Here we have discussed this issue ad infinitum and we don’t bother with the distinction of socialism/communism, the latter being qualified as ‘neo-communism’ as in ‘democratic market neo-communism’. Continue reading ” = our DMNC, bang the drums…// What Is Democratic Socialism? Whose Version Are We Talking About?”
Forcing comparison with Marx can backfire: he is at best an historical flag at this point: we need urgently to move on from marxism with a critique of Marx’s theories, disown bolshevism, decipher the issue of economics with compulsive marxist boilerplate, and in general see the way Marx’s theories have precipitated failure.
A key issue here is the way Marx’s stages of production theory generated miscalculation: the division into economic epochs doesn’t work and the inevitability of communism, left undefined, creating a void that Stalin ended up filling.
The critique of social democracy is appropriate, but the path to revolution is beset with bolshevik hallucinations and the confusions of leninism which we can’t repeat. The revolutionary idea requires more than marxist enthusiasm: hardly any preparatory though exists on the subject beyond a stale repetitioni of state capitalist and planning scenarios…
We quote the last section of the previous post: the issue of revolution is one thing, but the question of who is to lead it is another. The history of The marxist left shows both the failure of theory and the total failure in every instance of their attempts at revolution: so we must challenge their theories and demand a new standard of intelligence, ethical action, and much else. We cannot afford another episode like bolshevism. And yet the cults of marxism still dote on leninism and Lenin’s greatness. That’s bullshit. A real revolution would probably liquidate marxists/leninists in the first week. (no kidding?!)
Just by the way we have suggested a moderated revolutionary option like our
(ecological) ‘democratic market neo-communism’, it bypasses many of the contradictions that confound revolutionary options: this formula could fail but it is almost certain if you try this as an exercise you will produce something superior to what the old left was able to even consider in the mess of pottage of marxism: the reason is that we confront four (or five, including ecological versions) problems that must be solved together: politics as democracy/anarchy/authority, economy as markets/planning, revolution/evolution, and expropriation as a commons: that requires a new political constitution, a new balance of power between a presidential and parliamentary system, a new set of economic and ecological courts, a solution to the calculation debate, all the theories of markets, in a wodk a new economy that works beyond bureaucracy as domination and state capitalism, and a robust set of rights including economic rights. And you can’t do all this during a civil war. It must be clear in advance, the mere suggestion invokes a small army of legal thinkers able to mediate an immense number of issues. And finally the question of ethics arises: the current machiavellian world of politics will pass without question into the realm of ‘revolutionary’ psychopaths raised to ethics has no place in a value free ‘science’, no thanks. The marxist world hasn’t taken a single step on any of these but presume in the name of historical laws the right to ruthless revolutionary ad hocism.
That said, history shows few examples of deliberated revolutions: they mostly occur as side effects of unstable social situations. Look at the French and Russian cases: they are not cases of revolutionary theories along the lines of Marx’s theories.Still we should at least consider the revolutionary option then as potential and able to powerfully solve many issues closed to the evolutionary path. But the onset of social instability is imminent relative to the climate crisis. The revolutionary option is going to return but we must be ready and leave leninism, Marx’s false theories, and pseudo-socialist muddled thinking far behind. As things stand now the revolutionary option will recur, and one fears the marxist clutch of leninist/stalinist idiots will blow the chance all over again.
The challenge to compromised left stances is essential as is holding up the revolutionary option in the era of Jacobin and the DSA. But what does the revolutionary option mean?
We have been critical of marxism, but that can be a trap. And so has the reformist sector of the left been critical of revolutioinisms. And that is the tendency: to eschew the revolution angle and move into a social democratic track (now claiming the term ‘socialism’).
We should make clear that while we are critical of marxism we still uphold a revolutionary consideration. But then we must define the issue from scratch.
We have rejected bolshevism and leninism. We can examine Lenin historically but in the end we must cannot base a revolutionary option on the bolshevik revolution, and that includes trotskyism. We must break with the past and even with the flawed classic ‘State and Revolution’. The tendency to cluster around leninism to uphold a revolutionary option is unnecessary: the issue of revolution is not a leninist one, nor even a marxist one.
