The question of marxism and communism is, I am informed (I already knew), creating even more confusion in the reception of WHEE than before, with its vigorous discussion of the emergence in democracy in world history, and the connection of that to the model of emergent freedom, an attempt to do something Hegel tried but couldn’t quite get right.
This deserves an answer, as a sort of non-problem, and suggests a way that leftists and plain liberals can unite in a common effort, one, however, shifted to the left.
The discussion requires a little history: the first version of WHEE had it right: a strong discussion of democracy in the emergence of modernity, making it central, but then with a conclusion that suddenly began to shift toward the two step: democracy, and then the emergence of leftist critiques of the French Revolution, and socialism/communism coming to the fore just as the great modern transition concluded. We can see at once how this explains the facts that we see: the strong surge of democratic revolution and its association with capitalism and industrialization and the chase plane parallel of economic and political critique. The whole situation was pretty well analyzed by Marx/Engels. They didn’t want to undermine democracy, but maybe they did, or their followers did.
The solution is before us: the thrust of macro progression is toward democracy, but, as the critics of bourgeois revolution have made clear, the actual result was a complex compromised by the ‘freedoms’ it energized: those of ‘market freedom’ which turned out to be a flaw in the whole outcome. What else is new? this situation is well analyzed on the left. The problem is that the progression toward communism apparently forgot what they were doing and deleted democracy in the challenge to liberal contradictions.
All I am saying here is that a book like LFM is, like the first edition of WHEE (unlike the second and third which tended to revert to pure liberal perspective), a double play: it is a model that illuminates emergent democracy, which come on very strong from the early modern to the triumph at the end of the eighteenth century, and also a collation with the emergence of communism and the tremendous moment when the modern transition concluded with democracy and bourgeois revolution in the ascendant, but with the ominous and futurist conclusion or cap to the grand drama: the prophecy of the era of 1848 that the grand climax of modernity would confront sooner or later its inherent dilemmas and be forced to confront the ‘running pack’ of ‘further to the leftists’ ready to start serious yawlping at the ‘insidious implosion’ of victorious democracy undone by the embedded capitalism.
So there is no contradiction take WHEE and LFM as either democratic ideology in action and/or a second look in a double take of the classic analysis of the ‘1848 left’ .
The problem is really Bolshevism and its ambiguities and failures and the way it took the idea of communism and ran with it, leaving democracy in the rear view mirror.
The problem was not communism, but the failure to define it: the Russian revolution is a progression of its own inherent dynamics which floated a word spelled ‘communism’ to describe what it was doing. OK, but in retrospect we should float the word again with a new set of definitions that can show the way democracy can come to a condition beyond private property and capitalism domination and still be democracy of some kind.
So take the book both ways, and we can move slowly toward a definition of a system of postcapitalist democracy that is still democracy as communism.