ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY THEORY AND THE SOCIALIST-COMMUNIST PROJECT IN THE 21ST CENTURY (Narciso Isa Conde)
ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY THEORY AND
THE SOCIALIST-COMMUNIST PROJECT IN
THE 21ST CENTURY
After all the experience lived in the 20th century, all the changes registered in world, continental and national capitalism, and all the doubts and confusions sown after the collapse of the so-called real socialism, we enter the third decade of a new century with a planet shaken by the crisis of decadence of imperialist capitalism and the degradation of its pseudo-democratic models.
In this context it is imperative to reflect and act in favor of new transformative alternatives. And the questions arise:
The challenge in the midst of growing indignation and high levels of rebellion of the peoples is precisely to boldly answer these questions without starting from scratch, neither in terms of theory, nor in terms of revolutionary practice and the new essays derived from them.
The subject is exciting, and summons us to deal with it both from the point of view of the theoretical creation called Scientific Socialism, as well as from the possible characteristics or basic axes of the project that we need to recreate.
BACK TO MARX...
To speak of scientific socialism in the 21st century implies going back to Marx, Engels, Lenin... and rescuing the great values of their revolutionary thought, their extraordinary scientific contributions, their invaluable criticisms of capitalism and imperialism in their respective epochs.
It implies recovering all that is current in his theoretical creation and his political practice.
Marx led a portentous revolution in social thought that made him an obligatory reference not only in the century in which he was born and died, but throughout the 20th century and so far in the 21st.
It is not possible to challenge this capitalist order, increasingly exploitative, oppressive and inhuman, without resorting to the founders of scientific socialism.
It is not possible to propose its replacement as the dominant system, ignoring their contributions and those of their continuators.
Marx and Engels laid the scientific foundations of the socialist project, overcoming the illusory vision regarding that historical necessity.
They gave reason and foundation to the possibility of that necessity from a profound critique of the entrails of capitalism and its essential contradictions, giving support to the socialist-communist alternative: social production and private appropriation, wage exploitation and theft of surplus labor, wages, value, prices and surplus value, original accumulation and expanded reproduction, concentration of property and income, impoverishment of the majority of society, domination and emancipation, revolution, power of the proletariat, post-capitalist society, socialism and communism....
The same can be said of Lenin with respect to his theory of imperialism, of the revolution in Russia and on a world scale, and his contributions with respect to the era of the export of capital, of financial capital, of monopolies, oligopolies, cartels and trusts.
All this has evolved in different ways and has been accompanied by ever newer phenomena. But all this is still alive in the essence of modern and ultramodern capitalism and imperialism, and it is of immense value to take it up in the struggle to abolish capitalism and replace it.
The works of Marx, Engels and Lenin may be - and indeed are - insufficient to explain, to question and to replace imperialism and the capitalist system of these times, but they are at the same time indispensable to do so. Marx´s scientific method for the analysis of history, of human society and of the capitalist process is the most useful and accurate of all those known and employed.
Moreover, in the ideology of freedom of human society, there is no scientific proposal that surpasses the emancipatory contents and the potential for happiness contained in Marx´s and Engel's proposal for a Communist Society, as well as Lenin's contributions on the need and possibility of abolishing the State and all forms of coercion in order to create an "association of free human beings", where everyone contributes according to their abilities and receives according to their needs, with ample time for spiritual recreation, fun, education, the enjoyment of the arts and scientific creation.
This is a long term proposal that requires a long period of creation of values and means of life to raise the development of productive forces and human beings, promote democratic forms of coexistence, raise awareness of solidarity and justice, create conditions of abundance of material and spiritual goods, raise the social appropriation of knowledge, create new human beings stripped of selfishness, and seek the predominance of the social without smashing the development of the individual, creating at the same time a harmonious and balanced relationship between the rights of human beings and the rights of Mother Earth.
That is why Marx, while advocating the political defeat of capitalism by rapid and revolutionary means, conceived socialism as a long phase of transition from capitalism to communism that makes it possible to create the material and cultural springs, advancing steadily towards voluntary collectivization, solidarity consciousness, the predominance of the social over the private, educational improvement, abundance of means of life and its fair distribution, the predominance of the social over the private, the total eradication of the private property of the means of production and distribution and the progressive abolition of the State, a long phase of transition that ends upon arriving to the kingdom of freedom and happiness, to a high degree of collective and individual welfare....
