This article is of interest for showing the deadlock on the left over the road to change.
Here the comment seems correctly disposed to challenge Naomi Klein, proposes postcapitalism, and then waffles on the issues of communism, etc..
At that point the OWS is cited and we wonder how we will proceed.
The critique of Lenin and ‘communism’ is inevitable, along with the one party state. But it doesn’t follow that we can’t define a ‘new revised communism’ and devise a means to evade the one party state.
We have discussed this many times here and the verdict is to start by remorphing bourgeois democracy achieved by revolution via Popper’s ‘piecemeal social engineering’ toward a communist democracy that withdraws the full rights to property to return to the commons the gains of capitalist plunder. If we have to strain credulity to speak of communist democracy it is because a new consensus hasn’t yet arisen. That requires that new consensus, however partial, to redefine democracy with control over the industrial monopoly of the bourgeoisie. That consensus is coming but we are still beating back and forth between bolshevism and the crypto-anarchism of the OWS style left. The core idea is no more controversial in essence than the control of BP in the Gulf oil spill and the partial consensus was there, more or less,
We can’t really speak of postcapitalism and then reject ‘communism’: we can put the term as historical in quotation marks, and expose its failure on the way to a ‘new communnism’.
At that point it isn’t Leninism that is the problem but its extended meanings that undermined its outcome: instant totalitarian control and the abrogation of civil rights.
Why did Leninists allow that to happen? The reasons are clear: the massive counterrevolution appearing immediately, the Tsarist legacy as cultural habit, etc…
We can’t evade the dangerous passage by referring to communist democracy. But it is also true that we don’t have to become obsessive control freaks on the left. The demoracry of modern times was denounced in Burkean fury as blah blah: fill in the blanks with anti-democratic boilerplate. But the ‘democrats’ were able to achieve their goal despite the reactionary pessimism. At some point the same will happen with the communist idea.
In any case, the core solution is there: a bourgeois democracy remorphed into a form of communism.
Core contradictions could jeopardize that. The confused idea of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ was a clever, but apt finesse (or so it seemed at the time) to claim that a transition to communism as ‘democracy’ had to pass through dictatorship. Maybe that was correct. But the return to a new ‘normality’ can’t proceed to Stalinism.
This idea has become hopelessly confused, but the basic issue is clear: a revolutionary transition is beyond the constitutional because it must reach a new constitution. At that point the good faith of revolutionaries to stick to the promise of real freedom is essential.
The issue of one party dictatorship by a new bourgeoisie is essential to deal with. From Platonic guardians to half naked fakirs in Gandhian robes, the spectrum of communist governors must find the road to the abolition of property in the chieftains of communism. A balance of powers is the obvious necessity. In LFM we speak of the Universal Class as a superset of the proletariat, and that the two are the same and yet not necessarily so. A code of ethics in a secular version of culture would clearly outline the austerity of the governor and his term limits, etc…
In the end the moment of terminal crisis may bring the ‘control’ regime we fear, but if the crisis is as real as we fear then the options will have dwindled to the Leninist outcome. Leninism is too often discussed in isolation: the First World War was the real backdrop to the revolution and the analysis of Lenin’s thinking should consider that fact.