A couple of years ago I mentioned that I would post some short articles giving a framework for the book that I am working on. I had a series of posts titled "Perspective ..." and a series of other posts, some related and some unrelated to this book. I am shifting gears a bit. I will have a series of posts that are directly related to this book and will end each post title with " -- Book". This way readers of my blog can follow this particular trend easier. Sorry I did not find an easier way of doing it. I wish the Google Blogger was more user-friendly in this regard.
The following is a takeoff from the posts titled "Perspective..." that began on September 17, 2011. In those posts I tried to summarize the experience with Communism and the experience with the undeveloped societies. I will have a particular segment on the experience of the advanced democratic societies. But for the moment I assume that most of my readers have a basic sense of it. So with this assumption in mind here we go.
When we look at these three sets of experiences, in my opinion they clearly show a disconnect between the reality and its perception. Expectations that the Communist experience could surpass and outstrip developments in the Western democratic societies were completely fictitious. The national aspirations of the undeveloped societies in charting a significantly different course than what had led the great achievements of the Western societies have been proven to be entirely reactionary. And the reaction of the Western democracies toward the other two experiences have been somewhat schizophrenic. We need a more sober assessment and understanding of the cleavages and disconnects between these experiences. We need to have a more realistic assessment of these political exaggerations, an understanding that could reconfigure our strategy and tactics of dealing with the existing and forthcoming confrontations.
My analysis will point out the need to address certain questions. Are there fundamental flaws with our understanding of our unfolding evolution? How can we measure the claims on each side of the conflict? Can we have more sober policy making processes?
These experiences demonstrate a certain level of disconnect. During the last 150 years at first there did not seem to be any point of convergence of views and interests, later developments proved to the contrary; that actually there are points of convergence. The fall of the Berlin wall, Perestroika in Russia, China and Vietnam’s openness to capitalist development, South Africa’s peaceful transformation, the Arab Spring and pro-western "green movement" in Iran are very indicative of this trend of convergence. This is one side of these developments. On the other side the financial crisis in the West is fanning a resurgence of doubts about the viability of the capitalist system. The democratic world does not have a clear vision on how to deal with the radical Islamic threat, and less so with the emerging powers like China, Russia, India and Brazil.
Yet, through all this cloud one can sense that there is some kind of a convergence. Even if it is a convergence in confusion but it is nevertheless a convergence and it creates a focus about our present dilemma. For the first time there is a sense of our common humanity beyond national borders and social divisions. In the midst of this we are continuously pursuing the question of how our humanity is going to chart its path. Do we need a fundamental transformation? Is there any validity to the type of transformations that Marx had envisioned, a revolution that turns the society upside down? Does the undeveloped world have or can it have an independent path to progress and development? Can the political, cultural and social modernity of Europe and the United States continue to be leading the rest of the world? Could the U.S. have a leading role in that process?
To disentangle and analyze our questions, I believe, we need to deal with Marx’s heritage and the deep roots that it has weaved into our consciousness. The mass conviction about his ideas has worn out but nevertheless it pops up at every corner. It is similar to other religions that are always resorted back to when we fall short in our vision, and specific interests take over to address our problems but only in terms of those narrow interests. In this sense the persistence of Marxism and of other religions go hand in hand. The former actually helps the persistence of the latter. As one can easily observe, in the present climate of the economic crisis hope for the resurgence of a revolutionary communist movement is warming up leftist souls as the promise of rapture does to the devout.
I tried to show the disconnect and convergence between communism and capitalism and on another level the experience of the underdeveloped world which merges into both. To come to grips with the underlying reasons for this disconnect and convergence we need to begin with some long held beliefs which have persisted and are embedded in these three experiences and examine their interactions.
For the failure of the communist experience we need to examine the principles of communism and the philosophy behind it. For the failure of nationalist movements in the undeveloped world we need to examine the foundations of their nationalism where it rests on and also see its relation to the adoption of the communist anti imperialist propaganda. At the same time we need to examine the social and economic perceptions in the advanced societies that seems to be blocking progress or at least have clouded the road ahead.
I begin with the communist idea, since it has woven itself into the other two experiences, the undeveloped and the democratic capitalist ones. To show that the myth of "scientific socialism" is nothing but a pseudo science, this will make the examination of other experiences that much easier.
Marx’s ideas and the vehement political opposition to it require digging deeper. In this regard I leave the demarcation between Marx and Marxism to the historians and I am sure there are some. I will deal with the root of Marx's ideas and how it has been carried forward as Marxism and how it has woven itself into our outlook and language beyond explicit Marxism.