CONSTANTLY RENEWING TRANSFORMATIVE THINKING
Marx and Engels lived, studied, criticized and challenged capitalism from their position in an industrial society and its medium level of development.
Their scientific reflections led them to a high level of abstraction and critical vision of the Euro-centric capitalism of the second half of the 19th century, as well as to a great effort of theorization of the possibilities and ways for its abolition and of the dialectical overcoming in favor of a new society.
But Marx and Engels -except for the ephemeral experience of the Paris Commune, which must be rescued- did not live this project of transformation of human society, neither in its transitional phase (to socialism), much less in the advance towards communist society. Some scholars of classical Marxism are relatively right when they affirm that Marx knew more about capitalism than about socialism…
Neither did they live through the imperialist phase of capitalism studied by Lenin and the precursors of his transcendent reflections on that new stage.
Therefore, they did not know in its full extent and depth the imperialist phenomenon nor the unfolding of the uneven development of capitalism as a world system, its various levels of development, the contradictory relations between its central countries and its dependent periphery, the impacts of colonialism, dependency and recolonization, and the relationship between the metropolises and the subordinate countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. They, though, transcended their own era with truly visionary analyses and brilliant predictions certainly in more than a few aspects.
Even Lenin was unable to study the evolution of imperialism up to the present, notwithstanding all his new and enriching theorizing of scientific socialism that can be found in his political practice and in all that he contributed in order to overcome the Euro-centric approach of his predecessors and to consider the transition not only from the abstraction of a mature capitalist society to a communist society, but the intermediate process between a "backward" capitalism and/or combined with pre-capitalist relations, a transit to socialism adjusted to those conditions, including his extraordinary contributions on the democratic revolution and the worker-peasant alliance within it.
In any case, in Marx, and even in Lenin himself, deficits can be appreciated not only in the development of the theory of transit, but also in the details of a socialism conceived as collectivization not only of the economy, but also of the relations of power in society, in the political system, in the family and in the couple; a socialism conceived in societies with profoundly democratic and participatory institutions, in permanent self-improvement. They also fell short in the forecasts about how to prevent having expropriations in favor of the State from turning into statist-bureaucratic models, denying socialization. Lenin expressed anxieties at the dawn of this danger, but he did not live enough to address it in greater depth.
Needless to say that in none of those periods of the anti-capitalist struggle was the issue of the dramatic crisis within the planetary ecosystem and the presence of serious environmental problems ever raised; nor did the extraordinary development of gender theory and the critique of patriarchy (patriarchal capitalism) take place, nor the issues related to migration and the acute ethno-social and xenophobic problems of the present. The characteristics and dimensions of these phenomena and of these reflections, as well as the theoretical and practical responses deployed subsequently, were not thinkable at that time.
It was not clear then, or it was not as clear as it is now, that the transit or process of creation of the new must not only be conceived as a process of socialization towards the communist society, but that it is necessary to contemplate a kind of transit within the transit: a transit, prior rupture, from capitalism to socialism, which implies dismantling and abolishing the old in order to create the new.
Now it seems more accurate to speak not only of socialism as a transit to communism, but also of the transit prior to socialism.
And it is necessary to understand that socialization is much more than abolishing capitalist society and nationalizing or collectivizing the economy. Because it implies overcoming all oppressions and discriminations in dominant power relations, it includes a transcendent cultural dimension. Now it is much clearer what can become of simple nationalization and the processes in which social property is confused with state property.
Now there are more reasons to think that socialism implies all liberations, all emancipations, which leads us to overcome by revolutionary means class exploitation, gender oppression, domination of one race over another, tyranny against nature and the environment (which implies high risks for human beings), bureaucratic-military oppression and subjugation from the State.
And this demands both a continuous creation of direct democracy and a persistent effort towards self-government and self-management.
The predominance of the public over the private, of the communitarian over the individual, of the human being in solidarity over selfishness, of the socialist over the capitalist, of the interests of the poor (proletariat and broad sectors impoverished or in process of impoverishment) over the interests of the big bourgeoisie, the predominance of the popular civil society over the State...should become levers persistently actuated and activated to make the leap in quality towards higher stations in constant self-improvement. Only in this way can the socialist cosmovision be expanded and enriched.
