We have been critical of Marx in The Last Revolution because of the way his framework has confused the left and created a corpus of bad theory that even its adherents never really understand. Marx is much too complicated and those who penetrate that obscurity suddenly realize he doesn’t know what he is talking about. His theories of economic history have no foundation in science and give a false view of history. He was never able to complete his Capital and struggled to clarify his own thinking. The title of this piece gives it away: you need a guide to read him, and that means you need a new elite or priesthood to mediate your opinions or views. You can’t deviate from the doctrine and if you do you are dangerously counterrevolutionary, etc… Instead, we need a simple recipe approach to constructing socialism with an economy that can function, a clear path to a new kind of democracy, a Commons that can mediate socialist markets plus planning, a set of ecological foundation principles, and a genuinely neo-communist (we can no longer really use the term ‘communist’) system that guarantees liberal, civil, and economic rights. The Marxist corpus has failed every time it was tried. We need to start over. Marxists can’t specify what kind of society they want, and in their focus on the (undefined) working class declare war on all other classes and provide no escape route for general participation of all such. In Stalin we actually see genocidal class warfare carried out (in a totally incoherent fashion)…
This article is interesting in any case but once again it shows the overall confusion in Marx’s later works and most of all his view of the Commune. But all we really need is the Communist Manifesto. Beating the dead horse of Capital is pointless now.
As to the Commune I would take Marx seriously with his warning about the working class and revolution. The problem is this period is unique and never replicated itself as a model. What’s wrong? But even there we are confounded by dubious theory. The Bolshevik revolution shows how the infamous botched meme, the dictatorship of the proletariat backfired in the Russian Revolution and produced the infamous dictatorship of the Marxist bourgeoisie claiming to operate in the name of the proletariat, this from devoted student of the Commune, who ended banned labor unions and exploiting labor to develop the backward Russia. A more careful approach is needed to the issue of a working-class state. The reality is that a system run by an elite will probably always seize control in the name of the proletariat. The Commune is a mystery in that regard, and it is a real challenge to any student on the left, but it failed as it declared war on the whole outstanding culture and turned working-class power into a zero sum game. But is Marx really right? A safer approach would try to create a working-class foundation inside a liberal system with economic rights guaranteed legally. In any case the Marxist left has never really made sense of their own position and the later works of Marx aren’t much help.
The solution here might be to see that a ‘Universal Class’ of all classes has many subsets among them the various ‘working classes’: defining the working clas as wage laborers includes elements of all classes. A Universal Class must work in terms of the full ‘working class’, see its interconnection with all classes. There the distinct working class of industrial laborers might be a vanguard. In any case Marx’s class analysis is a muddle and finally incoherent.
There is a lot more to discuss in this article, but let’s at least hope to shock ‘marxists’ out of their complacent confidence in Marx’s theory.
The Last Revolution: Postcapitalist Futures is a free download at redfortyeight.com sidebar
or the most recent version with a link good for a short period: