As we suggested strongly yesterday (and before) the provocations of the american political system in general and the emerging additional confusion created by Trump is a mysterious ‘green light’ for ‘revolution’, especially given the context of climate change calamity underway. The problem is of course the extent of monopoly power by the US state, and the international aspect of the basic ‘problem’ requiring both a nationalistic and/or international action. Is the american system a democracy? No, it is a system controlled by gangsters…
If we are powerless we must at least produce a statement of what must be done and a blueprint for an alternative system. Clarity can produce action, and as a new consensus emerges then the question of evolution/revolution is resolved by the spontaneous emergence of ‘change’. We must at least be considering a true revolutionary option, and this will force the hard thinking needed to correct the dysfunctional politics of capitalism and democracy. Consensus is constantly frustrated by the confused semantics of democracy as a process, concept, ideal, and platform. Leftists have analyzed this problem ad infinitum but mostly have failed to communicate the dilemma (maybe that wasn’t true in the earlier period of the second internationale with its global cadres) and the result is teh constant demand for democracy without nuance: the problem is we already have a ‘democracy’, in quotation marks, so nothing needs to be done. Or if we do anything the result must be what it already is, democracy, in quotation marks.
A similar problem stalks the terms of economic reasoning, and here the ‘end of history’ argument has prevailed over the need for common sense applied to capitalism in action. It is patently false that ‘capitalism’ is the last word in economic systems. How did such nonsense ever become dominant? Actually, the idea was challenged before it even became explicit, viz. in the period of Adam Smith. The era of Thomas Munzer and the English Civil War shows that the problem was clear from the start.
Even Adam Smith is not so much of a problem. We could have applied his thinking and spared a lot of trouble. But more generally the obvious point lost in the clever forms of propaganda (which started with Adam Smith, of course) is that capitalism is simply a set of processes. They have no inherent legitimation. An economic system of any kind, but especially capitalism, must be subject to a higher authority, control process and ethical court of reason. And that is true irregardless of any shibboleths about regulation and the nature of free markets. If we allow fanaticism to overule this principle or allow complete idiots like Ayn Rand to pour dysethical gasoline on a fire the result in short order is, a system controlled by gangsters. There is no reason why a control system can’t also mediate issues of regulatory over-control. What else is new.
In a way the great insights of the Marx/Engels era didn’t succeed in producing quite the right mix. And we have to wonder if the progression to a russian context didn’t subtly confound the original socialist formulas. Certainly the Stalinist distortion should have been seen at once as a deviation from plan, so to speak, not communism at all.
In this context, americans have an opportunity to perform a world historical service by performing a true first: a transition revolutionary/evolutionary to an economic system done right, most probably along socialist/communist axiomatic lines.
The basic starting point is the lesson from exprerience that capitalism has corrupted an experiment in republics/’democracy’ and produced a ‘fake democracy’ controlled by capitalist gangsters. Can we estimate the chances of orderly reform? We can fritter away our chances in facile reformist measures. We could as easily fritter them away in phantom revolutionary projects. The way forward is not clear. And that is the reason perhaps that most revolutions have slipped into themselves almost serendipitously: witness the french and russian cases.
But we are now in a unique and deadly situation: to the tyranny of capitalist gangsters we must add the related corruption of government by covert agencies, a deep state, and a criminal mafia dosing wars, controlling drug rackets, and making militarism a capitalist politics of imperial false destinies (american exceptionalism, ye gods). On top of this we have an emerging climate catastrophe, with a gangster elite that has captured public action on the problem. This situation might demand kamikazis.
We must fight our way out of this somehow or watch the system pass into global oligarchic domination, the status of the american reign up in the air as its ’empire’ evaporates.
The most likely outcome, or so it seems at the moment, is climate catastrophe in a system where the left has failed to really produce a revolutionary ecological option. But the latter is not so hard to arrive at: it needs a clear statement, however hard this is for conventional leftists.
We have said enough for the moment: it is a simple issue: democracy promoted favors the capitalists. democracy critiqued promotes the stalinists. We must start over with a nuanced hybrid that can resolve a set of contradictions. (We have pulled one such rabbit out of a host: democratic market neo-communism).
So we have a peculiar situation: democracy is a corrupted term. communism is corrupted term (given its history). markets are systematically misanalyzed, corrupt terminology again. Electoral reform is probably impossible, revolutionary change possible but unlikely, and fraught with peril.
The solution/resolution of all this seems to be: disappear in chaos as the planet becomes toast.
We can change this system if we can restate a set of classic principles, extricate them from false democratic and false socialist thinking and generate a revolutionary change that can reset the system from scratch. If enough people can achieve clarity of thought it will happen almost spontaneously. But we can see that activist groups have lost clarity. The terminal nature of the crisis will likely remedy that in a hurry.
In any case, there are no active groups that one can see that can address the full spectrum of issues. We must start with that task, and the actual framework isn’t that hard to arrive at.