We keep harping on the issue of marxism and this is essential if the current marxist left is stalled in its perspective inherited from the nineteenth century. The problems here are manifold, among them the legacy of having been tried, and thus tarred with the outcome of bolshevism. Thus was unfair to the legacy, but the reality is that a discontinuous restart is almost inevitable. But the cadre of marxists is almost inert at this point. It is impossible to even communicate with marxists, most being too scared to talk about revolution in public, a useless bunch…
Some of the problems here are:
excessive theory, and not very good ones: we need a post-theoretical empiricist view of history and economic systems. Marx had brilliant theoretical intuitions but he did not produce a coherent result. Capital is a flawed mess. It is futile to try over and over to defend marxist theory. Non-marxists detected the flaws over a century ago while the cadre remains clueless.
An approach that is non-theoretical and stops hyping a science of socialism can operate in a lean and mean fashion to expose the equally unsound theories of the bourgeois economists whose own theories are mathematical lunacy.
Historical materialism and ‘stages of production’ theory are again just that, theories under fire. We have suggested a different approach in an empirical outline of world history where economic systems are embedded subsystems created by free agents. Their properties can subject their members to alienation, class struggles, etc, but they are ultimately free creations of many and are open to modification by man. The gesture of producing an economic system (the genesis is often very complex with a history going back millennia) can produce an entity men improperly understand given its complexity but the fact remains that man can replace such systems and do so on the basis of values. There are no inviolate economic laws that man must follow because they are ‘natural’. That was the great fallacy in Fukuyama’s (an others’) thesis about the inevitability of market assumptions. There is no science of such assumptions and no reason why questions of value can’t be used to modify the dynamics of alienation inside economic processes. We witness the horrifying spectacle in the current US of lunatics under the spell of markets wishing to abolish their EPA because of the belief that regulations violate the natural laws of markets…this is a species of madness and marxists have been historically very clear on the issue, yet with a theory that had a hard time on value questions, because of marx’s obsessive scientism.
Marxism became muddled early on with its focus on the working class despite this being a world historical innovation and revolutionary breakthrough. But by the time of the bolsheviks we see the confusion over vanguards, proletariasts versus peasants, class warfare muddled thus by darwinism and class extermination. The whole game ended up in a new elite taking power in the name of workers who lost their right to form unions.
Without rejecting a working class focus it might be better to think in terms of a ‘universal class’ of all classes and address all segments of the social spectrum including the capitalists whose place in the system has to be better than mass extermination. This perspective of the universal class should most probably re-focus on the core issues of the working class, or better the different working classes, while at the same time giving consideration to the overall balance of classes entering a stage of common equality in a system that deals with more than the wage structure of workers, but more generally the cultural specifics of a new ecological system. The self-interest of the working class is a prime consideration but not fully the end of the process of socialism in action. The demands of ecological sanity in a time of climate catastrophe require that the orientation change dramatically to a holistic perspective. Further the working class must learn to self-organize themselves in the context of the universal class.
It seems that the marxist oriented groups and parties are too hidebound and too discouraged to produce an working movement. The problem is obvious: dead battery syndrome in the stale mechanization of habits and the trance of ‘failure’, next to the problems of bad theory and poor praxis.
A new and vigorous view of history, an aggressive post-theoretical perspective that can perform the task of debriefing new-classical economics, a post-materialism that can do a meta-philosophical take that transcends materialism/idealism and a stress on a broader perspective than secular humanism that is not so sterile on the questions of culture that constitute the social center of gravity.