American civilization has slipped from glory mode to monstrosity and I think we have lost a year to electoral nonsense, including the Sanders gambit and its illusion, if a useful and engaging interpolation to the mainstream. Better yet, Sanders suggested revolutionary socialism, and then showed that if he worked inside the system he would be cheated. We have had in addition the usual ridiculous third party option, hardly worth considering. All these candidates, if they got into the Oval Office would be confronted with the alphabet soup variants of the Military-Industrial=Complex, e.g. the Oval-Office-Drone- Murder-Presidential-Complex, the CIA, the 9/11 question, the Israel question, all of it, and they would all compromise at once, and try try try to get something passed in Congress.
We see that ‘revolution’ must, however unrealistic at first, be considered, and it should be considered now because it will happen willy-nilly when noone is ready. If we define a new system we may well be a good part of the way to realizing it. Marx refused to be specific, but that tactic left the bolsheviks free to screw up, no more. A careful definitional foundation, a transition plan, a democratic guarantee next to constitutional neo-communism is what we suggest here, even without the full set of details needed to do the job right. We also need to do the job right here.
Marxism has been tried and failed. That fact has to be faced, and the failure of marxists to consider this shows them to have turned into reactionaries of another kind. Moving beyond marxism is an invitation to all sorts of idiotic wiseacrings of a legacy (actually the whole social democratic sequence was just that in many ways), but the fact must be faced that in the history of the left someone very smart was needed to try and ground the inchoate socialism of the early nineteenth century, and Marx/Engels were just such smart people with Marx in the ‘brilliant’ category. But Marx had his time at bat, and failed. I actually think Engels was smarter than Marx but subject to the Marx domination factor. Marx got Capital wrong, couldn’t finish it, and left the shambles to Engels to deal with. He advocated an electoral path, but was really a revolutionary manque, and plugged the working class which came up short at the start of the first world war. His theories couldn’t handle the Russian case, and an immense peasantry of kulaks was slaughtered as a result (fair?).
I think the whole marxist corpus has been misunderstood in such ways. Whatever the case, there is no excuse for simply loitering in marxism after the legacy of bolshevism. It is simply crazy to think that the same gambit can work twice.
So we need to recast the whole legacy, and this means being clear if we are communists, revolutionaries or not. About the latter we might refuse to compromise, even as we make paper airplanes out of the economic muddle of Marx. Marx/Engels really made their mark with their classic manifesto (I am still not sure how much wasn’t due to Engels) and after that Marx got writer’s block and spent twenty years struggling to make sense in Capital. He failed and realized his theory of historical materialism was incoherent and gave up, bequeathing his papers to Engels. His last photos show someone sad, whose mission had been botched. I am puzzled by this. He has actually been psychoanalyzed for this. The left might have done better with the smartie/smart manner of Engels who could have tossed off something better a few years after 1848. But Engels confusions of dialectical materialism suggest maybe not…
Still, Marx represents a wish to do science, but in an age of scientism he was betrayed by the spirit of the age with its now dated materialism. The result was that marxists condemned man to the Iron Cage.
There is enough in the legacy of Marx/Engels for an inspirational Old Testament but the New Testament must be written anew, and soon. The marxist left is in the way of revolutionary change at this point.
We have listed a whole set of possibilities, and at age seventy have to hope someone can find it useful. This is worse than the first world war: a planet in self-destruct, and if you hesitate in the trenches you can be shot. That was an insane first world war, an ominous metaphor. We need a sane revolutionary transition, if not war, but hesitation in the trenches will prove fatal one way or the other.