Kamran Nayeri: Why do 65% of Egyptian voters casted their ballots for the
two Islamic parties? Why Islamic currents have gain in influence at least
since the 1979 Iranian revolution that brought to power an Islamic
"republic."? Why creationism is on the rise in the western liberal
democratic societies? Could these have a common cause as the situation
discussed in this article regarding biology and medical students? Does the
crisis of socialism and liberal bourgeois worldview have anything to do with
I never understand what is meant when writers refer to the "crisis of
socialism." It is as meaningless a phrase as (say) the crisis of the tide or
the crisis of history. "Socialism" is a long historical process, and NOT a
"progressive" one in the sense in which we speak of a science as being
"progressive": i.e., each advance becomes the basis for the next advance and
so forth. This is not true of _any_ historical process, since contingency
plays so overwhelming a role in human hisotyr. This concept of Progress in
history (and the metaphor of crisis of socialism presumes such a concept)
was primarily the result of (a) 19th-c rapid developments in technology
combined with (b) the triumphs of British imperialism over the "non-white"
peoples of the world. The whole process is summarized at the end of the
century by a great but vile poem: Kipling's The White Man's Burden: That
"burden" was to bring "civilization" (i.e. Progress) to the lesser brteeds.
Now, capitalism, unlike all other social "systems" IS a _system_ in that it
'aims' as it were at totality. That is why dialectics is relevant to
capitalism but not to either feudalism or some (hoped for) future socialism.
But even capitalism is not a true "totality," and Hegel's "the truth is the
whole" applies to it only roughly; and that is also why Marx produced a
"Critique of Political Economy" and NOT a Critical Political Economy. As
Marx noted in Vol. 3 of Capital, he described not a concrete capitalist
economy but the "ideal average" of all possible capitalisms. Note that even
the best Marxist "economists" never succeed in making the kind of concrete
predictions that characterize a progressive discipline. Prediction breaks
down in actual human history.
And thus, if by "Socialism" we mean the struggle for socialism or (better in
my estimation) the struggle to demolish capitalism, that will not be a
continuous process, which may experience periods of "crisis." Marx himself
was explicit on this; see the passage in (I think) 18tyh-Brumaire that ends
with Shakespeare's phrse, "Well dug Old Mole." That great upsurge of the
most recent challenge to capitalism, that Movement of Movements we call "The
'60s," was turned back both by the exhaustion of the anti-capitalist forces
(working people eventually have to go back to work: they can't stay in the
trenches indefinitely) and by a powerful and organized corporate backlash,
described in Edward P. Morgan, _What Really Happened to [sic] the 1960s: How
Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy_. The revival of this list a
few years ago; the Central-America Solidarity Movement of the '80s; the
battle against Apartheid; Seattle; Hormel; Staley; the World Froums of
recent years; the anti-war movement of 2001-03; the survival of Cuba; the
G20 demos in London a few years ago: all these and many other events &
struggles were that Old Mole at work. Not a crisis: Just capitalist
normality. Perhaps, with Wisconsin followed by the Occuapations we are
entering a new serious challenge to capitalism.
Neoliberalism and its rampage across the globe, its ravaging of the world's
peoples, that Corporate Backlash Ted Morgan describes, are the context of
demoralization of the masses -- probably creationism is one symptom of that.
But leave the mythical "crisis of socialism" out of it.