Marx & Me
Karl Marx believed in a workers' revolutionary movement from capitalism through socialism to communism. I don't believe in anything. I know certainly (that is, I don't just believe it, I know it) that ever since people were covered with hair, they've been crawling slowly out of the jungle toward civilization. But they still haven't gotten there, and I don't know if they ever will.
Marx saw the thrust of only post industrial human history as a purposeful actually vigorous class war waged by workers against rich capitalists and their lackeys and literally destined to achieve a communist society. I like that view, and I'd like to believe it, but it's conceptually incomplete, illogically robs destiny of her blindfold, unrealistically speeds up the film, and naively gives too much intellectual credit to lumpen humanity.
I see humans, ever since they first piled up rocks to guard their caves, slo-o-owly moving out of the jungle, a few consciously and purposefully, others instinctively or coincidentally, toward a distant, always and still future civilization, which, if it's ever achieved, has to include communism but has to be more than communism. It has to be civilization. The word if is important. What will happen will be what happens.
I see humans always involved in a revolution, yes, but a slow-motion revolution with a confused and varied aim - sometimes communal, sometimes territorial, sometimes just philosophical - but, most importantly, if not steadily, consistently, urgently, or even consciously, still always (so far) progressing - from barricades, to shelters, to towns, to states - away from the brutality and chaos of the jungle toward the relative safety, order and peace of civilization, with the idea of a unified cooperative one-world state always dimly glowing in the very back of some of their minds.
I've slogged half blinded by sweat and fatigue through enough literal jungles and lived with my eyes wide open in enough capitalist jungles to know that jungles are more comfortable for fearless predators than for their fearful prey. Without being exactly destiny, then, an urge by benignly philosophical, timid but thinking prey to escape the jungle is so very likely it's virtually inevitable. But an urge to escape doesn't automatically or easily equal a visualized goal or a consensual plan, and the inevitability or near inevitability of the urge certainly doesn't make the success of any plan inevitable, as Marx may have believed, depending on what passage you quote.
There may have always been benignly realistic philosophers, but there have never been many of them. To the tiny philosopher class, the ideas of organization, of a civil state, and of several subheadings including communism are inevitable. But it's also inevitable that a philosophically heroic but seldom physically courageous or inspirational (and probably always splintered) minority will have trouble firing the imagination or keeping the attention of enough only feebly thinking followers to start a movement or keep a movement going.
Standing against them are the deep-rooted inertia of the already established jungle (both the necessary and wickedly beautiful natural jungle and the unnatural and wickedly ugly concrete jungle); the greater strength, wealth, vigor, courage and sparkle of the predator class; the eternally primitive church, of course; an inevitable army of turn-coats; and an ever more pervasive, more sophisticated and more relentless propaganda machine that glitzes over the brutality of the modern jungle and walls in and paves over the minds of the lumpen masses.
Against all odds, the not-always frightened thinking prey, who invented both propaganda and walls, fired by the courage of fear, have always stubbornly crept and struggled onward, so human history has always included a slow, often stalled, often reversed, but persistently progressive movement away from the jungle toward civilization, - a snail-paced revolution for civilization. But, except for the shining example of the almost right-on Cuban revolution, which is very real and has been very effective within its limitations, in most of the world, that tenuous and erratic movement is just about all the revolution we have.
Being one of the bravest thinkers among the timid prey, I'm a revolutionary for civilization. Civilization has several facets besides its economic dimension, though, and a civilized state must have that many sectors. Since I invented communism myself as a child, I don't have to bow to Marx to grant - or rather assert - that a civilized state must be, among other things, a communist state. So I don't hesitate to call myself a communist, but with this clarification.
I'm a realist and therefore an unequivocal ecologist and champion of the natural jungle but also an existentialist with a preference for a house with a floor and sandals to wear on rocky ground, books to read, sophisticated food and drink, and cures for what ails me (including the complete erasure of religion and human barbarism), and I'm therefore a revolutionary for civilization as a comfortable enclave in a healthy jungle.
I'm not a Marxist, because I'm an individualist and I'm not religious. I actually think, in spite of their success, that their religiousness (their defensively rigid militancy, I mean) is the Cubans' most dangerous potential stumbling block. I'm a communist, because an expedient communism is a necessary part of civilization. But, more importantly, I'm a revolutionary for civilization itself, and that's the difference between me and Marx (see Civil State).
I have to back-step a bit, though. The word
revolutionary does imply involvement in a movement, and
while I used to be actively, physically involved, with the eco-system
now visibly crashing, rendering all hope for the future either absolutely
dependent on urgent and draconian reaction - or vain - and with humanity
still hopelessly unconscious about that little matter, I'm only a bystander
with a keyboard now (see Motive
#4). Of course writing is a kind of involvement, but since my writing
is just for myself and my known and unknown friends (and my enemies who
come to me for a tongue-lashing), and only coincidentally if at all influential,
it's only because I am still so uniquely uncompromising that my involvement
may still rise to a level of intensity that qualifies as revolutionary.