A NOTE ON THE POLITICAL LEFT AND THEORY OF DIALECTIC PATH TO COMMUNISM.
This suppose be a part of teach-in about ideas of socialism from a contrarian perspective, not found anywhere or substantially diverse from what was published as a “consensus” of academia in western or eastern Marxist books about the subject.
To start, it would be only appropriate to dwell a little on important definitions such as socialism itself from a point of view of Non-Marxist historical materialism devoid of erroneous Soviet Leninism interpretations. One may say a look from outside, not from a political side of the Right but from the independent top.
The definition of socialism most of American think they know, a mixture incoherent oligarchic propaganda imprinted in our brains or calcified orthodoxies usurped by hard-core Soviet Marxists-Leninists implanted in many leftist minds, deteriorated to a meaningless jargon covering up plain political opportunism in support of particular implementations of real-life, existing political system misnamed one way or another. In other words for anti-socialists all system failures are blamed on socialism while pro-socialists blame the same socioeconomic system failures on lack of it overall annulling any benefit of using word “socialism” in phony political debates or more precisely in games of political advantage.
Socialism itself, understood loosely from non-Marxist, Anarcho-libertarian or even Anarcho-syndicalist angle as an egalitarian social structure of consensus based adoption of specific human interrelations (prioritizing abundance, unification, inclusion or collectivism) that ultimately benefit entire society or 99%, actually in a variety of reincarnations was always present in its natural social form during development of civilization at every historic age even in the Stone Age, of course fiercely combated by variety of regimes of usurpers of power that shaped development of ancient as well as contemporary societies.
This is in contrast to capitalism understood as an elitarian [elitist] social structure of competition or struggle based on adoption of specific human interrelations (prioritizing scarcity, division, exclusion, individualism or classism) that ultimately unproportionally benefit the elite of society or 1%, also was always present in a primitive form of proto-feudal structures within historic age even in the Stone Age.
In this context one must distinguish between what we call modern socialist movements and particular implementations of socialism by those modern movements, which, except for cases of some misguided delusional dictators calling themselves communists, have never even been truly attempted, because these are completely two different things.
The socialist movements are mostly aimed for easing unbearable pressure of ruling elites off the necks of 99% working people while old regime structure in itself persist unchanged and largely unchallenged, while socialism is about deep and profound changes in the intimate social relations i.e. eradication of greed, exploitation, eliminating lust for power and dominance or destructive competition such as war and fundamental abuse of a human being by another human being inspired and promoted by the system itself imposed by the ruling elite and instead promoting transparency, sharing, caring, learning, social justice, solidarity, sacrifice for others, as highest fundamental values and objects of social competition.
Most of political parties with “socialist” in their names, are not even a socialist at all but social-democrat parties who just wanted a slightly better deal for middle class (noble cause in itself) instead of succumbing to programmatic pauperization of working people implemented by current corporate state. Even true socialist party would not create socialism, it isn’t even equipped to do so as a social organization, but may begin on a however unknown and doubtful path to it.
So what kind of path could it be?
Here is a simplified and brief review of what Marx and some Marxist had to say about upcoming transition into post-capitalism.
While trying to define what socialism and communism is, it is instructive to look what all those anticipated new social regimes suppose to look like when emerged after death of capitalism as Lenin and/or Luxemburg saw it.
The socialism is possible only when socialist “man” somehow (magically or not) emerges as result of what Marx called process of historical materialism described as a (Young Hegelian) materialist dialectic process.
While Marx correctly predicted that capitalists would hang themselves given rope long enough, and now they really got long rope around their necks, what he did not predict however, was that victims of capitalism i.e. working class would continuously cut the rope, and save the oligarchic pigs again and again.
Lenin called it a political deficiency of working class, namely their deep conservatism, work ethics, basic humanist morality, respect to rules and highest consideration of an impact of their actions on the society at large, that so far prevented those capitalist pigs from choking to death under their own maddening greed and extremist, radical insanity of an untamed political beast.
In other words Lenin lamented that political conscientiousness of working class is limited to trade unionist ideas of basic self-defense, aimed solely to tame horrible abuse but in contrast to leadership of leftist political workers movements, working class was quite willing to accept oligarchic leadership with a “human face”, ultimately an impossible, in longer term, solution as Lenin pointed out.
Lenin general idea of working class revolution and aftermath called Marxism-Leninism (loosely based on Marxist speculations mostly unsupported by Marx himself) was a basic idea of mass revolution of politically conscientious working class that would overthrow bourgeoisie government and begin a process of replacing it ultimately with a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Only then a new post-revolutionary government suppose to emerge, the government which main purpose is to dismantle capitalistic social and economic relations, based on greed, exploitation, usury, abolishing all debt, etc., and introduce total gender and political equality via some kind of democratic process which actually did not panned out in China and in eastern block countries for “good” reasons and hence severe criticism of democratic deficiency as much in the east as the west.