Revolution (whatever its rare to nonexistent incidents in ancient history) is a phenomenon of the early modern and the imputation that Marx/Engels defined the subject forever is false. To be sure, the idea of revolution was barely coherent and Marx and Engels gave it some substance, but on the basis of theories that are flawed. The idea was the epoch of capitalism would yield according to some law of history to communism. But Marx simply assumed that made any sense and never defined what communism was to be or what the mechanism might be. It was obvious the bolshevik case was anomalous and without any coherence. The disastrous result was that the bolsheviks stumbling into revolution somehow thought it would all happen by historical inevitability and that they were a law unto themselves and threw out all ethical issues in the name of value-free scientism. The end result was the reversal of fortune and the inevitable passing of the Soviet stupidity.
So we must carefully consider the option of revolution, its historical basis, and the danger of wrong theories. Bu9t the marxist cadre still to this day can’t critique Marx on the Russian failure.
The early modern shows the birth of the revolutionary idea, in many incidents, mainly the Reformation, the English Civil War and then the French Revolution. Despite the historical momentum behind these revolutions the thinking of Marx correctly cautions against their bourgeois character, but without seeing that the English Civil war was potentially a full spectrum of revolutionary ideas, or that communism was born at the dawn of modernity with Thomas Munzer, who shows the connection of revolution and reformation. And there is no inherent reason why a socialist revolution can’t be bourgeois although Marx’s emphasis on the working class was indeed cogent.A revolutionary constitution declares all men equal and that private property must be expropriated. We don’t need the working class to do that, granted the cogent warnings of Marx about class. But something is wrong here. I have never met a working class revolutionary. They were all upper middle class elite types. Something is wrong with theory here and it is hard to unscramble. And one could only agree with a marxist tendency to doubt elite revolution: yet that was the lenist outcome despite all the groupie blah blah about the great democratic moment of lenin. Baloney.
But now in the US we see the working class move into Trump’s base: the mentality of the proletariat suffers now from capitalist monopoly. The issue is confused. Social conditioning operates in the wake of capitalist methods of brainwashing which have become dangerous. The proletariat is still very real on a global basis, but the revolutionary working class is complete fiction in america. The left is middle class intellectuals chanting the working class mantra. That’s not the whole story, to be sure, but…
In any case we can’t base the revolutionary idea on Marx’s theories, after the failure of leninism/bolshevism.
We must refound revolutionary thinking on its own terms. It is not hard to do if you flush lenin, bolshevism and marx’s theories out of your mind.
The question is simple: we may indulge reformist thinking all we please but in the end we will fall short of the refoundation required to reprogram society from scratch. That simple, that and the legacy of the early modern which in its own way indirectly legitimated revolutionary action in the name of freedom. All the gains of freedom and democracy started initially via revolution. So we must be wary of compromised tactics that will betray the transition from revolutionary democracy to a completion in socialism. But the issue with socialism is expropriation while the issue of democracy became one open to the ‘freedom to be capitalism’. We must wonder if we can use the term ‘revolution’ for both cases. That makes the case for revolution in a pargraph without the sophistical jargon of the marxists, or marx’s useless theories.
We can see the necessity and yet the danger of revolutionary tactics. Look at the US: leftists talk of wage increases, medical issues, educational questions, but then adopt this as socialism after the fashion of such as Sanders. Such partial programs don’t go anywhere, or if like the new deal they do the next generation undoes them.
We can see that many things are required for ‘socialism’: we must deal with economic foundations, private property and its basis in capitalism, the nature of democratic politics and its corruption by capitalist big money and Wall street, and much else, and in addition we must deal with some real monsters: the issue of a fake international as empire, the corruption of statist politics as imperialism and disequalized economic relations, the question of covert agencies, deep state hidden factions, and the all around ethical corruption of the usual machiavellian politics. You won’t have socialism in a society run by the CIA. The latter has sixty years of dismantling revolutions, and they are good at it. So early on, a revolution must liquidate the CIA. Best of luck.
Apart form that revolutions shows the way they can produce the worst in men. So what standard is needed. Simple habeas corpus was beyond the dim wits of the bolsheviks.
