The crisis we face is generating a sense that postcapitalism is the only option. Many say this in the mode of Common Dreams or Counterpunch, or Marxmail but noone can really think about the revolutionary options, its dangers and potentials, and the failure of any section of the left to really think through what is needed.
I am too old to start a revolutionary movement but have produced abundant materials for thinking about that. In the age of POD books one can evade peer reviewed boilerpate literature and speak one’s mind and produce a paperback or PDF very quickly. Below is an ersatz quick book in progress summarizing some previous work. One would think that the realm of Marxism would have something to contribute here and the literature there is stunning, and yet none of it is suitable at a revolutionary threshold, a stupefying realization: here are some of the reasons:
Marxism spawned the Second Internationale and then the Leninist Bolshevik revolution which devolved into Stalinism. Dead duck, sorry.
Any attempt to use the standard corpus in the same language used by Stalinists, North Korea, or Chinese communists will cause massive cognitive dissonance and attempted take over and liquidation of the whole Common dreams staff. The Chinese system killed one million capitalists at the start. We don’t want to go that route.
Standard Marxism is beyond repair. But it is easy to start over, put Marx/Engels into an historical saga or epic mode, recast the whole subject, with some borrowings, and think in a new way.
In a way, it is good to set aside marxism. Marx looks brilliant but he botched his own subject with a fallacious set of theories that has a small army of critics in protest since the late nineteenth century before Engels even sorted out the mess of unfinished results of writers’ block that Marx gave up on as he sensed his theories didn’t work.
It is not hard to rapidly start over: we need a critique of Marx, a critique of historical materialism, a debriefing of (neo-)classical economies and its pseudo-theories, a new approach to world history beyond the useless stages of production theory, a robust history of philosophy beyond the truly useless materialism/idealism debate, a ground in science and a critique of scientism, reductionism, a catch up on the long exposed Darwinism replaced with an empirical evolutionary history without a theory, a careful consideration of the place of religion, theism and a new robust secular humanism and a perspective grounded in the modern transition and its massive innovations. A critique of capitalism stands at the center and where once it had a winning hand again socialist muddle it is suddenly a menace to civilization.
We have a whole set of materials here
The Anthropocene and The Coming of Postcapitalism ver 12
and others, all online and free plus paper backs.
Marx’s stages of production theory is a massive flawed theory of history that has confused every generation of leftists. It should be discontinued as propaganda trying to make it look like communism would come by a law of history. Communism (under a new name) can only come when leftists get their act together, produce a blueprint and bring socialism/neo-communism into realization. Men are free to do that contra Marx who excised free will from his theory. The process if full of deadly dangers and stalinist undertow. A revolution needs its won marshals to oversee each stage. The procedure must have steps and a failsafe if someone tries to seize power.
The left might use Kant instead of Hegel versus Marx to caution their deviation if any into antinomial metaphysics, the bane of Marx and Hegel both. No iconic genius is smart enough in isolation for the task in
A plain outline of history is enough. The claims for economic determination of history are baloney. History is far vaster and more complex.
Science trends toward materialism but it is pervaded by idealist elements. Physics studies materialism using mathematics as a set of ideal elements.
Do NOT try to produce an ideological theory of history. Simply use chronologies and outlines.
Decoding World History ED1_dwh1x: this book shows the way to use an outline of history (and evolution) without pseudo-scientific bad theories. Challenges to Darwinism will produce massive resistance, but a clear expose of its myth of natural selection will soon become standard.
Sagas of evolution and history as empirical studies are all that is needed. It is a liability to get stuck in the pretense of Darwin.
Most of all a robust form of economy is needed. Marx made the subject impossibly difficult, but with some insightful comments. Forget all that as a theory.
Our model of ‘democratic market neo-communism’ is a one-such attempt. The complexity of such systems rises rapidly. Our model is a four-term system to start. It guarantees that democracy won’t get factored out
and has a new approach to markets.
Beware of dialectical imaginaries. A four term system can.t really used dialectic.
Markets are problematical but they don’t equate with capitalism. We can challenge capitalism without outlawing truck and barter.
Socialist markets have a considerable literature and are a real option. The nonsense from the right has befuddled even marxists here.
