The first step is to turn the Sanders movement into a national organization that will engage the political process at every level, retake state offices, organize our neighborhoods, neighborhood gardens, co-ops or co-housing, standing against police violence in our cities, developing cooperative businesses. If we stand together there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. What’s your vision?
It’s terrific that our Bernie revolution has brought the concept of socialism back into the national political dialogue. If we were to do nothing further, this would still be huge, as they say. What we haven’t done yet is incorporate the essential concepts of Marxism into our discussions. The vicious attack of anti-communism that started in the 50s has everyone scared to say the word Marx. A lot of people have even come to blame Marx for the failures and crimes of the late Communist movement, which is sort of like blaming John Locke for the extremism of the thermadorian terror after the French Revolution.
Now I’m not a big theory person. I once led a study group on Capital, but the numbers made my head swim. I’ve declared myself to be against ismism, the ideological rigidities of the left in particular which makes decisions based on theory rather than practical experience. But Marx initiated the discussion of how to end exploitation of humans by humans, which is my goal, certainly, and to some of extent, the goal of most sincere revolutionaries.
Let’s start with “All history is the history of class struggle.” Marx’s dialectical materialism derives from the idea that movement in nature is caused by the contradiction of opposites. Positive and negative electricity. Male and female tendencies. Objective and subjective reality. 0-1 of the binary number system, on-off, on which our computer technology is based. Yin and yang. How you identify the polarities in a dialectical process determines how you act in that dialectic. It’s my understanding that most, even capitalist, sociologists accept as fact the Marxist idea that at some point in our history, the beginning of the written history, the development of agriculture, gave rise to classes, Master and Slave. After the fall of Rome, the main contradiction became that between Lord and Peasant. Then came the revolutions against Feudalism which switched the main contradiction to being between Capitalist and Worker. The twentieth century brought us the first worldwide attempts to eliminate exploitation all together in the struggle for socialism.
So the core struggle driving all our politics and war is the battle for control of the world’s wealth between the working class and the capitalist class. Between the 99% and the 1%. The most accurate definition of the working class is that it includes everyone who has to work for a living, who can’t just live off the fruits of their investments. This includes the middle class. The middle class is just the better paid section of the working class. There is an essential racial discussion inside this point, but we’ll save it for another blog.
Clearly at this point there are as many definitions of socialism as there are socialists. Rather than pick a model, let’s start with we got and take it where we want it to go. We understand the basic thrust: we want people to care about each other rather than things; we want to make sure that everyone in our human family has enough to eat, a warm place to sleep, all the medical care they need, freedom from police abuse, clean air and water, a stable planet, a good job, education, and connection to the internet. Because our concept is democratic socialism, we get to decide what direction our societies are going. You are as powerful as anyone else. I say societies because our human family lives all over the world, and no member is any better or should be any more privileged than anyone else. There will be plenty around to share once the capitalist class gives up it’s outrageous hogging our resources. Socialism, Marxism, are nothing without an internationalist approach. Thanks to that internet, we now have the capacity to organize the working class worldwide.
The fastest way to get where we need to go may not be a presidential campaign, although this one has given us the courage and confidence to imagine the kind of future we want for each other. The fastest way, or at least the more reliable way, is to start now to build the society we want inside the old society.