Without Vision, The People Perish
Without vision, the people perish: many have repeated this wise saying, recognizing its truth. The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, one that has evolved beyond the need for exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millennia. It is expressed in the world’s literature, secular and sacred: “the land of milk and honey.”
As the vast majority of the world’s people strive to make the systemic changes they must make to save humanity and the planet from the strangling grip of exploitation, hunger, and war, they fight, not just defensively, but led by a vision of what is necessary, possible, and achievable. Without this vision, the fight remains defensive, or looks backwards.
From the founding of this country, the American people have a history of fighting for freedom and equality. Our history – from the American Revolution that kicked off the chains of monarchy to the Civil War that ended slavery – is still in the process of a struggle to make real the promise, mostly unfulfilled, of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We have now come to an epochal point in history where at last these promises have the material and objective conditions to be more than an ideal and a dream.
We now have the capacity to produce everything humanity needs for a life free of want and insecurity. But under capitalism, everything must be sold for profit, including, the necessities of survival. We have the technical ability to create the abundance for everyone to lead a materially, culturally, and spiritually fulfilled life; but under capitalist social relations, this is blocked and prevented. The revolution in the productive forces – electronic production – both creates abundance and, under capitalism, poverty, hunger, and misery. Until humanity grasps the meaning and reason for this profound change and its implications, the owning class will maintain a stranglehold on these productive forces in the form of private property.
The elimination of jobs by electronics – computerized automation – not only throws workers permanently out of work, but puts capitalism itself in crisis. A new class of workers is being created by this process from all strata of the working class. These workers have been replaced, and will never work again. Along with their inability to sell their labor goes debt, foreclosures, hunger, destitution, and homelessness for millions. Because these workers increasingly lack the ability to buy the products that the corporations produce, capitalism is thrown into an epochal crisis.
When we speak of revolution, we are talking about the majority of humanity, the vast working class with the growing new class at its heart – those being thrown out of the capitalist relation with no stake in it and no future under it – taking political power to restructure the economic system in the interests of humanity and the planet. The working class – especially the section of it whose ties to capitalism have recently been broken – has in its hands the epochal task of guaranteeing the evolution of humanity itself. Revolutionaries are the ones who understand this and promulgate this vision to the rest of their class.
The revolutionary understands this process, its material and historic foundations, and knows what must replace capitalism to bring society in line with the new workerless production. This is a vision based not only on moral rightness and the best hopes and dreams of humanity, but on the scientific understanding of the laws of development. The practical revolutionary both understands this process and has a clear vision of the necessary outcome: public ownership of the means of production, a cooperative society, or communism. The demands of the new objectively revolutionary class are the program of the conscious revolutionaries.
The ruling class can only use increasing terror and violence to hold back the social development that brings social relations in line with the revolution in production. The response of the ruling class, the capitalists, is to move to maintain privilege and private property under these new conditions. This they do through means that are increasingly fascist. They too are spreading a vision, one that is fear-based and pits worker against worker, scapegoats immigrants, and blames the victims of this social destruction. Their strategy depends on old forms of division and confusion that have historically been used to prevent class consciousness and divide the working class against itself. Their program is radical, and seeks to hold onto private property under whatever economic system follows capitalism, which they also understand is dying.
Revolutionaries today are those with new ideas. They understand that there is another way to do things, one that can be described, understood, and brought into being – one that works in practical ways in the real world. It is the only way compatible with the new forms of production. They know that this vision of a world without exploitation, war, environmental destruction, hunger, and despair isn’t a pipe dream, but the only rational solution to the seemingly overwhelming problems humanity faces. This vision is based on a scientific understanding of development, the stage we’re in in the process, and where we want to go.
Revolutionaries understand that class consciousness and a class program will not rise spontaneously out of this movement, but only through the introduction of new ideas, and a clear vision and understanding of what they’re fighting toward. Nothing will change for the better until the people know what kind of a world they need to replace this dying one. Conscious revolutionaries understand that the only workable way to organize society in this era of abundance is through a communal, or communist, economic system: distribution of this abundance according to need. This is the vision they articulate, teach, and spread.
“Some people call this a cooperative society or distribution without money or reorganizing society in the Biblical spirit that [all be] ‘distributed to each as any had need.’ But what is important is that the revolutionaries who are fighting against the destructiveness of capitalism begin to unite around the solution to that destruction. This program for the reorganization of society is the only way to end the ecological, cultural, and spiritual devastation spreading throughout society. It reorganizes society so that the abundance made possible by science and technology benefits all of society. This program offers the opportunity to unite the revolutionaries on the basis of the actual resolution to the destruction of society.” [Political Resolution, LRNA, 6th Convention]
Futurists predict many ways that new innovations can improve lives, free humanity from uncreative toil, create non-polluting sources of energy, and cure diseases. Yet as long as these breakthroughs are shackled by private property relations, they will only benefit the few who can pay for them, and those who exploit them for profit, as the growing majority of the world’s people sink further into destitution and despair for want of the basic necessities of survival. When the people have political power, they themselves have a say as to how these new inventions will be used, which ones or which applications of them enhance life and well-being, and which are harmful to life and the earth and should not be used. The futurist Ray Kurzweil said in a recent interview, “I believe our civilization is going to be vastly more intelligent and more spiritual in the decades ahead . . . . Our species always transcends.”
It is the historical mission of revolutionaries of all ages to consciously shape the future of humanity. Seasoned revolutionaries pass on what they’ve been taught and what they’ve learned from study and struggle to those millions who are responding to these conditions that are full of both danger and enormous promise. The culture of the world’s youth — the majority of whom are being born or thrown into the new jobless class — goes ‘viral’ in the spread of the poetries of hip hop, rap, slam, and graffiti art – art that expresses a new world emerging from the defiance of those who have no place and no stake in the old dying order. New forms of communication, now fettered by corporate control and misuse, have the potential, when used with revolutionary purpose and vision, to help us organize, educate, and liberate, breaking down extinct forms of division forever.
It has been said that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. The now completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production, by creating abundance without the need for wage-slavery and uncreative toil, sets the basis for the realization, in the real world, of an age-old dream of the American and the world’s people. It ushers in an era that marks the end of the exploitation of one class over another in the struggle for resources. 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. When this age-old vision is realized, true human history begins. We have that in our reach, and have today the historical task of bringing it into being.
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