Friday, March 27, 2020

Liberal Dialectic: Marx to Krapotkin

 Marx to Krapotkin - Freud to Marcuse
Libertarian Centrism - Actual Policy

Before beginning, while I am a centrist thinker, I am unambiguously a capitalist: I own property and seek more.  Nevertheless, as a writer, my focus remains on how to build a society that balances the state and the market and simultaneously does not condemn the individual economically, psychologically, and spiritually.  To that end, socialists and anarchists help 1) interpret capitalism* and 2) consider intelligent policy innovations.  I also most admit I neglect the intellectual developments from Smith to more contemporary Liberal conservatives.  I am actually not certain so much new thought has surfaced.  The ideas of Locke and Smith remain quite new. 

The Great Overcompensation

Democracy is the road to socialism.
        Marx (disputed quote)

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.  The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

Before Marx was a communist, he was an intellectual of great capacity and a committed student political economist Adam Smith and philosopher Hegel.  Marx founded sociology along with Weber and Durkheim and redefined the concept of ideology.  Laypeople often dismiss Marx as a failed theorist.  I would say he failed in his policy prescriptions.  He was actually a truly impressive theorist and valuable yet imperfect forecaster of history.**

Marx and Engels (1848) redefined the state in (administrative) socialist terms as an inevitable response to the market and its capitalist nature and within their historical context.  Whereas Locke and Hobbes put too much faith in the liberal civil society, Marx and Engels put too much faith in the anti-liberal state - in particular the administrative conception of the anti-liberal state.  Herein we see the great over compensation that lasted from 1917 to 1991 (if we ignore China and Cuba).  In Hegelian terms, overcompensations are natural and even necessary to root out various contradictions.  

But they can be terribly painful.  Consider the democidal regimes of Stalin, Castro, and Pol Pot.  To make matters worse, with the first industrial revolution and innovations in everything from banking, medicine, and bureaucratic method, the state had developed profound new powers over the individual.  Despite China's profound innovations and successes, they represent a destructive and aggressive opponent to the self and its development.  Look at the persecution of Falun Gong and Tibet.  With the rise of contemporary of technology, some visions of the future approach the absurd.

The greatest failure of Marx IMO was to turn to the state too much for answers that lie in the hearts of women and men.  The contradictions in capitalism are real.  But they originate in the within us.  Their solutions lie their too.

Libertarian Left / Anarcho-Syndicalism

[A] federated, decentralised system of free associations, incorporating economic as well as other social institutions, would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism; and it seems to me that this is the appropriate form of social organization for an advanced technological society in which human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, of cogs in the machine.  There is no longer any social necessity for human beings to be treated as mechanical elements in the productive process...we must overcome it to be a society of freedom and free association, in which the creative urge that I consider intrinsic to human nature will in fact be able to realize itself in whatever way it will.

It is the general idea put forward by Proudhon in 1840 that unites him with the later anarchists, with Bakunin and Kropotkin, and also with certain earlier and later thinkers, such as Godwin, Stirner, and Tolstoy, who evolved anti-governmental systems without accepting the name of anarchy; and it is in this sense that I shall treat anarchism, despite its many variations: as a system of social thought, aiming at fundamental changes in the structure of society and particularly - for this is the common element uniting all its forms - at the replacement of the authoritarian state by some form of non-governmental cooperation between free individuals.

        George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements

No theory, no ready-made system, no book that has ever been written will save the world.  I cleave to no system.  I am a true seeker.

Most people overlook the libertarian Left.  Few have heard the term anarcho-syndicalism.  For nowI conflate anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-socialism, libertarian socialism, and the libertarian Left.***  I sometimes focus on the term 'anarcho-syndicalism' because I like Chomsky's working definition, as it focuses on the question of 'free association'.  In line with my rising consciousness thesis, I believe people must freely associate in new and different way along side existing capitalist structures in order to build a new healthy society that balance the needs and benefits of the state, the market, and the self as each has developed in the last 800 or 900 years.

The libertarian Left acknowledges wage slavery and other negative aspects of mainstream capitalist culture - including its stratification and exploitation of labor, unsustainable exploitation of the environment, manipulation of face value politics, the failure to observe adult sexual freedom, and the failure to consider Schumpeterian instability - to name a few important themes.  Anarcho-syndicalism also acknowledges benefits of social solidarity, direct action, mutual aid, cooperation, distributive justice, and the universal basic income.

All of these ideas are fundamentally new.  A minority of thinkers have been writing and speaking on these matters since the middle of the 1800s.  However, today only a minority of academic philosophy, activists, and alternative journalists have much knowledge of these ideas.  And these ideas have certainly not made their way into mainstream journalism, economics, policy studies, or policymaking.  

The libertarian left is not a panacea.  Nothing is.  Ideas from the libertarian left allows us to reconsider socialist thought without the baggage of administrative socialism.

I am not analyzing capitalism here.  If you don't have a developing suspicion that our current stage of highly destructive and prejudiced Western capitalism needs innovation, you probably never will.

** This subject deserves more attention than I can commit at this time.  I will note that many Western thinkers have no sobriety with regard to socialism and socialist thinkers.  Again, if you don't have a developing sense of this matter yet, you probably never will.

*** One can delve much deeper into libertarian Left theory.  I am also all too aware that I am glossing over the work of a few key contemporary philosophers for the purposes of brevity.  I do wish to recognize philosopher Joseph Déjacque as the first to coin the term libertarian.  To this day, these ideas haven't really even permeated economics, IMO.  

No comments:

Post a Comment