Below is the preface to a new book I intend to publish soon entitled; ‘An Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’. Pre-publication copies in Word document format are available on request to email@example.com for anyone who may be interested. I hope to find a way to publish it electronically for a free download, so any advice on how to do this sent to the above email or via comments below would be much appreciated.
In the 21st century, a new generation of young people were born into global society and by 2019, many began questioning the effects of it’s method of production, distribution and consumption as the basis for the future of humanity. School students leaving their classrooms and demonstrating against climate change and many other negative aspects became a phenomenon of ecological ‘enlightenment’. These new activists have replaced the previous generations of people who once protested against aspects of the capitalist system or even against its whole ethos. Previous ideological expressions of this generalised opposition to capitalism took the form of Socialism in the 19th century and Communism or Anti – capitalism, in the 20th century.
These earlier political expressions of dissatisfaction with the capitalist mode of production often gave rise to groups and political parties with the aim, in one form or another, of positively improving or transforming it. Such groups competed with each other for leadership of what they hoped would be a movement of ordinary working people which would by political means elect them, or by ‘revolution’ project them, to political power with a mandate to change things for the better. Some of these groups succeeded in part of that hope and took power in various countries during the 20th century period of extended crisis; the ‘right-wing ‘National’ Socialists in Germany and Italy, the ‘left-wing Socialist/Communist Parties’ in Russia and China, and the ‘social-democratic socialists’ in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.
However, none of these groups and parties, once in power, even tried to end the exploitation of people and the planet. Indeed, most of these so-called reformist and revolutionary (sic) governments even intensified the exploitation of working people and frequently made matters worse with regard to pollution, ecological destruction, climate change, general poverty and hardship for the majority. Clearly, the ideas and practices which these groups and parties adopted did not benefit the mass of humanity or the planetary biosphere and so in the 21st century humanity is faced with even more problems than it was in the 20th.
This introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism seeks to explain why previous attempts to counteract capitalist exploitation were such dismal failures. In brief chapters, the ideas and methods previously employed by these groups and parties which led to dead ends are outlined. There are of course, hundreds of volumes of long – winded arguments detailing a multitude of disagreements within and between these groups and political parties, which for those with lots of time and patience, can be delved into. However, this introduction is an attempt to familiarise new generations of concerned students, workers and climate activists with the past struggles in a more easily digestible form. Longer documents and larger volumes can always be visited and considered if and when time and/or inclination permits.
I suggest there is a pressing need for a younger generations to grasp the complexity of the struggle which faces humanity and to avoid both the sectarian dogma of those previous anti-capitalist political distortions and the reformist economic and social ‘dead ends’ others led their ‘followers’ into. Hopefully the chapters in this book will assist them to re-discover the early Revolutionary-Humanist aspirations of ordinary working people and those who supported them. For it was these aspirations which became abandoned and sidelined by the egotistical and toxic dogma of elitist ‘vanguard’ leaders wishing to become the new leaders and top-down guardians of collective humanity.
The short chapters are introductions to the topics indicated by the chapter headings and can be used for individual study and reflection or for group discussion purposes. The subjects they deal with have been condensed to make them manageable for group discussions and for those new to the Revolutionary-Humanist perspective on the capitalist mode of production. To the best of my knowledge the facts and conclusions stated are as accurate as I can make them given the resources currently at my disposal during Covid 19 lock down..
Roy Ratcliffe. (2020)
Good luck with your publication. A clear presentation around the “theory and practice” of “Marxist Humanism” (or Humanist Marxism!) will be a valuable tool for the emerging generation of revolutionary militants whose tasks are immensely onerous.
The historic necessity for the proletariat to create an alternative to the slide into barbarism has never been posed. more sharply.
Thanks Keith. However, in the book I have a chapter on Marx and explain why I have ceased to class Marx as a Marxist or his ideas as Marxism. I consider he was thinking rationally and thinking ahead when, before he died, he declared himself not a Marxist in reaction to the use and abuse of this term by so-called followers. My own view is that he was one of the most dedicated and insightful revolutionary humanists of his generation. And yes the task is, as you say “immensly onerous”. Regards, Roy
I look forward to reading your thoughts on Marx/Marxism.
Personally, I can see an argument that the word “Marxism” has been misappropriated/misused so many times that it has lost much of its meaning. On the other hand, the danger of abandoning essential points of reference does feel dangerously close to “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.
Indeed Keith. We seem to have similar thoughts and share the same analogy. In a previous much longer book I described the sectarian dogmatism amongst many ‘Marxists’ as the “terminally contaminated bathwater” but made the case of not rejecting the revolutionary humanist perspective as “the exceptionally healthy baby to which Marx had made a valuable contribution”. My aim was to persuade people workers and others to reconsider or rediscover Marx. It still is: but as an inspiration to learn and think for themselves, not use as a crib sheet for polemical distortions. Best regards, Roy