R. C. Smith at Heathwood Press has been producing a large amount of writing on critical theory and alternatives to traditional communism and current capitalism. In the first section of this piece published today he talks about the failure of the traditional left to challenge capitalism – which exists in many places because it is viewed as the only viable option. Here’s a particularly important quote:
Moreover, it is the ‘left’ today that exists in delusion, apathetic to the concerns of the ‘average citizen’. It is the left that needs to change its approach and fundamental philosophy. If the communist and socialist movements of old are no longer trusted by a vast majority of people, this is because in history they have left little reason for trust, often historically betraying their own manifesto promises and resulting in unspeakable barbarity. Until the communist movement as a whole moves beyond its many false Idols and the proposing of abstract ideas and starts advocating actual concrete, viable alternatives, it will never gain any ground … in what way and for what reason is there enough actual theoretical and practical substance on a foundational level to consider communism (as presently defined) an actual option in the 21st Century?
I’ve written a couple of similar critiques of the American left (here and here) focusing on how protests are hijacked and groups divided by extremist groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Workers World Party. I think Smith’s point is key- having superior theory doesn’t count for much if you want real-world change. Regular people need concrete reasons to support a system besides modern capitalism.