This is part of a two-part entry, one entry on my actual blog (also available as a lj feed), and one on my mostly-questions livejournal account. If one or the other is not up, be patient or nudge me. As always, I mostly say what I think here, and I mostly ask leading questions there. Y'all, of course, should read and be subscribed to both.
Marx had a theory of nations and history that included a certain notion of progress. It has been widely misunderstood that he sees evolution along the lines he laid out as inevitable, with individuals being relatively unimportant. This perspective is not true of either Lenin or Marx -- Marx wanted to make a clean break from the social role of philosophers in history, declining to settle into a doctorate programme in order to take up involvement with the worker's struggle and radical causes. He saw the good philosopher as an agent of social change (which I agree with). Lenin refined this by making a distinction between agitators and philosophers in a movement, whereby agitators take a single or small set of ideas/facts and present them compellingly to a lot of people, and philosophers/propogandists take a larger set of ideas/facts and present them compellingly to a few people, each using different media. In both, the action of individuals is helpful or necessary to create social advances. Neither of these is explicitly or necessarily democratic -- instead, as with many social changes of the past, the end is to convince enough people that forces can be arranged to overcome resistance to change. Some historical changes in ownership of production, such as during the French Revolution, involved considerable struggle between many factions, while others have been more gradual and peaceful. Some transitions, such as the transition from colonial slavery to more local economy, are mixed according to their circumstances (contrasting Algieria, India, China, and Persia's struggles and current state can be enlightening). A reconstituted Marxist economics must take into account the various additional types of capitalism that have developed, and the difficulties they pose both for dismantling the system and the coming re-evening that capitalist economies will face when wages equalise. The struggle for Communism is no less than a struggle for continued civilisation, and provides both the greatest challenge/risk/danger that humanity has known and is the most necessary to rescue us from tyranny and privilege. It is neither wholly an economic struggle nor is it solely a political struggle -- these concepts under Communism are entwined. Some aspects of liberalism, many of which are privileges for the wealthy, the only people who can really enjoy them now, must be kept as prized as they are today. These aspects of liberalism, such as legal equality for men and women, are prizes in any society, from the most illiberal (Hussein's Iraq) to modern secular societies such as those in Europe. Other aspects of liberalism, such as rights to own businesses and the right to a fully private contract are harmful to society and must disappear as instruments of unacceptable control. Communism requires both a certain willingness of the people to operate within the system until generations are raised and educated in it and a commitment to building appropriate virtues in present and future generations of society. As peasants attached to traditional ways of living and nobles accustomed to privilege had difficulty adapting to mercantilism and capitalism, the people of today will need time, education, and in many cases generational shifts to fully adapt to a new society. Initially, as the new society forms, it will be fragile to the efforts of powermongers (especially ex-capitalists). Completing plans for transitional times is critical to ensure the exclusion of these people from power, these plans including both social and legal measures. The tragedy of the Soviet Union under Stalin resulted in the deaths and flight of the Soviet intellectual elite and broke the faith of the people in construction of a newer society, destroying any chance for the societal advances that would make the system work, and turning the Soviet Union from a beacon of success into an embarassment. Construction of the new society will require certain preconditions (some of which can be met while the restructuring is underway, some of which are essentially prerequisites). It is amazing how much modernisation the Soviet Union managed to provide to a backwards society and economy -- a deeply traditional and religious people with inadequate technology for more than a primitive level of efficiency of labour initially made reasonable and rapid headway against both of these issues. Different challenges face us today, from issues of reputation among people who should be allies to managing the traditional programme, the latter being significantly more important. Unlike under the Soviet Union, productive efficiencies provide material resources sufficient for universal literacy and connectedness, an end to starvation, and breathing space for transitional inefficiencies. Cultural transformation is necessary to reduce the impact of Evangelical Christianity (and other religious impediments), while at the same time putting an end to the new opiate of the masses, consumerism and the cynical, greedy, and hostile-to-integrity life it suggests. Apathy and the "easy path" represent a nihilism that is more difficult to recover from than the most fundamentalist of regimes (although the struggle between the two may provide some breathing space for the reemergence of our struggle). Agents of cultural advancement, even in directions that are not directly in the direction towards socialism, can be recognised as having had positive effects. Kemal Ataturk, or more relevantly Tsar Peter, despite being of a family that, when conditions were more advanced, were removed from power and purged for the good of society, nontheless contributed in their time in the establishment of modernity in Russia. It is characteristic of the great to guide society in better directions and disrupt the status quo. It is the duty of great Communists to do so while working to provide the education and reasoning that will make radical openness possible as quickly as possible. To destroy the existing power structure and not establish a new society, as the anarchists would do, is a blind move that does nothing but set the stage for the rapid reestablishment of something resembling the old order. However, to fail to provide radical openness quickly enough creates a deadly inertia that leads to revisionism and/or eventually a degenerate worker's state. These are many of the issues facing Communists today, and several areas which I am interested in working through.
Oh, an apology to people reading this on livejournal -- I officially no longer care if lj's infrequent and often-broken RSS/Atom scooper decides that it will not scoop my BLOG often enough, or when it does, it decides it can't resolve blog.dachte.org, or when it catches up, it puts entries in the wrong order. It's crap, but if it helps y'all read me, so it goes. I have helpfully provided accurate time information and a link for y'all so you can see when I actually posted things.