1676759784 Socialism only way out But how Part I

Socialism: only way out. But how? (Part I)

Marcelo Colussi*, contributor to Prensa Latina

In the current global architecture, administered by the Western mega-capitals with the United States at the helm and NATO as the armed wing, other power poles are emerging that oppose the dollar’s dominance: China and Russia. Leftist ideals are so decimated that this multipolarism that is beginning to take shape – hence the war in Ukraine and likely soon in Taiwan – is being hailed as a “triumph”. triumph for whom? Capitals are always capitals, no matter where they come from (“Capital has no home,” said a 19th-century thinker, now supposedly outdated, out of circulation).

Capital – or to put it another way: the capitalist mode of production – has no country, ethnic group or gender. What difference would it make if the person exploiting me is black, female, white, gay, German, Norwegian, male, trans, religious, atheist, Burundian or US? Or, exaggerating, one might even imagine: What does it matter if it’s an artificial intelligence robot, always piloted in capitalist orbit by one of the above? Capital moves exclusively with an inviolable, immutable logic: it seeks to extract every last drop of surplus value from the working person, whether that worker is black, female, white, gay, German, Norwegian, male or transgender. Believer, atheist, Burundian or US, whether you are an industrial worker, farm worker, domestic worker, PhD consultant from an international organization, engineer or chief engineer in a modern automated factory, or a precarious street vendor. The exploitation is still there. And that is what prevails in our contemporary capitalist world!

Therefore, the only way to overcome this state of affairs is to go beyond capitalism and not to demand “class consensus,” “a social compact,” or “serious capitalism,” as some of the “progressive” people are demanding. ’, who today hold the presidency in some countries. A popular saying goes: “To make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs”. Without appealing to violence, although this can be rejected from a somewhat naïve pacifism, we must convince ourselves that “violence is the midwife of history”, as said the thinker mentioned above, who has been pronounced dead countless times ( curious corpse, isn’t it? ) .

Socialism only way out But how Part I

Man is marked by conflicts and there is not always the possibility of solving them peacefully. The class struggle – which persists despite claiming to be “out of fashion” – continues to set the pace of the story. Violence is part of the human phenomenon, but that should not lead us to its enthronement. By the way, never forget that the defense industry is mankind’s most important scientific outpost, capturing the most advanced technological advances and producing the largest – immensely spectacular – profits of all human activity: $70,000 a second is spent on weapons, more than two Trillions a year, and that sum goes to giant corporations who profit from the sale of their goods, no matter what the buyer uses them for. Obviously he’s using them to kill. Never forget, this is capitalism! That’s why Rosa Luxemburg’s inscription, popularizing a saying by Engels: “Socialism or Barbarism”, makes sense.

Employment in the politics of scientific progress

Artificial intelligence, this great marvel of our current scientific development as humanity, is largely being developed by western technicians who grew up in and defend capitalism. With this ideology it is prepared; For this reason, the answer, as has happened on a number of occasions, to the question of how to solve the problem of human growth and the current difficulties was “mass sterilization and euthanasia”. That is the solution? And who decides who should stay? The International Communist March calls for building “a homeland for mankind.” Obviously they are irreconcilable projects, radically different, irreconcilable.

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Capitalism is maintained by violence, sublime, bloodthirsty, outrageous violence: 20,000 deaths a day from lack of food, even though there is enough food in the world. The violence of the system is unheard of. How do you transform that? Today, when it seems that the streets are so closed, the popular camp and the left are being overwhelmed by the neoliberal avalanche (wild capitalism), it is all worth reflecting on. We could start from some basic ideas, which can be summarized in three areas, lines or questions:

1. Is Marxism regarded today as a revolutionary theory for changing the world?

2. What does this world look like today? (Understanding that the world Marx spoke of at the time has undergone great changes).

3. How to give change?

From this follows a fourth, which requires a decision as to which paths to take. That means: what is the instrument for this change: party, movement, broad front, foundation of something new, etc.?

Each train of thought of these three outlined “power ideas” results in an eternity of work that infinitely exceeds the present modest booklet. Even at the risk of being disrespectful, and only as a preliminary synthesis, something could be said about each of these lines to get to the fourth.

