Many socialists have ambivalent feelings about liberalism. Depending on the day, they may see liberals as well-meaning but naive centrists, parroting nice-sounding platitudes but unwilling to mount a serious challenge to the unjust status quo.
The New York Post is screaming that if the city isn’t careful, socialists will “really take over.” The paper is terrified that average New Yorkers actually like the socialist platform — and that socialists are very good at organizing to win it.
Tonight, I’d like to talk about Vietnam’s experience in combating COVID-19. The first case of COVID-19 in Vietnam was on January 23, 2020 and between then and early July there were about 200 cases of infection and no deaths.
“In the gleam of every bayonet and the flash of every rifle the class struggle was revealed,” Eugene V. Debs wrote in 1902, recalling the state violence used to put down the Pullman Strike he had led eight years earlier. “This was my first practical lesson in Socialism.”
Socialism is making a comeback but it is important to see that the older brand is played out and that a new generation will be done a disservice if they fall into old grooves. Time is short but no work is being done to recast the old legacy into something new and practical and the result will be a kind of sluggish inaction stuck in a dated version of marxism. We have critiqued marxism, after praising its historical moment and the way it created a way station to the future. But after the legacy of Bolshevism, the subject must start over and become a new framework. Continue reading “Letter to the Socialists, Old and New “
The sudden ur-revolutionary upsurge, during a pandemic, is remarkable and a mysterious turning point. But a subtle problem lurks in this hopeful development, one clearly foreseen by Martin Luther King: the fight against racism has gone on for nearly forever without a real solution and it seems doubtful if the resolution lies in tinkering with system racism: the problem is connected to a totality of social conditions and the solution to one problem is connected to all the others. It makes one think of the spandrel problem discussed by biologists. You make one change and the whole shebang can collapse. Hoping to simply eliminate racism in the american system is unrealistic, as recurrence of frustration and protest shows: all parties to these protests might stand back and start to think in terms of an overall system change, revolutionary or evolutionary. Blacks have suffered, but so have the multitudes in the working class. They will never get such a protest; the authorities really will bring out the army. The powers that be are looking for a face lift.
The energy to solve only a part of the problem will end up fruitless, if not squandered. Where are all these protests going? They show that the legacy of the racist constitution just might be the root ‘causa ultima’. It could be ‘curtains’ for yankee doodle. The term ‘socialism’ has itself suffered an equal perennial suppression and in its implicit reference to holistic social change tables the question of radical change at the threshold of revolution, the endpoint of King’s pilgrimage of activist protest. The left has often failed to deal rightly with racism. But the fight against racism has often failed to deal rightly with the larger problem.
The powers that be will tolerate these protests, which shows they think they will lead nowhere: they will not lead beyond their given focus to real social change or beyond capitalism.
I will leave off a conclusion and let this simply stand as suggestion, simply noting the path of MLK’s own transformation in the transformation of society that he brought about, albeit incompletely…
The historical status of historical materialism is almost more interesting than its actual status in the present. The economic interpretation of history doesn’t really work because it is too limited in its scope and echoes the reductionist scientism of the post-hegelian era. Continue reading ” Socialism and the enigma of world history”