A tall order, but we should at least not kid ourselves we will evolve toward this. To be sure, we must be clear to allow the theoretical possibility of a transitional passage. But it is clear that most of the reformist factions are unrealistic about what is required where the revolutionary option is clear about refounding a total system. Sanders calls himself a socialist, wishes an evolution, but he a member of the parliamentary cadre and bound by oath to defend the constitution and hence the murder or real socialist by covert action as that is given by executive order. So much for slow evolution to socialism.
That said, history shows few examples of deliberated revolutions: they mostly occur as side effects of unstable social situations. Look at the French and Russian cases: they are not cases of revolutionary theories along the lines of Marx’s theories.
Still we should at least consider the revolutionary option then as potential and able to powerfully solve many issues closed to the evolutionary path. But the onset of social instability is imminent relative to the climate crisis. The revolutionary option is going to return but we must be ready and leave leninism, Marx’s false theories, and pseudo-socialist muddled thinking far behind.
As things stand now the revolutionary option will recur, and one fears the marxist clutch of leninist/stalinist idiots will blow the chance all over again.
The New Republic comes full circle with a fourth article on socialism, the last evidently undermining the whole series:
This blog attempts to carry the idea of neo-communism (the term socialism has entered a phase of chaotic semantics as ‘social democracy’, so we retreat to the term (neo-)communism). We have been far more critical of marxism without ending up in liberal fudge.
The problem with this now standard ‘liberal’ balk at the threshold of socialism is that socialism’s ‘democracy deficit’ is now (perhaps always was) accompanied by the ‘democracy’ deficit of ‘democracy’ itself, noting the tricky-duck ambiguity of quotation marks //democracy??//.
So the realm of liberal democracy must ironically undergo the very debriefing that haunted the ‘socialist’ legacy. Without a socialist correction, democracy remains unrealized.
In the end the dilemma of socialism versus democracy is false: the two are variants that stand against neo-barbarism and autocracy.
We have acknowledged the failure of leninism/bolshevism, and have moved further to a critical stance on the legacy of marxism with a critique of Marx’s theories of history, leaving much of his empirical study of economics as still viable, possibly dated, research. We have thus shelved ‘historical materialism’ and ‘stages of production’ theory.
The study of class, exploitation, labor in context, and capitalist processes has often proved robust, and the pot calling the kettle black accompanies defenders of liberalism thence capitalism: economic theories of the neo-classical brand are as flawed as anything on the left, amounting to mathematical finesse, if not fraud. So the crisis of theory seems to haunt all parties. The defense of markets using phony theories is as Marx noted: the issue of theory and ideology.Look at any economics text and find a supply and demand curve: that in a nutshell is the key idea that works well enough. But the grand over-evaluation into equilibrium economics somehow fails. The reason is that social theories don’t really exist as sciences. Marxist, or bourgeois…
The point is that we have no science of market economies to justify the functionality of markets. We see in practice the dangers of markets taken without restriction.
As we examine their legacies we see that we must stand back to ask all over again: what is the status of market capitalism? Its liberal defenses must now reckon with a the disequalization in practice of their action, and the delusive ideology buttressed as noted with a mathematical pseudo-science and in reality producing climate catastrophe unforseen by the idiocy of supply and demand curve graphs, an obsessive fixation on the efficacy of market dynamics to the point that the crisis of climate change poses an insuperable problem in the US where the whole regime of regulation is being dismantled as the delusive character of capitalist ideology threatens planetary collapse.
It is thus not so hard at all to rescue the ‘socialist imperative’ at a moment of crisis. At the worst a regime of totalitarian ecological socialism might prove a rescue operation at the moment of the capitalist endgame.
We can do much better than that if we examine the legacies and disown them, starting over with new formulations. Here the ‘left’ is often its own worst enemy as it obsessively fixates on bolshevism and the Marx canon taken uncritically. Beside that our economics texts are a strangely delusive brand.
As long as we consider the need for a discontinuity with a legacy of mechanized thought, we can move to renew the whole question with clear, simple, reformulations that don’t inflict ponderous theories of history along with the remarkable ignorance of economic theory that has accompanied all eras of socialist action.
Taking socialism in isolation has as noted tended to show a democracy deficit, a muddle over markets, and a tendency toward state capitalism, bureaucracy and the wild goose chase of planned economies in an era when noone could really understand the planning/market duality.
