A shorter version of the previous draft, to be edited to a still shorter version. Our crude update is simple and effective: the core of the original communist manifesto: expropriation of the bourgeoisie, with a net of notes for a new approach to history, economics, and revolutionary/transitional stages
Toward a New Communist Manifesto
Minutes of the Red Forty-eight Group
At a time of social crisis the classic Manifesto of Marx and Engels in the era of the 1848 revolutions resonates with an eerie relevance for the age of neoliberalism and dangerous climate change. The clever fiction of the end of history is exposed as an artifice of philosophic legerdemain, Hegel from the bottom of the deck. The original tour de force would be a hard act to follow, but in reality our ‘new’ manifesto is a studied echo of the old brought to its real future, via the prophetic desperation of two revolutionaries before their time. The era of the 1848 upheavals, in the last tremors of the mighty French Revolution, has been called a turning point in world history, but one which failed to turn. It is an ironic aspect of our current era that this ‘revolution manque’ is an apt metaphor for our own predicament. It threw down the gage to the future of the whole of industreality. That remarkable period of revolt was a shot over the bows of the capitalist revolution unfolding toward its long march to globalization, with the problematical outcome of its success beset once again with the haunting realization the failure to turn is a world of markets going mad. A rational limit or else overthrow of the new capitalist affair might have spared the planetary community much suffering, but now the issue goes into the critical zone, as the crisis reaches a point of no return.
Our Manifesto takes from Marx and Engels the prophesied endgame of the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. The time for that great revolution, the last, is here. But if we examine the legacy of marxist revolutionaries we must expose the e.g. Bolshevik action of a pseudo-communist bourgeoisies. A new formation must create a set of guardians beyond private property and beyond the class ideology of revolutionary one-party rule.
The Crisis of Capitalist Globalization
The current planetary crisis has created a unprecedented turning point: the place of capitalism in the onset of climate change indicts the whole basis of the economics of free markets and leaves global culture at the brink. The logic of markets in the dynamic of globalization has created a situation that requires a global response, and a revolutionary transition to a new era of postcapitalism. It is hard for many to accept this fact, but the stark reality is that a system out of control is being subject to the control as domination of a capitalist bourgeoisie unwilling to allow even modest efforts to contain the disaster.
The solution requires a mutation that recreates the classic legacy that starts from its beginnings in the wake of the French Revolution and the period of the 1840’s when figures such as Marx and Engels began to systematize a new revolutionary canon.
The result of their labors has been what looks now as a perspective too limited for the contemporary situation we confront, and one compromised by the legacy of Bolshevism. The classic manifesto of Marx and Engels must stand in for that legacy as it falls away to be replaced with a new version applied to the moment foreseen by the prophecies of 1848.
Much of the classic canon is dated now. Even the great Capital is seen to be a book aptly left incomplete as a forward pass into a future, our own. We need a new and streamlined starting point, none other than the classic Manifesto itself. That legacy needs a new view of history, to free itself from ‘end of history’ mythology, along with a critique of historical materialism, a closer emphasis on the specifics of economic theory, such as the ideological illusions of neo-classical economics, a review of the confusions of dialectical materialism, and a closer study of the issues of economic organization in the light of the difficulties of planning.
Marxism arose in the era of the onset of positivism and contracted around a brittle materialism and a reductionist view of history that has been left behind by a larger culture that has expanded globally to include a wide spectrum of cultural perspectives. The views of those proposing the scientism of the period of the Iron Cage no longer satisfy, and this negative judgment falls on the legacy of socialist thought. And it became a vehicle of darwinian ideology despite Marx’s clear warnings of the ideological character and social darwinist illusions of darwinism.
A new view of history and modernity can broaden the legacy and lead to a reformulation of the entire canon. The core critique of ideology theory, class and capital has proven surprisingly robust if taken out of its now dated wrapper. The proponents of the classic legacy are very protection of the original dogmas, and only the realization that no future activism can succeed with the older framework will allow something new to happen. In the worst case a new generation can simply bypass the older stale nearly religious tradition, and declare that marxism has no ultimate claim on the future of socialism. This approach can quietly move into the future and as quietly appropriate much of the classic legacy.
