This is an interesting book, which I will try to read, but I am puzzled as to why I can’t get such a mention, a little miffed that even such a simple citation of my Last and First Men is beyond the capacity, it seems, of the Counterpunch editors. That’s no doubt because I try to critique the marxist Holy Writ of historical materialism. It would help to have some connection with fellow radicals. But from what I can see anyone who isn’t a marxist true believer is a marked for dead. Not a way to proceed!
I have a fear that the coming moment for a communist transition is going to be wrecked by marxists who won’t budge on Marx’s flawed theories, the obsession with ‘god’ not unlike that of the ‘new atheists’, and a general attitude of the sanctity of everything Marx wrote and said. At that point the issue could go either way, but people will rise up and protest a marxist version of communism. That reality has to be faced: historical materialism, dialectical materialism, etc, aren’t selling points anymore. They repel people in huge numbers.
This situation was the reason I tried a strategy of ‘hot/cold’, of trying to ‘sublate’ the earlier theories into a larger context.
Here’s a Wikipedia version of histomat:
Historical materialism can be seen to rest on the following principles:
The basis of human society is how humans work on nature to produce the means of subsistence.
There is a division of labour into social classes (relations of production) based on property ownership where some people live from the labour of others.
The system of class division is dependent on the mode of production.
The mode of production is based on the level of the productive forces.
Society moves from stage to stage when the dominant class is displaced by a new emerging class, by overthrowing the “political shell” that enforces the old relations of production no longer corresponding to the new productive forces. This takes place in the superstructure of society, the political arena in the form of revolution, whereby the underclass “liberates” the productive forces with new relations of production, and social relations, corresponding to it.
In this generalized form there is little to debate: it is so vague that a path to ‘sublate’ the doctrine into a larger synthesis is easy. In practice the principles are often very dubious. But the core formulation as above is not worth a divisive argument: it is better to create a superset and proceed with a real dialectic applied to basic historical materialism. Note that the latter never occurs in marxist literature, after all the blah blah about dialectic.
Last and First Men adopts a different and simpler approach: the emergence of communism is related to and completes the democratic revolutions of modern times. We don’t need a historical theory of economics for democracy, and we shouldn’t need one for communism. Communism is a free creation of men who wish to found democracy on economic liberation. We don’t need a theory of history for that.
I think that LFM therefore provides the larger context for the sublation of marxist basics, but stands back and adopts a larger framework, that of the modern transition itself.
The issue here is: don’t hand your enemies a theory easy to refute, easier to entangle in endless debates.