I have been invited by my principled opponent, Brad, into the obvious trap of describing my vision of The Ideal Society. In getting from here to there ,he asks as well, what should be done? Is education the answer? Is there a moral imperative that should be brought to the people?From what or who should this moral imperative be derived? Let me fall right in then but ask that perhaps he may reply in kind with his own vision. The task of critique is of course simpler than that of design and I wish to have a chance at retaliation.
Not to be flippant, but an honest reply would be that my vision of an ideal society would be one where everyone was easily persuaded by my arguments and acted accordingly. Where everyone listened to Miles Davis and enjoyed it. My point is that I do not advocate for an "ideal" society but for a workable one instead, one whose structures and institutions prompt and promote the values which I have deduced are shared most widely by the human race generally. "Ideally" this system reflects the knowledge that it is the tension inherent in diversity and pluralism which is the germ of creativity . As the nature of life is change, my vision is that such a system would be changeable in it's essence, with it's organizing principles and processes so designed that "eternal revolution" as a goal and method would reflect this nature. To this end it would be radically democratic so that the "demos" would adopt a radical conception of the duty of citizenship to include participatory management of every aspect of their society. Because of my own spiritual inclinations (this is MY vision) I would hope to emphasize selflessness and unity, while at the same time repecting the rights of the individual, by fostering a spirit of compassion, solidarity and community through collective production and decision making.
I find it inexcusable that our race continues to exert so much energy and spread so much grief and destruction in competition for resources and believe this malignant state can best be explained materially. Marx tells us: "The mode of production of material life CONDITIONS the social, political and intellectual life processes in general". This not only explains history (not to sound over-determined!) but gives us a key to creating an elevated , more evolved state of development by harnessing the human capacity for engineering and design for new modes of production rather than the capitalist mode with it's irrational violence ,contradictions (oversupply) and class implications. Of course, with this explanation it becomes obvious that one cannot limit in size this project of radical transformation to any kind of sub-unit but that it must be international in scope and that the unity and peaceful co-existence I imagine requires an even rate of economic development worldwide. In very general terms, a leveling.A planned, participatory economy would remove the essential contradiction facing market economies of the need for unlimited growth within the reality of limited resources. Sustainability would be considered in all decisions of consumption. Old notions of work, occupation and profession would be replaced by new modes of shared contribution based on the individuals multiple capacities and talents. Remittance would be based on time voluntarily sacrificed for the benefit of society and an accumulation of wealth( for extra time sacrificed) would not affect ones power relation to the whole.Personal property could exist but not for the purpose of rent or profit.
At this point my critics will ask how, how does this transformation take place, What of human nature, how do you avoid violence? This kind of transformation is in fact now taking place on many levels, political, spiritual, pedagological and psychological. The movements toward greater democracy and constitutional rights, of feminism, human rights, within faith traditions that hope to see people valued above the market and peace over aggressive nationalism, are all areas of progressive change. We could start with Rawls maxim to warrant only those inequalities which are to the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, following the tolerant Protestantism in the spirit of Locke and the liberal moral doctrines of Kant or Mills. But these liberal attitudes will not in themselves have the force to displace entrenched power and are just a stage. In the end it will be a vast accumulation of contradictions fusing into what Adorno termed a "rupture" that will overcome the inertia of the status quo, just as historical conditions have formed the openings through which all revolutions have emerged. Will it be violent? Who can know? But the 360,000 mostly women and children who died today of causes related to malnutrition were killed by violence. Those who died from war or preventable disease died a violent death. Violence is something that we have become so inured to that it seems ludicrous to hyperventilate over the prospect of violence in political upheaval. How many tens of millions died in the capitalist wars of the last century?
And finally , What of Human Nature? It was Rousseau who said; "He who dares to undertake the establishment of a people (revolutionary enterprise) should feel that he is ,so to speak, in a position to change human nature." Margaret Thatcher concurred, saying:"Economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul. " Of course I am at total odds with her choice of method but agree with her and Marx about ones duty " to teach others the good that you could not work because of the malignity of the times or of fortune..." Machiavelli. This ,I suppose , is the ethical imperative, to leave something better than when you found it so that future generations can develop fully.
"I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils (class conflict) ,namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy the means of production are owned by society itself (the multitude as the State) and are utilized in a planned economy..." Albert Einstien
This is not the instant Utopian paradise of Saint Simon, Fourier or Owen but a process that unfolds with history in time and space, and is in this way dialectical. Garaudy captures well the spiritual Marxism I espouse: "Marxism contains within itself, in it's very principle, infinite possibilities of development and renewal." It is not the end of history, as many claim capitalism to be, but a step up in our evolutionary progress.