Open Communism Part 2

Ian Parker provides an alternative to capitalism and stalinist realism, ‘open communism’, which is democratic and plural, and must be built now.

 

There are plenty of corrupt pretenders to ‘communism’ that have smeared the word and
turned it into exactly the kind of bureaucratic police state that the right-wing defenders of
capitalism always said it would be. And capitalism benefits from this weird mirror image of
capitalist un-freedom; the existence of authoritarian closed states that proclaim that they
are communist or those regimes that are ruled by ‘communist’ parties effectively frightens
people off from demanding an alternative, from building an alternative for themselves.
We need to open the roads to communism, open communism. We want a world that
is just and fair, and where we hold the earth and what we produce in common as a shared
resource for all. Almost everything we are told about communism is what we do not want;
ranging from the idea that it is about state control to the claim that the ruling party will take
away your toothbrush.

We are wary about setting out blueprints for exactly what a communist society will
look like. Apart from the time taken piddling about tinkering with this or that rule for setting
up a new society in a completely abstract way – an activity for nitpickers that turns

communism from a practical accomplishment into some kind of ‘idea’ in the clouds – any
blueprint drawn up now will simply reflect present-day life and limitations of living under
capitalism now.

We do not know how things will unfold, from where, and when, and that means
‘communism’ is much more about a process than an endpoint. And, let’s face it, with the
climate crisis condemning the globe to a fiery hell, it is possible we will not get to that
endpoint at all. What counts is what we do now, how we struggle and what we build.

That’s why we show in this little book why freedom is essential to communism, and
that includes the kinds of limited freedom that were stolen from us when capitalism was
developed as a political-economic system, developed on the basis of the enclosure of land
and control of our creative abilities. That freedom entails opening up to an international
dimension of struggle, connecting with the struggles of all of the oppressed and valuing
plurality of struggles, plurality of perspectives.

Against closed bureaucratic fake-communism – the heritage of tragic failed
revolutions and counterrevolutions – we open communism to a transition that anticipates
the forms of life we want in the forms of struggle we engage in now. We should not – as
some of the hard-faced ‘old left’ imagine we should – do bad things now as means to the
supposed good ends. That is a bankrupt dead-end. Instead, we realise our visions of
communism now in the very process of making the transition. Making small significant steps
is not the opposite of revolution, but the prerequisite for it as we open communism now.

Freedom

Open communism is more than simply saying that another world is possible. There is something in the claim to communism that transcends our miserable everyday reality, and that is driven by the kind of impulse Karl Marx described when he was writing about the limits of religion. Spiritual yearning, a desire for something beyond capitalism, is not something communists should squash but that they should welcome.

Marx tells us that religion is ‘the sigh of an oppressed creature’, that it is ‘the heart of a heartless world’. Our hopes and desires in our sighing hearts are distorted by organised religion, but communism opens the way for those desires to be realised in the real world. Some academic philosophers will say that communism is an ‘idea’, and that it exists as a timeless state of being that we can then find a way to put into practice. But it is more than that.

Religion

Communism is not a form of religion, not a magical idealist blueprint, and not something already in our heads that needs to be made real. It is more than that, going beyond the limited frame of paradise that is promised by religious leaders. Here is a paradox, for we are suspicious of the big promises of future paradise on earth or heaven and so we promise less, but in the process we open up the possibilities for far more. Questioning what we are told about the way the world is – and following Marx’s own favourite dictum to ‘doubt everything’ – we realise the best of spiritual hopes but ground them in reality.

We can share ideas about what communism might involve based on what we resist, based on what we refuse in this wretched reality that puts a price on everything, that turns everything into a ‘commodity’, a thing to be bought and sold. But, in the process, we need to practically build it now.

Communism is not a promise that your suffering here will be redeemed in some distant future, and in that sense it is the opposite of religious systems that merely offer consolation and tell you to accept things as they are now. We resist, and on the basis of our resistance we go beyond the closed confined hopes of individuals and their prayers to a higher being to resolve their pain, and we ground our resistance in collective struggle.

