The New Republic comes full circle with a fourth article on socialism, the last evidently undermining the whole series:
The Socialist Moment
https://newrepublic.com/article/153804/reclaiming-future-growing-appeal-socialism-age-inequality :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
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.