Revolutionary Marxism vs. Chomsky: Reflections on a Recent Interview (Paul Street)

This is a very useful commentary and critique of a recent discussion by Chomsky. There is almost too much to discuss in one post and it gets complicated to discuss a discussion of an original article, with quotes withing quotes.

The basic issue seems to be that Chomsky can’t break out of a stalled activism and Street tries to bring out the discussion of revolutionary action. I will agree with Street save to note that we have taken this a step further and cast the revolutionary issue in a post-Marxism context in a critique of Marxism, a critique that is not the usual bourgeois propaganda but itself a schematic of revolutionary activism, our The Last Revolution.
The_Last_Revolution_Postcapitalist Futures_ ED3_10_29_22

Street has an important critique of Chomsky’s anemic ‘What is to be Done’ paralysis, which we will cite, and leave at that for this post:

Street: Thumbs up to “other popular movements” and mobilizing agaist terminal war, but the call for “reviving” a past US labor movement is distressing. With all due respect for the Molly Maguires, the Haymarket Martyrs, the Industrial Workers of the World, Sacco and Vanzetti (all brutally crushed), and the leftish labor offshoots that NC fondly recalls from the US mass production and New Deal eras, the dominant trend in US-American labor history by far and away has been what the onetime University of Wisconsin economist Selig Perlman called “job conscious” and “pure and simple” trade unionism. Organized U.S. labor – now down to less than 1 in 10 US employees – has long been mainly about the economistic pursuit of a better wage and benefit deal within the capitalist-imperialist system for workers with strategic marketplace and workplace bargaining power. It’s been mainly about getting a slightly bigger if small slice of the imperialist pie for a fraction of the nation’s wage-earners. This has reflected and encouraged imperial and nationalist chauvinism on the part of its bureaucratic officials and much of union membership. Labor misleaders have long worked to marginalize and purge those working-class activists who wanted the labor movement to be about social justice, anti-imperialism, democracy, and environmental sanity, not to mention revolution. The US labor movement has never been about seriously challenging the underlying unelected and interrelated dictatorships of capital and empire, the leading oppression structures that create the four horseman the Barsamian-NC discussion started with.

Recently The Nation published an interview with the great left intellectual Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian that first appeared on TomDispatch.com.  Below

Source: Revolutionary Marxism vs. Chomsky: Reflections on a Recent Interview – CounterPunch.org

The Tragedy of the Islamic Republic and the Progressives’ Dilemma

After the revolution, the US and its allies imposed harsh sanctions on Iran that continue to this day and are piled up almost daily. The pressure, however, not only did not topple the nezam, it helped to prolong its life. The IR effectively used this hostility to its own benefit. Any objection to its rule is treated as a foreign conspiracy, and dissidents are labeled as stooges or spies of the US and its allies, particularly Israel.

Source: The Tragedy of the Islamic Republic and the Progressives’ Dilemma – CounterPunch.org

The Last Revolution beat Jacobin to it…??//Gorbachev Couldn’t Reform the Soviet System — but a Better Socialism Is Possible

I have to wonder if my The Last Revolution isn’t echoing here! It is a comprehensive effort to create a ‘blueprint’ of the kind cited here. In any case, my The Last Revolution (which Jacobin has been informed of invited to download the free copy PDF, I am fairly sure they are aware of it) tries to comprehensively formulate that ‘better socialism’ discussed at Jacobin. They are welcome to consult my text but since I am ‘canceled’ at such places and at Marxmail, etc, …, I doubt if they would deign to communicate. The new commie elite must already be in place complete with embryonic class rebirth….(cf. the editors of all the various leftist magazines and literature…I am not a member with a self-published book, the new route to discussions on the left)…The danger on the left in a revolutionary moment would be the outbreak of violent conflict with crypto-Stalinist marxist cadres who can’t change a single word in Marx…
Some observations: the article never references the fact that a revolutionary change is implied by such a new system (although in my text I certainly allow the reformist alternative). All of this is evidently supposed to just happen…Discussion of revolution and its aftermath is essential along with failsafes against re-Stalinization and derailed revolutionary power…The failures of Marxists have been very stark here. One can’t just pass over the issue in silence
: in my view the whole legacy of Bolshevism PLUS that of Marx needs to be left behind in order to start over. It is important to be clear here because many self-styled agents on the left make a canon dogma of Marxism and the Jacobin ‘Blueprint’ will end up in a hash with Marxist thinking (which remains useful in fragments in the backgroud) and/or denounced as some counterrevolutionary piece and/or …

