How do we define a Commons, ecological, global, industrial? What is the meaning of democracy in the wake of the era of Rousseau: electoral or direct democracy… Democratic socialism will inherit these questions and our model is simple and clear, yet not fully specified in terms of constitutional thinking. Our treatment deals with issue of the working class in a new way. Marx focussed his whole effort on the working class but his stance is not consistent now. The working class in the US is really middle class and not revolutionary. What is the working class: as the set of wage laborers it includes elements of all classes. Taken that way we can indeed use the meme of the ‘working’ class as a basic core with multiple aspects. But we are doing more than freeing labor under socialism, we must also deal with issues of all classes, with universal class diversity, and with the very large near universal class of those who are wage laborers (but that includes managers in capitalist orgs) and/or those who are passive under capitalist domination. We can design a very powerful generalization here to include almost all classes and yet at the same time create a spearhead in the industrial proletariat and the issues of such labor. We can unify all this around a Commons, with a new International and move outward toward the field of globalization where the old proletariat is still very much in evidence
(This reminds me of Mr. H.C. Earwicker in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a k a, Here Comes Everybody)
A post on Marx/Marxism…
We had a post on Marxism at the redfortyeight.com blog:
A Guide to using Capital as a doorstop….//Reading Karl Marx for the First/Last Time
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:
—————intro older versions
Marxists are frozen in time and are disoriented by their own framework which operates like a cult. The subscribers at Marxmail will do everything they can to apply cancel culture to a critic of Marx. They are too far gone to create socialism. But critics of Marx appeared already in the nineteenth century. Yet Marxists can’t acknowledge any problems with their ‘theoretical baggage’. The result further cannot escape entanglement with either Bolshevik histories, Leninist misanalysis, or the Chinese (what to say of the North Korean) monstrosity of pseudo-communism. That’s the danger and the legacy created by Marx: if you refuse to get specific then the job will done later by people we can hardly acknowledge as in any way socialists, let alone democrats. China is NOT a realization of the socialist hope, but Marxists lost control over their own terminology. We have created failsafed terminologies: we don’t just speak of ‘socialism’ but of a four-term system that mediates democracy/authority, planning/markets, a Commons versus state control (but the state still has indirect control via a set of guardians (ex-revolutionaries?) of that Commons. And this system has a low level threhold which will create a loose and more fluid base. Democracy is tricky enough by itself, in the context of a Commons beyond high-level Capital, it becomes even more tricky: it must use power to set up a system, but then enter a ‘let-go’ to allow the new system to function, and in a new form of democracy where capitalism is passing into postcapitalism. But such a system can still have markets, but the standard capitalist markets. And so: the list of considerations explodes in manifold directions, but we have at least a way to start over with a system that is a novel form of both democracy and socialism.
It is important to produce an analysis of this type as the Chinese case, for example, with immense power, persists in a form of pseudo-communism. The whole system seems beyond repair or redemption. So real socialists have to say goodbye to the past and start over. Is it too late? At some point coming soon the world system is going to go into convulsions and a new left such as with our DMNC will find the socialist window opening up again: but it cannot reissue Marxist cliches a second time. It needs some that will work on many levels. We have tried to consider how Marxist thinking was so antagonistic to liberalism that it jackknifed against it and denounced democracy as a bourgeois illusion. That’s unfair to Marx, until it is quite fair. We see the problem with Lenin who was oblivious to his whole legacy and current state and slipped immediately into dictatorship plus secret police mode.
I think that our DMNC is able to pass the ‘open society’ test, would seem attractive as a new democracy to a huge constituency short of the Marxist ‘cram it down your throat’ brand. The issue of economic rights could create a thriving new brand of democracy with the capitalist factor brought to some sanity.
We are in a strange situation with a public in the US that has to a large degree gone insane. I (or ‘we’ since the point is clear to many) have watched the US system since the 1970’s and see absolutely nothing done in a politics so mediocre one shudders to peer out at its dementia clothed in Imperialism and Wall Street.
It may seem an impossible hope, but the simple gesture of a book on the “last revolution’ will be a challenge to a system that has slipped away. As the world system starts to collapse we need something such as our model(s) to make clear to the thugs who will try to create a (fascist) dictatorship what we mean by democracy…