We confront an incredible constellation of crises: the climate calamity, the viral pandemic, a racial revolution, and the background music of the Trumpian ‘Long Goodbye’
It is not even revolutionary to speak of a transition to postcapitalism: it is coming on its own.
What we need to do is to be ready to construct a new society beyond capital. Capitalism is no longer an option.
The issue of capitalism is debated ad infinitum but the issue is being decided by the climate crisis: it is destroying a planet and turning all its fans into Ayn Rand idiots.
We have delayed too long here something that should have happened in the nineteenth century. Consider that slavery had never come to abolition! And yet our position resembles that. What if capitalism just keeps on the way it is? The reign of capitalism has brought the world to a crisis that must resolve itself soon, while the powers that be are so powerful and deluded that they will never get it right, indeed, not ‘get it’ at all. That was the mood of the famous year 1848 of revolution manque and the first realizations emerging from the French Revolution of the last revolution, the wil o’ wisp of the ’48 revolutions, whose completion must come sooner or later, our present much later…We have made this historical chestnut into an idea for a generalized format for a radical group: the red forty-eight group, with our various manifestos, books, and blogs/blogbooks.
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. These crises will pass, no doubt, but to a closer look we see the signs: there is no going back, and in a strange way these piecemeal crisis are sending strange messages: capitalism has destroyed the global climate system, the pandemic in the US has exposed governmental incompetence bordering on deliberate genocide, and the racial protests are showing us that the original american constitution with its flawed compromise on slavery has cursed its own future, and that even the Civil War could not fully resolve the inherent flaw. The suggested need for a new society and constitution begins to echo in this combination.
In this context we legacy of socialism in the context of 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. Two Manifestos: Toward a New Communist Manifesto–Democratic Market Neo-communism
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.