What we can do here is to restate the issue of a New Communism in the context of a new perspective on world history and modernity, some upgraded ideas about economic systems, and a series of possible proposals in the spectrum from ‘market’ communism to full communism.
We can braid this with citations from the extensive material at the blog Darwiniana commenting on the issues. We can continue the discussion in terms of a putative new communist constellation or party, The Red Forty-eight Group.
We can state the issue in a nutshell via a post at the blog in question:
The context is a global revolution against American imperialism and the larger capitalist globalization colonialism, on the analog to the American rebellion against British colonialism. As with the American revolution (or the French) no theory of history, revolution, or economics is required.
What is required is a view along the lines of the Manifesto of a revolutionary passage to (neo-) communism in the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.The outcome will be a globalizing version of (market) neo-communism with a foundational abolition of private property, but an open question on planning/markets. If markets are socially owned, or if they are simply abolished at the end, the point is that this transitional framework can be to simply jettison the whole round of harebrained marxism, and yet able to use that and other resources as references.
Note again that the American Rebs were not subject to any requirements of theory, belief, or religion. They didn’t have to be idealists or materialists, theists or atheists.
We suspect the whole apparatus of marxism is stalling any praxis at this point. Some of that legacy can be carried by the new group, and we can expect to inherit much of older cadre. The whole marxist canon is simple the Old Testament, an historical backdrop with its classic prophets, Marx and Engels. The new phase of global action needs a New Testament able to break the mechanics of frozen habit and robotic consciousness that overtakes all cultic forms of thought.
Notes toward a completed resolution for a New Communist Manifesto
We can amplify this manifesto with a set of points based on a new approach to history. The model of the macro effect allows us to bypass theories and look at a simple outline of world history as a progression of epochs, and this will help to see the effect of modernity as a whole, and it will also help to see the issue of revolution, modernity and its crisis in perspective.
1. The Crisis of Modernity
1.1 The Great Transformation: a new view of history
What is modernity? The present generation is suffering through what could be the terminal crisis of civilization in the context of climate change, an unfolding calamity whose implications defy the axioms of modernity itself, or so it seems. But beyond that lies the reality of a civilization undermined by its own success, economic success, so-called, a success that is really a disguise for a deeper failure, along with an ideological rigidity so complete no insight into the problem is possible. The blindness to the issue of climate change is symptomatic of this larger failure.
The problem begins on the level of theory: we are operating a massive economic complex with theoretical foundations long shown to be a series of fictions. We confront the empirical reality of a civilization, and then we confront the ideology designed to account for it, and find it to be a mathematical approximation, one with questionable assumptions.
There are many critics of modernity, but too many of these are religious or politically reactionary anti-modernists who challenge the basis of secularism on religious grounds. But these critics, who revealingly often turn a blind eye to the faults of capitalism, have misjudged the situation completely, and have attempted to reject modernity because it doesn’t validate the legacies of religious tradition. And much of the religious axiom mongering is really about their sources in the Axial Age, so-called, a period we will be driven to examine in order to make sense of the modern world.
1.2 Postmodern Illusions
In a postmodern vein many critics of modernity, from reactionary perspectives, have indicted it as a whole, but a closer look shows that the overall modern transition amply prepared for this in a mysterious prophecy, one that produced an response to the great economic breakthrough of modern capitalism. This is to say that the issue of modernity was indeed open to challenge, and this especially on the grounds of the late development of capitalism that so suddenly changed the character of the new civilization coming into existence.
The crisis is thus not really that of modernity, but of the realization of its axioms and the subtle derailment of the original impulse. It is not hard to document the drift from democracy to empire in the American system whose appearance was such a classic early triumph of modernity. And the status and future of capitalism was directly foreseen by the successors to the French Revolution whose intimations of a last revolution ‘beyond capitalism’ was picked up by Marx and Engels whose codification is now a classic legacy, if somewhat dated now. But the point was clear: capitalism had suddenly hijacked modernity and we can see that this diagnosis is as relevant today as it was at the start. We see all the elements of class, ideology, and capitalist economics produced a cancer in the unfolding of globalization, and this charge is now rendered in grim black and white at a point where the last phase of neoliberalism is violently out of control and in denial about its own effects.
The crisis of modernity is the attempt to warp the early modern with an economic mythology and practice that has left the original in a state of flushing success masking an inner calamity.
