*Those Who Fight For Our Communist Future Are Kindred Spirits- In Honor Of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky-A Commentary
Click on the title to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's copy of his 1923 article, "Not Alone By Politics Does Man Thrive", a good exposition of the problems of socialist cultural and economic construction in the early stages of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
We live , at least those of us who fight for the Marxian version of the future international communist society, our day to day lives in some pretty rarefied theoretical and practical air. Although we have imbibed a real body of work like those original works of Marx and his co-worker Engels, the later interpretations of Lenin and Trotsky, and the myriad others who have made lesser contributions over the past 150 years or so, the class-struggle drought that we are going through over the past couple of decades, of necessity, should make us bring us to our knees. And then stand up, dust off the dirt and push on with the propaganda, cadre recruitment and education, and intervention into current political life necessary, as always, to pull us toward that goal. Thus, I already know the tasks ahead we need to perform, or have a pretty good idea. But for just the length of this piece I want to kind of, as is usual for many people at this time of year, make something of a reaffirmation (resolution, if you like) on why we need to continue to fight for that communist future.
Coming off the recent developments in America (and its ramifications internationally): the almost catastrophic economic downturn that has wreaked havoc on many working class families through unemployment, foreclosures and the closing off of educational opportunities; the impending climate control disaster that cries out for an international solution; the health care disaster that will continue to spiral out of control despite the bandage of a so-called ‘comprehensive’ health care bill; and, above all the troop escalation that Obama has staked his presidency on we communist should be sitting in the catbird seat. Any one of these should have had us on the ‘barricades’ long ago. Not so, unfortunately.
These crises cry out to high heaven for communist solutions- starting with that first long step the fight for workers governments, internationally. Yet, as the tepid (and I am being kind here) response of the anti-war left to war-monger Obama’s provocation on the Afghan troop escalations demonstrates we are on the extreme defensive. I will not even go into the subject of the response of the organized labor movement to the economic crisis, at least of its current leadership, as I do not want to see grown people cry. We can say the same for the struggles of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, class-war prisoners and others. There is more than enough material here to just throw in the towel and let the chips fall where they may.
No, one thousand times no. Hell, make that one million times no. The international capitalist imperialist system that we are saddled with cannot be the “end of history”. Only a fool, cynic or well-paid toady could think so. I wish to associate myself with the proposition- unambiguously, and in the teeth of ten millions pressures to do otherwise, to fight for the communist program in the Obamiad. That fight, is, as it always has been and always will be until we achieve the classless society the primary business of those who take the honorable name communist. I also stand in solidarity with the need to save and preserve that communist program, if not for now, then for future generations that will have to deal with their own versions of the class struggle.
For those versed in the goal of communism- the notion of a classless society where people would spent their time, especially their shortened work time, cooperatively; the notion that government would change its axis from a monstrous control over humankind to the mere administration of things; and, that through intermixing and intermingling racial divisions, ethnic tensions and conflicting religious expressions would be things for the historical museum. I won’t even tempt you with what the future would look like in terms of a replacement of the family as the basic unit of socialization, especially of children because I do not want every harried young mother and stay-at-home father in the world banging at my door today to sign up for the communist program today. All and all though isn't this an attractive program to sell. Agreed? Can even the most starry-eyed bourgeois apologist for international capitalism come up with anything even close? We have seen with the truncated, and totally inadequate, American heath care bill what they are willing to offer. No, thanks. I will fight for the communist program, and gladly.
For those who want a more eloquent exposition of the communist future and, moreover, from one who had to deal very concretely with the issues that arose in trying to construct that future I will end this musing with the last few paragraphs from Chapter 8 of Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s 1924 cultural/political polemic,” Literature and Revolution”. Yes, to explain the communist program the way it should be expressed I am more than willing to defer to the “big” guns. Thanks, Comrade Trotsky.