: The Last Revolution restarts without Marxism, citing only the historical drama of Marx/Engels in the 1848 era… The left needs to get past the whole morass of Marx/Hegel, the failure Marx’s theories, the useless baggage of historical materialism, dialectical materialism…A new socialism needs a new historical framework that is not still more Marx boilerplate and reductionist scientism applied to history in the form of confused economics. The Last Revolution has a new strategy there with a snapshot version of the simple outline in my ‘eonic model’
: The left has to screw up its courage and deal with Darwinism, plus the twin conspiracies of JFK and 9/ll, including the issue of Israel/Mossad and in generatl the crimiinal mafia running the American government and behind the drug trade at the core of the Deep State
: A lot more here, consult the Last Revolution with its plethora of notes, and its own limitations: it needs a more specific ecosocialist project. The DMNC model is a kind of container for ecolotical socialism..
: I may have misjudged the Jacobin people here: this was perhaps just a floater piece, with no intention to reference climate change, etc, etc… But the issue has a new standard in the complexity and detail of the Last Revolution….

In any case despite suspicious caution I welcome any suggestions here despite the fragmenetary nature of the discussion.

In The Blueprint, a book I’m cowriting with Bhaskar Sunkara and Mike Beggs, we lay out an alternative vision that disaggregates the issue of workers’ democracy from the issue of consumer preferences. The most important reason socialists have always advocated democracy at the workplace is that the workplace is the place where most adults have to spend at least half their waking lives most days of the week. No one should have to spend all that time taking orders from bosses over whom they can’t exercise any kind of direct democratic accountability. And the lack of democratic input in deciding what happens to the product of workers’ collective labor — the lack Marxists call “exploitation” — generates an utterly indefensible level of economic inequality.But there’s no reason that democracy at the workplace, and marketless planning of those public goods where markets generate the most socially undesirable consequences, can’t coexist with the use of market mechanisms to solve the information problems that plagued even Gorbachev-era Soviet planners. In the model outlined in our book, full democratic socialism would entail not only domains like health care and education but banks and other commanding heights of the economy would be state-owned. The remaining quasi-private sector would be made up of competing worker-owned cooperatives that would essentially rent the physically means of production from the public as a whole through grants from state-owned banks. When all this is combined with a robust civil society, a free press, and real multiparty elections, it is possible that such a setup could give us a world fundamentally different from both what existed in the Soviet Union and the neoliberal order that’s become globally hegemonic since the USSR’s collapse.

Source: Gorbachev Couldn’t Reform the Soviet System — but a Better Socialism Is Possible

Was There Really an Attempted Coup? 

Is part of the problem is the failure of the left to maintain its legacy of revolutionary transition beyond capitalism? Like the Mullah Nasrudein story, ‘they stole my donkey’, the left has let its focus on radical change slip away into hot air chatter and the new toy of the fascist virus. Modern civilization has never completed its democratic transformation which requires disentangling from capitalist domination, class oppression in economic voodoo, and a genuine social democratic fix, probably only possible via a comprehensive socialist action. The latter has itself been squandered by the mediocre platforms of the conventional left, stuck in the dated slogans of Marxist orthodoxy. Liberals demand adherence to democracy, but the right seems to have figured out that the current system, being undemocratic behind its slogans, doesn’t require any such adherence. The path to social transformation needs a new defining standard no doubt one that upgrades the critiques of democracy by the early socialist before the Leninist distortions took hold.

Bennie Thompson, chair of the House of Representatives’ select committee investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol, said, “January 6th was the

Source: Was There Really an Attempted Coup? – CounterPunch.org