Tagcontemporary socialist revolution

Ljubodrag Simonović: Contemporary socialist revolution


Ljubodrag Simonović
E-mail: comrade@orion.rs

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          Marx’s critique of capitalism is, in essence, the thought of a socialist revolution. It is the fundamental idea for determining the integrity and relativity of the “Marxist” attribute’s authenticity. The view that a “correct theory is the consciousness of a world-changing practice” is the self-consciousness of Marx’s revolutionary thought. Based on this self-consciousness, and relative to it, Marx’s own thoughts acquire a Marxist legitimacy. Marx’s views do not all correspond to his theory of revolution. Marx’s thought was not the theory of a socialist revolution from the very beginning, it became so later, with the development of capitalism and the workers’ movement. Marx’s thought became the theory of a socialist revolution when the proletariat in the most developed capitalist countries in Europe became a political force capable of changing the world.

          According to Marx, the existential and, thus, the general social crises are the result of the economic crisis of capitalism when the relations of production (proprietary relations) become obstructive to the development of the productive forces. This is clearly indicated by Marx’s view in „A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”, the founding stone of his theory of revolution:  “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, which turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution.” The working class is “wedged” between productive forces and productive (proprietary) relations.  Class consciousness tells the worker not to try to abolish capitalism as long as it continues to develop its productive forces and thus enables his existence. Since the capitalist mode of developing the productive forces is progressive, the workers’ struggle against capitalism, as long as it continues to develop its productive forces, hinders progress and is therefore unacceptable. At the same time, a socialist order, as the final overcoming of capitalism, can be created only when capitalism has exhausted its potential for development. Without such conditions, a revolution is not based on objective historical conditions, but on political voluntarism. The elimination of the bourgeoisie from the political arena by the proletariat is historically legitimate only when the bourgeoisie becomes a reactionary force, precisely, when capitalism has exhausted all potential for the development of productive forces and when the bourgeoisie, through repression, struggles to safeguard private ownership, which hinders further development of productive forces. According to Marx, the proletariat can become the “grave digger” of capitalism only on the basis of the economic and the resulting general social crises, which cannot be resolved without a radical step out of the capitalist world.

            By overlooking that capitalism is essentially a destructive order, Marx overlooked the specificity of capitalist dialectics. According to Marx, the development of capitalism involves the development of conflicts between the productive forces and productive (proprietary) relations, but not between the capitalist development of productive forces, on the one hand, and nature as a life-creating whole and man as a natural and human being, on the other. In spite of Marx’s critique of the plundering and destructive capitalist relation towards the soil, according to Marx, capitalism is progressive as long as it continues to develop its productive forces.  Actually, for him, the problem is not in the productive forces of capitalism and the fatal consequences of their development, but in the limited possibilities presented by the relations of production, that is to say, by private ownership, which will stop further growth of the productive forces, “compelling” capitalism to “self-destruction”. It turns out that it is precisely the development of productive forces based on private ownership that leads to the increasingly dramatic existential and, thus, the general social crises, as they arise from an mounting destruction of nature and man as a human and biological being. The increasingly dramatic destruction of the world indicates that capitalist “progress” and the survival of humankind are antagonistic to one another. Marx’s view of soil exhaustion suggests that the survival of humankind is threatened precisely by the economic development of capitalism. It follows that workers should fight against the economic development of capitalism, which means against the capitalist mode of development of productive forces, and not “wait” for productive (proprietary) relations to become an obstacle for further development of productive forces. A contemporary socialist revolution can result from the existential crisis caused by capitalism, but it can also serve as a bulwark preventing capitalism from destroying the environment and climate to such an extent that life would be impossible on the planet. A contemporary socialist revolution cannot be of an aposteriori and essential character, but, rather, of an apriori and existential character.
With capitalism becoming a destructive totalitarian order, Marx’s conception of socialist revolution has become obsolete. Marx does not arrive at the concept of socialist revolution relative to capitalism as a destructive totalitarian order, but relative to capitalism as an exploitatory order with a “revolutionary”  character. For Marx, a socialist revolution is the last revolution in the history of humankind and therefore the final act in man’s struggle for freedom.  At the same time, by sticking to existential apriorism, Marx does not regard the socialist revolution as the beginning of a decisive struggle for survival, but as the end of the historical process of man’s bonding with nature and the beginning of the true history of humankind. Following that idea, Gajo Petrovic, one of the most distinguished representatives of Yugoslav praxis philosophy, regards Marx’s notion of the revolution as the overcoming of the social and political moment and the final resolution of man’s relation to nature and to himself as a natural being. In those terms, the socialist revolution is the “essence of being” (“The Thought of Revolution”). However, the concrete “essence of being” cannot be acquired from an abstract notion of nature and man, but only in relation to the totalitarian and destructive practices of capitalism. Capitalist “progress” has brought humankind to the brink of an abyss and thus “resolved” all contradictions within it and completed the critique of capitalism. Capitalism does not liberate man from his dependence on nature. It rather makes him, through its destruction of nature, more dependent on it. Not only does it not create the possibilities of “leaping from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom”, it creates a new – destructive and, thus, totalitarian realm of necessity. A socialist revolution can acquire its concrete historical dimensions only in relation to the lethal consequences of the development of capitalism and with respect to its destructive potential. Rather than being the beginning of man’s true freedom, it is the beginning of a decisive struggle for the survival of humankind, which will alleviate the consequences of the capitalist destruction of nature and man and open the possibilities for man’s liberation from the natural elements and class society, enabling him to realize his universal creative powers and turn society into a familial community of free people.

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