Such a post-revolutionary socially-oriented political party based government after decades of eradicating capitalist social forms and relations suppose to transform itself into a new form of government called “dictatorship” of proletariat, which suppose to emerge and be defined, via a dialectic process (from ground up, from grass roots “democratization”), a structure of power of qualitatively different type of people’s self-organization that loosely could be called people’s rule in political, social and economic realm.
Much confusion was caused by right-wing propagandists’ misinterpretation of dictatorship of poor working class as similar to well-known imperial dictatorship, which has nothing to do with it since Lenin was talking about completely new form of social self-organization that never existed before on such a scale.
In fact Lenin’s extra-governmental Bolshevik revolutionary committees [called soviets] were unfortunately misconstrued and ultimately failed attempts of doing so during Bolshevik counterrevolution [to bourgeois revolution of February, 1917] of October 1917 in Russia and later on, so were workers committees led by Rosa Luxemburg during Spartacist Revolt of 1918 in Germany.
In other words an objective of initial anti-capitalist revolution was to open up a long, prone to failure, even treacherous path to socialism (i.e. raising so-called society of new socialist generation) as a system of fundamentally changed content and structure of social and economic relations among people, while still preserving attributes of state power, capitalist structure of the industrial economy, perceived by Lenin as dynamic, a form of monetary system with permanent zero interest rates [against Marx writings about fallacy of any monetary theory] and a form of modern capitalistic reproduction process devoid of accumulation of private capital, among other modifications.
Lenin posited that social organization (governance) and social relations must change first before capitalist economic structure can be dismantled. This is one of rarely noted contradictions of Lenin’s socialism that “suppose” to be removed when communist society emerges but in fact does not such a thing .
Instead it entrenches capitalist social relations and ultimately leads to defeat of the revolution itself since a “legal” framework of ownership of land or means of production is irrelevant. What really counts is who directly controls those resources and one way or another such an arrangement fosters emerging of class division, elite subculture and imminent class struggle i.e. distorting the entire socialist project of classless society.
If “transitional” preservation of a form of old economic and financial structures of capitalism sounds familiar, it is. For example those “radical” revolutionaries based Soviet central bank on the FED and economy on the US economy since they had small industrial economy in Russia before the revolution and they wanted it massively growing, not due to ideological reasons alone [building up working class population political support] but due to external threat to their rule [counterrevolution financed by the West] and hence betraying the ideals of the Bolshevik revolution itself due to what they claimed as “exigent” circumstances of national civil-war and foreign invasion emergency while in fact they just wanted to hold on to their power.
The Lenin’s vision assumed that after many decades [or centuries] of development of socialism (through some process of Hegelian dialects) on a path to communism, as he envisioned it, the technological progress and profound changes within society would have allowed for the “end of history” in a form of communism where struggle for survival of a human being and necessity of daily work for living would be rendered mute (not necessary eliminated). How would it be accomplished he did not elaborate in details leaving mostly some inactionable guidance for future Soviet planners to be made up as they went.
The transition to communism supposedly was to be possible since a new (not precisely defined) decentralized, profoundly dissimilar to what existed before, self-organization of society [governance] and some non-capitalist socioeconomic system suppose to emerge without need for any state or permanent political institutions or massive economic reproduction, without money/debt or any monetary system allowing for capital accumulation or savings or any need for hording of resources that suppose to provide individual economic sustenance. In other words communism as a form of self-organization suppose to emerge from foundations of entirely new, so far nonexistent, economic system.
Ironically, this new sociopolitical system, called communism was to be achieved not as much as by fulfilling all people’s needs or dreams (a workers paradise or rather paradise of people who work for satisfaction and recognition by a community only) but mostly by eliminating fake, artificial wants, driven by “competition” of differences without substance or propaganda of manipulative valuation or valorization of a human being within perfectly egalitarian society devoid of any heriarchy of control i.e. complete self-control based on so-called communist “morality”.
In a sense communism suppose to require [or rather achieve full consensus to adopt such a position] that people must be judged and valuated based on their intellectual achievements and usefulness, contribution to society at large, sharing, caring etc., as well as dedication to others since economic foundation will be egalitarian and economic considerations suppose to be eliminated from social attitudes. Wealth and money and any other superficial differences suppose to leave intimate social relationships and attitudes when greed and fear itself abates.
Just for example Henry Ford had a communist state of mind since he could not understand why people would want anything else but black Ford T-model since it did everything people needed. In communism peoples would not understand why they would want anything else but black pants in winter and white pants in summer. In a sense Einstein was a communist since he owned only few pieces of exactly the same jackets, the same slacks and the same shoes, since as he claimed he was unable to solve the astronomical problem of “what am I gonna wear today? Hence he wisely decided not to solve but to eliminate the problem itself. And that’s what communism supposes to do, eliminating people’s superfluous problems.
