Toward a new kind of socialism
To: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Fri, Sep 10, 2021 4:01 pm
To say that Marxism is dead may be the wrong way to put it, but what I meant was that while just after Marx/Engels the second international took off globally and was within decades a global foundation for the left. But after 1989 the left has been in a kind of stall. Part of the problem is the cognitive dissonance created by the way a healthy Marxist left in our present uses the same terminology as pseudo-communist China and North Korea, et al. The public is terrified of Marxist thinking for that reason, including most in the working class. The Marxist left has dozens of groups and organizations and none of them can grow. The DSA may be an exception but it is hardly much of a Marxist formation. I consider that any work here needs to respect the reformist/revolutionary distinction or divide and should speak to both. But if that is the strategy then a revolutionary perspective will end up slightly dominant over the other. I often speak of ‘virtual’ revolution which seems to mean we can calm the nerves of nervous nellies in the reformist wing by taking revolution as a potential possibility that we must study carefully. But the time of revolutionary action may soon come. Noone expected the English Civil War, the French Revolution, the Civil War, or the Bolshevik revolution. They happened on their own and it wasn’t until the Bolshevik case that an outstanding leftist group was at hand to accomplish socialist transformation. But the latter failed. Russia wasn’t really the right place to start as many awaited anxiously for a German revolution, which never took place.
I think the reason is the flaws in Marxism theory and I think it might help to restart a path to socialism based on a new framework. The key problem with Marxism, pointed to many times, is its economic theorizing, as historical materialism and ‘stages of production’ theory. Marx produced a theory of world history based on economic epochs, but it is very fragile and breaks down. The idea of feudalism, capitalism, communism as epochs of history proceeding in a fixed directionality just doesn’t work as a theory of history, as many have noted. Let us note that the rest of Marx works well as resource on many grounds. So why not challenge its wrong science of history so that the remaining work of Marx can come back alive? No one has ever produced a science of history, None, Never. From the Bible to Toynbee and Spengler every effort failed. I have studied the question and can I think at least show why: the data set of the so-called eonic effect shows how a theory is possible in principle but in practice still impossible. So the only solution is to retreat to simple empirical outlines and chronologies. The minute we do that the real answer appears, but like a vision of some future science. We can’t produce that as yet. Consider the absurdity of most theories of history: they can’t even define their subject of study. When did history start? Every attempt to specify that is a joke. In fact the only answer is to consider history and evolution connected and start with the Big Bang. History emerges from evolution as animals evolve a higher degree of autonomous action and in the primates, then hominids, then homo sapiens the degrees of autonomy increase to point that we have a relative free agent as man making history as it emerges out of evolution. So history starts as a potential in evolution with the Big Bang. That’s not a dogma but a working assumption to get past arguments and look at empirical chronologies in world history. Lo and behold once we retreat from theories we see a clear pattern of evolutionary civilization. The evidence is incomplete but it suggests a very simple way to use an outline of world history as a series of intervals or epochs: it is the most obvious and simple of structures, at first, and follows the Table of Contents of many world histories: three intervals or epochs from Egypt and Sumer ca.(3300)/ 3000 BCE, classical antiquity from (900)/600 BCE, and the modern era from (1500)1800. The ambiguity of the dates springs from the way each era or epoch is preceded by a kind of transition, and in each case, we see a kind of transition effect to the new era. The period 1500 to 1800 is one of the most creative and revolutionary periods in world history and by the rough date 1800 a new era we call ‘modernity’ is under way. This model is incomplete and should connect with the Neolithic, Paleolithic and dawn of homo sapiens,etc..But we can use the three epoch interval approach in isolation as long as we are careful not to consider it a theory. It probably hides a theory, but one too complicated for us at yet. We are not yet intelligent enough to do that. Consider why among other reasons: look at a large university or public library. We must read and make use of the books giving us the data on dozens of historical periods/ We are already talking about several million books required for a first attempt at science, and new kinds of databases to handle neolithic, Sumerian, Egyptian (and their successors, to the Assyrians, Babylonians, etc), the whole classical antiquity, including Roman, Greek, Israelite, Persian/Zoroastrian, Indic, and Chinese histories, and at some point the histories of the New World (they don’t really exist), and then the successions into the medieval period, and then finally the modern period. A science of history must say how many of the five million books on the above are needed, and can we get by with several thousand for each period? We see why the science of history would require an immense computer database system that can perhaps use AI to digest millions of books. Short of that, we can use the simple but important high-level outline that sticks out like ripe fruit for the picking: the era of higher civilization in Egypt and Sumer, their successions, the next classical era of Eurasian histories, and then the mysterious modern period which starts in Europe around 1500, and starts around 1800 and takes off as it becomes a new global civilization in the nineteenth century (there is no need for any kind of Eurocentric thinking at all).
