The Leap: Qualitative, Epochal, Transformative
Humanity, and our American society, are poised on the edge of history, and the burning question of our time is, which way forward? What is the content of our time? How can we explain, how do we understand the disruption, the instability, the reverberations of change that assault the very basis upon which we stand? Ours is a time of a qualitative, epochal, and transformative leap from one kind of society to another. Our time is the launching of a new epoch of social revolution.
Human history is marked by epochal shifts, where we recognize that a qualitative change has taken place, where the base of the old society is destroyed, and the reorganization of a qualitatively different kind of society is required. Epochal shifts mark the time of the leap.
The basis of any society is how it is organized to produce what society needs. The level of productive forces and the way we relate to one another in the production of our lives constitute the economic basis of society. The basis of American society – and all global societies today – is capitalist commodity production. It is a system in which human labor-power is exploited by the capitalist in the creation of commodities for exchange. It is how all value is produced and the source of profit and capitalist private property.
History has shown us that at a certain point the productive forces come into conflict with the relations of production, that is, the property relations, which then become fetters upon the process itself. An open antagonism develops between the method of production and the method of distribution. We see this today with the introduction of electronics into commodity production.
The microchip and the semiconductor were developed outside of the industrial process and introduced into it. Electronic, automated, robotic production is the introduction of that new kind of tool or productive force that gives rise to production without human labor. Laborless production is wageless production. To introduce laborless production into a system in which all value is created by wage labor constitutes an assault upon the very basis of society itself. The accelerating shift to electronics creates untold wealth alongside untold misery. More and more workers are permanently unemployed and a polarization between absolute wealth and absolute poverty begins.
As laborless production goes through its quantitative stages of development in this new epoch, corresponding to that is the ever increasing development of a new class. Expelled from the productive process itself, this growing new section of the working class is now being dispossessed of the very necessities of life itself – food, shelter, health care, education.
Value can be realized only in exchange, and when value declines, the circuit of capital is interrupted. Commodities cannot be bought or consumed when the workers have no money. As value continues to decline, society sinks under a mountain of debt. The more valueless money becomes, the more it becomes an instrument of speculation.
Capitalist commodity production is irrevocably broken. It cannot be fixed, repaired, or restored. A new epoch is born, and its historical task is to unfetter the qualitatively new productive forces and to reorganize the relations of production to be compatible with it. The leap is from production with human labor to production without human labor.
The path of human history is marked by the introduction of qualitatively new tools and the corresponding new societies that emerge. Our time is akin to the leap from a classless primitive communist society to private property. From the bow and arrow, the harnessing of fire, and the creation of the iron plow came the early slave societies. From new productive forces come new forms of private property and the social and political forms that correspond to them.
Now electronics replaces industrial mechanics, and a new kind of society is necessary to unleash these new forces to produce an unheard of abundance that can truly provide a great leap forward for humanity – a new kind of society in which all human needs can be met. Released from the bonds of private property and privation, a new epoch in human history begins, a time of reconstruction, a time of positive transformation. It can be said that for the first time it sets the basis for the potentiality of humanity to be unchained; in a way, the beginning of truly human history.
All of this means that ours is a time of revolution, a time of successfully navigating the leap from one kind of society to another. In a very real way, from this time forward the future depends on what we do as revolutionaries, and what our revolutionary class does as we take up the task of completing the leap. What and how people think is absolutely critical, and the introduction of new ideas indispensable.
The doctrine of the leap is the indispensable lens through which we assess, plan, and practice the art of politics for these times. Proceeding from a scientific objective assessment, the doctrine of the leap provides the guiding principles through which we determine the line of march and the path to power for the proletarian revolution itself. It guides us in the development of strategy and tactics along each step of the way.
(This Building Block article on the Leap is the first in a series of four. The focus of the next article will be on the subjective aspects of the Leap.)
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011