From yesterday: In writing The Last Revolution: Postcapitalist Futures I lay the thesis at the doorstep of ‘ecological socialism’ but then said very little about it. This book makes clear I was perhaps right to be wary: to lard The Last Revolution with Green cliches wouldn’t amount to much.
Adapting the DMNC model to ecological socialism is easy, in the abstract, but could take different forms. However, this book exposes the entire industrial civilization as problematic. That makes the issue tough. Democracy would disappear as an ecological dictatorship enforced a grim austerity. Great idea, but needs enforcing against over a hundred million counterrevolutionaries. However, there are in principle a lot of ways here: how about a hobbet shire, complete with genetically engineered pointy ears… a nexus of small communes in a semi-anarchic field would be…may as well forget it. The American system is a civilization of the deaf: not a single activist message toned down times a hundred from this has ever penetrated into the general American (and/or global) public’s peculiar brain status.
The starting point is the issue then of revolution and the resolution of social power. Our DMNC model points to transitional revolutionary power ceding to democratic power with some degree of a socialist market economy next to a planned economy based on a Commons. A totally austere system would never make the transition and end up as an oligarchy at best, a Stalinist replay at worst.
I notice an odd thing: the core industrial economy once American moved to a province in China which produces a huge percentage of the whole capitalist shebang. Bon idee: a socialist transition based on an intelligent International could create a core industrial component for a global system. It might be possible to fix this into a larger postindustrial ‘united nations’.
But since we are talking about the US we can consider an American core industrial sector and some strategy for the remaining tens of millions small businesses…??? again we crap out…
But the point is that an industrial sector is a finished project in principle: we can throttle back and forth here. There is an excess of everything now: I just googled ‘small portable generators’ and see at Amazon hundreds to thousands of brands, companies, models, ditto for everything else. We could surely do as well on a smaller scale. We can do just as well with a core of planned commodities and/or our socialist market sector with semi-autonomous actors inside a Commons/planned sector.
The larger system can resolve the issues of agriculture in the same way.
Americans are addicted to their home ownership in a field of uncontrolled growth. But this has a dozen solutions with or without expropriation.
Etc…The idea of post-industrial civilization may be the bottom line, but the transition is imaginary: a transitional socialist revolution with an ecological aspect in the context of industrial sectors in a bubble next to housing communes and new forms of social ownership, etc…
We have hardly solved the problem but the first stage of our DMNC could consider a new kind of industrial complex that is economically viable on the way to something to be invented. A first stage of revolution DMNC: democratic market neo-communism: this system can be a transitional consul system with a transitional power construct to enable a new blueprint…
The above isn’t much, but on the bright side we have produced a key component: contained industrial sectors under a Commons able to reduce industrial sprawl and not necessarily a fully planned system: a mixture of planned and socialist market sectors. The managers of the latter could create vigorous entities of all kinds easily resources licensed from the Commons. As a socialist entrepreneur I can on reading the above think of at least fifty ideas for startups based on the DMNC constraints. Anything out of line can be challenged by the planning sector but these socialist entrepreneurs can surely adapt to a socialist mentation for a socialist market system.
So we have one component: we probably can’t get to postindustrial hobbit shires to start, but a socialist revolution can start to contain industrial hypertrophy with industrial Guangzhou’s based on an International either national or international or both. As to my query on portable generators: pocket sectors of five companies doing this would reduce the carbon footprint by a huge fraction, and that’s just for one commodity. How many commodities in the whole capitalist sector? I googled that, but google couldn’t grasp the question.
Answer, a lot! Huuuge…
The problem is that we should have started already, maybe in 1848?
But as noted (below, yesterday’s original post) we can do what the left has done (or thought it has done) all along: a revolutionary (reformist?) socialism with an economic system adapted to a transition to…what? ecological socialism with a core industrial sector and all sorts of green entities? I find the book Bright Green Lies compelling but I think that a revolutionary starting point has to consider an economic core with industrial foundations.