The point is to see that Marx tended to equate modernity with capitalism, but that doesn’t work. The modern period has hundreds of new novelties, and one of them is the ‘new’ capitalism that emerges with the Industrial Revolution. Capitalism has existed in primitive form since ancient man started to ‘truck and barter’, but in modern times it takes off in a new form around the time of Adam Smith, the Industrial Revolution, and the emergence of new kinds of financial instruments. But please note that this is not a new epoch of modernity. Capitalism is a process insider of larger structures, here ‘modernity’, or whatever. That means it is not some kind of new epochs but a set of technical innovations, and we can change that at any time. Socialism emerges in parallel with capitalism, a strong hint that the various fragments might be assembled into a working unity. Instead, socialism struggled against elites while capitalism, a process inside modernity, took off and seemed to be the future but then in our own time has shown that it is the incomplete fragment and is in danger of igniting a whole planet. Clearly the early modern around the start of the nineteenth century had a larger potential: capitalism and socialism emerged in parallel (if you don’t think so consider that Thomas Munzer in 1520 proposed an early form of communism and a peasant’s revolt: ‘communism’ is the first idea of the modern era (Engels noticed this and was a big fan of Munzer) and precedes ‘democracy’ which springs from the English Civil War and then gets coopted in the oligarchic Restoration but at least moving from monarchy to parliamentary systems. It was this that influence the American and French Revolutions and along with Rousseau produces modern so-called dermocracy, the object of Marx’s critical scrutiny as coopted by capitalism. Marx’s views seem to have changed after 1848 when Marx and Engels moved through the revolutions of that period as if to sense as did many that capitalism needed to be tamed as soon as possible. But the effort failed. Marx’s view here is the real Marx to me. His views change after 1848 and his theory of stages of production enters and muddles his larger and very important perspective. Thie idea of capitalism as its own historical epoch enters and this contradicts what they seemed to have known better at the start: socialism/communism should start and blend with socialism immediately. The problem is that the false duality of socialism/capitalism made people think that capitalism must come first and then become socialism Not so, as early Marx/Engels and the early socialists seem to have known: they emerge in parallel and should be blended. We live in a tragic world of failed hopes as capitalist globalization descends into psychosis and the climate catastrophe starts to warn of human extinction. But this situation is not beyond repair and an idea of socialist democracy, which is actually the first idea preceding even Marx, from the French socialists, is the first born and now reborn idea/plan of action.
That’s enough for the moment. We see that we need a different take for a kind of post-marxism that abandons Marx’s theories and proceeds with Marx and Engels as a core heroic saga using their other material and moves into a new kind of constructive model. Socialist democracy is still too vague and I have suggested a more detailed option in the idea of ‘democratic market neo-communism’ which instead of a hard break from capitalism to communism attempts to take a liberal system (democracy after a fashion) and blend that with a neo-communism: the idea is that a reformist/revolutionary transformation expropriates capital and creates a Commons but then in a combination of entities creates a planning sector and a (socialist) market sector in parallel and/or combined and allows post-capitalist markets based on licensed resources to operate inside a large system with some kind of planning, a new kind of democratic Congress, and a whole slew of new entities, like ecological courts, working-class orgs in any number of forms, economic and legal rights, ecological rights and injunctions, etc..
This kind of hybrid is more than faithful to the socialist/communism idea (I drop the distinction of socialism/communism), isn’t a compromise by a liberal system remorphed into a communism, and a communism remorphed into a liberalism. Such a system would easily step out of the deadlocked idiocy we see in most efforts to apply Marx to a new society. Every case has failed because they abolished markets equated with capitalism. And the result was dysfunctional economic systems. A hybrid of the DMNC type (democratic market neo-communism) will work economically if liberal systems can work. Such a system would disallowed neoliberal abortions of capitalism but need not abolish ‘markets’ which can function perfectly well as socialist markets. etc…
I appreciate the opportunity to post about this material at marxmail: I hope that a new kind of left is needed and Marxists who can leap out of their skin and do socialist backflips and somersaults could thrive in this new type of formulation. In the simplest version of a DMNC you take a system like the American economy and make one change: private property at the level of capital is expropriated to a Commons and the rest can move to adapt to that keeping the basic forms it had before or remorphing them into agreement with the issue so clearly seen by Marx: the primitive accumulation that took the Commons and made it private capital. In reality a DMNC model might evolve into its own complexity but the point is that a liberal system needs reforming instead of destruction. We see at once why Bolshevism failed. Note that ALL societies are decayed or distorted versions of DMNC systems, but in each case one of the elements is missing or malformed: consider the US: it has ‘democracy’ so-called a degree of planning private markets, no Commons, but some government ownership and functionality. China has planning, no democracy, and remarkably has reinvented markets inside its ‘communism’ but not quite socialist markets, but external capital in special economic zones (I guess, the system changes so rapidly it is hard to assess). The point is that one can remorph what one has into a true ‘DMNC’.
