they might also prove the end of the idea of real ‘socialism’…applause from the CIA?//Four in 10 Americans Believe Socialism a ‘Good Thing’

We have been critical of Sanders and his ideas of ‘Our Revolution’ and ‘socialism’ and the way they coopt the real meaning of socialism. We have also hedged on the grounds that the terms may sow the seeds of a real socialist transformation. But neither Sanders nor AOC speak of revolutionary transformation or the expropriation of capital and the result can only end in disappointment.  Neither of these two figures can comment on the attempt by Venezuela to create socialism and this kind of failure shows up the phony character of their abuse of the term ‘socialism’. These two will betray you in a minute for their own game which will have to murder real socialists. Once Sanders is done noone will ever take real socialism seriously again. Is Sanders working for the CIA?

It’s likely not a coincidence that rise in popularity across all Americans came as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became two of the most prominent  politicians in the U.S.

Source: Four in 10 Americans Believe Socialism a ‘Good Thing’: Gallup

R48G: toward a new socialism: the eonic effect/model as a substitute for historical ‘theories’

We have suggested a need for a broader view of history that can embrace history descriptively in its immense variety of categories. An additional strategy is open to anyone who can use the eonic effect/model as a substitute for ‘theories’ of history.

But the eonic effect is likely too strange for most and/or strikes the student as some exotic new form of speculative theory. That is not the case but we can foresee the worst and produce an ultra simple version of that model as a simple outline of history. Marx was big on ‘epochs’ of history. But his division into: …feudalism, capitalism, communism is fallacious from the start.

Actually the eonic effect produces the most obvious progression of epochs in a way that we already use, and one that is easily extended in the light of the revolution in archaeology: our cultural history is based on the massive set of innovations in proximate antiquity in the period after roughly 900 BCE, with a center of gravity aroundd 600 BCE plus a few centuries to indicate the onset of a new era of history: we see the Greek period of flowering, the birth of the Roman Republic, the Israel phenomenon and the birth of monotheism, the Buddhist ‘hindu reformation’ and the onset of a new world religion, and in China a huge flowering with tangible outcomes such as Confucianism and Taoism.

This new era tends to displace the earlier civilizations of Egypt, and Mesopotamia and we have a cultural matrix that stretches all the way to the onset of the modern world. The latter clearly indicates the same thing all over again and the explosion of modernity clearly indicates the onset of some kind of new era. That is the way we take it, although traditionalists tend to confuse the issue and denigrate modernity as some kind of deviation. But on the whole the new era of modernity suggests itself overwhelmingly.

That gives us one epoch of proximate antiquity and the onset of a new era in modernity.

The findings of archaeology have extended our knowledge backward and we can see that there is clearly an era prior to proximate antiquity in the civilizations arising in the wake of Sumer and Egypt whose sudden take offs around the period of 3000 BCE or so. As we examine this sudden transition we see in fact a third epoch prior to the two we see more clearly: the epoch of greater antiquity, and the legacy of dynastic Egypt and early Sumer. We don’t see the same parallelism in this period for a simple reason: China, India, Greece, and Rome, etc, are still untouched and begin to enter the sphere of higher civilization as the result of diffusion from the core area of the Middle East. While these produce their own cultures and innovations they are clearly direct descendants of Sumer and Egypt. Additional complexities no doubt enter here, but that picture makes sense of the data.

So we have three epochs, the third being one in which we are immersed.

Presto: we have an empirical map of a set of three epochs of world history. We can see that this is the way we take history, almost, if we can begin to study the details and it shows the real meaning of feudalism as the ‘middle part’ of the epoch of proximate antiquity. Taking feudalism as an epoch in itself was always misleading: it is the middle of something and the result of the decline from the high point of the start of the era of proximate antiquity onward.

The issue of capitalism is also given a new perspective: to equate capitalism with modernity is surely wrong. The forms of early capitalism are already present in the antiquity and we can see in early ancient Greece the equivalents of ‘primitive’ capitalism, and that because the greeks invented history and describe their own. But primitive capitalism was surely very real in the earlier epoch of the Mesopotamian world. Capitalism is an economic category and doesn’t really describe the broader forms of culture. We need broader categories that indicate that a culture has a multiplicity of factors beyond the economic.

But wait, this ultra simple framework (which doesn’t even need the idea of epochs, although the interval indicated are more than real) immediately suggests an extension. Why would this history start with Egypt and Sumer and then after their ‘real’ beginnings in the Neolithic? The answer is simple: we suspect that our epochs stretch backward into the Neolithic. Any student of the Neolithic can see the outlines of two or more earlier eras: the agricultural revolution around 8000 BCE and a secondary Neolithic around the middle of the sixth millennium BCE, and this emerging at first out of the Middle East, once again. Unfortunately our evidence thins out and we might do better to be wary of generalization, taking our suspicions however into account as a probable more complicated picture. Note that with the invention of writing we begin to get records at the level of centuries, and then decades and instantly the later progression of epochs stands out: look at the early history of Greece at the dawn of our ‘second’ epoch: consider how much we know is due to its historical record. Suppose we had no records of that history at the level of centuries: we would know almost nothing of what happened. So we see the problem with the Neolithic: we suspect but aren’t quite sure our phenomenon includes the Neolithic. But we can see that Sumer (and Egypt to some extent) has an earlier source in the preceding era prior to the 3000 explosion. And so on.

So, by simple inspection we have a usefully outline of world history with or without the Neolithic and the result is much better than a theory of history. The question of modernity is still a bit ambiguous. But almost every student of the subject has had the feeling this was the onset of a new era. Whether it is or not that’s the way we take it and look at the medieval period as receding into the past.