Socialist markets use managers to license resources from a Commons and create post-capitalist markets in a larger sphere of planning.
Neoliberalizm has made a madman’s fetish of efficiency and the need for unfettered markets beyond regulation. Since we are almost
dead by that approach we can consider the idea refuted. Hundred percent efficiency isn’t needed.
The Friedman obsessions are poison.
The idea of revolution is treacherous. All the revolutions that created modernity, were serendipitous. Deliberate attempts to create revolution
are treacherous. Usually chaos produces the revolution which proceeds to be captured by various parties. Some package like the above can be a way to
reconstruct through that chaos. A revolution requires a set of failsafes and must guarantee habeas corpus: if counterrevolutionaries are to be detained they get a lawyer.
The overt agencies are a menace and must be dismantled and restarted if needed.
The American rebs are up to a point a model although as Marx saw well they produced a bourgeois revolution. But a neo-communist revolution
which may be hard in practice is not so hard in practice as long as what is to be done is clear and devoid of theory. The Rebs were blessed: they had no theory in limbo between Hegel and Marx.
We will continue this as we go along. there is a lot more here.
Postcapitalist Futures: Preface (there is already an earlier archive of materials by that name, we can easily keep the two distinct)
The crisis of climate change has gone from prophecy to reality and with such suddeness that we think of the classic question as the Titanic struck an iceberg, ‘How long do we have?’. Our current situation seems to threaten the same desperation, all at once. Let us hope the analogy fails and that some exit strategy will emerge against the failure to act in an equal crisis of modernity, the evolution of civilization and the reign of ideologies. But the prospects are not good. As leadership fails the issue of revolution emerges and becomes beckons the the call of conscience. Revolution? The idea is incoherent and has no simple definition and corresponds to no theory of history beyond the Marxist theor which has critized again and again.
The crisis we face has becpme one of ecology. There is no mystery here: we see the factor of capitalism indicted as the core issue in the diagnosis. The phase of modern capitalism arrived to howls of protest, and strong warnings. Where once the miracles of capitalism seemed to forestall the challenges of socialists, the stock of that said to be discredited ideology rises to our consideration once again. Further, the crisis situation, the rise of a new fascist right, the dysfunctional collapse of American ‘democracy’, should evoke the response from the left, but that party to the confusion appears to be paralyzed by its own ideological limits.
The left is the first born of the early modern, but has suffered derailment. Its legacy is crippled by its history as given and in the narrow vision of is proponents. There the reign of Marxist theory, which captured the idea for its own monopoly of thought, has produced a kind of stalemate of failed theories, next to the delusive pseudo-science of economics. We have inherited a century or more of critiques of the Marxist legacy and given the failures of Bolshevism socialism seemed to have suffered a near death experience. But the core idea of a socialist continuation of the capitalist era remains tabled if we can liberate its now dysfunctional axioms from the Marxist wrapper.
There is an irony here: if we can critique the fallacious theories of Marx the whole larger field of his thinking springs to life, freed from its now dated scientism of the period of post-Hegelian positivism. The empirical observations of generations of students remain a foundation for a new socialism that can produce a reasonable project for a new society. Given the failure of Bolshevism the odds seem stacked against this, but diagnosis of theory can simply refound and recast the whole subject by disowning its legacy. In the process we must consider the nature of science, and the failure of social theories, in the process taking up the undeground rumours of the failure of evolutionary theories such as the reigning Darwinism. Our project unexpectedly can give us a new insight into the nature of evolution. Marx’s theory of history is really a form of evolutionary theory, by teleological design, even as embraced Darwin, but the ‘evolution’ of civilization is something quite different.
Creating a viable socialism should be a lot simpler that what its history implies. But the one catch is the expropriation of capital which provokes ferocious counterrevolution. That is what distorts the simplicity of socialism in practice as the fatal obstacle of the bourgeoisie moving to protect itself. is in danger of civil war which rapidly drains all sense of compassion and spoils the opportunity with violent astion and counteraction. But the capitalists have done their best to pervert their own logic and while it might be possible to have socialism in a mix with global corporate behemoths preserving their property rights we can see by now that capitalists have undermined their own chance. Consider Exxon-Mobil. Capitalism could have preserved itself in the the last century if it had acted sensibly on its own findings and adapted itself to the global crisis of its own making. Instead it used PR propaganda and suppression of the facts to mislead the public in a dangerous disinformation regime that with unfathomable malevolence put continued short term profits into motion in a global death machine, a warning that economic rationaly is unsurpassed in lunatic irrationality.