In writing The Last Revolution: Postcapitalist Futures I lay the thesis at the doorstep of ‘ecological socialism’ but then said very little about it. This book makes clear I was perhaps right to be wary: to lard The Last Revolution with Green cliches wouldn’t amount to much. And this kind of almost extreme debunking is both inevitable and very cogent. Debriefing the whole Green shtick gets my attention, but then how to construct ecological socialism inside our ‘democratic market neo-communism’? The book itself seems to have a problem created by its own honesty about the desperation unfolding in a crisis that may be insoluble. The perspective of the author tends to the implied ‘drop dead’ required to save nature beyond civilization, the shebang is wrong, so…?/. That can imply the death of billions. We are locked into a system that can at least prevent famine so we must be wary. The book begins the indictment with the Neolithic, one shared by many who see the original sin of civilization beginning with agriculture. Those critiques are important but in the end demonizing the Neolithic won’t cut it. And the facts of the case are not clear: the history in this analysis jumps to conclusions. Did the Neolithic invent war and slavery? Where’s the evidence. Those diseases of civilization are complex pathologies and demand a close history that we don’t have.
But the point is apt: at each stage of civilization a problematic arises.
Let’s cut to the chase: we are hamstrung if we expect to cure civilization of agriculture’s evils. Lets’ consider what is often noted, as in this book: the vast majority of carbon since the industrial revolution has been in the last few generations or less. There’s a venue there. Let’s continue our handwringing over civilization but note the obvious which was noted almost immediately at the onset of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism in the eighteenth century that capitalism is the core problem, as the first socialists then Marx noted almost instantly. We have a possible lifeboat solution if we move to limit fossil fuels and capitalism. And move to a saner ecology and politics of nature.
The problem is that all these critiques ask us to do the impossible without bothering to say how. The how was seen clearly at the start: a revolution after the French Revolution to create a system that can deal with capitalism in a new republic, one that had a clear way to deal with capital, as expropriation. The idea exploded but then got sidetracked by the Russian Bolshevik confusions. The socialism indicated had little connection to the ecological question. The whole thing was poorly thought out and premature and presumed falsely that the stage of industrial development was a prelude to socialism. The left got unlucky with early socialism in the harebrained confusion over markets and a result lost a golden opportunity as the Leviathan of planning macroeconomics from small offices in a bureaucracy ended in failure and simply make capitalism stronger. But times have already moved beyond that failure: we have no other choice but to reconsider the issue of socialism as postcapitalism. Our type of DMNC model can address those failures.
The point here is that we can envision perhaps a post-civilization that is post-industrial but at this point activists of all stripes have been talking into a void from a leftist soapbox as the capitalist world ignores them. The early stage of socialism produced results at once up to and into the Second International and then the whole effort failed. but they didn’t yet suffer the Gandhian muddle that has frittered away sixty years of activist impotence. That we have to consider the initial failure of entities like Bolshevism does not invalidate the original project. The problem here in part was the Marxist analysis which so rapidly took over the initial socialist spectrum, itself inchoate.
We can easily reformulate the issues: the status of civilization is problematical but a transitional socialist revolution can at least get the ball rolling toward a resolution of capitalist planetary destruction. We must do what the Bolsheviks, and indeed Marx, could not do: design a postcapitalist economy, a politics addressing dmeocracy to go with it, a force (military?) sufficient to make the initiative viable, and overall a carefully balanced socialist framework that is not skewed by marxism and wrecked by a Bolshevik lunatic phase. That the problem with civilization goes deeper than this may well be true, but the situation is desperate: a socialist transition can resolve the issue of revolution, power, democracy and authority and devise some kind of sensible resolution of economies and markets. We can proceed perhaps back to a hunter gatherer state as an optional future beyond the future of a socialist transition. Socialism was to be the end of history, perhaps the next to last.
Our DMNC model is a kind of tool with a question: how do we produce a version that answers the objections and problems nicely uncovered in this book.