1.3 History and (R)evolution
Marx was one of the first critic of darwinian random evolution, but later marxism adopted it dogmatically. The theory needs to be exposed as an ideology to set the left on the course to a real science of evolution. History can help.
The question of evolutionary change has often been confronted with the idea of discontinuity (often from religious sources) while historical analysis has tended to avoid this. But the issue of revolution raises the question all over again, although here there can be confused over the dynamic involved. Leftists in the tradition of Marx have sometimes tried to use the ‘dialectic’ to create a model of this, but this raises the question of the meaning of the dialectic.
We need to examine world history as we find it to see if we can find a solution to the riddle. As we examine world history we do indeed begin to find evidence of discontinuities…
The solution prefigured: the macrosequence is a form of developmental ‘evolution’, a term that refers in its correct usage to a complex directional manifestation, one visible in world history…
The sudden appearance of revolutionary movements in the last phase of this sequence, i.e. in modernity is a illustrative of what the overall progression of civilization is about, in a complex interplay of slow/fast factors…The issue of revolution is critical for an understanding, but has tended to suffer false theoretical frameworks, e.g. the dialectic…
We should see ‘revolutions’ not via theories but as associated with the macro factor itself, with a warning that ‘revolution’ outside of the macro sequence can change its character…
1.4 The Enigma of the Axial Age
Starting in the nineteenth century one of the most remarkable discontinuities in history began to be observed, and this was later codified by Karl Jaspers as the Axial Age. This data has all the provocative ambiguity that besets analysis with religious obsessions, but the nature of the data actually forces the issue of looking at the process of discontinuity more abstractly. The idea of discontinuity can be very treacherous, but if we see a massive impetus of changes over a short interval with no antecedent causal factor we have the grounds for a new type of explanation. In fact the Axial Age shows us something even more remarkable: a whole spectrum of discontinuous intervals in synchronous parallel. The complexity of this phenomenon advises caution even as it forces us to consider exotic new models.
Materialist confront a remarkable irony: the dynamics of an age of revelation seen in their larger aspect as a directionality of nature.
1.5 A New Model of History
The Axial Age confronts us with something conventional historiography has tended to avoid and we are forced to attempt a new form of explanation to deal with the data that world history began to show for the first time in the nineteenth century as the data for a history of civilization began to emerge from archaeological research.
The understanding of the Axial Age, despite the additional mystery of its parallelism, emerges as that of a step in a sequence: with the basic clues we can easily complete the analysis to discover, or suspect a larger sequence….
We move forward and backwards, and the puzzle, despite the lack of sufficient data for a full solution, shoes the obvious appearance of a sequence, with Egypt/Sumer as a first visible step, and modernity coming later. This gives us a three term sequence, and a clear, but not quite definite, prior set of steps for the sequence in the Neolithic.
Once we grapple with the huge data set for this phenomenon, a generalization of the Axial Age, a kind of recognition occurs: we see at once a ‘macro’ dynamic behind continuous history, and this fulfills the definition of a kind of ‘discrete/continous’ model, operating via a set of epochal intervals and their initializing transitions. The nature of the parallelism in the Axial Age is still unclear but the overall timing of the Axial Age falls into place and in addition shows us the clue to modernity: it is an integrated transition of epochal timing in a larger dynamic of world history. We can see why leftists were so close but unable to put their finger on the nature of what they saw as a new era of modernity, taken incorrectly as the dawn of capitalism. We can see that capitalism is one phenomenon associated with the rise of modernity, and takes off near the end of its basic ‘transition’, but the two are not the same. In fact, one reason for this is the appearance of the antithesis in parallel, the idea of (democratic) socialism/communism.
We begin to see the solution to the ‘revolution’ riddle: revolutions appear in the modern transition, which is itself a larger kind of revolution. But the latter is a comprehensive spectrum of many innovations.
2. Out of Revolution
2.1 The modern transition
We have found the basis for understanding the enigma of modernity: it is a finite transition in a larger sequence and shows a termination point or ‘divide’ around 1800+: this key issue is vital for seeing the later chaotification now overtaking a whole planet….
We have found a discrete series with epochal intervals stretching ca. 3000 BCE, 600 BCE, and 1800, with around three centuries of prior transition. We see at once that the interval from 1500 to 1800 is the relevant.