So, communism is not an ‘idea’ into which we pour our fantasies and wait, not ‘abstract’ as a kind of ideal model or blueprint in our heads, but something we will need to piece together, as a collective practice. Communism needs to be grounded in what we can do now so that we are building it on real-world foundations, doing that so we can really make it possible.

Practice

It is possible, and we know that because there are already real-world practical foundations for it. Take, for example, the existence of money as a universal equivalent for all other goods, all of the other things we create and consume. Capitalism has created this strange commodity – money as a thing to be bought and sold – at the very same time as it turns human beings into commodities, into things that are bought and sold. Our labour and our bodies are turned into things.

This strange substance, money under capitalism, is, we Marxists say, ‘dialectical’; that is, it is contradictory and, under pressure, mutates into its opposite. Dialectically-speaking, money is both a trap and an opportunity. The tragedy is that, even for the super-rich – and we don’t feel sorry for them – it is a trap, it does not bring happiness. We consume things that we are told will make us happy, but they do not, and as we pay we try, in some strange way, to wish away the fact that we are just exchanging one commodity, money, for something else, the commodity we are buying. Then it is a trap.

But money enables things to happen, not when it is hoarded in banks but when it is put to work in building progressive alternatives to profit-driven capitalism. While capitalism is driven by the search for profit, destroying people’s lives and the planet through ‘capital accumulation’, we together in our social movements share and use money in a different way, and as we circulate money in solidarity with people close to us and far away from us we participate in something universal. Then money is an opportunity.

What is crucial here, and this is what makes this potentially part of the movement toward open communism, is that this use of money is more transparent and the systems that put it to work are democratically accountable. Every little left group and campaign knows this and goes in this direction with fund-raising and the collection of membership dues from members, and what marks out that use of money from being a mind-numbing commodity is that it is collective. It really then becomes the basis for something universal.

Yes, maybe we’ll do without money under communism, and it is often said that the communists will one day ‘abolish’ money. That doesn’t mean that they’ll burn your banknotes or melt your credit cards or siphon off the cryptocurrency now. What it means is that in the practical movement toward communism we will turn this money hoarded by a few very rich people into a resource that we put to work for all of us. Then, eventually, we will be able to do without it.

Communism is a ‘dialectical’ movement that transforms reality because it takes reality seriously, takes seriously the structure of reality under capitalism and the obstacles thrown in our way – obstacles that include the organisation of military coups by the capitalist state and lurid propaganda about what the ‘communists’ will do if they seize power. As part of that dialectical movement grounded in material reality, ‘dialectical materialism’, money will be transformed from being in the world of Mammon – the demon god of greed – into a tool of change, a materialisation of collective action.

Commons

Communism means seizing back what was once ours. Once upon a time we shared the land, hunting and gathering, making use of natural resources. True, that use of the land began a process of plunder and exploitation, as if the environment and the other animal species we share the planet with are only there to be subject to the needs of human beings.

That is a process scientists now agree set in place what they call the ‘Anthropocene’ epoch, something that took final catastrophic form with the rise of industrial capitalism. Perhaps we ecosocialist Marxists might better name this epoch the ‘Capitalocene’ since it is capital accumulation and the rapacious search for profit that drives the destruction of our ecology now.

Capitalism was only possible with the brutal enclosure of our common land, of the ‘commons’ as what we together inhabited and made use of. Enclosure is the diametric opposite of communism. Communism is the seizing back of the commons, enabling us to be aware of nature and other animal species not as a mere ‘environment’ external to us, but an ecology that we are an intimate part of. Capitalism requires enclosure and separation, ‘environment’, while communism enables sharing and connection, ecology.