Any group, as capitalism nosedives, that can resolve those failures will resurrect in short order the socialist phenomenon from the dead.
We have suggested using Marx/Engels historically in an heroic saga, but moving on toward a refoundation of all questions in a way that doesn’t even use the term ‘marxism’.
We can see the successes of capitalism in some respects prior to its current cancerated endgame. The issue that haunts the left is the so-called calculation debate, starting with Mises at the moment of the russian bolshevik moment…The debate on that question has probably found a close victory on the left, in the long delayed study of computational economics, and artificial intelligence but the many (often failed) attempts to create socialist markets has its own suggestions for the future: there is no inherent reason why we can’t have ‘communist markets’ designed to function after the stage of expropriation.
Based on an idea of a Commons, quite distinct from state capitalism, agents with licensed resources could operate a partial economy of markets in a socialist context. The many failures of earlier attempts are transparent casualties of an older leninist/bolshevik era.
We can move to a new set of ideas in our DMNC model:
Our idea of democratic market neo-communism defies the liberal critique because it is a variant of a liberal system. The reverse is true: a liberal system on examination turns out to be proto-communist, because planning already exists, regulation exists, state ownership (e.g. some utilities) already exists marginally, etc…
Let us consider our problem to be one of producing a variant of remorphed liberalism that moves past the threshold of social democracy into a form of ‘liberal’ neo-communism( declare high level capital into a Commons, and what happens then, leaving the rest intact, at least for discussion: it works fine, short of a civil war with capitalists): the system is much as before save that ownership of capital reverts to a Commons, to be defined legally as a shared resource in principle allowing and enforcing a share for all. This is different from state socialism where control belongs to a bureaucracy in a one-party state. Marx and the early socialists had a strong case re: the artificial nature of ‘private property’.
Basically this would be system with a varied set of foundations: an ecological socialist ideology and praxis, a presidential system, a parliamentary system with a politics failesafed against commercial domination, a legal foundation with ecological and economic courts. A labor organization, e.g. unions can legally enforce the issue of ‘fair shares’ even as the status of ‘nature’ as an entity with rights can enforce the framework ecological sanity as an ecological socialism. This system remorphs a liberal system: the question of working class organization is thus sidelined: but it would be easy to further morph this system toward working class focus with the creation of, say, working cooperatives. But noone has made any of that work: a liberal system remorphed as communism we know can work as it achieves relative equality with a robust economic populism that guarantees economic rights: jobs, medical care, housing, etc…
And so: the gist of this is to define in advance the outcome desired where the marxist tradition using ‘stages of production’ theory tragically ended in an ad hoc set of constructs that vitiated the whole experiment. that theory confused the early bolsheviks and led to statist tyranny.
We can see that our construct would work since liberal systems work: they are remorphed variants of each other. The dilemma capitalism/communism disappears because the two are blended in a new system.
The point here is that we can’t expect ‘communism’ to automatically replace capitalism in a dynamic of epochs, feudalism, capitalism, communism: the inherent causal economic fundamentalism must yield to a view of history where free agents construct a new system based on the values entailed by a just neo-communism based on equality and shared resources.
Suddenly much of the failure of the older left falls away as practical futures take the place of the dead hand of the older era.
The Anthropocene and the Coming of Postcapitalism
Toward a New Communist Manifesto
Democratic Market Neo-communism…
The idea of ‘democratic market neo-communism’ attempts to resolve the political and economic issues, and needs a immediate extension to an ecological socialist brand as
ecological democratic market neo-communism, etc..
The point here is that all previous attempts at socialism were paralyzed confusions of theory, confusions not difficult to clarify. The puzzle of marxist confusion has been endemic and needless. There is something incredibly obtuse about marxist endeavors: a series of corrections can easily correct this tendency, however hard in practice it might be to realize the foundation of a Commons. But what choice does man have? As Marx noted well the whole outcome of ‘primitive accumulation’ turned social culture into a system based on rapacity and the illusion of artificial ‘private property’ (at the level of capital, not small scale versions).
Despite all their confusions the original socialists/communism understood that the regime of property based on plunder was not sustainable.
The fallacies of marxism are a great tragedy in world history. The Russian revolution created a tremendous opportunity which was squandered completely via the idiocy of Lenin/Stalin, but more the …