How do we get from capitalism to socialism?

Ever since the October Revolution 100 years ago today, socialists have spoken as if revolution – the seizure of state power from the capitalists by violent or nonviolent means – has been the be all and end all. Yet capitalism emerged gradually within the belly of the beast, as it were. It could be argued that capitalism emerged in the process of feudal societies trading with each other. While feudal societies taxed their peasants so that the aristocratic elites could enjoy the fruits of surplus, it was the merchants involved in trade that were able to accumulate sufficient capital to […]

The Rise of Classes

One of Lanchester’s points in his New Yorker article, “The Case Against Civilization” that I wrote about in my last blog  is that it took 4000 years for hunter-gatherer societies to settle down and adopt an agricultural system. They were reluctant because hunting and gathering worked just fine for them, thank you very much. He doesn’t say it, but one can surmise that ultimately force was involved, because once agriculture predominates, you also get taxation, writing – originally developed to keep track of taxes – and the State, with the development of classes, one of the oppressor and one of […]

Sharing all the world

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, I want to start a conversation about the big picture, the transition from capitalism to socialism. Let’s start at the beginning. An article by John Lanchester appeared in the September 18th New Yorker entitled “The Case Against Civilization” argues that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had better lives than we do: African tribes that still live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle “work” about 17 hours a week to find adequate food – 2300 calories, about what we’re supposed to eat. While Lanchester doesn’t mention Engels and barely mentions the rise of class society, I […]

Happy 100th Birthday USSR

Happy birthday USSR. The October Revolution in Russian in 1917 was the defining event of the Twentieth Century. It was one of those dialectical events that happen when quantity – as in number of people in the street – turned into quality. That the revolution encountered myriad problems cannot be disputed. Serious revolutionaries are not utopians. We are focused on the process, the dialectical process by which human progress evolves. I don’t mean progress in the sense of more gadgets, but in the sense of a powerful unification of humanity toward a compassionate society focused on meeting all human needs. […]

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War. The man can make movies. The story was so engrossing that I kept wishing the episode wouldn’t end. The filmmakers got much of the story right. But the story was told through a liberal-progressive – and deeply anticommunist – lens. Perhaps best exemplified by consistent use of “Viet Cong” to describe the NLF forces in the South, a pejorative slapped on them by the South Vietnamese puppets. I also agree with Nick Turse who wrote Kill Everything that Moves in his critique that Burns minimizes civilian casualties: But the film makes a strong anti-war statement. I […]