The catch is ‘expropriation’, the one key idea taken from Marx and the other socialists. It would seem marxist intuitions of revolution are correct (if a decent blueprint can survive in the mix), although if English Laborites can attempt to nationalize industries (not the same as creating a Commons, but…) there is no inherent reason a reformist ‘revolution’ couldn’t happen to the point of altering constitutions.
Enough here. I make the claim that this new view of world history, and the DMNC model (with judicious helpings form the large work of Marx without historical materialism), can be an exit strategy for Marxists into a new and more efficient version of the path beyond capitalism.
I appreciate the opportunity to present this and might hope to further this view in the future. It is no big deal: if you don’t like it let is waft its way into the archives for future reference. But as much as I admire Marx I think that marxism needs an upgrade.
I am challenged to consider that Bellamy and his ecological thinking shows innovation in marxism. Indeed it does. But the problem is that is marginal to the outstanding system, and the danger is that ecological socialism, which must be fresh and pristine, will be grafted onto the older erroneous theories and turned into a lost cause inside the current mess of pottage of historical materialism.I invite Bellany to produce a version of our DMNC with his ecological thinking.
Marxism is too complicated. The majority of Marxists have no idea of what they are talking about. Our DMNC is not a theory but a recipe to be carried out in practice. It is, despite the murky discussion above, very simple, can be understood in a day or so and can be realized immediately inside a liberal system. If revolution is inevitable then it works with that.
The American Rebs were dirt farmers who brought off a new republic without a theory,and although an elite of vulture slaveholders lurked in the mix and corrupted the outcome, still what they did is model of sort for a socialist democratic version of what they did. They had no theory of revolution and no theory of world history and weren’t confused by theories of history. The Americans might repair their tragedy (so well seen by Marx in his critique of bourgeois capitalist ‘democracies’) and they won’t ever consider for a second the Bolshevik or even a Marxist version.
I think Marxists need to be able to do the backflips and somersaults referred to above: i.e. multitask multiple post-marxisms to find a format that can really work in the coming crisis. The revolution is being brought to us by nature, as the hurricane Ida episode made obvious. The whole US may soon be in chaos. And that’s one form of the Revolution. With a new upgrade of old socialist ideas, clearly renouncing the past of Bolshevism, and making clear that North Korea is not the outcome, and that socialism will be a system for the working-class plus everyone else to thrive with equalization of wealth, economic rights, liberal rights but in the context of a Commons (quite illegal to privatize the Commons), ecological rights of nature, Such a system could be highly attractive because it would free those trapped in the hopeless case of current capitalism, and as neoliberalism delivers the coup de grace) a DMNC model could prove attractive.
A lot of material on all this, free online, some as Amazon books, or Kindle
This post contains multiple resources on what we have said.
I think marxmail multitasks multiple threads: this material could well use a low-key thread in the background. This is a genuine version of a socialist or better neo-communist project and should be known better.
Again, I am grateful for an opportunity to comment in this forum.
From: Andrew Stewart
Sent: Fri, Sep 10, 2021 8:31 am
Subject: Re: deadbeat marxists at the onset of crisis
Every time I see someone who says Marxism is dead, I realize instead that they are just brain dead. There’s been 3 decades of growth and development based on Marxism since the collapse of the USSR that takes things into directions nobody would have imagined. John Bellamy Foster and other writers at Monthly Review have developed an entire Marxist ecological analysis, as just one example.
> On Sep 10, 2021, at 12:48 AM, Nemonemini wrote:
> I am sorry, you did put this at marxmail, so set aside my last post.
> I will try to write a short list of topics and books to make my point
> It may be time for Marxists to multitask several new versions on the way to socialism
> We are running out of time as the right rushes into the vacuum left by the left
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Andrew Stewart
> To: Nemonemini
> Cc: email@example.com >
> Sent: Thu, Sep 9, 2021 3:31 pm
> Subject: Re: deadbeat marxists at the onset of crisis
> Your peripatetic wandering is both pointless and juvenile. You leapfrog from 1989 to 1914 to god only knows what.
> Best regards,
> Andrew Stewart
>> On Sep 9, 2021, at 2:14 PM, Nemonemini wrote:
>> It is perhaps harsh to critique marxists such as the deadbeat fellows at marxmail. The left went into a funk after 1989 and never recovered and lists such as marxmail slip into a kind of daze or walking trance. Who can actually do anything: the long run of the second international was defeated and the reign of the capitalist bourgeoisie now seems beyond challenge. In fact, not so. As so often the reigning powers undo themselves and end up in self-sabotage. Their stance on climate change is a clear example, and subtly foolish indeed, as it generates the danger of planetary collapse, ‘your fault, and you knew all along’ and soon ‘stare down the gun barrel of enraged planet earthers’. There a dozen ways capitalism could have preserved itself by dealing with its own mistakes. No such luck, double down on catastrophe, take profits as long as possible, retreat to bunkers in Sweden and rid the planet of many billions. In fact, time’s up.