To this must be added all that has changed capitalism and imperialism in its evolution since then until today.
In its pattern of techno-scientific accumulation. In its managerial forms. In its pattern of accumulation and reproduction. In its power of concentration, over-exploitation and social exclusion. In its levels of transnationalization and financialization. In their relations within and outside the Nation-States. In the correlation within their centers, countries and hegemonic sectors.
In its degree of militarization. In its process of gangsterization. In its dominant ideology and the means available to implement it. In its impact on the subaltern classes and sectors. In the forces that represent hegemonic capital and the forces of labor capable of counteracting and displacing it from power. In the subjects of domination and the subjects of liberation.
And although in many of these things it is necessary to take up again the threads projected by Marx, Lenin and other socialist-communist thinkers of the twentieth century, it is necessary to recognize that they have limits, that there are many new phenomena and different evolutions of phenomena accurately defined in the past.
The critique of current capitalism contains many new things and must include many others. The same must happen with the alternative pro-socialist proposals. And the latter includes crucial demands if we take into account that the socialist-communist conception from Marxism and classical Leninism was seriously adulterated by "theoretical" elaborations and political practices from the so-called real socialism and from the hegemony of the bureaucracy. The deformation, dogmatization and falsification of the original scientific socialism did enormous damage to the development of that revolutionary theory.
The collapse of the reality that tried to justify itself on the basis of dogmas, has forced to break those theoretical ties and gave way to a period of search and creativity, still limited by the dead weight of the nostalgia of what failed and by the burden of dogmatic inertia. And this urges us to overcome the "museum of the old word" as comrade Schafik Handal has called it.
ENRICHING THE THEORY TO THE COMPASS OF THE STRUGGLES
The scientific socialism of the 21st century needs to return to Marx and advance much further. Beyond what Lenin enriched it.
It is necessary to return to the thinkers without one or another dogmatic or reductionist vision. We must return to Rosa Luxemburg, to Luckacs, to Gramci, to Trosky, to Mao Tse Tung, to Ho Chi Ming.
In our America we must return to José Carlos Mariategui, to Ernesto Guevara, to Fidel, to Carlos Fonseca Amador, to Schafik Handal....
We must return to return to them because they enriched the pioneers.
We must return to them in order to enrich them and to enrich ourselves.
But we must not only go back to them.
It is necessary to open up much more to the heroic creation, because many things have changed after their valuable efforts and visionary creations.
The scientific socialism of the 21st century must be nourished by all the scientific-technical and cultural heritage of the present and future times, and must be open to other schools of thought critical of capitalism and to the teachings of the struggles waged.
Today's capitalism, even without going beyond its systemic borders, is immersed in a process of great mutations that need to be analyzed and confronted.
Computer science, electronics, robotics, quantum physics, the theory of the human genome are introducing changes and phenomena worthy of being analyzed together with the hijacking power of the capitalist leadership over these phenomena.
The neoliberal, patriarchal, ecocidal, racist and adult-centric character of the current capitalist power, alike.
But at the same time the new social actors, the new struggles, the active subjects of the anti-capitalist camp generate, reactivate and notably enrich extraordinarily important schools of thought, harmonious and/or complementary to Marxist thought.
They generate new schools and new transformative movements, new ways of thinking and new rebelliousness and liberating energies.
It happens so in the field of gender theory and the active and potential forces of feminism.
It also happens in the field of indigenous cosmovisions and the emergence of native peoples.
It also happens in the forces that oppose the theology of domination and assume the theology of liberation.
It happens in the field of revolutionary environmentalism.
On the level of youth and in their actions against contempt and subordination to an adult-dominant ideology, there is also an enormous potential for just rebellion. The same goes for the terrain of sexual discrimination, and for the level of the struggle of immigrants against xenophobia and super-exploitation.
All these phenomena cross the class struggle and the class struggle crosses them.
A mixture of reason, science, feelings, defense of identities and sovereignties, social, cultural and anti-colonial rebellions, converge in the present rebellions against capitalism in crisis; which should not be excluded from an alternative proposal that amalgamates socialism, liberation and real democracy, to get out of it.
Narciso Isa Conde