This was originally the Preface, now the Introduction (rapidly morphing beyond this version).
Proponents of (a new) communism are too often on the defensive in public discourse. The reasons are not hard to find! The Second Internationale was stuck in the Marx/Engels format, which was a brilliant stroke, but that formation was too theoretical and very soon and too easily challenged by the defenders of capitalism. The legacy of Bolshevism gave the whole game a blackmark.
The subject became confused and one of many reasons is the fatal dose of ‘dialectic’ that was never understood (by anyone).
And the economic issues were confusing all around. Marx had a fair handle on classical economics, but the marginalist revolution took over just as he completed VOL 1 of Cptl and confusion became universal. The mathematical gimmicks involved (and the deft swindle of applied calculus has confused everyone for over a century) created an insuperable sophistry of seeming science that could silence critics on the spot.
We can guess, for example, what happened to Mandela, out of jail, and jawboned by experts who surely talked ‘econo-porn’ until he agreed to a neoliberal settlement.
In some ways, of course, the discourse on free markets makes sense–Marx/Engels suffered to some degree the same bemused hypnosis about markets and globalization, making the gamble of letting capitalism do its number and then phase itself out. But that point has come, and the collosus of global capitalism is so totalized (a nice cousin to the term ‘totalitarian’), that the Faustian pact made at the start is proving unworthy of whatever trust is placed in it. In fact, I am sure Marx/Engels always suspected this and their strategy always had the revolutionary option, either seemingly given up or submerged after 1848), up its sleeve. But now the question is stark: the power of the capitalist juggernaut seems too powerful to confront, with precious time lost, and now is preparing a list of stabs in the back: the much vaunted ‘middle class’ just might be eliminated from its promised resolution of capitalist compromises with history: at the end of the sacrifice of nature and environment, and the onset of climate change, the American prosperity bargain is being cheated out of its promised potential. Two centuries of capitalism? A new class of the poor, a pointless round trip. The capitalist class in some zones has been captured by a really dangerous set of almost occult forces, who plan nothing less than the roll back of modernity, the destruction of democracy, the recreation of inequality and class society of an almost medieval brand. Who has the power to withstand this? We see it happening before our eyes.
In case one finds this outlandish, we should recall the way reactionary sufis sent operators into the Russian revolution to prepare a counter-revolution. Such ‘spiritual’ figures as the shadowy Gurdjieff, openly associated with the Whites in his escape from the victory of the Bolsheviks in the civil war, seeded phony religious intellectuals like Ouspensky who was brazen enough to ‘in your face’ it with a nauseating rehash of the Code of Manu, the grossest of the spiritual distortions of Aryan Hinduism (never present in real Indic religion). It seems a long shot that rightist capitalists, still token insiders to democratic modernity, could for long make an alliance with such dark reactionaries (it is mostly in the unconscious and the victims oblivious), but the gamble seems to paying off in the age of neoliberalism.
In fact, the whole game has reached its peak, and at some point the tide will reverse and the left will recover its bearings and expose the whole charade of phony religiosity matched with elitist capitalism. There are obvious reasons: the essence of capitalist rationality even at its worst is still a modernist concoction.
In the end the issue is economics, and now we can see that the mystique of markets is peaking and showing its dangerous, if not lunatic side. So the question becomes urgent to restate the critique of capitalism, along with an update of a ‘new communism’ that doesn’t fall into the blight of thinking that turned Bolshevism into a strange superstition. In a way the new critique is a no-brainer: the whole of mathematical economics is now exposed as an ideological gambit of atrocious pseudo-science. So the charge of bad theory now rests with the capitalists. And the left should not propose a counter-theory doomed to refutation. Instead, remain practical with a vision of communism as postcapitalism, seen ironically now as inevitable, given the havoc being wrought by free markets.
The term ‘communism’, then, prefaced with the prefix ‘neo-‘ will no longer refer to the classic legacy of the Second Internationale, and stand on its own as a redefinition, no doubt with many echoes of its classic legacy.
The proposition seems less than utopian, and the charge, utopian, boomerangs on the free marketeers. There are hundreds of solutions to the call of ‘postcapitalism’, the best being a newly defined ‘neo-communism’. This proposition has the ace in the hole now: all the gains of capitalist profit since the Industrial Revolution were a plunder of the Commons. This saga of ‘primitive accumulation’ makes the prospect of the capitalist endgamers making off with their loot increasingly quixotic, courtesy of globalization: where will they hide? The task of expropriation becomes a feasible option, even given the surveillance of all the Iphone calls of the expropriators.