Enclosure

Enclosure of the land separated what we lived on into walled-off private property, and so we were forced off our shared land, and made to buy it back or rent it in little portions fit for individuals and their families to survive in while they equipped themselves to work, work for others. This enclosure and rent is theft, repeated insulting theft of what we could together make use of.

That violent theft of what once belonged to us all is perpetuated in the private ownership of huge tracts of land, some of which is generously leased back by landowners or enclosed by the capitalist state, a state dedicated to the interests of those with property or those who treat those they employ as their property.

Enclosure of land is thus, as capitalism develops and spreads around the world, closely followed by enclosure of bodies. This happens through colonial expeditions from the developing industrial centres of capitalism – the ‘West’ – that are concerned with harvesting natural resources and turning local people into things to be bought and sold. The slave trade and the racist history of enclosure is at the heart of capitalism, not a mere unfortunate add on. That is why decolonisation is at the heart of communism as the seizing back of the planet by all of us as internationalists.

Cooperation

Communism pits cooperation, conscious collective activity, against enclosure as the mindless control of individuals divided from each other by others as they accumulate capital. The commons, the material basis of communism, were enclosed, but it is important to know that they are still here. There is still much of the commons that has not been completely enclosed, and the history of capitalism is also a history of the struggle of colonised and working people for the commons.

That struggle has conserved key elements of the commons and has partially succeeded in seizing back the commons. The commons as the material practical basis for communism has been fought for, and now we need to fight for all of it, for open communism.

Here it is around us, limited, imperfect, not always democratically organised, but a collective accomplishment that we need to defend. It is here in the medical and welfare support we have demanded through our collective struggle, here in hard-won state provision, for example, as a ‘spirit’ of the strength of the labour movement.

It is even there in the millions of contributions, financial and practical to charity. Yes, charity as the benevolent giving of things to the poor soothes and covers over the exploitation that produces poverty in the first place – charity is perfume in the sewers of capitalism – but the impulse to care for others, the desire to respond to distress and to do that through organisations dedicated to support and sometimes to solidarity, is also an expression of something of the commons, of what we have in common as human beings.

The commons are present in the trade unions as the defence of rights and safety at work through agreements fought for in bitter struggle with employers. In each case, when the commons have not been directly enclosed and privatised, what is ‘communist’ about them is distorted, closed, bureaucratised. We see this when unions repeat structures of obedience, or, a little example of patriarchal micro-aggression, tell their representatives, including women, to dress up to speak to employers. Then, as part of our work in and alongside unions we need to open things up as part of anti-capitalist struggle.

The taking of the commons – through enclosure and privatisation – and the exploitation of our labour power as private ownership for a period of time each day, did not at all mean that capitalism replaced an earlier paradise of complete shared ownership. If there was once some kind of ‘communal’ life before capitalism it was a life of scarcity and violence, of conflict and control, including patriarchal control of women’s bodies by men.

Some look back to a pre-historical time of ‘early’ or ‘primitive’ matriarchal communism, but we cannot ever know if this romantic picture is true. It does give us hope that things could be different from the way things are now, but what is for sure is that communism built on the basis of plenty – plenty of what is good for us and good for all on the basis of our creative ability to produce enough for everyone – will be very different from the world before capitalism.

Capitalism is not always all bad; Marx, for example, saw it as a once progressive force and as globalising in the best sense of the term, enabling connections between people and the internationalism that today infuses our politics as revolutionary Marxists. The dramatic increase in innovation and technology is something we can and must make use of.

Communists do not wipe away the past, start from year zero, but conserve and build on what human beings have been able to achieve so far. So, our communism is not a return to a closed limited pre-industrial world, but values the growth of care and creativity over the drive for economic growth and profit. Ours is open communism.

Intersections

Open communism is open to new and unexpected connections between people, and with the world, with the ecology of the planet and the species we share the planet with. Open communism is ecosocialist and feminist and anti-racist, attentive to the different ways we unthinkingly treat others as separate and lesser than us, the way we ‘disable’ others.

