This debate has gone on for more than a century and its whole basis is futile and a distraction from dealing with the coming crisis. Marx is accused of economic determinism and the reply is massive denial, then a break and then it starts over. I have watched this debate for sixty years of my life and am sick of it. There is no real resolution, save to drop Marxism and start over, something that should have been done in 1989. The charge won’t go away because historical materialism and ‘stages of production’ theory make it impossible to escape the critique. The whole debate is a distraction and a new left needs to start over. Marx is an inspiring and heroic figure next to Engels at the onset of the take-off of modern capitalism to the foreboding of the early socialists. Marx’s theories are useless at this point. And worse, they confused the whole early generation from the Second International to the Bolsheviks who suffered Marx’s refusal to get specific, with disastrous results, leaving Stalin to fill in the blanks.
The task here is not fidelity to Marxism but the construction of postcapitalism and a path to socialism. Marx’s nexus of theory isn’t helpful any more and should be scrapped so the left can start over, and that includes the sophistries of the Frankfurt constellation. The charge that Marx is an economic determinist has never gone away and the attempts at refutation have never succeeded after a century of beating each other over the head. Time to drop all of it and move on. We don’t need marxism to create socialism, including dialectical materialism. The whol Marx corpus is useless baggage, and the public further is afraid of it and won’t follow a marxist path in the coming crisis.
We have provided an alternative that is simple to use, free of the Hegel/Marx swamp, free of bad theories, and in fact the effort shows how to bypass Marx, whose work is not going to lead to socialism at this point. Consider:
The Last Revolution_Postcapitalist_Futures_ver21ax: in just over a hundred pages we have provided a new way to start over:
a new view of world history,
a new view of evolution and a critique of Darwinism,
a way past the ‘end of history’ debate, or quagmire,
bypassing the futile debate over idealism and materialism,
a critique of dialectical materialism,
a discussion of a parallel version and rival to Marxism, Kantian ethical socialism,
a debriefing of Hegelian mystification with a correct starting point in Kant
a model of a new and simpler version of communism as
democratic market neo-communism
and much more.
The left is stuck forever on Marx who is used for a dogmatic near-religion that no one can question in a cult-like ‘cult of personality’ in the name of Marx, who is a closet authoritarian figure who made a monopoly of the work of the early socialists. We need to open the window for some fresh air, and rethink the whole legacy beyond marxism.
Marxism is too complicated and Marxists by and large can’t understand it, what to say of the general public.
Historial materialism is not needed to construct socialism. And the charge that it can’t address fact and values is legitimate. It proved a deadly mix in practice. The Frankfurt constellation is not a path either. Let them do their work and the left can move on its own to a practical and realizable path to socialism. The debate over revolution/reform can continue.
Critical theorist Axel Honneth accuses Marxism of having a narrowly economic idea of human emancipation. That’s wrong — and his own work could use a more structural understanding of social conflict and how progress really happens.