archive: toward a new leftist history, and a new model of postcapitalism
July 10th, 2017 ·
The companion volume to Toward a New Communist Manifesto (which I might make into an appendix of that work) is an attempt to ground a postmarxist legacy in a new view of history and evolution. Historical materialism is one of the obstacles to the possibility of a new leftist communism/socialism because it proposes a theory of history that is not adequate and too focused on the economic. This is a long shot at first: such a perspective seems out of the mainstream, let alone compatible with legacy marxism. But I think its basic point can assist in reconciling the multiple opposites that confound all narrow theoretical models.
The macro model so-called is extremely flexible, can be taken as an ongoing project, can be taken without theory using a rough outline highlighting a basic dynamic, and the result forces a new variant of postmarxism to integrate understandings of all possible civilizations/religions/cultures, the whole spectrum of philosophic positions, and with a basic axiomatic about free agency rather than economic necessity or causality. The road to postcapitalism is thus not the progression from one epoch to another one that is beyond capitalism, but a constitutional/revolutionary transition taken as a Kantian realization on the path toward a perfect civil constitution, to use the phrase from his classic essay on history. This is actually a far better foundation for an historical analysis than the brittle post-Hegelian scientism that Marx/Engels became stuck with.
One of the beauties of the macro effect which the model highlights is the way it views an ’emergent nexus’ like marxism as historical output of that model, yet open to mediation by a larger construct of successor free agents. That is a useful way to have your cake and eat it too. In any case, we don’t need a completed view of historical dynamics. The macro effect is structured by its inherent logic so that we
exit its action as free agents, not as historically determinate machines. We see that
capitalism/communism emerge in tandem as correlated opposites in the rich potential of the modern transition. And then the dynamic stops and we as free agents armed with two potentials, capitalism, and
?_communism as postcapitalism, must mediate a future as our own free agency. That is at first less effective than saying the epoch of communism must follow from its past, but in the end it is far more effective and exits the useless ‘end of history’ nonsense once and for all but taking the ‘teleology of freedom’ in a much different way.
This approach can conjoin two or more protocols, from the mediation of the basic marxist legacy and the ‘from scratch’ creation of a new complex of perspectives. After the experience of bolshevism something like that was inevitable. The left is dawdling in anarchist revulsion against communism. We need to move on and yet to rediscover a neo-communist potential. There is still a lot of work to do there, as our previous citation today, Four Futures, a new book from Jacobin, makes clear.
We have proposed as noted here many times a hybrid democratic/socialist system that is what we called ‘market neo-communism’: a constitutional foundation for a (one nation) system that has effectively carried out the process of the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. The realm of capital in one nation will be an aspect of the Commons, and this will be regulated/guarded by a separation of powers
from any one-two-many-party revolutionary politics (one party and many party systems have both failed, what is the answer?). One solution is a strong one-party (replacing parties with a formal dialectic) political republican control system with strong, yet limited authority in a presidency, its task to guard the basic communist system, a congressional multi party democratic system, a set of legal courts to guard
the constitution with related legal bodies/courts to mediate economic particulars. The system would allow direct corporate constructs under governmental control and self-generated corporate entities run by semi-autonomous entrepreneurs who could license certain potentials from the Commons. In addition there would be a semi-anarchist mirror image in a threshold cutoff below which a considerable degree
of autonomy would be allowed for small scale economic, industrial, agricultural and diverse cultural formations. Shopkeepers to flea markets can hardly be outlawed in real macro-communism. This could also be a ‘reserve dna’ sector with a museum like preservation different historical potentials. The overall system would be a classless society based on the Universal Class, but the overall system might in the reserve sector spawn differential class formations of very low difference levels, and subject to periodic
The overall system must be able to function in a one-state version even as it moves aggressively to create a larger international community. But this system would have to be able to deal with a possible external capitalist remainder, outsourced legacies, and be able to resist predation by external remainders of capitalism. Not hard to do. The external system couldn’t import a bag of peanuts without strong control. But many such issues would require analysis. Clearly motion toward a global federation of communist states is indicated.
I see no reason why an electoral transition to something like this could not be possible, but the reality of
revolution must be clearly tabled to be clear that we are talking about something more than ‘keep trying’ activism that at best results in social democratic/new dealist compromises. The system indicated here is not a compromise but a deliberate effort to balance opposites.