We listen and respond to demands and , we have had to do that to turn the limited, closed and sometimes authoritarian forms of party and state control that claimed to be socialist into something more genuinely communist, internationalist and ‘intersectional’. That has involved, and will continue to involve ,contradiction and moments of hesitation, uncertainty and puzzling about how to keep things open, how to open things up more.

The path to open communism is not a smooth easy path, but is as much about working with conflict among ourselves as it is engaging in productive conflict with those who are determined to hold onto their privilege and power.

Internationalism

With globalisation – the malign colonial harvesting of natural resources and bodies and the spread of capitalism as a political-economic system around the world – there always was a progressive potential for connection between peoples, a positive open globalisation of resistance and solidarity. That is the material basis of the spirit of internationalist struggle and organisation. And with that, as a necessary part of internationalism, a linking of struggles against global capitalism and its imperialist endeavours to subject one kind of peoples to another with struggles against racism.

That ‘intersection’ of struggles is part of open communism. It is a genuine alternative to the attempt to turn anti-colonial movements into pawns in a power-game between blocs, between a capitalist camp and a supposedly anti-imperialist or progressive camp, still worse the attempt to turn leaders of anti-colonial or anti-imperialist movements into ventriloquist puppets of closed militarised bureaucracies.

The working class is a ‘universal’ class in the sense of it being the source and materialisation of the labour power that underpins, makes possible, capitalism as a global system. This material class basis of internationalism is different from the particular ‘identity’ of the ruling class in one of the imperialist nations devoted to sucking in resources from other places for its own enrichment. And this is different from the nascent capitalist classes in dependent colonised countries who fight for their ‘independence’ only on the basis that they will have a share of the pie, a share they conceive of as having its own national identity, that of where they happen to be born.

While the working class is, in its universal existence, a crucial potential agent in the re-taking of the commons – the commons on a broader higher international level than the local commons enclosed as capitalism took root in different countries – it is also divided. One local working-class is set against the others, and in imperialist countries it can be bought off from time to time, absorbing racist ideas from its own ruling class and functioning as a kind of labour aristocracy in an international quasi-feudal division of labour.

Even so, there is a contradiction at an international level and at a local level in the class struggle against capitalism, and all the more so in times of massive migration; racism that obviously divides workers is countered by practical trade union and political work with asylum-seekers and refugees. Internationalism is not only solidarity with others who are out there in faraway places, but also solidarity through intersectional work across communities in each local context.

Identity

An ‘intersectional’ approach to the commons and communism is not a combination of different kinds of identity, but throws identity as such into question, whether that is national identity or gender identity or sexual identity. In fact, while intersectional approaches arose first in connecting class, race and gender – from a legal case in which Black women workers were having to confront a legal process that divided them into their different ‘identities’ in order to weaken their claim – there has been a profound questioning of identity that cuts across these categories from within ‘queer’ politics.

We can take this further now, and say that we always need to ‘queer’ identity of any kind in our political struggle at the very same moment as we might tactically lay claim to an identity to build a particular movement. And, to take this further in relation to open communism – the seizing back of the commons so that we may all be free to determine together how to enjoy the fruits of the earth and our own creative labour – we could say that the queering of identity is at the deepest core of internationalism.

Capitalism is good at incorporating radical movements, including lesbian and gay and even trans movements, turning them into consumer market niches, into ‘identities’ as commodities to be bought and sold. But when there is a queering of identity, a refusal of binary categories of male and female, a questioning of how we are assigned a place in the social order or in the family, capitalism is put under more pressure.

We see this progressive dialectical movement forward in the way that each radical gender and sexual movement takes on a queer aspect when it links with others across community boundaries and national borders; when it, as of necessity, becomes international. Then it opens the way to refusing private property or identity as the property of an individual; it opens the way to communism.