“...Mankind will come out of the period of civil wars much poorer from terrific destructions, even without the earthquakes of the kind that occurred in Japan. The effort to conquer poverty, hunger, want in all its forms, that is, to conquer nature, will be the dominant tendency for decades to come. The passion for mechanical improvements, as in America, will accompany the first stage of every new Socialist society. The passive enjoyment of nature will disappear from art. Technique will become a more powerful inspiration for artistic work, and later on the contradiction itself between technique and nature will be solved in a higher synthesis.
The personal dreams of a few enthusiasts today for making life more dramatic and for educating man himself rhythmically, find a proper and real place in this outlook. Having rationalized his economic system, that is, having saturated it with consciousness and planfulness, man will not leave a trace of the present stagnant and worm-eaten domestic life. The care for food and education, which lies like a millstone on the present-day family, will be removed, and will become the subject of social initiative and of an endless collective creativeness. Woman will at last free herself from her semi-servile condition. Side by side with technique, education, in the broad sense of the psycho-physical molding of new generations, will take its place as the crown of social thinking. Powerful “parties” will form themselves around pedagogic systems. Experiments in social education and an emulation of different methods will take place to a degree which has not been dreamed of before. Communist life will not be formed blindly, like coral islands, but will be built consciously, will be tested by thought, will be directed and corrected. Life will cease to be elemental, and for this reason stagnant. Man, who will learn how to move rivers and mountains, how to build peoples’ palaces on the peaks of Mont Blanc and at the bottom of the Atlantic, will not only be able to add to his own life richness, brilliancy and intensity, but also a dynamic quality of the highest degree. The shell of life will hardly have time to form before it will burst open again under the pressure of new technical and cultural inventions and achievements. Life in the future will not be monotonous.
More than that. Man at last will begin to harmonize himself in earnest. He will make it his business to achieve beauty by giving the movement of his own limbs the utmost precision, purposefulness and economy in his work, his walk and his play. He will try to master first the semiconscious and then the subconscious processes in his own organism, such as breathing, the circulation of the blood, digestion, reproduction, and, within necessary limits, he will try to subordinate them to the control of reason and will. Even purely physiologic life will become subject to collective experiments. The human species, the coagulated Homo sapiens, will once more enter into a state of radical transformation, and, in his own hands, will become an object of the most complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physical training. This is entirely in accord with evolution. Man first drove the dark elements out of industry and ideology, by displacing barbarian routine by scientific technique, and religion by science. Afterwards he drove the unconscious out of politics, by overthrowing monarchy and class with democracy and rationalist parliamentarianism and then with the clear and open Soviet dictatorship. The blind elements have settled most heavily in economic relations, but man is driving them out from there also, by means of the Socialist organization of economic life. This makes it possible to reconstruct fundamentally the traditional family life. Finally, the nature of man himself is hidden in the deepest and darkest corner of the unconscious, of the elemental, of the sub-soil. Is it not self-evident that the greatest efforts of investigative thought and of creative initiative will be in that direction? The human race will not have ceased to crawl on all fours before God, kings and capital, in order later to submit humbly before the dark laws of heredity and a blind sexual selection! Emancipated man will want to attain a greater equilibrium in the work of his organs and a more proportional developing and wearing out of his tissues, in order to reduce the fear of death to a rational reaction of the organism towards danger. There can be no doubt that man’s extreme anatomical and physiological disharmony, that is, the extreme disproportion in the growth and wearing out of organs and tissues, give the life instinct the form of a pinched, morbid and hysterical fear of death, which darkens reason and which feeds the stupid and humiliating fantasies about life after death.
Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.
It is difficult to predict the extent of self-government which the man of the future may reach or the heights to which he may carry his technique. Social construction and psycho-physical self-education will become two aspects of one and the same process. All the arts – literature, drama, painting, music and architecture will lend this process beautiful form. More correctly, the shell in which the cultural construction and self-education of Communist man will be enclosed, will develop all the vital elements of contemporary art to the highest point. Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser and subtler; his body will become more harmonized, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.