The demise of social democracy shows the precariousness of any project of reform under capitalism.
The discussion of (neo-)communism provokes dissonance in the liberal mind-set of the US, not surprising in a way, given the way the Second Internationale pressed an imprint of a communist movement, that followed by the now forever damned bolshevism. But the reality is that, behind the ‘end of history’ jargon ad infinitum, lies its core truth that the modern system of liberalism can’t find a steady state. The gyrations of social democratic to neo-liberal cycles, which includes the prior Leninist cycle, cannot find a resting place because the whole system has never formulated a truly functional model of democracy plus economy, taken mostly as capitalism. The point is obvious to the point of dullness, and yet the sudden new reality is emerging that capitalism is joining the ranks of its much hated rival’s ‘failure’, communism, really bolshevism, as a equal failure and this in the midst of its ongoing apparent success story.
We are having a hard time learning this lesson, in any form, from the minimal to the final break into revolutionary rejection. Part of the failure is visible in the irrationality of response to the climate question.
Are you a bigshot, social leader, political mouther, entrepreneurial groupie, billionaire ideologist? Capitalism has failed, and that failure is actually worse, to many views, and to the future, is worse than bolshevism at its worst. Capitalism could not respond to what became clear in the 1980’s as to climate change, growth economies, and monied politics.
An ominous point has long since arrived: has there even been any discussion of the planetary catastrophe in the making in the almost absurd cable TV show called the American election? In an objective referee process by a neutral party this would signal a terminal judgment: death of a planet with no possibility of electoral exit or redress signals the challenge to revolutionary reboot. Assuming there is an alternate plan of action, constitutional rewrite, economic resolution, etc…That’s the catch: despite the brilliance of Marx/Engels we still don’t have that alternative scenario, in part because of the hopeless case ‘end of history’ ‘higher Hegelian nonsense that wasn’t in Hegel’. Democracy comes to need communism, but communism comes to need democracy, and we cycle through the probably endless permutations of social democracy.
But we must grant the critics of hyper-radical solutions that we have no right to a revolution if we have no innovation plan of action. But is that right? If they have the right to muddle through capitalism, we inherit at once the right to muddle through to postcapitalism. We have to make up the plan even as we start the revolution. There is none. It is not a question of repeating slogans in the Marx cult, ambivalence discussions of Lenin, etc… It is here that the ‘communist’ target of moving past private property gave the compromise disease an impossible/possible target with revolutionary feedback to start, reach, conclude.
But the classic format is stale, which is not wrong. There is a secret here: snapping out of mechanized thought. The core is there already, it just needs creative energy, with bad theories out the window, and a cessation of a the ‘historical materialist’ cult for a larger philosophic muddle. A whole new perspective is needed that honor the past axioms of postcapitalism and that can address economics beyond Capital (private property as such?), ecological questions in the context of growth/no-growth economies, and the larger question of the passage of the problem to be solved to an international context: the next platform for the next election anywhere goes beyond the nation state, rendering the hard problem super hard, although the basic format, wretchedly botched, was present in the format of a union of socialist republics, etc…
Clearly a cultural mix still mucking about in theories of neo-classical enconomics is not at the level of intelligence required to carry out such a complicated project. That’s the obvious highlighted: we indulge capitalism because we can’t manage a real scientific/technological solution to the economic question. It is just a madhouse in motion. At some point, such as the climate catastrophe, the ‘music stops’ and a coup d’etat by revolutionaries takes whatever chance it finds.
But at least let’s consider the need to formulate a whole new version of marxism. That was the starting point, but it is a crutch for cultists now, and its adherents are clearly too confused or too timid to even stage a street march. The OWS stole their lunch, but OK, why not, for a moment. But the older format needs a new breed of these OWS types (where not dupes or agents of covert ‘velvet’ phoniiness) to recast the classics for a new revolution, probably but not certainly a ‘overthrow’ revolution. The chaos point will come sooner or later, as it came in the Russian case with the tenderized of the World War. We should be ready for the equal moment in the coming chaos. These fellows are feeling the Bern at the moment but they may need to report for reassignment, any day now…It’s Bernie’s fault: he called for a revolution.