1. Is Marxism regarded today as a revolutionary theory for changing the world?

Yes, it is still valid. Its fundamental concepts, as scientific constructs, remain valid tools for understanding and proposing alternatives to reality. Human societies (today a fully globalized society: ‘global village’ to use McLuhan’s term, or ‘world system’ to paraphrase Wallerstein) are based on material production that sustains life.

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The form of organization that this planetary society is taking today is fundamentally capitalist. Socialist experiences are scarce in this period, and those that survive have or are making profound changes to their basic structures in order to survive. Capitalism is therefore by far the dominant system (non-agricultural societies, even in the Neolithic period, although existing in very limited numbers, are anthropological rarities). So if we have anything, it is capitalism triumphant with a halo of victory after the fall of the European socialist bloc and the reversal of changes in the People’s Republic of China – which begs the question of where this process is leading and how it is helping or not , to a global revolution. Triumphant capitalism that allowed itself, through one of its academic spokesmen (Francis Fukuyama), to euphorically say that “history was over” when the Soviet Union fell apart.

To understand this basic structure that moves the world is to understand the relations of production that support it; they are relations of exploitation of a factor (capital in its new forms – global finance capital, depersonalized, homeless – but still capital) and which produces the wealth: the workers (also in its new forms: an industrial proletariat in transition / shrinking / extinction process, outsourced hiring in the third world, loss of historic labor conquests, flesh and blood workers increasingly being replaced by automation and robotization processes, etc.).

But beyond the new physiognomy, the relations between capital and labor are still absolutely valid, they are the very essence of the world, what explains it, what drives it. What moves capital, the ultimate essence that sets the global system in motion, is still the extraction of surplus value (the unpaid labor that makes up capitalist profit, surplus value) and its accumulation, eventually leading to monopoly capital and then to becomes imperialism.

The class struggle (in its new and varied forms) continues to be the engine of history. Reading this reality and proposing revolutionary alternatives is (was and certainly will be) at the heart of Marxist or socialist or critical thinking or whatever you want to call it (has it gone out of “fashion” to talk about socialism? or Communism? to ask us why. What was the historical significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall?). Conclusion: Marxism as a scientific expression examining social reality is still valid as a method of analysis and as a proposal for transformation. But it must be adapted to the new times, which differ in many aspects – perhaps not in the basic structure, but with important changes in their dynamics – from what the classics saw a century and a half ago.

2. What does this world look like today? (Understanding that the world Marx spoke of at the time has undergone great changes).

Today’s world, fundamentally capitalist, has changed dramatically in the more than a century and a half since the formulation of the Communist Manifesto as the founding document of scientific socialism.

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Today, the process of globalization (globalization) has transformed the planet into a single market, with capitals so fabulously developed that they transcend modern nation-states (60 percent of transnational corporations’ assets and profits derive from their operations outside their home countries). The tremendous development of technologies opens up new and complex challenges for the people’s camp and for revolutionary proposals: the military power of capital is increasing, the methods of control (in every sense, especially the ideological-cultural one, up to the point of speaking of a “war of the fourth generation: media-psychological”) are becoming more and more efficient, wild and limitless capitalism (euphemistically called neoliberalism) has pushed back historical social conquests; Desperation and depoliticization after the collapse of the Soviet socialist camp are still great – which is not to say that there are not diverse protests, all of which arose from the reaction and weariness of the subjugated peoples and groups, but without crashing the system bring .

In addition, in this new world, which did not exist more than a century and a half ago, there are new elements such as mafia capital (swallow capitals, vulture funds, tax havens, speculative capitalism, drug trafficking as a new factor of accumulation and a strategy of renewed domination). , for example the rural the sexual diversity that is added today as a new element of criticism that challenges homophobia.

Class contradictions continue to drive the story with the addition and articulation of these new themes. This leads us to reconsider the question of major and minor contradictions: all contradictions are, in a sense, important and can act as catalysts for change. There is, for example, the territorial defense movements sweeping Latin America: they are not a clear expression of the contradiction between capital and wage labour, but they can also act as a transformative spark. Just like in another context it was perhaps the youth movements that triggered the Arab Spring or, back then, May 1968 in France.