An at first incomprehensible property of this situation is the divide period around 1800 (plus or minus). Note the massive number of innovations of this period, over and above those of the earlier transition. This ‘divide’ point is a mysterious clue to the dynamic of modernity, and shows the analog to similar data in the Axial period. Note the parallel appearance of the American, French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution and its associated capitalism, and just the moment after the appearance of challenges to capitalism, the revolutions of 1848, and the appearance of a dialectical complement of double futures. This situation is exactly analogous to the prior period in the wake of the Axial Age as parallel outcomes began to compete for the future. This is not a deterministic system with a set outcome. Its outcome could be called ‘dialectical’ in that two or more outcomes attempt to create or seize the future.
2.2 The Dialectic of Capitalism
We must be wary of the term ‘dialectic’, in its confusions of Hegelianism, and the ambiguity of dyadic and triadic versions, but we can restrict its usage to very simple definitions to see the value of ‘antithesis generating a future beyond contrasts’. Let us a create en passant another usage here with an example.
The term ‘dialectic’ is subject to many confusions, although we should try to adopt transparent usages because the idea, prior to abuse, can be useful. For example the modern transition shows outcomes that are ‘dialectical’, which simply means that two or more outcomes emerge in potential and/or in parallel. We thus see capitalism emerging with a parallel synchronous process, e.g. the democratic revolutions evolving into socialist/communist resolutions… The dialectic should refer to such ‘counterpoint’ opposites and not indulge in mystical triads… The dialectic of dyads versus triads is hopelessly confused by marxists, and we should use only the simplest dyads until and unless we can find a better or larger understanding…
We confront the appearance of an immense period of philosophy from Kant to Hegel just at the point of our divide in a spectacular display. The idea of the dialectic arises from Hegel, passes into the materialist marxism, and begins to suffer confusions as to its real meaning. We see the creation of an enigmatic subject by Engels: dialectical materialism, a very controversial probably pseudo-scientific formulation, but one that is an echo of an ancient and similar subject, the Samkhya of India. We cannot safely resolve the issue of triads and dialectic and need to adopt safe foundational logics, e.g. the aristotelian logic of science, for any statements of analysis, but we can see that dialectical materialism is a train wreck version of an ancient set of intuitions, most remarkable. But the inventors of this, the marxists, need to be wary of this curious subject with its mystical whiplash. We have found one safe way to proceed: we use the term ‘dialectic’ as a dyad, a contrast of opposites or counterpoints given empirically as historical facts. Taking empirically as historical description of dyads the dialectic can find a useful and safe first new draft of the brilliantly confused codification of Engels. But we must be wary: we cannot safely use ‘dialectic’ for theoretical deductions, e.g. to deduce the logic of revolution.
2.3 1848: The Prophetic Year: the world system spawns a chase plane
As crude as our model is, we arrive at a spectacular result.
The divide process at the end of the modern transition extends through the first generation after around 1800, and this period, with a symbolic drama altogether apt ca. the 1848 revolutions, with Marx, Engels et al in attendance (we should include the counterpoint dialectic of anarchist synchronous actors, e.g. Bakunin)
Our model tells us that the onset of socialism/communism is parallel to that of capitalism just at the divide to the modern transition and both aspects have the appearance of apparitions, i.e. appear at the last moment and tend to contradict the long early modern preparation. Capitalism begins to distort modernity, as socialism/communism attempt a ‘chase plane’ pursuit and response. Both aspects shows the ominous transition from system action to free agency characteristic of our model and both aspects are liable to distortion. Capitalist distortion is obvious from start to finish. The marxist left produces a powerful corpus in response, but this factor of free agency is a warning that we are dealing with fallible agents. We might suspect the influence of positivism, which had a clear critique in the early modern, scientism, darwinism, reductionism, and preposterously, the Hegelian dialectic. The overall result is flawed and has no correct theory of revolution…the Russian bolshevik revolution proceeds with inadequate theories and is different in character from the revolutions of the early modern….
We see that the emergence of a ‘new kind of revolution’ in the wake of the French, American revolutions, and the spooky onset of tidal wave capitalism are part of the the divide period at the end of a macro transition, and almost simultaneously our system spawns a chase plane dialectic in the various communistic (but their own complement anarchist) attempts to claim the future beyond the ‘standard outcome of modernity’ captured at the last moment by capitalist globalization.
