30 December 2013

Begin with Marx

Pieces of Samir Amin, 2009, Begin with Marx

Samir Amin

The Necessity of Internationalism

Begin with Marx
Whatever you like to call it, historical capitalism is anything but sustainable. It is only a brief parenthesis in history. Challenging it fundamentally - which our contemporary thinkers cannot imagine is "possible" or even "desirable" - is however the essential condition for the emancipation of dominated workers and peoples (those of the periphery, 80 percent of humanity). And the two dimensions of the challenge are indissoluble. It is not possible to put an end to capitalism unless and until these two dimensions of the same challenge are taken up together. It is not "certain" that this will happen, in which case capitalism will be "overtaken" by the destruction of civilization (beyond the discontents of civilization, to use Freud's phrase) and perhaps of all life on this earth. The scenario of a possible "remake" of the 20th century thus remains but falls far short of the need of humanity embarking on the long transition towards world socialism. The liberal disaster makes it necessary to renew a radical critique of capitalism. The challenge is how to construct, or reconstruct, the internationalism of workers and peoples confronted by the cosmopolitism of oligarchic capital.

The construction of this internationalism can only be envisaged by the success of new revolutionary advances (like those initiated in Latin America and Nepal) which open up the prospect of surpassing capitalism.

In the countries of the South, the struggle of States and nations for a negotiated globalization without hegemonies - the contemporary form of delinking - supported by the organization of demands of the popular classes - can circumscribe and limit the powers of the oligopolies of the imperialist Triad. The democratic forces in the countries of the North must support this struggle. The "democratic" discourse proposed by the dominant ideology and accepted by the majority of left wings (such as they are), "humanitarian" interventions, and pathetic practices of "aid" do not genuinely confront this challenge.

In the countries of the North the oligopolies are already clearly "common goods" whose management cannot be entrusted to private interests alone (the crisis having shown the catastrophic results). An authentic left must have the courage to envisage nationalization as a first essential step towards their socialization through the deepening of democratic practice. The current crisis makes it possible to conceive a potential crystallization of social and political forces rallying all the victims of the exclusive power of the reigning oligarchies.

The first wave of struggles for socialism, that of the 20th century, showed up the limitations of European social democracies, of communisms of the Third International, and of popular nationalisms of the Bandung era: the loss of momentum and finally the collapse of their socialist ambitions. The second wave, that of the 21st century, must draw the lessons. In particular it must associate the socialization of economic management with the deepening of democracy in society. There will be no socialism without democracy, but equally no democratic progress outside a socialist perspective.

These strategic aims make it necessary to think about the construction of "convergences in diversity" (to take up the expression of the World Forum for Alternatives), of forms of organization and of struggles by the dominated and exploited classes. And I do not intend to condemn in advance those forms which, in their own way, get back to the traditions of social democracies, communisms, and popular nationalisms or move away from them.

It seems to me necessary to be thinking about the renewal of a creative Marxism. Marx has never been so useful and necessary to understand and transform the world as he is today, perhaps more so than in the past. To be Marxist in this spirit is to begin with Marx, not to end with him, or a Lenin, or a Mao, as the historical Marxisms of the last century conceived and practiced it. It's to render unto Marx what is his: the intelligence of having begun modern critical thought, critical of the capitalist reality and critical of its political, ideological, and cultural representations. Creative Marxism must unhesitatingly pursue the aim of enriching such critical thinking par excellence. It must not fear integrating all contributions resulting from reflection in all fields, including those contributions that were wrongly considered as "foreign" by the dogmatists of historical Marxisms of the past.


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