Legendary actor Ed Asner died on August 29 at the age of ninety-one, and I am grateful to have spent last Saturday with him before he passed. Ed had a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame, won five Golden Globes, and had more Primetime Emmy Awards than any other male actor in TV history. Yet the costar of the beloved Mary Tyler Moore Show played his greatest role off-screen and offstage, courageously challenging the Reagan regime’s blood-drenched Central America policy.
With a socialist angle christianity might have created a new future for itself
The following interview is with an activist described as “a comrade of the Left from Afghanistan” whose name, for safety reasons, was withheld from publication. It first appeared in the Communist Party of Britain’s International Bulletin. It has been edited for clarity and length.
I have come to advocate simply deleting the Bolshevik, even the Marxist legacy, a less drastic resolution than it might seem. This fascinating article is however a reminder that no matter how many times I try to get the Bolshevik case straight, I fail and stand corrected by a new book, research or recalculation. I have thus learned the hard way that the post-Marx era leading into the era of Bolshevism is impossible to get straight. One must find a project to realize in the present, having started over.
One will do better to let it slide into the black hole that it is and to try and find a new set of categories along socialist lines. In fact this experience soon extends to the figures of Marx and Engels whose brilliant work belies the fact that they got mostly everything wrong (and a lot of things right). A core issue is Marx’s view of history and the useless historical materialism. The historical myth of feudalism, capitalism communism has confused every generation and is patently inaccurate and mythological. The idea that a Marxist group will rewrite culture using historical materialism is a futile hope, and looking closely see that socialism never gets off the ground, and that Bolshevism is mostly a distraction.
So what to do? It should suddenly work to take specific models and see how they might be realized. The idea of socialism is too abstract. But the moment we go from one-term systems to more specific constructions the whole past fantasy world of socialism starts to take form, finally.
The idea of democratic market neo-communism is an example. Suddenly the reality of a socialist, or here ‘neo-communist’ construct springs to life, because we have abandoned useless abstractions and moved to ask how we can realize a given model under the axioms of expropriation. This is not the reformist/revolution debate although that remains relevant: or model offers two interpretations, one for reformist, one for revolutionaries. You can have congress that could expropriate private property, or a revolution to top down our DMNC. In each case the core option is the lesson programmer’s learn: remorph what you have incrementally and then debug it. Here we start with a liberal system and remorph it into a neo-communism. That’s more than reformism, a different issue.
The point is that Marxism has made the whole subject impossibly complicated and dependent on an elite proposing to decipher Marx and then Lenin.
Our DMNC could be realized in a short period of time and be functional with a decent economy and political system. It is the recipe approach, not theory abstractions. We might just forget Marx and Lenin, and start to get practical.
Socialists have rightly taken inspiration from the Russian Revolution for generations, but many of the lessons drawn from it are wrong for our own time. To make change today, we need to take democratic socialism seriously as a theory and practice.
Supermarkets under capitalism are exploitative and ecologically damaging, shaping what we produce as well as what we consume. In public hands, following a different logic, they could supply the creative core of a democratically planned socialist economy.
Consider how different 2020 would have been if there had been a mass working-class party in existence intervening in events with a program that transcended the bounds of capitalism. The pandemic exposed the capitalists’ willingness to sacrifice human lives at the altar of profits, provoking a strike wave across numerous industries last spring. A mass socialist party could have given a coordinated expression to these struggles and unified them around a program of demands to defeat the virus and save countless lives.A mass party of, by, and for the working class would have cut across the rise of Trumpism and its distorted class polarization by tapping into the deep discontent in society and channeling it against capitalism.
We are over a century past the great surge of the Second International and the emergence of a global audience for marxism. So what happened and why is a repeat seemingly so impossible? The obvious answer is the legacy of Bolshevism and Stalinism. That and the failure to construct a viable socialist economy anywhere at all (exceptions?) in addition a mountain of books by critics have ‘exposed’ the issue of socialism and still others, and this is key, have critiqued Marx’s theories. Leftists express a knee-jerk defense at all points but they are a club or cult of the converted. There is no real public anymore for Marxism. But times change and socialism is making a comeback, it seems. Continue reading “Archive: The marxist foundation is dead, time to start over, time is short…//Building a Mass Socialist Party: Class Independence vs. the “Party Surrogate” Strategy “
Below, five Metro DC DSA vets remember their growing awareness of how war feeds capitalism and vice versa. From different eras of the endless US war for corporate imperialism, our comrades below recount how they got to today.
Bernie Sanders was never the most all-American of presidential candidates. The Brooklyn-born socialist senator from Vermont has an overpowering New York accent. Lecturing America relentlessly on its ills, he presented as a cross between Scrooge and the Grim Reaper, seemingly as likely to appeal to American voters as Leon Trotsky, with whom he appeared to share a hair stylist. He did not slap backs, could not tell jokes and spouted policy prescriptions that sounded right out of “Das Kapital.”