>> That’s about the size of it: the capitalist regime suddenly is seen as criminal, suicidal, genocidal, and…unnecessary. Who needs fossil-fueled cars. But the grip of the capitalist mafia is very strong, it is not clear how its domination is to be broken, until it breaks itself.
>> The climate catastrophe shows the answer. The recent hurricane Ida prompted the pols out of their morgue into pledges ‘we must act now’. The last chance for reformist change at least is here. After that the capitalist will have left a helpless multitude no other chance save revolution.
>> My critique of Marx is impossible for Marxists, e.g. at marxmail, along with breaking out of the stupidity of the 9/11 coverup. The latter shows how the powers that be learned how to fix the left in a subtle brainwashing. How did it happen? We can see now the final last straw: the criminal US dot.gov can murder its own citizens to stage a war on terror as a way to fulfill Mossadic goals of destroying the middle east, but let the yanks do it for us.
>> Marx’s theories need an upgrade. The classic canon as a whole is flawed and now inert.
>> It is a situation easy to correct, on paper, but the inertia of the left here could prove as fatal as climate change.
>> We have a short text on this: Postcapitalist Futures: The Last Revolution.
>> Source: Actually I’m just getting started…as we used to say as kids, ‘we now take prisoners, beg for mercy…’///Good riddance to the deadbeat pseudo-leftists at marxmail – 1848+: The End(s) of History
>> —–Original Message—–
>> From: Nemonemini
>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Nemonemini
>> Sent: Tue, Sep 7, 2021 9:26 pm
>> Subject: The issue of 9/11
>> This is from the redfortyeight blog
>> the left and the 9/11 deception//How is it that marxists can’t see through 9/11 propaganda…//posts re: marxmail.io –
>> As noted, I brought the issue of 9/11 (and marxist theory) to the Marxmail listserv and was just on the verge of initiating a much-needed discussion of the dismal reign of propaganda on the subject when the gang that controls the list, and opinion there, threatened to unsub me even as they refused to list my replies to their crackdown on their list. From there we got some of the usual idiocy on the subject, suppressing my attempts to reply, starting with the material on the material from Popular Mechanics, one of the most laughable essays on the subject. Even the most cursory review of material on 9/11 will expose the rank deception of the Popular Mechanics crowd. The reaction at the marx list shows the damage done by those of the left who transmitted the mainstream cancel culture here, with Chomsky most outrageously opposing any such review of the evidence. And Cockburn (Alexander) at Counterpuch was another of the pseudo-leftists peddling the official version. To trot out the Popular Mechanics. I have often critiqued Counterpunch on this at this blog, and I suspect that when they posted an article by Paul Craig Roberts years ago critiquing the standard account they had begun to realize the dangers of leftist conformity on this issue. But that however appears to be a first and cogently reviews some of the devastating evidence against the official story. It was this article that prompted me to consider that, finally, opinion on the left was shifting. But clearly the Marxist left, at Marxmail at least, is unaware/oblivious to the issues. This situation is most unfortunate for those who fall in the trap: to be on the left and conform to the official accounts is an instant gesture of self-discredit. For a Marxist to peddle that account subjects that person to instant mistrust and loss of respect. Such is the evidence on 9/11 that you must be either brainwashed, or a liar. We can hardly trust Marxists any longer if their behavior on this subject is this confused, or deceptive.
>> Part of the problem is that people don’t read books. When I realized the official account was wrong in 2006 I rushed to read almost forty books on the subject, starting with David Ray Griffin, whose books are key resources: that indirectly shows at once the hold the official account foists on its victims. It is easy to fool people if they have no study skills, never read books, and depend on group channels for information.
>> I feel sad that Marxists are so group-controlled here and have to depend on resources like Marx mail to figure their opinions. The situation there shows the proto-Stalinism that has always cursed the left. You cannot deviate from conformity to Marx, or even the issue of 9/11.
>> But we can feel confident that if Counterpunch can publish a piece reviewing some of the criticism of the official view, it won’t be long before the whole propaganda here collapses.
>> At a time of crisis we need to know what the American government is capable of (or else to use that now almost laughable term), the deep state.
>> The question of 9/11 is tricky, no doubt, but the general perception of the evidence and the increasing contributions of experts has produced a literature that makes citing the work of Popular Mechanics the trap that it is.
I raise the issue of 9/11 at marxmail, get threatened with being unsubbed then had to watch a completely dismal discussion of the 9/11 falls flag op trotting out every idiotic cliche from the official acc…