Our stance on critical marxism is from the ‘left’ in some sense and speaks from a foreboding that the left still lacks a solid platform
We have thus often been critical of Marx’s theories. But that can be misleading: take away the theories and the bulk of Marx remains
central. Marx’s great achievement is not his historical materialism and its brittle theories of history but, among other things,
his classic depiction of the way capitalism and democracy end up in corrupted collusion, etc…
Marx appears in the next generation from, e.g. the onset of the American ‘democracy’ and two centuries later
the critique of Marx (and his sources in the gestation of socialism) emerges with a prophetic insight into
the fate of such entities. The Grand Old Anniversary 1776 also pegs a figure like Adam Smith.
So our critiques are par for the course.
Communism: beyond the marxist monopoly
January 29th, 2018
The left has tied its head knots with theory, theory that doesn’t really work, but which has turned into a kind of dogma. The whole question of socialism has been frozen in place in terms of a legacy that was too complicated, confusing, and poorly defined.
It shouldn’t be all that hard to create a viable socialist system if we get out of the straight jacket of Marx’s misdefinition of the problem. Marx posited that a set of stages of history would bring communism to capitalism even as the latter replaced feudalism, etc…This theory isn’t really successful and has confused the issue. A more cogent formulation might simply ask for a communist foundation, as a set of axioms creating a Commons: resources from the commons would become a social entity (and not the same as state capitalism) mediated as economic process not unlike the market version save that the question of private property is superceded. The issue of the working class has also confused discussion. In fact, the idea of a ‘universal class’ is really the same as the working class but focuses on the real working class which is much larger than the traditional cliché of workers in factories. The tradition of working class focus is a great one, and is easily adaptable to our larger conception but at this point the problems of social reconstruction are far more complex that the question of industrial labor. We may even be leaving the era of factories and workers. And we confront climate change and its call for a radical revolution beyond the factors of production: an ecological framework that just might lead to a world of no-growth economics…
The idea of communism as a fixed stage beyond capitalism failed to specify what was to be done, and Stalinism filled that void. We need to consider capitalism, or liberalism, and communism as constructivist projects in tandem rather than in opposition. We can even have a system of markets in the context of a Commons. The whole nexus of concepts was misdefined from the start in order to create an effective propaganda about the
inevitability of communism succeeding capitalism. In fact, the illusion that capitalism was a stage of history has if anything made the problem worse as we allowed a flawed format to be ‘normal’ as a phase. In reality, the task was to do the job right and create from the start a democratic socialism with elements of both planned and market factors. The market factors proceed without the confusions of private property by reclaiming the entities of ‘primitive accumulation’: it is simply a species of plunder that animates the whole capitalist scheme. Constructing a real socialist communism ought to be as transparent as anything produced in the capitalist legacy: the two are remorphable versions of each other, but with the profound difference of a Commons…