2.4 Marxist shibboleths
It is a spectacular effect to see the period of the passing of the Hegelian school proceed to the era of Feuerbach and the many associated figures of that period, including Marx and Engels who spawn the new vision of economic history just at the point of the failed revolutions of 1848. Those revolutions failed, but they prophesied the future of a ‘last revolution’ that would set the true fate of modernity. Clearly they were premature, as Marx/Engels sensed…Those two went on to create a remarkable canon to codify a new view of society, economics, and revolution, one that would nearly overtake the twentieth century, despite what we see now is still another version of the failed revolutions of 1848, and the roll back after 1989.
Marxism produces a powerful basic corpus, but, as noted, it has elements of distortion, or so we suspect…. We should note that it was beset with the difficulty of analyzing economic systems, the debates over the labor theory of value, as one example, and the sudden onset of marginalist economics in one of the spookiest of capitalism dead bed survivals. Beyond this we see also the appearance of Kantian ethical socialism in an attempt to critique the reductionist positivism of the marxists. Beyond this the proliferation of social democratic substitutes for the full transition beyond capitalism.
2.5 Leninist interlude
The first aftershock of the 1848 ‘failed revolutions’ was the great Russian Revolution, which was both a standard democratic revolution of the classic type attempting to overthrow the medieval Tsarist phantom, and a first attempt to bring about the final revolution against capitalism. The question of Leninism arises in this context as a hard to evaluate circumstance that carries a flawed ideological complex but which probably prophesies the future of ‘chase plane’ communism to come.… Lenin is not a transparent figure who belongs to his followers, but a mysterious agent of revolution in a prefiguration of the coming of postcapitalism. The core issues are the ethical perspectives of the agent of change, and the need for an economic solution to the operation of markets. We can and should argue the ‘dialectic’ of these two questions, and see the way an ethical nihilism, foreseen by the Kantian socialists, can enter like bilge water into the good ship Communism, and the way that the cunning capitalists with tricks of phantom calculus outplayed Marxist rendering of Adam Smith, and how figures like the market evangelist Mises, etc, performed the feat of turning the idea of freedom into a libertarian finesse, along with a valid challenge to socialist planning on the grounds of the dynamic of markets.
3. Once and Future Communism
3.1 Last Men and their Smartphones
The passing of the Leninist Interlude has given the appearance of final sanction to the capitalist future, but already by the end of the twentieth century the reality would seem that a flawed socialism was abandoned to search for the real thing, even as the so-called neoliberal age began a rapid conquest of globalization, economy, and government. The fall of the original Leninist interlude begins even to seem a mistake, despite its massively flawed outcomes.
The basic development of communism is and remains nonetheless a world historical outcome to the modern transition, in ambiguous relation to democracy, and will spawn sooner or later a new version in the wake of the failure of bolshevism… At the moment of climate crisis we sense the desperation of the euphoria over the capitalist miracle with its final gesture of planetary destruction.
The debate over the last man, which started with Nietzsche takes an ominous leftist form as the ideological rigor mortis of capitalist ideological in its final symptoms produces a social nexus completely bemused to the point of blindness to the destruction of environment, and the final carbon destiny of the capitalist industrial revolution.
Nietzsche was a distortion of the early modern, but had a point about the ‘last man’: the participants in the modern experiment are moving toward the completion of the ‘great transition’ or the evolution of man, and this requires that ‘free agency’ come to an understanding and self-replication of the macrosequence….But the downside is the commodity fetishism so visible in the smartphone mania outbreak at the point of atmospheric breakdown.
3.2 The Ends of History
The end of history debate is related to this issue of the ‘last and first men’, but has been distorted upside down to make capitalism that ‘end’. But surely the original and true meaning is that of a system to succeed the capitalist phase, and this without voiding the basic democratic outcome of the modern transition….