The impoverishment/decomposition of the industrial proletariat in the central countries also opens up new scenarios. Globalized capitalism and its increasing departure from the satirical Keynesian state are also forcing a new dynamic. The privatization of everything public has taken hold in recent years, a process that currently seems to have no return, promoting the fallacious ideology of “private enterprise: synonymous with efficiency, public sector: synonymous with disaster, bureaucracy and inefficiency”.

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The system knows very well what it is doing, for it has much to lose (the working class “has nothing to lose but its chains,” Marx and Engels taught in The Communist Manifesto). That is why it always leads the red-hot class struggle, even if it is not violent and bloody – which it does ruthlessly if it has to.

In this perspective – allow us the neologism – the current Onegisie fever is inscribed. We know that among NGOs there is everything, including very honest and committed colleagues who do social work with political content. The truth is that taken as a whole they are just a way to fix/mitigate the services that nation-states don’t provide (the Soviet Union or communist China didn’t need that to develop), hence their impact on reality a country is minimal, always marginal. They exist because the donor countries – the capitalist powers – establish some form of social control there; International cooperation (“Non-Armed Counterinsurgency Strategy”, according to the CIA operations manuals) is looking for just that: social fragmentation, demands or partial demands: on the one hand women fight for gender equality, on the other hand: peoples who support indigenous peoples against racist banners, all sexual Diversity focuses on their demands against homophobia, environmentalists focus on a better relationship with the environment, but the class vision that articulates all these movements is missing. Hence the historical Machiavellian maxim “divide and conquer” makes sense. This supposed “foreign cooperation” seeks to encourage reliance on dollars or euros that arrive as gifts, setting agendas that ultimately benefit only the powerful. “International cooperation itch where it doesn’t itch,” said a Central American farmer leader. The revolutionary movement cannot be an NGO at all.

In short: although the basic structure is retained (the exploitation of labor, that is, of the worker in each of his forms: industrial worker, farmer, intellectual producer, etc.), there are new forms of the world which necessarily imply new forms of struggle.

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The rise of teleworking – there are already plenty of “digital nomads” working alone and moving from one country to another – is forcing us to reflect on these new realities: What then does the future of unions hold?

The “social distancing” imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic set the guidelines for this so-called “new normal”, which sets the distance for everything. This does not mean that peoples will live apart, but the modality of distance imposed by the digital shapes a new society and eventually a new subject (even sex is already virtual! Is face-to-face end for everything ?). Keep firmly in mind that the revolution is not virtual: if there are no people, incensed by their situation of exploitation in the streets and protesting, there can be no change, no real revolutionary transformation.

The environmental catastrophe? it also moves us to include this new dimension in revolutionary thinking; If there is an ecological catastrophe – and not “climate change”, as if this were a natural geological process – it is generated due to the production and consumption model, absurdly predatory – think, for example, of programmed obsolescence.

Knowing this world, which differs from the English capitalism of the second half of the 19th century, implies a thorough study of all these new variants. In essence, the capitalist system is preserved, but all these new edges force new problematizations, new forms of struggle. The unstoppable process of robotization and automation of work (today even psychoanalysis is done virtually; will a robot do that soon?) is not a feel-good factor for people under capitalism, but a punishment because it increases unemployment. Undoubtedly, from a revolutionary point of view, this cannot be ignored. For now, the sharp division of countries between a highly developed North and an infinitely impoverished global South poses challenges: How to change this?

3. How to wage this fight, how to achieve the desired change?

That is the raison d’être of looking at these problems and studying all of this in order to formulate concrete proposals on how to transform the capitalist world and build socialism.

In doing so, it can be very important, perhaps even essential, to review the past experiences of revolutionary socialists (who triumphed and became a political power at the national level: the Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Nicaraguans, etc.) and those who did not to review. reached, like the Guatemalan, the Colombian, the El Salvador, the German. Has something failed in the successful projects? What happened?

Similarly, in this historical study, we must ask why did victorious revolutions decline in the early socialist states? Why couldn’t you succeed where you didn’t? The Paris Commune of 1871 was drowned in blood. For example, why did the Soviet Union switch to predatory capitalism in 1991? Why have the many armed movements in the world disarmed and turned into political parties that entered the logic of capitalism without having much impact on real social change? Lots to learn no doubt. (go on).


*Argentinian university professor, political scientist and columnist.

(Taken from selected companies)