Postcapitalism As Ecological Socialism
This classic painting by Delacroix points to the era of the bourgeois revolution moving into a socialist future in the 1848 period, the era of Marx and Engels and the first challenges to the suddenly crystallizing capitalist order. It tokens our idea of The Red-fortyeight Group as a superset of liberal, socialist and communist groups, factions, parties and their futures in our own time as the prophecy of the Last Revolution takes shape at a moment of global system collapse.
The issue of Marx’s ‘productive force determinism’ has been discussed and critiqued here many times. Knowledge of world history was still marginal in the nineteenth century even as the archaeological revolution was taking off. As we look backward on a larger picture of world history, the claim that feudalism and capitalism are stages of history weakens:
feudalism is really the decline from the epoch starting in classical antiquity while capitalism is a set of economic processes and not a stage of history. We might better call it a phaseor aspect of modernity which itself is far broader and more comprehensive as a social transformation. People saw the rise of the modern as the destruction of feudalism, and in many ways that was the form it took. But the issue of what is modernity is far more complex and it is not the same as the rise of capitalism, which is a process, not a stage of history. It looks like a stage of history! But a closer look shows that the rise of modern capitalism in the period of the industrial revolution was synchronous with the rise of socialism as an idea. In a better world, a socialist container for capitalism would have arisen at the onset, and the idea of having to endure a whole epoch of capitalism is misleading (although Marx/Engels originally expected the onset of postcapitalism to be imminent in the 1848 period, would that it had been).
Having critiqued Marx’s theory, let’s give him credit for hurling a thunderbolt at capitalism, and prove him right by creating a socialist aftermath to the confusions of capitalism! If Marx’s theories need an update, the fact remains that he really scared the capitalist bandits coming to the fore in the period of the industrial revolution. But we must be wary of abstractions: we must define asap the meaning, content and structure of a socialist society, and that requires looking at the question of democracy, the legal framework of a Commons, the riddle of markets and planning, etc,…
The world of capitalism needed a counterpoint at the start, as Marx first understood. His later thinking it a stage or epoch of history condemns us to an unspecified future that capitalists will gladly claim can never end. The whole theory of ‘stages of production’ is fallacious, fortunately. We can move beyond capitalism at any time.
The current moment stands transfixed by the moving calamity of climate change, and now in our immediate present, in the US, the tragedy/farce of the Trump presidency. The eerie strangeness of such a drone fascist pretender has generated a mysterious revolution in reverse gear, a sort of tragicomic coup d’etat that moves in the tide of reactionary anti-democratic forces attempting to undo modernity as such.
The place of the left is to stand ready for a rescue operation that can diagnose the tragedy unfolding via capitalism and take the path to a new social formation, assuming it can envision what that might be. It might be socialism but the term is too vague at this point and we become specific about what that means.
The left arises in the early modern as does the modern novelty, revolution. The early Greek city-states, and elsewhere, essentially invented the genre, no doubt, but it is not until modern times that the process takes a formal rendering. We can see the Reformation as the starting point and the beautiful and preposterous Utopia of More prophecies a new genre. The English Civil War, despite its confusing history, is a key moment in every respect. But then in the Restoration, we see the confusing mix of counterrevolution and oligarchy smothering the democratic potential of the triumphant Parliament. This phenomenon reflects the critique of Marx of such compromised democracy manque. more
This is a new website themed around the ongoing Postcapitalist meme universe, but with a slightly different perspective: we consider that moving toward ‘postcapitalism’ is an emergency issue in a context of a paralyzed left and a socio-economic context that is close to a point of no return, but one suspects already past it. more
The US is almost finished as a (laughably so-called) civilization. But it has an exit strategy if it can against all odds produce a postcapitalist potential. The ‘revolution’ option is enshrined in the lore of the original revolutionary outcome of American ‘democracy’. That the result wasn’t much of a democracy and points to a new future of the genre: an intelligent socialism is the prescription needed for a ‘real democracy’.more
One of the unexpected successes of the eonic model is the way it highlights the rise of modernity in the context of an historical dynamic, visible in the eonic effect. This model allows us to harmonize the ideas of history and evolution, and mediate the contradiction between random and teleological conceptions applied to history. The discovery of historical directionality where least expected is a by-product of eonic periodization, and the result is the depiction of the modern transition, and just as important, its ‘Great Divide’, or the point at which the modern transition terminates and yields to the new age of modernity as such. more
The current moment has spawned the term ‘Anthropocene’ and this not inappropriate neologism points us to the disastrous brand of eco-degraded climate ‘terraforming’ that has emerged from the industrial revolution and its capitalist false epitome. The ‘other’ legacy of the industrial/capitalist ‘revolution’ has been the smokestacks of satanic mills of the ‘great take-off’. The result, onset of disastrous climate change, has created a crisis for the politics of globalization, setting a challenge to its political and economic axiomatic legacy. This has found insult added to injury in the current insanity phase induced by the election of Trump. We confront a system now bent on dismantling its EPA and its climate treaty at
the point of no return in the benchmark 2C global warming. The delusive character of capitalist ideology has shown itself to be more threatening than the original critics of the bourgeoisie could have imagined. Strangely, this is a revolutionary situation demanding a full cohort of activist resistance over and above the rising tide of environmental activism that has appeared within the last generation. This situation tokens a stage of near social psychosis and presents the left with the contradictory demands of revolutionary intervention and/or evolutionary political continuity. A system leviathan is in place that stands as the guardian of a pseudo-democracy of capital, very much as classic socialists such as Marx
and Engels predicted. Given the shift of the millennial generation toward the left it is important for many of the legacy ‘lefts’ to examine their platforms and self-debrief the histories of the Marxist style Bolshevik revolution(s) in order to move on into a reformulation of the basic perspective of socialism/communism of the period of 1848.