalism, but it is one and the same capitalist formation and ideology that emerged in the period the industrial revolution…it didn’t have to be that way..
1.3 Capitalism and modernity
Capitalism is not an epoch in world history but a component of modernity that has tried to become the definition of modernity when it should have been subjected to socialist interaction from the start…
1.4 Revolutions per second
The history of technology fascinates us but it is not the real driver of social history. Nonetheless th industrial revolution is unique moment, but prone to the mistake of technological thinking applied to all social constructs. But the business of social construction is far more complex than any technology…
1.5 1848 Red Fortyeight Group
The period of the post-revolutionary period in France produced a cascade of attempts to correct the tendencies of the the original in the birth of multiple leftist formations converging to the year 1848 with its failure to realize a properly constructed to the question of modernity…
2. History and Evolution
The place of history in evolution and evolution in history are a useful generalized category pair beyond the economic fundamentalism of much leftist thinking (dominated by confrontation with capitalism)
2.1 Epochs and ages
Marxism posits a set of economic epochs but the scheme fails to fret the ultra-complex factors of world history as a whole. The ages of economic organization might better find a large periodization in what modern archaeology has found as the natural progression of the epochs of civilization, roughly the Neolithic, the wake of Sumer and Dynastic Egypt, proximate antiquity and the rise of modernity.
2.2 The Eonic Effect
The ‘eonic effect’ is basically the periodization above but comes with a crackerjack surprise in terms of an insight into the evolution of civilization. But theories of history are risky: it is enough to follow simple chronologies as above and take simple modernity and its early modern as the basic ‘epoch’; this is far larger that capitalism. The two are not the same.
2.3 The modern transition
The eonic effect shows world history fretted in a complex of transitions and the early modern is a classic example.
2.4 Man and Evolution
Ultimately man evolves in a larger schema than that given by darwinism and that evolutionary process gets a glimpse in the eonic effect itself
2.5 Last and First Men
The coming of homo sapiens is key focus for the left and coming to an understanding of human evolution is a stage in the evolution of man beyond his present, beyond capitalism to socialism. We must be wary of the terms of evolutionary discourse and isolate the ideological factors in ‘theories’ proposed, not the least by capitalist economists.
3. Once and Future Socialisms
3.1 What is to be done?
Lenin’s classic tends to mesmerize us with the failed bolshevik disaster The Red Forty-eight Group disowns the whole legacy and resolves to study is failure and create a decisive break in historical continuity: a revolution in the ranks of the revolution.
3.2 Creitical marxism
We have considered the classic image of Marx/Engels as inpsriational as we move rapidly through a critique of marxism to some new starting point. Dialectical materialism should be dismantled on the spot and the issue of dialectic repaired with a new insight into complex systems. There may be a higher logic in the hegelian culture kampf of geist but in the nonce straight dyadic logic is the only safe tool available.
3.3 New Manifesto
We have a new manifesto taken as echo of the Marx/Engels classic and yet a new call full bullet points for a fresh revolutionary restart…
The shibboleths of socialism sounded in a void are not enough: we must attempt constructed socialist blueprints and the process moves from the forced focus on socialism to a complex system of interacting components: democracy/authority, markets/planning, and properties/individualities versus a Commons of expropriation, the latter the fundamental task of what is taken as or called neo-communism, as in democratic market neo-communism. This complex system contains four complexities in one and shows why bolshevik oversimplifications were inadequate to social reformation.
To this democratic market neo-communism we must bring an ecosocialist content and make the basic construct serve to create an ecological socialism.
The conclusion is the construction of a new revolutionary framework (we must offer equally a version to the reformist wing with a warning about the problem of expropriation in that case) that can free itself for its own past with a creative energy chapter and verse marxist boilerplate no longer provides
We have completed our short booklet satisfying the requirement of crisis times of being ersatz done in one sitting, yet ready for instant amplification…
These notes are an introduction to a series of blogbooks that became Kindle books and they express our set of notes in greater detail…