The world isn’t ready for neo-communism, but it wasn’t/isn’t ready for either social democracy or, gasp, socialism as referenced by Sanders, the reason it forever goes into ‘next election’ mode. But Sanders has shown that the times have changed: a new public is stirring. But the world has never been ready to confront the nature of economic dysfunction and the real and intrinsic failure of capitalism in a crisis of increasingly desperate climate change. So the point is to prompt the original idea of ‘what to do’ inherited from the successors to the French Revolution who saw that a theory of economy and class was needed: presto, Marx. But the idea of communism predates Marx who is therefore in principle what we must be, inheritors of the original idea.
The legacy of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, is so scrambled together and fixed in dread that it becomes a question: should we re-inherit the original ‘communist’ idea bypassing Marx? Marx confronted a situation with so many confused projects and crackpots that without him, next to Engels, the idea might have died on the vine. But can we reiterate the original brilliant thesis as is? Probably not. Thus we displace Marx into Old Testament mode as we re-create a New Testament synthesis that doesn’t end up forever nervous-nellied by the dread specter of Stalin. The point is that all the indications for a passage to postcapitalism are present, but not if they follow the groove of mechanizing thought that overtook the left with the Second Internationale. A true neo-communism will be something completely different from yet faithful to the old, and not derail in the ‘same old rut’ that has effectively silenced the marxist left. The issue is a sensible project that inherits democracy even as it moves to recreate it in a postcapitalist form. The issue is the ‘bourgeoisie and Big Capital’: the point about the proletariat was that they should simply take over this minority nexus of false power. There Marx’s brilliant idea about proletariats may have confused the issue. As it turned out the proletariat wasn’t necessarily very revolutionary, and increasingly less as social democratic sugars took hold of barricade emotion. In a pinch, we can finesse Marx’s brilliant innovation with an idea of the ‘Universal Class’ as the enzyme of proletarian revolution, which is equivalent to majority revolution able in principle to easily overcome, it is supposed, the small cabal of the bourgeoisie.
Done right the communist idea should have prevailed more easily, without the ideological baggage that ended by defeating the first attempt. Marxism should have eschewed ‘historical materialist’ reductionism and done what the Kantian socialists in some alarm rushed in to do, to correct: the lack of a robust secular humanism, with a critique of reason, a canon of the human will or free agent, like the old religions who always knew this the core of their own revolutions, even despite the ‘tyranny of god’, an ethical perspective, and the original understanding of the dialectic. These may be recycled religious cliches, but they are recycled and without them your movement is a league of frankensteins. The world of Marx was confused by the sudden onset of scientism, darwinism, positivism, in the wake of the great Hegelian phantasm. A new and very simple recasting of the otherwise significant ‘historical materialist’ view of history as a narrative of free agents can save a radical movement going into shutdown as did the bolshevik as its axioms turned rancid in the mechanization of the already flawed Second Internationale. This larger approach leaves revolutionaries with the freedom to ‘revolt against economic determinations’ which aren’t determinism.
This is but one of the aspects that can be easily modified to create a more robust package that those, e.g. climate activists turning in circles, can use without fear of inflicting dictatorship, secret police, and cement block economics on projects already difficult enough: the point is to face the reality of the facade of democracy and move in the name of neo-communism to create a real democracy, in the context of the many side issues like climate change. A revolution, if that occurs, must be a passage to a new democracy, but it doesn’t follow that it is a democracy already. That is why revolutions are chancy. But they don’t have to be that way. A clear statement of particulars can make the whole process something that puts the Russian revolutionary nightmare into ancient history.
There are a whole series of intermediate possibilities, short of what must be the final target, as we remain clearly aware of the dangers of compromises: one is the reduction of private Capital to State control and mediation. We could solve the climate crisis in a week in such a system. Such a system could even leave markets in place, up to a point, and simply regulate any and all industrial projects. What other alternative is there? The world has known, along with Exxon Mobil capital gang, since the 1980’s that a crisis was approaching, yet now thirty-five years later we have an election where none of the candidates can discuss climate change or simple New Deal projects, like health care, without an dose of the increasing reconditioned public force-fed supercharged greed via Ayn Rand.
So a new platform can echo Marx but should raise a single cavil from those who smell Stalinism in the Post Office.