Internationalism enables us to build on our history of struggle for a better world, for a world we have in common, and it does this both by understanding and building on our history, of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle and by understanding and building on our ‘identities’ and the struggle to remake who we are in order to remake the world.

So, there are two dimensions of struggle at work here in the building of open communism. The first dimension is historical; we learn from the past so that we will not repeat it, and that also means taking care not to romanticise pre-capitalist societies or indigenous peoples as survivals of ‘primitive communism’ that we simply return to or emulate. We start from where we are, in a world that has been colonised, rendered subject to capital accumulation, globalised, and work together in movements of solidarity, internationalising our common struggle, building working class power, the power of the working class as the universal class.

The second dimension is geographical; we learn from other experiences of struggle so we can better understand how we have been made to live out different national or gendered or sexual identities. We learn the limitations of those identities so we know better how to make claims against capitalism for what is ours, not so we can divide the spoils but so we can share what is rightfully ours. For that we have to internationalise our politics.

Plurality

Open communism unites the human race through the working class as the historically-constituted universal class; men and women and those who are non-binary, and those of every apparently separate ‘race’, work. All who labour, whatever particular ‘identity’ they choose to describe themselves or feel as they resist oppression, are part of the working class. Many are excluded, ‘disabled’, but it is a very small proportion of the global population who never work because they are able to choose not to.

There are, we know well, traditions of ‘communism’ that are closed and bureaucratic, with top-down centralised decision-making apparatuses, but there are many traditions of more plural open communism that connect economic struggle with cultural struggle. The tradition of work on ‘hegemony’ – the ideological domination of society that serves the ruling class – developed around the ‘prison writings’ of one of the Italian communist party leaders, is a powerful case example.

The battle of ideas in the struggle for hegemony inside social movements is crucial as a part of the cultural-political work we engage in alongside and inside apparently purely ‘economic’ struggles. But we need to know what kinds of hegemony count for us as communists and what misreadings of it holds us back.

That tradition also provides an opportunity to clarify what we mean by an intersectional, plural movement of open communism from a revolutionary Marxist standpoint. For there is a dominant reading of arguments about hegemony that led many ‘communists’ in the so-called ‘Eurocommunist’ critique of Stalinism to the right; that is, they not only opposed the old closed communism of the bureaucratic states formed after the October revolution in Russia and then in China, but directed attention to an ideological struggle for hegemony that would involve everyone from every class in society.

That kind of ‘plurality’ is generous and open to a fault, the fault being that class struggle and the strengthening of the working class in all its diversity is replaced with mere liberal plural debate that is hostile to conflict, tries to avoid it, prevent it. Class power and conflict under capitalism, the division between those who own and control the means of production, on the one hand, and those who are exploited – the working class – on the other, is thereby obscured, shut out.

The ideological struggle for ‘hegemony’ was, in its earliest most useful formulations, something that should be occurring inside the working class organisations and exist to strengthen the working class, not weaken it vis-à-vis the ruling class. It is that working-class plurality that lays the basis of open communism.

Standpoint

We can deepen these insights into the importance of a plural open democratic battle of ideas inside the working class – the struggle for hegemony as we work out the best way forward – by including in the working class many standpoints from different kinds of work, different kinds of labour.

From socialist feminism, one of the forms of struggle that revolutionary Marxism now intersects with, come arguments about the position of the exploited and oppressed and what that position allows them to see about power that those with power conveniently place outside of their awareness. That is, awareness and conscious resistance is tied to ‘standpoint’, and we must learn from the standpoints of those subjected to power if we are to open communism.

Marxism has always been a ‘standpoint’ theory. It is a theory that is geared to changing what it analyses – the very process of understanding capitalism is linked to practical political activity to resist it – and that is from the standpoint of the working class. Socialist feminism reminds us of that while also reminding us that the position of the women in the family and then as part of the work-force is another specific standpoint as women notice and challenge male power, the rule of men over women, patriarchy.