This is all we need to recast the issue of socialism and communism: we see that they are innovations or strong amplifications of the early modern. We don’t need end of history ideologies or theories of epochs. Instead we simply see that we are realizing modernity and that’s its innovations (or reinventions of things from antiquity lost in the middle ages) include a new form of capitalism, an immense technological revolution, and the parallel emergence of democracy, socialism, communism.

We have thus a more robust version of socialist history based not on a theory of economic epochs but on the cultural emergence of modernity taken factually as a set of cultural not just economic principles and as occurring in the dawn of the revolutionary transition to the modern world.

The conclusion suddenly becomes obvious: the modern world is moving to integrate the modern social transformation with the forms of new kinds of economy, along with much else. Let us note the huge achievement (or reachievement) of democracy in modern times. It is a simple deduction to see that socialism and democracy are part of the same trend of innovation and in that context the critique of Marx, his theories aside, of the way capitalism distorted democracy became an element of the search for a modern social construct that was liberated from the capitalist runway market phenomenon that within two centuries has put the whole planet at risk.

We can see that this kind of simple chronicle approach produces a much better and better founded world history than the ponderous attempts at theory.

We can try to create a theory of our own here, but we will find that the complexity is still great, the data insufficient and a host of other problems: for starters our empirical eonic effect is enough.

The disastrous crackpot confusion of historical materialism

I have often recommended replacing historical materialism with something simpler and less reductionist. To make that theory a requirement to create socialism was a mistake. It antagonizes almost the whole of exterior culture. It forecloses on virtually the whole of human thought and history and imposes a brittle version of early nineteenth century scientism as a universal generalization. Whatever it seemed at the time it is now irrelevant for us. Historical materialism claims to debunk all religion, almost all philosophy, negates ‘idealism’ as some kind of evil delusion, reduces history to economic issues, negates teleology in the name of science and then creates a crypto-teleology that misleads anyone trying to construct a socialist entity in practice. It tries to seize high ground against all forms of thought with the weird claim that the mode of production stands beyond all that as the determinant factor. Small wonder socialists/communists always fumble the ball. Their view of society is crackpot.

Marx did one of the worst things you can do to a cadre: give a bunch of idiots an air-tight generalization that they will embrace the way people embrace religion: the end of creative thinking enters to establish the reign of dogma. Try this: try to critique Marx and the cultic crowd will react to you with a vengeance. The outcome has been “Marx the Prophet”, a misfortune that will blind adherents to the need for very careful thinking about practical action.

It is not hard to correct all this. We have recommended being wary of historical theories and working with outlines and empirical models. That way, the diversity and complexity of history is not sacrificed to a monomania. In that context the critique of political economy can be wrought via a robust set of empirical studies that do not presume to laws of history or scientific determinism. History is the sage of free agents who have choice, whatever the case that free agency is the same as free will. But issues of free will are better studied with Kant than Newton or scientists. The question of free agents is enough: we cannot expect ‘history’ to produce communism mechanically. It requires construction: we must create a socialism that makes sense, embraces a set of values and realizes new degree of freedom.

New Republic on ‘socialism’: a response

The New Republic comes full circle with a fourth article on socialism, the last evidently undermining the whole series:

The Socialist Moment :Reclaiming the Future
Socialism The Democracy Deficit
Socialism in No Country

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
Two Manifestos:
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.

Socialism vs property-owning democracy

The idea of ‘property owning democracy’ with its Rawlsian twist would to be as difficult to implement as socialism and would require a revolutionary settlement
At that point one may as well navigate the spectrum of ‘socialisms’ and come to a viable model that could implement a complex mix.
We have warned that ‘socialism’ alone is not enough of a definition: we must solve multiple problems at the same time: politics as democracy with a strong authority combined with that to guard a Commons, a deliberation of markets, markets under ‘socialism/communism’ and the nature of a Commons as opposed to state capitalism…

t the heart of property-owning democracy is the conviction that the best protection against oligarchy lies in a widespread dispersal of the ownership of the means of production. It focuses, in other words, on the distribution and redistribution of wealth. It embraces market competition for many purposes. It does not condemn private control of capital but rather proposes to distribute it widely, even universally. The principal means for securing and sustaining property-owning democracy are taxes on the wealthiest members of a society, especially wealth taxes—on assets and inheritance. One proponent of property-owning democracy, Thad Williamson, has devised a detailed program that would over 20 years tax away one-third of the wealth of the richest 1 percent of households and redistribute the resulting gains so as to provide every American household with a portfolio of $100,000 in assets divided between cash savings, homeownership, and stockholdings.

Source: Socialism and the Democracy Deficit | The New Republic

[Marxism] Socialism and the Democracy Deficit | The New Republic

Still another article on socialism as The New Republic
The left’s new world of reviving socialism does need to learn from the past and be wary of simply repeating its older history: we don’t need to make a dogma out of an ‘ism’ that was unable to really grapple with economic issues.
Our model of ‘democratic market neo-communsim’ addresses the ‘democracy deficit’, the economic issue and proposes a new and more robust version of expropriation lacking in the dismal fixation on state capitalism that haunted the old lefts.

A verbose and hackneyed defense of bourgeois democracy based on Rawls that obviously was published to ward off the possibility that Doug Henwood and Astra Taylor’s defense of the Jacobin/DSA might lead to this: “Perhaps one thing that those American socialists who claim to put democracy first could do is persuade its editors to change the name of their journal. It conjures up the guillotine.” I wouldn’t worry too much about this as long as Vogue keeps scheduling their regular Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez photo shoots.

Source: [Marxism] Socialism and the Democracy Deficit | The New Republic