I hope to write a new summary of the issue of critical Marxism discussed here many times and some solutions there. In the process we can add a new approach to world history, and a parallel critique of Darwinism. I seriously doubt that the current Marxist left has any second chances. And yet the world needs a form of socialism or communism in hybrid with democracy. If we examine Marx’s thinking we can see a set of (fatal) mistakes. His stages of production theory says that history will move automatically beyond capitalism. That theory of history just isn’t correct and has the weakness that it labels an unknown as the stage in question. But we can see that unless you get specific a figure like Stalin can simply make up his own definition using the term. And this is what happened with Bolshevism. Ant the result is that critics have a field day with an outcome that is clearly something else but which everyone calls ‘communism’. And amazingly Marxists don’t even protest.
I think the problems with Marxist theory are easy enough to repair, but let’s hope it isn’t oo late. Our approach won’t have, let’s hope, the problem as above: we speak of and eco-socialist ‘democratic market neo-communism’. In this way you cannot call Stalin’s fiasco communism if it doesn’t also have democracy, etc… The goal requires complex specification.
This failsafe approach just might renew interest and enthusiasm about socialism, at a time when a new generation is despairing of capitalism. People will prefer to go over Niagara Falls before they embrace the now dated legacy with its reputation for Stalinist horror.
There is at first zero chance of persuading Marxists of anything. The canon of Marx is almost a form of scripture. But the realization that Marxism will block any path beyond capitalism if it doesn’t pay dues to the legacy, might finally renew trust in a new kind of social politics
As disaster looms closer, perhaps a new audience will emerge.
Preface rough notes…
The current world situation confronts the ominous prospect of global warming and climate change in the unrestricted play of capitalism. The issues of economics are very complex and delusive but the overall outcome in the estimates of scientists defaults to stark prophecies of catastrophe. The prospect of radical transformation confronts the revolutionary option, but then retreats to the hopes of reformist activism. Here controversies of a political nature lead to suspicions that the two options are beset with the stalemate in the collision with a strangely totalitarian nexus of markets.
The question of a path to postcapitalism, once controversial to the general public, now seems the only option for last chances.
We will attempt a critique of marxism and put its legacy in a new historical context. We can attempt to review the history of radical change in the context of modernity and to critique some of the assumptions at play in the context of futures. The modern left is to a first view the continuation of the French Revolution beyond its supposed bourgeois character to the struggle of the new proletariat. But a closer look shows us that the deep sources point to the early modern, at its earliest in the sixteenth century in the struggles with medievalism, monarchy, and fixtures of class societies. This situation saw the birth of socialism and this theme was taken up by Marx and Engels and codified into the tenets of so-called ‘Marxism’. This initiative exploded via the so-called Second International and the Bolshevik action in the Russian Revolution. The Stalinism outcome was a tragic derailment of the entire socialist project. This outcome was more than a tragedy, it bequeathed an analytical puzzle in the nature of the theory in question, one repeatedly criticized and yet unable to review the strangely dogmatic tenacity of the Marxist corpus. The collapse of the whole initiative in 1989 should have been an opportunity to review the legacy but if anything the revolutionary left has closed ranks around the original doctrine and turned into a kind of cult of Marx.
Once we snap out of the mesmerizing appeal of the classic saga of Marx and Engels a century of criticisms resurface to challenge the conventional view. This critical perspective is so cluttered with ideological sloganeering that the task of objective review is made almost impossible. The key issue is whether the legacy can be salvaged at all. The problem is that a kind of cognitive dissonance sets in as the terminology of Marxism refers to an idealistic radicalism of the current generation and at the same time refers to the usage of all past and current communist systems from the Russian to the still in play monstrosity of North Korea. To what does the terminology refer?
Once we see that the whole tradition needs to be left behind in order to start over with a fresh account of the potential of socialism/communism. As we do this we see what many critics have seen from the start, the flawed theoretical basis left by Marx. The corpus here claims to be a science but that claim belongs ot a period in history in the wake of the tremendous success of Newtonian physics when ambitious thinkers saw fit to storm the gates of glory for like theories in all fields of knowledge. As the so-called hard sciences thrived and moved into cosmology, bio/chemistry, thermodynamics, and finally genetics, the expectation of similar success fell flat in the realms of ethical, aesthetic domains as the attempts to bring science to psychology, sociology, and history all failed. And here in many ways, the question of evolution became the threshold demarcation level: the question of evolution emerged in the late eighteenth century and then in a strange development was captured by the work of Darwin and Wallace and given what seemed a scientific basis in the theory of natural selection. The reality was that ‘evolution’ was well past the demarcation level and was not amenable to the kind of reductionist program that had been so successful in the genuine base level sciences. But the strangest thing then happened: the paradigm turned into a hard-core belief system and ideology beyond the bounds of reason in its obsessive embrace of a basic fallacy. And yet this conclusion was made into a kind of deviant heresy in a cult of Darwin’s theory. And here