Women’s labour under capitalism is concerned not only with producing things – commodities exchanged for money, a source of profit – but also with maintaining and reproducing the work-force. That is, alongside production is ‘social reproduction’, and so women who are positioned as care-givers in the field of maternal labour, for example, have a standpoint within the working class that makes their ideological and political contribution different and vital.

Struggles against colonialism and racism deepened this analysis as other standpoints of the oppressed and claims to identity were fought for. Those struggles changed the world, and changed the left. Let’s have more of them to re-energise anti-capitalist politics open to communism now.

Ideology

Ideology – the ideas of the ruling class that structure how we all think about the world in line with a certain set of material interests that are not ours – is not a fixed thing, but we can see from all the different cultural productions under capitalism today that it is flexible, mutating to try and incorporate and neutralise threats to it. So, our consciousness of exploitation and oppression also needs to be flexible, tactical about such things as identity, and plural, open to different standpoints.

The same principle applies to the international division of labour historically structured by colonialism and racism. Our internationalism is built into our politics as solidarity with those who are up against imperialism or up against the capitalist state wherever they are, and that means that we notice how different forms of labour produce different standpoints. International working-class organisations, whether as solidarity networks or trade unions or as political groupings, cannot be centralised as if they were a ‘world party’ governed by the selfsame set of principles applicable to everyone everywhere.

To say that the working class is the ‘universal’ class is not at all to say that it provides a complete, closed, total or ‘totalising’ image of what the world is or should be. Universality here means internationalising, and intersectionally so; learning from difference rather than trying to absorb those who are different with the aim of making them the same. We want a movement towards communism in which the future is open.

Argument and debate is at the heart of open communism, and whatever future society we build will be composed of contradictions and antagonisms that structure the debates we have about how to manage our lives, what our relationship is with the fragile ecology of the earth we live on. Communism is not the ending of contradiction, but an ability to work with it instead of trying to snuff it out.

In that sense, all of the hopes of the ‘liberals’ – that the world should be open to different viewpoints – are only realisable within the communist movement and under communism. Liberals pretend that everyone has an equal say now, that we can jettison the old divisive stuff about class struggle and have a big debate across the social classes, those who are exploited and those who exploit us. This is the road that the liberal ‘Eurocommunist’ misreading of the battle for ‘hegemony’ took us in, away from class struggle and to liberal acceptance of the rules of the game that capitalism plays by, so that it always wins, always survives and expands.

Open communism is a society in which class division is abolished, and those who labour share the fruits of their labours so that they are able to manage things so they work less and play more, a society in which liberalism is made possible. You cannot be a liberal apologist for capitalism now if you want that kind of world. You must be anti-capitalist, a communist.

Transitions

How we open communism, how we get there, is the key question. In fact, that is even more important than dreaming up detailed blueprints for what a communist society will look like. There are many false paths, some of which have led to disaster.

There is a very slow road, cautious and careful not to upset those in power who are determined to protect the private property of the super-rich and corporations to which they are tied through the state apparatus and by a million threads. Here are the social democrats, those who run some of the large electorally-strong ‘left’ parties, for example, who will bit-by-bit take things so slow the ruling class will not notice. But they will notice, and when the crunch comes the social democrats hesitate, compromise and lead us either back to where we started or into the hands of a brutal military coup they are unprepared to resist.

There is a very fast road, impatient with compromise, quick to denounce anyone building an alliance of the left that will give people confidence and power to demand more. Here are the ultra-left, those who are take up a radical posture that does not really frighten anyone but drives people away from politics because it drives people away from those kinds of sect-like politics. The ruling class can tolerate this quasi-revolutionary play-acting, and just as quickly mobilise people to marginalise and isolate the small groups intent on keeping themselves pure.

