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Papa Q: The Challenge of Creating a 21st Century Left Politics

contradictions-of-real-socialism-300x452The Contradictions of Real Socialism: The Conductor and the Conducted

The Contradictions of Real Socialism: The Conductor and the ConductedBy Michael A. Lebowitz. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press, 2012.

Reviewed by David Cohen


The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s brought forth an abundance of declarations that socialism was once and for all dead. However, for some, the task became developing a new vision of socialism for the twenty-first century. Across several books, Michael Lebowitz develops a new vision of socialism by going back to how Marx envisioned socialism as an alternative to capitalism.

Lebowitz writes, “There is though, a new vision of socialism that has emerged in the twenty-first century as an alternative to barbarism. At its core is the alternative that Marx evoked in Capital; in contrast to a society in which the worker exists to satisfy the need of capital for its growth, Marx pointed to “the inverse situation, in which objective wealth is there to satisfy the workers own need for development.” Human development, in short, is at the center of this vision of the alternative to capitalism.” (Page 17).

Published in Beyond Capitalism

GramsciSquareThis is the third section of  a three-part series by Bill Fletcher, Jr, reposted from Philosophers for Change. The first post, available here, addressed the current political context and efforts at socialist renewal.  The second post, available here, addresses: “The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism” and “The question of who makes history.”  This final section explores the ways in which the left must advance long-standing socialist concepts to be relevant and effective for the 21st century. 


Refounding the Left

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Paris Commune Marx and Engels had to reflect on that experience and question some of their own propositions. This level of both self-analysis and self-criticism has been repeated occasionally in Left circles, but more frequently the radical Left holds onto certain ideological assertions as basic canon rather than making a concrete and exhaustive analysis.

Published in Bill Fletcher

 ArabSpringThis is the second section of  a three-part piece by Bill Fletcher, Jr, reposted from Philosophers for Change. The last post, available here, addressed the current political context and efforts at socialist renewal.  This post addresses: “The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism” and “The question of who makes history”

 

The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism

The reshaping of the global Left, and quite possibly global politics, may have been found in the Arab democratic uprising (what some call the “Arab Spring” or Arab Democratic Revolution) that kicked off with the December 2010 rising in Tunisia. Though none of these uprisings can be described as “Left”, at least in traditional terms, and though in some places the Left played a role in the uprisings, e.g., Tunisia, the scale and scope of the uprisings has been so significant so as to send shockwaves around the planet that go beyond the Left.  In effect these uprisings were anti-neo-colonial and objectively anti-neo-liberal.  They were mass and were not religiously inspired (though drew upon various faiths for inspiration).[iii]  And, contrary to many prior risings in the Arab World, they were not coups but rather were mass interventions that in many cases brought normal life to a halt.           

Published in Bill Fletcher

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About the Author

  • Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a longtime labor, racial justice and international activist. He is an Editorial Board member and columnist for BlackCommentator.com and a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and a founder of the Black Radical Congress.

    Fletcher is the co-author (with Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided, The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice (University of California Press). He was formerly the Vice President for International Trade Union Development Programs for the George Meany Center of the AFL-CIO. Prior the George Meany Center, Fletcher served as Education Director and later Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.

    Fletcher got his start in the labor movement as a rank and file member of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America. Combining labor and community work, he was also involved in ongoing efforts to desegregate the Boston building trades. He later served in leadership and staff positions in District 65-United Auto Workers, National Postal Mail Handlers Union and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

    Fletcher is a graduate of Harvard University and has authored numerous articles and speaks widely on domestic and international topics, racial justice and labor issues.

Recent Bill Fletcher Posts

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