Marx spoke of primitive accumulation, a cogent depiction of the way natural resources have repeatedly been taken over by the nexus of legally founded property rights. This seemed to such the natural order of things. But now we can see the prescience of the early socialists and the way that economic agents are highly susceptible to irrational self-destruction. We have that prophecy to remind us that socialism should have arrived early one, as Marx and Engels thought as they rushed into the fray of the 1848 revolutions, sensing the need for immediate socialism against the perceived danger of capitalism running amok across a whole planet. After all the sanctimonious diatribes of capitalist ideology we can fear that we are to a high probability dead by this economic system and have let it take a point of no return. But the socialist alternative became an abstraction that was soon seen as an absolute and made into an undefined projection into the future. But the early socialists themselves saw the real task was ‘real democracy’ and that socialist democracy must produce a viable hybrid. We must be wary of letting socialism jacknife against its opposites.
This short work will be a companion to Descent of Man Revisited and Last and Firt Men, and provide a rapid-fire foundation for a new kind of left. To do that we need a new understanding of history and evolution, and a sound definition of socialism that is not based on fallacious historicism. It is not in fact a very difficult task, but if we must tack against the wind with respiect to both capitalist and marxist thinking then we must fear the implied censorship twice over of dominant paradigms. Perhaps the crisis will precipitate the collapse of the sand castles of thought now the stuff of brainwashed men, the zombies of sociological idees fixes.
We will attempt a critique of marxism from the left and put its legacy in a new historical context. A critque from the left is highly useful and will sow confusion in the right. Our objective is to find the basis for a view of history than can found the activist range of socialism. Marx’s theories of history attempting to do that are dated now and tend to confuse the adherents of social change with a theory of history that has been rejected by a multitude of independent thinkers. We can connect the two discussions with an at first outrageous argument: historical evolution induces ideological outcomes and these can induce ideological ‘shoulds’. This seems to contradict scientific objectivity. Perhaps but we are not external observers of history, thence evolution, we are immersed in the systems in question.
We will construct a short version of our thesis in a way that allows incremental expansion, with an archive of short essays from the blog at redfortyeight.com.org. The world system is in trouble in the context of the economic erosion of ecological balance. The controversies of the left then come into their own only to be suject to a Marxist monopoly. The works of Marx are such that they thrive better under challenge, than as fixed dogmas of a prophet. The socialist idea was never the exclusive domian of economic categories and histories. History is far richer. As to Marx we need to intercept a forward pass and proceed to socialism is a new way. Our idea of the ‘Red Fortyeight Group’ is of a hypothetical left movement that points to the era of the ‘48 revolutions and as a superset of the spectrum. That allows us to consider the Marxist legacy both critically and as a practical resource or library. The left must start over in each generation and take into account the history of its failures.
A new framework here is not hard to achieve and in the process we are ironically presented with a simpler formulation beside the egregious obscurity of the Marxist analysis. The world is on the move and we must hope to pass beyond the failures of the era of Bolshevism into a much simpler approach to social change thatn the quixotic search for a science of history. The problem was fairly well seen by men thought conservatives now, such a Popper with his Poverty of Historicism. He failed to see that socialism is not dependent of theories of history. Popper, and Isaiah Berlin, faulted the denial of freedom of historical agents. The issue of free agents comes to the fore as theories of an older period seem to make of those agents Frankensteins. The material on the eonic effect will servre as a kind of commentary and leave the subject free of theory with a realization that the subjects of history and evolution are basically the same, and require related models. There ideology lurks, but we will see that ideologies themselves evolve in our sense. So as we are immersed in history we pick up its ideologies and develop them at will. That was the confusion of the ‘end of history’ debate but we can resolve that confusion directly.