While Lenin did not made a big thing out of it, a irreconcilable basic contradiction between preserving temporarily a resource wasting capitalist industrial system and need for an extreme utilitarian approach of communist society as the only path to preserve limited resources and environment for generations to come, was a major point of contention of criticism of his theory.
This contradiction surfaced in a form of conflict between ideologues of socialism and political leadership in Soviet Union and elsewhere who opposed immediate minimalist approach from being included in direct economic planning, even in 30 year economic plans, mostly due to east-west propaganda war. It was for political expediency of USSR rulers that Soviet society was not pushed to stop wasting resources for really useless products people really did not want or even need and that included investment in military and war itself that would have to be abolished in true communist political system, as harmful, useless and too costly to society.
While such a utilitarian approach of communism seems utopian today if world population reaches fifty billions communism will be only way for humanity to survive.
Unfortunately, Lenin failed in his milestone to socialism, namely there was never any dictatorship of proletariat in Russia but instead he set up a form social-democratic government that under assault of civil war and outside pressure and after assassination of Lenin himself turned into totalitarian regime under Stalin, not unlike what’s happened to Weimar Republic in Germany and Hitler’s government ran by NSDAP i.e. National-Socialist German Workers Party.
Under Stalin economy grew enormously but its capitalist structure stayed intact (so capitalist structure of German economy under Hitler) while in Russia private exploitation was mostly replaced by political elite exploitation of the Soviet human and natural resources to one end. Not socialism or communism but preservation of their own power, their own ruling cliques.
Although some “progressive” social policies, such as free universal retirement for all, strong social welfare, completely free education on all levels including daycare and kindergarten, massive housing subsidies and elimination of homelessness, a legal right to a job, free comprehensive healthcare and medical services such as abortion and dental care, women’s full economic/social/legal/cultural equality and much more served as a propaganda of the becoming but never being socialism.
In fact these policies were also implemented as a side effects of power consolidation in a form of great social programs but not as a part of any post-capitalistic transformation of the society. Ironically, these social programs were often borrowed from US workers movements, liberal politics and FDR, and later matched and expanded by the Soviet Union and satellites as well as western European social democrats after WWII as an element of so-called competition of political systems during “Cold War”.
So people of Soviet Union and so-called communist party as well their political satellites never reached even Lenin’s socialism or communism for that matter and in truth they never even tried hard, while after 1956 virtually abandoned any notion of the communist revolution, short of a anti-western propaganda lip service, and instead priority was always given to survival [and enrichment] of the ruling clique of corrupted state apparatchiks and security apparatus under assault of WWII and Cold War era military pressure and economic embargo, an attitude mirrored by the US at the same time period.
Hence, if we clear all political fog and propaganda obfuscation, except for short periods of Paris Commune, 1871 and Germany, Italy, Hungry and Russia in period 1918-1923, and Eastern Europe and China 1948-1953, no socialist revolution was really attempted and even temporarily implemented with some fleeting exceptions in South and Central America, one would say “much ado about nothing” if it was not shear power of the socialist/communist ideas that took over peoples imagination all over the world.
One important lesson.
It is clear the Lenin’s and Marxists views about historiosophical transformation out of a latest mutation capitalism we are witnessing for over a century now have more holes in it than a Swiss cheese and offers no precise guidance into the post-capitalist transformation, but the inevitability of a form of communism is only more devastatingly clear mostly due to lack of better alternatives for humanity if it was to survive with limited resources.
Definitely, any form of massive growth requiring capitalism is not a solution but the very problem that must be eliminated.
One good news though, it would be no communism in our lifetime since a necessary condition for it is that we are all dead, hopelessly tainted by rotten ideas of neo-feudalism and libertarian capitalism with its phony meaning of freedom, liberty, justice etc., we have been indoctrinated with, and pre-programmed to believe and defend.
Of course we must fight this current abhorrent regime that want us dead. But it is not an ideological struggle anymore, not a socialist/communist revolution but simple rebellion, since we all are mental agents of the capitalist social system, waged just as a matter of self-defense and survival literally.
However, we must make small social changes step by step anyway, unplug as much as we can from capitalism society and weaken the regime that runs it, so our future generations may have a chance for finally reach inevitable communism in one form or another or they will be exterminated not entirely as result of particular policy of oligarchic global rulers or hopeless intransigence of our fixed social context in the society of control, but as a simple matter of physical laws and ecological rules of our limited environment facing contemporary unsustainable human civilization.
ROSA LUXEMBURG: A GIANT OF REVOLUTIONARY KITCHEN.
I will focus this post entirely on Rosa Luxemburg, a historic figure that is more alien to vast majority of American people than outer planets, just because they’ve never heard about her.
