archive: R48G: end of growth economics June 19th, 2017 •
The idea of revolution seems implausible, unrealizable and illegal but we should pursue this course in
any case as we watch the world system approach a possible collapse. We need also to study the failures of ‘revolution’, the liabilities of the idea and to ‘break old habits’ by reinventing all concepts and analyses. And that includes marxism, a definite resource to be sure, but not tried and true.
We have suggested a two-pronged approach that can be evolutionary/revolutionary, the first perhaps leading to the second, but in the end, we need to challenge the core regime at its foundation and think at the level of constitutional change. How do you think a program of reform is going to alter the elite control of the global gorillas of capitalism? Any threat to their power will result in assassination, consider the statistics in south America, the facts of the case in Colombia for the last year, hundreds of activists wiped out. We need programs of self-defense against the murder of leftists long a dark side activity of these creepy elites. These issues will likely vitiate good intentions and resurrect the less than naive Leninist realists.
Whatever the case, we must not be suckered into charges of Stalinism because Leninist: Stalin derailed the communist project and the whole experiment terminated with his rise to power.
So, it is not true that communism has been tried.
Let us at least offer a pledge of post-Leninist innovation. without sentimental compromises, but with a realization of the need to create new paths to some form of socialism, our democratic market neo- communism being one attempted platform.
Our idea is that our focus should not exclude democratic realizations, an obvious point, but in fact often filtered out. The problem is that neo-liberals are democrats too, in name only, and we might attack democracy or liberalism to promote communism. But the two ideas must coexist and be part of the same evolutionary/revolutionary process. We might take the example of the American revolution and remorph it in stages until we have a new system. Is this realistic? Thinking here is a species of mental disturbance as the demand for democracy produces more domination by capitalist elites and attempts to remedy this are charged with being undemocratic. Part of the problem is the purely legal definitions that dominate discussions. And these are matched by the somewhat ‘thin soup’ definitions of what democracy, starting with Rousseau’s brilliant but odd starting point, the idea of the general will. The latter could be charged with woolly thinking and is a warning we may not fully resolve a definition of what democracy is or should be. The question resolved to two forms, electoral and direct democracy. The latter appeared in ancient Athens and crashed after one generation, never to be tried again, while the former is the grand experiment of modern times, still under examination, but obviously limited on several fronts. It does however provide some kind of ‘instance of the democratic’. But we would do well to consider new approaches to the question of democracy: here the early socialists were the pioneers.
The point is that democracy requires a careful class analysis of the outcomes of liberalisms, a differential
consideration of the bourgeoisie and the working class, the obvious dilemma of the French/1848 revolutions, and a project of economic populism that can produce real equality/equalization in the leveling of classes into a relatively ‘at par’ population of not just legal but economic equals. This is fairly old stuff! But the equivocation of liberalism and socialism produced a ‘crash of concepts’ and they started to produce a polar field of contradiction rather than a synergy of counterpoint. At this point we might consider a form of liberalism recast inside communism, which would be a form of communism recast insider liberalism. Nobody will listen to communists anymore. But they will listen if the project is able to remorph liberalism (never really democratic) as a form of communism.
The moment for this is arriving because we can see the system current is doomed: take the issue of growth. Growth in near the end of the line. And yet the current system is a runaway growth engine on the verge of destroying a planet. I think that a form of neo-communism is the only candidate left standing here. A macro system must come into existence to regulate social givens and effect a new form of distribution based on ecological sanity. A determined revolutionary consensus here, failsafed by a sane set of concepts and a commitment to democratic outcomes but with a ruthless streak in transition to stand up to the capitalist gorillas is almost certain to emerge in the ‘back to the wall’ situation developing in our ‘Anthropocene’/quite obscene ‘late capitalism’.