Then there is the bureaucratically-organised road-map of the Stalinists who tell us that all human history is neatly-organised into stages and states of development. Here is the comforting romantic story of ‘primitive communism’ at the beginning of history and then the bad news; the story is that society has to proceed through slavery and then feudalism and then capitalism and then state-organised ‘socialism’ before arriving at the final goal. The ruling class loves this, for this road takes us through all kinds of delay and pain to justify a long march that is not an appealing alternative to capitalism.

Prefigurative

It was socialist-feminism that reminded us of a transitional strategy that combined an ethical opening of communism now, one that linked social change with personal change. Our future society, the socialist-feminists argued, needs to be anticipated in our forms of struggle. How we organise ourselves now will ‘prefigure’, and have consequences for the kind of society we are trying to build. This ‘prefigurative’ politics is transitional, focused on what we need to do now to make the transition to communism.

This brings us up against the limits of the social-democratic strategy that makes us adapt, compromise, and ends up telling us to behave, so then we just reproduce capitalist society as it is now. It brings us up against the manic macho sects that replicate in miniature forms of power that they claim to be against. And it brings us up against the Stalinist tradition that tells us to subordinate our hopes to the existing states and parties that pretend to be ‘progressive’ or ‘socialist’, bad mirror-images of capitalist society.

If we really want a society in which there is democratic collective debate about the way forward we need to ‘prefigure’ that now. Only that will give people the confidence to demand the earth and inspire them to believe that it is worth struggling for.

Means

Just as Marxist analysis of society is intimately linked to transforming its object of study – for it is a revolutionary transformative science of social and personal change – so transitional strategies dialectically link the means of change to its ends. Capitalism is built on hypocrisy, selling us things that promise to make us happy while treating people like objects, turning their labour and their bodies into commodities. Our politics cuts through this hypocrisy, and our vision of communism is profoundly ethical.

Socialist-feminist prefigurative politics returns us to the revolutionary Marxist anti-Stalinist history of a ‘transitional’ programme for change. Transitional demands include that there be no secret diplomacy, that the books of the companies be opened, and that we directly link wages to inflation so we don’t pay for the recurring economic crises that characterise capitalism. Notice that these demands link what is humanly possible now with the kind of society that will be more democratic and just.

These means – a strategy composed of transitional demands and self-organisation of the working class – are what we wish for as the ends we hope to arrive at. An ethical vision of open communism is thus put into practice now so that people experience in their everyday life and political struggle what they are aiming for. This is instead of hypocritically and unethically manipulating people in the vain hope that the ends will justify the means.

We are open about our politics, saying what we mean, being clear, for example, that those who opt for reforms instead of revolution are taking a false path. But instead of just denouncing them we engage them in debate, and we may even vote for them to put them to the test, knowing that whatever increases people’s confidence and power will enable people to insist that what they have asked for is reasonable and fair.

For that, alliances and united front organisation with those we disagree with will be necessary to build a context in which we can better build independent working-class self-organisation through the unions and progressive social movements.

Capitalism saps our strength and is already, for most people in the world, a form of barbarism. So to argue – as the revolutionary Marxist Rosa Luxemburg did – that the choice we face now is ‘socialism or barbarism’ is not between far-off future options. The choice is between the barbarism that capitalism is now and a genuinely socialist alternative that we can build now in the process of building anti-capitalist resistance, open communism.


This is the second half of a book published by Resistance Books, Stalinist Realism and Open Communism: Malignant Mirror or Free Association.


Anti-War Art Book Review Books Boris Johnson Campism Capitalism China Climate Emergency Conservative Government Conservative Party COP 26 COVID-19 Creeping Fascism Economics EcoSocialism Elections England Event Video Fascism Film Review France Global Police State History Imperialism Italy Keir Starmer Labour Party Leaflet Long Read Marxism Marxist Theory NATO Palestine pandemic Protest Russia Solidarity Sport Statement Trade Unionism Ukraine United States of America War Work


Ian Parker is a Manchester-based psychoanalyist and a member of Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

Join the discussion

MORE FROM ACR