It was not Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzinsky or anybody else who made dramatic historic events of early XX century anything different than just some thuggery, murder and elbowing for power over dead corpses of aristocratic regimes of Germany Austro-Hungary and Russia or Ottoman Empire, it was Luxemburg.
If we are talking about true original meaning of socialism it is not Leninism or Stalinism, it is Luxemburg “scientific” socialism.
Luxemburg is known as the theoretician of socialism, born Russian citizen in Poland under Russian, over 100 years long, annexation, picked up Polish nationalistic, patriotic upbringing in Warsaw and got involved herself in young leftist patriotic movement towards rebirth of Polish national state while still high school before she left for Switzerland to extensively study philosophy, law and where she obtained her Ph.D in economics specializing in mathematical economic models of macro industrial/economic development.
She was a proverbial gift of god and a curse, exactly what socialist leadership needed at that time namely to put some meat of their often empty political rhetoric of grandeur of socialism.
She was the one who brought down to earth too many wet dreams of hopeful socialist economic models describing post-capitalism, models of economy that could have been adopted by peoples government after successful overthrowing of the capitalistic regime.
These were not revolutionary ideas that put her in a direct political line of fire, what contemporary feminists should appreciate even more, but all those “insults” she lavishly rendered to calcified manhood of political leadership on all sides, when she was shutting them up with her brilliant wit, deep knowledge and hard core scientific evidence, as a free woman in late XIX century, a rarity when only 0.001% of women graduate from anything else but a finishing school for virgins preparing to submit in marriage.
In other words she was much more dangerous than Lenin who was frolicking in Austro-Hungarian empire under protection of Austrian secret service while she was alienating everyone who was anyone in European politics with her Socratic method of incessantly questioning government as well as revolutionary authorities and ideas and that included her compatriots, when she denounced priority or even a need for national emancipation of Poland on the basis of revolutionary imperative of internationalism, many of whom later called her traitor especially when newly resurrected Poland was facing Bolshevik threat in 1920.
She heavy irritated not just anybody but a fearsome Felix Dzerzinsky future boss of bloody Bolshevik NKWD security agency, at that time a member of the Social democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania, by her insistence on cutting down on political terrorism that revolutionaries were commonly using as a tool to reciprocating government brutality.
Allegedly after some lengthy discussion with Rosa and her debunking all of revolutionary notions and justification for campaign of terror, what Dzerzinsky had been left with was only argument of blowing up banks to finance party leadership expenses and agitation. She responded: “all revolutionaries should get on diet since they are looking too healthy unlike masses they suppose fight for”. She did not rest until no fake revolutionary’s ego was left unturned and uninsulted.
She was true internationalist and hence true anti-war leader, understanding precisely what Marx was talking about, namely danger of political nationalistic card played against interests of working people in every country whom rulers wanted turned into cannon fodder, killing each other in war, and she paid for it dearly by being purged from some leftist nationalistic political movements while she continued to grossly irritate German elites before and during Spartacist revolt unable to be deported since she acquired German citizenship via arranged marriage to a German anarchist.
This was her internationalism she lived and breathed i.e. her utter rejection of insidious trap of nationalism and her holding on to ideals of social justice and long term revolutionary process of developing mass conscientiousness as the only path to socialism or any other form of self-organization for benefit of 99% beyond any exigent political considerations of a moment such as seizing existing power structure instead of creating something new, that had her and Liebknecht killed when she was abandoned by comrades and compatriots and after Lenin and other revolutionaries cut a deal for themselves and split from her.
In 1919 she was of too big international statue, with support of millions of working people in Europe, to even be arrested, not to mention to be tortured and killed by some Freikorps thugs and dumped to a canal like a trash if she was not exposed, deserted, de facto “sentenced” to death by so-called power hungry leaders international revolutionary movements caught in fervor of nationalism and war.
Her death marked turning point in XX century revolutionary movements we are still suffering under. A misguided theoretically unsound (as Luxemburg posited) bloody Marxism-Leninism triumphed over Marxian Luxemburgism which saw revolution as instigation, igniting inherent acute crisis of capitalism, assault on its governmental power support institutions and using it to create conditions for organic work to build new social relations defying greed and exploitation, a alternatively structured society of self-defense, emancipated means of production and self-sustenance which in part Malcolm X advocated before his death.
And hence we were never to see “true” socialism ever implemented or even initiated on its path while within a decade Marxism-Leninism collapsed into Stalinism, a totalitarian regime mirroring fascism as alien to Luxemburg vision of socialism as an outer planets to Americans.
So is the idea of socialist revolution as Luxemburg envisioned dead?
In fact the revolution is here if we have it in our hearts. If we think revolution, speak revolution, live revolution and feel free to do so we have already won biggest battle. We’ve defeated our own prejudices, our own blindness, we have unplugged from this society of control run by ruling oligarchy to chart our own however uncertain future. And we have Luxemburg to thank for it.