Consider how different 2020 would have been if there had been a mass working-class party in existence intervening in events with a program that transcended the bounds of capitalism. The pandemic exposed the capitalists’ willingness to sacrifice human lives at the altar of profits, provoking a strike wave across numerous industries last spring. A mass socialist party could have given a coordinated expression to these struggles and unified them around a program of demands to defeat the virus and save countless lives.A mass party of, by, and for the working class would have cut across the rise of Trumpism and its distorted class polarization by tapping into the deep discontent in society and channeling it against capitalism.
We are over a century past the great surge of the Second International and the emergence of a global audience for marxism. So what happened and why is a repeat seemingly so impossible? The obvious answer is the legacy of Bolshevism and Stalinism. That and the failure to construct a viable socialist economy anywhere at all (exceptions?) in addition a mountain of books by critics have ‘exposed’ the issue of socialism and still others, and this is key, have critiqued Marx’s theories. Leftists express a knee-jerk defense at all points but they are a club or cult of the converted. There is no real public anymore for Marxism. But times change and socialism is making a comeback, it seems.
We have suggested here many times the need to recast the legacy beyond the Marxist monopoly on socialism. The flaws in Marx’s theories have crippled the whole subject and we must fear the inexorable Stalinist convergence of new attempts.
Marx’s theories of history are flawed pseudo-science and promoting them can’t succeed anymore. But a new framework just might accelerate the new tide of socialism.
Take a good look at historical materialism. How can anyone expect anyone else to buy such a preposterous theory?
We have proposed here a different approach with a new approach to world history, without the inaccurate periodization of epochs and the economic modes of production angle. There is no law of history that ensures the coming of socialism/communism. Thinking so made Marxists reluctant ironically to consider the need to construct a viable future. Economics doesn’t drive history. In a way that is a relief. A new left would do better to consider the broader range of culture with analyses not stuck in the dated scientism of the nineteenth century imitating Newton. There is no science of society. What do have is an enlarged world history that shows how societies grow and evolve but a theory there is beyond our means. But we can base a future society on that empirical history and its periodization. Marxists have boxed the left into a corner. Any reactionary Tom/Dick or Harry can score a free bullseye by proclaiming that Marxist theories are not true. A better approach is to set aside ‘theories’ and stick to outlines, cultural depictions and the range of facts and values. Marx had to promote his theory without values in a reductionist scientism that none can take seriously.
We have a log of material here on new approaches. The current left has been crippled by its own legacy. A new approach is needed. No compromise is needed: the reformist/revolutionary dilemma remains, but the coming dissolution of capitalism needs more that crypto-Stalinist boilerplate ideology.
Our idea of ‘democratic market neo-communism’ is one offering: the nexus is four or more basic ideas, not just chanting the mantra of socialism: the left must consruct democracy, a system of socialist markets, a science of planning, an analysis of economic theory beyond Marx’s ancient thinking, a way beyond state capitalism to construct a Commons, an ecological stance that is central to the basic framework. Marxists have never done any homework here, Zero. The effort is huge and requires studies of constitutional and legal foundations, etc…As if the problem wasn’t hard enough the US shows hows the covert agencies secretly control the whole system, to an increasing degree. The left is too prone to being taken over by that nexus, as was the work of Lenin. The left can’t indulge in extra-legal shenanigans if they ever got a second chance. The slaughter started early with Lenin, not Stalin.