There is a way out of this confusion and failure of the Marxist mad hatters
October 4th, 2018 •
Our multiple posts today starting with a look at Kautsky and his supposed betrayal expanded to a series of posts and links to Wikipedia with a portrait of the almost tragic way the generation after Marx and Engels saw the contradictions of the Marxist platform begin to unravel a false consensus and a set of theories we have often claimed are not adequate.
Finally the support of the First World War by the proletarian parties exposed the myth of the revolutionary proletariat. Overall the double failure of the revolutionary and social democratic avenues doomed a whole generation that had a unique opportunity to finally challenge the capitalist juggernaut. Instead the whole left was discredited and the assault of propaganda has driven it into a kind of impotent rehash of slogans. But a strange thing has happened: the idea of capitalism at the end of history has failed on its own terms to the point of threatening planetary destruction and the whole project of socialism/communism has resurfaced to a whole generation that has forgotten the fission and splitting of the original Marxist canon. Instead of trying to indoctrinate a new generation in the same old clichés with nary an indication of what went wrong the first time it is necessary to reassess how to proceed. The classic phrase ‘what is to be done?’ comes to mind save that a mere reference to it causes thinking to shunt into the same old faulty tracks.
There is a way out of this confusion and failure! We have suggested, by no means comprehensively, but in some detail, a new set of ideas that can point to the failures of Marxism and to a way to break old habits with a set of critiques of the older legacy. Those suggestions are strewn across this blog and to some extent codified in a series of kindle books, free pdf’s and several hardcopy texts.
A few ideas here:
historical materialism is a failed theory
the debate over materialism versus idealism was a complete waste of time
stages of production theory misled marxists as they failed to specify what they wanted to do
it implied on the basis of a fiction of economic epochs that communism would replace capitalism
this might be true if marxists had defined what communism was to be
but at the crucial moment the issue was decided by bolshevism in a context of the Russian outlier
the dialectic and dialectical materialism vitiated clear thinking
the culture of Marx worship made clear thinking in new situations difficult
and the term marxism made the subject a kind of dictatorship of a sainted founder
the question of revolution versus reform (for the above reasons among others) could not be resolved
the case of the Russian revolution compounded the ambiguity
the question of democracy and liberalism was confused by their capitalist perversion
the proletariat failed to be the revolutionary class as vanguardism came to the fore
the question of markets was misunderstood, made worse by the propagandas of the calculation debate
the absolutely key issue, what is a socialist economy to be, was barely addressed at all
the key issue here is stages of production theory. The idea of feudalism, capitalism, and communism in a progression of epochs is nonsense as a theory. Worse Marx succumbed to the idea the potential of capitalism must exhaust itself first, etc…A disastrous misanalysis. Capitalism will destroy a planet before its potential is exhausted.
Rather capitalism and communism arose together in the early modern (with intimations of a long early history of proto-capitalism): capitalism and communism are synchronous and this suggests that they are components in an unresolved unity. The point is that instead of the progression of separate entities the nature of the exercise is a constructivist interaction of the ideas that constructs a communism with a realistic economy which reanalyzes the issue of markets…
We have constructed a detailed model allowing the simulation of multiple practical systems all based on a few key ideas;
communism and the idea of a commons (and the expropriation of capital)
this is not state capitalism
a three sector system of socialist markets, planning and free zone sector
a democratic system beyond capital corruption
an ecological socialism and ecological courts
strong economic and political rights
most of all a complex of the separation of powers that co-opts Stalinism at the start
that’s the briefest sketch: our Two Manifestos, of what we have called ‘democratic market neo-communism’. It may be incomplete itself but it address all the issues raised above. We don’t have to figure out the mess created by marxist mad hatters: we simply abandon all of that, wary of theories, and with recipes of what to do that are clear, realizable, reconciling planning and markets, defining communism in terms of a ‘commons’, balancing a strong presidential system to guard communism but without incompetent tampering or control of the economy by a separation of powers, with a parliamentary system that can’t be corrupted by exterior monies, etc…
This kind of platform must be stated in advance and realized in a complex sequence open to observation and critique and specific about when and how revolutionary power will create a democratic system, etc…
Trying to figure out marx and what happened to marxism is not likely to succeed. A tank that takes a direct hit can’t be repaired: it is scrap metal. We must start afresh.