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Some comments on Alpert’s Beyond Marxism

September 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/beyond-marxism/ Despite Proyect’s criticism this piece it is useful enough. We have proposed a far more severe critique of marxism here, without completely rejecting it. The point here is not marxism, as such, but communism: a system to come as a stage of postcapitalism. We can’t evade this consideration, with or without marxism, because the stage of global capitalism is going from bad to worse and has produced a near calamity. It is perfectly possible to charge marxists with hijacking the communist idea, and we see this in the way that marxism and communism tend to be associated closely as inevitably paired. But there are many solutions to the issue of communism: we don’t have to accept all of marxism here. But it is good to be wary: marxism has a kind of classic history that gave it a momentum that still persists to this day, and it is not so easy to make modifications in such an entity. Whatever the case we need to consider the issue of socialism/communism with or without communism.
We have done that here and in Toward a New Communist Manifesto:
some of the aspects or our new approach are

1. a critique of general economic determination in history. We have pointed to a ‘new model of history’ based on the transitions between evolution and history and found this to be matched by the facts of history. This allows us to posit a dynamic of history usefully seen empirically without a theory. This approach is an implicit critique of historical materialism, economic determinism, etc.. It is far more flexible and yet does justice to its basic thrust.
2. we have spoken of a ‘universal class’ instead of the working class. The universal class is a more useful concept at this stage because of the inefficacy of the abstractions about the working class. The universal class certainly stands as the rough equivalent of the working class, but includes all aspects of class, and is about individuals who are active in society, not abstractions about ‘workers’ too often not born out in practice. The universal class enforces the idea of general equality rather than equality enforced by favoring the working class (which was always an indulgence in a class idea). Democracy is based on the universal class, the equality of all citizens in a system of laws and democratic axioms.
3. we have considered a set of realizations of communism (democratic ‘market neo-communism’) that try to balance a set of opposites, but the point here is that we can’t indulge in eclectic subsets of the answer (worker cooperatives, etc…) in the attempt to evade the reciprocal factors of state and autonomy.

    >> We have considered ‘communism’ as a constitutional foundation consisting of the expropriation of private property, capital or the bourgeoisie. Simple, however hard. Note the difference here: communism is essential as a foundation, but doesn’t answer the issue of economics! we can have planned or market systems, or both under an axiomatic communism.

We can’t just forget this monster of the high level state and struggle for higher wages, or living off the land. We must face the full set of opposites including the ‘monster state’ and its dynamics. Marxists perhaps failed to reckon this, but as a factor it resurfaced with a vengeance in the era of bolshevism.
4.The point is to balance statism with anarchism, and we proposeda threshold level culture below which there is considerable autonomy, and let go. The level of the state must distinguish political power, which would be the power to stand as a guardian of the communist constitution, and economic regulation, which should be a separate entity in a balance of powers counterpoint to the state. A one party state with de facto totalitarian control of everything was an unreasonable outcome of the Russian legacy of Tsarism. It was simply an imaginary realization of the projected communism.
The question raised by Alpert of a class or subset of coordinationist managers is…so what? We place such entities inside the universal class, with the same rights and duties of all others, with powers to coordinate the macro aspect of the larger economy, and subject to a rule of laws. This larger economy would be a hybrid field of possibly state run enterprises but also with potential semi-autonomous socialist entrepreneurial corporations subject to the larger regulatory equivalent of stockholders. That is, individuals would be free to create industrial innovations and claim a reasonable percentage of a surplus, etc…
Since inherited wealth would be a thing of the past, this would not be a threat to the system, the more so as such innovative corporations would revert to the state of Commons, or universal ownership.
This system would be realistic, on the way to full equality, with residual class differences strongly checked against abusive class domination.
5. This system, barely realized in detail, to be sure, is not subject to the usual criticisms of communism because the opposite of free markets has become itself utopian, and downright dangerous. Some kind of postcapitalist system has become inevitable. We must bring a classic descendant of communism to what is the developing postcapitalist inevitability.
6. This framework, based on the so-called eonic or macro historical model is highly flexible and automatically absorbs all sorts of complexities, issues of racism, feminism, ecology, etc…

7. The legacy of bolshevism has made leftists paranoid about big state formations, but we can’t evade that pole of the set of opposites. Either communists take up that considerations or capitalists will do so, as indeed they have, with disastrous results.

So, in general, we critiqued marxism here, but with a realization of its classic status and, in any case, a focus on what it picked up and carried, the independent idea of a communist post-capitalism. We can’t avoid this aspect in the name of anarchist solutions. We must consider the whole, which is not a totalitarian issue.

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