The model of history we have developed can easily resolve the confusion over the end of history by reminding us that the ‘ends of history’ tend to cluster in our macrosequence, and the period after that is not fully predetermined by that model. The ‘ends of history’ are simply given in the dialectic complement of capitalism and communism. Our fate depends on the resolution of that paradox, and the early innings went to the capitalist defeat of communism. But the next inning we can see is the need to deal with the catastrophe being generated by capitalism…The question of the ‘end of history’ reverts to its original form: the future as something beyond capitalism…
3.3 Last Phase of Capitalism: the profits in downfall
We can conclude by pointing to the eerie downfall of the capitalist Faust in the pact with the logic of derivatives. We refer the reader to the Hollywood movie….
The last phases of capitalism show the capitalist axioms proceeding toward the destruction of the world system in an orgy of financialization… The period 2008 made plain a new form of capitalist finance: the bet against the system, an omen of the self-destructive character of the capitalist lunacy syndrome…
3.4 Floating fourth turning points
We can leave the last two sections in potential, but with a new metaphor of the ‘last revolution’, the floating fourth turning point, i.e. the generation of whole cultural wholes on the scale of the macrosequence: The macro model suggests a generalization of ‘revolution’: floating fourth turning points’ (after the three known epochs in succession in the macrosequence), as cultural transformation at the level of replicating the early modern, but in a postcapitalist version…
Here is the beautiful logic of our new model of history: it is an interplay of system action and free agency. We have seen three broad turning points or transitions emerging from the longer sequence from the Neolithic or before. But our free agency allows us to confront the destined decline into madness of the modern rendered a dead zone of economic insanities.
Our options include a new social technology of the future become our present, a floating fourth turning point of our own free activity…It must replicate the action of greater history itself and realize a new modern in the ear of postcapitalism.
3.5 Neo-communist manifestos
Our Manifesto is for a New Communism( NC), and the qualification will serve to create a caesura with previous Internationales (all permutations of the Second) to recast the core paragraph we have cited from the original classic of Marx/Engels: the project of the expropriation of the bourgeoise and capital in the creation of a new global federation of socialist republics able to rescue the world system form the runaway train of free markets in a terminal phase of social canceration.
There could be a dialectical negation of capitalism vis communism, and a further negation of communism via new third construct, neo-communism: itself a negation of both capitalist and communism…
This action will pass as with Leninism via a vanguard from the Universal Class, itself a superset of the working class. This Universal Class must seek to create a global movement stirring the working classes of a whole planet: we may start with the Coltan miners of the Congo, to be positive definite…
We can leave the eloquence of a stirring Manifesto in a virtual mode to suggest the terror of the end times of the capital zone, in the realization of the coming steps to a new great fourth transition. The hand is dealt. The future is open to a path beyond the era of the capitalist nightmare. The list of propositions asserted by this can be yeasted from an ersatz list as below, to be formalized by a version of the Red Forty-eight Group (R48) Group.
The New Communism spawns a new political formation, the R48 Group, this an algebraic x for entities to be created by the Universal Class
This formation uses a broader understanding of history beyond the economic and creates a superset of the path of marxism as a version of modernity and its revolutionary legacy, to became a floating fourth turning point, that is a new civilization created to succeed capitalism.
It seeks the electoral or revolutionary expropriation of the bourgeoisie/capital
The result can be a from of market communism on its way to a full neo-communist system
The result be become a national/international federation, but may certainly operate as one national unit
Market communism would surpass social democratic illusions by the abolition of private property, at the scale of the industrial level. This would be a constitutional question.
Market communism can have forms of publicly owned by private operated transitional structures that can operate in a mediated economy of regulated industries
Market communism must resolve the old (and often bogus) market calculation debates and rescue public thought from the sophistical ideologies of mathematical neo-classical economics
Market communism can pass to a full communism based on a discovered form of realizable planning
The New Communism can allow a threshold level of small scale, petit bourgeoisie, and other residual formations to operate below a defined indifference point. Farms, communes (regional, urban, industrial, …), etc. can evade totalization in a larger system.
The New Communism will be an ecological revolution
The New Communism must examine the legacy of covert ops, the destruction of democracy by the intelligence agencies of the previous era, and any successor strictly regulated in a public forum.
The format of revolution should remorph the double phases of any political transition, e.g. the model of the American Revolution: a revolt against an established power, and a constitutional phase moving to create the needed balance of democracy and republic, with a full and explicit set of rights.
These propositions should seek amplication in the fora of the R48 Groups, etc…