Can People Change Their Thinking?
We began the New Year 2017 with a question: “What Time Is It?” We answered that question by showing how we are in a qualitatively new time, a new epoch that has been initiated by a new technology, new tools of production, that for the first time in human history can produce everything that society requires, without human labor being involved. Just think of it, astronauts on-board the space station produced a replacement part with a 3-D printer. No human labor involved. The technology is now being advanced that will be able to print out living human organs with a 3-D printer. Driverless trucks and automobiles are already happening. If 2017 teaches us anything, it is that the velocity of change is increasing exponentially.
Even as the new technology disrupts and is even destroying the economic base of society as we have known it, one consequence of this is its creation of a new class, brought about by the replacement of the workers, who have been excluded and shunted aside. From the permanently unemployed to the part-time, contingent worker, this growing new class, which can’t eat if it can’t work, is emerging as a powerful new revolutionary force. These are revolutionary times. Indeed, revolution is necessary. It is a matter of survival. These are times when new ideas are necessary. A new society must be organized that is compatible with the new means of production.
We have been describing a new time, a new quality, that is disrupting and destroying society as we know it. Now, as we enter the New Year 2018, we are faced with a question of some urgency: Can people embrace new ideas? Can the thinking, the consciousness of people really change?
As with the real material process of change, we also recognize that a change in consciousness is not a smooth process of incremental development. Changes in our thinking also occur in stages and leaps. Even a rudimentary review of human history shows us how consciousness can and does change qualitatively, but only in times of revolutionary transition from one historical epoch to another.
For centuries people thought that the landed nobility ruled by divine right, but people came to embrace democracy as a form of rule more compatible with a rising industrial society. Americans fought a Civil War to end it, and a system of production based on slavery was cast aside to clear the way for industry to advance. The mechanical cotton-picker wiped out the Southern sharecropping system, setting the basis for the industrialization of the South and a new civil rights movement, that also cast aside the old Jim Crow rule. These were all revolutionary ideas introduced in a time of fundamental transition.
Today is a time of revolutionary transition. But thinking always lags behind reality. The ruling class reinforces this, by proclaiming that fundamental change cannot and does not happen, that the ruling ideas are forever. So even though they are instituting fascism in order to operate the State in their interests, to protect private property at all costs, they put forward a backward-facing vision: fight to get back what you have lost, combined with an outlook that says, you can only struggle to obtain the most minimal reforms within the system.
However, the real material world always wins out. You cannot continue to hold onto old ideas when the real world is telling you something else. To put it in the most simple terms, you cannot argue with your stomach. The very reason why societies are organized in the first place, is to provide for the basic needs of life: food, clean water, a home, education, health care. The ruling class tells us that they are the answer, that they can fix things, that they do everything they do in the best interests of the workers. However, they fail to deliver and expose themselves as unfit to rule. This new reality demands that people change their thinking. It is in this moment that people become open to new ideas, to revolutionary ideas that compel the building of a new society that is compatible with these wonderful new tools of production.
We have seen this in the struggles in which we have all been caught up in the past year. We see how the movement has developed from separate spontaneous outbursts around specific grievances, to a more general understanding of seeing all of the disparate struggles as being part of an overall struggle. It is expressed in an awareness of the polarization between rich and poor and haves and the have-nots. There is a growing impulse toward unity based on these struggles. The battles are shaping up as demands that the government meet their fundamental material needs, whether it is health care or education or housing. These are struggles not just for “special interest” groups, but are in the interest of the working class as a whole.
Seize the Future
Ultimately the new class must take political power in order to be able to reorganize society in its interest. As revolutionaries we always concentrate on the objective material conditions of life in order to advance the subjective development of the working class. We concentrate on the material conditions of those struggling for the necessities of life. All of our thinking flows from that.
Every new qualitative time produces its own new revolutionary ideas. It begins with addressing the question, how do we resolve the crisis of these times? And from that emerges the question, Where are we going? Or, in other words, what is our vision?
Today it is necessary that we call things by their real names. We envision a new world, a new humanity, built on the organizing principle that all of the abundance that the new technology creates must be distributed according to need. That is communism. It is not just someone’s good idea, but one which is practically necessary. It is a cooperative society, where each and all contribute according to ability and receive according to need.
We are a point where the human race and the planet cannot survive without it. Yet at the same time it opens up the launching of a whole new stage of human history, in which the age-old restraints upon human development are unshackled and relegated to the dustbin of history. Set free from human pre-history, humanity finds its footing on a new foundation where truly human history begins, where we can begin to realize our full human potential, where no human has gone before.
January/February 2017. Vol27.Ed1
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