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There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." The overall character of this period is supplied by Marx's statement that "What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society: which is thus in every respect still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges." This first stage is the necessary gestation period for full communism: is it as time when the people who have destroyed capitalism are engaged in the task of total reconstruction.As a way of life and organization it has traits in common with both capitalism and full communism and Marx never indicates how long this may takethe first stage gives way gradually almost imperceptibly to the second.
Despite some serious temptations, I have not gone beyond Marx's actual words in piecing together the components of the communist society. On occasion, however, when all the evidence points to a particular conclusion, I am not averse to stating it.
It is this effort to reconstruct Marx's vision of the future open to the same criticism that kept Marx from presenting his own views on this subject in a more organized manner? No one today is likely to confuse Marxism, even with the addition of an explicit conception of communism, with other socialist schools whose very names are difficult to recall.
It is a picture in which many pieces are missing and other so vague as to be practically undecipherable.
Yet, what is left is a more complete and coherent whole than most people have thought to exist.
There are also remarks which suggest that one cannot describe communism because it is forever in the process of becoming: "Communism is for us not a stable state which reality will have to adjust itself.
We can call Communism the real movement which abolished the present state of things.The conditions of this movement result from premises now in existence." Yet, as even casual readers of Marx know, descriptions of the future society are scattered throughout Marx's writings.Moreover, judging from an 1851 outline of what was to become Capital, Marx intended to present his views on communism in a systematic manner in the final volume.Consequently, emphasizing communism could not be an effective means to promote proletarian class consciousness, his immediate political objective.Finally, with only the outline of the future visible from the present, Marx hesitated to burden his analysis of capitalism with material that could not be brought into focus without undermining in the minds of many the scientific character of his entire enterprise.Responsibility for this state of affairs lies, in the first instance, with Marx himself who never offers a systematic account of the communist society.Furthermore, he frequently criticizes those socialist writers who do as foolish, ineffective, and even reactionary.It seems equally clear to me that the inability to conceive of a humanly superior way of life, an inability fostered by this same exploitation, has contributed to the lassitude and cynicism which helps to thwart such consciousness.Viewed in this light, giving workers and indeed members of all oppressed classes a better notion of that their lives would be like under communism (something not to be gleaned from accounts of life in present day Russia and China) is essential to the success of the socialist project.Latest book - Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method Reviews of Ollman's Books Featured article - America Beyond Capitalism: A Socialist Stew Prepared for Liberals and Conservatives Featured speech - Mc Coy Award Acceptance Speech Video: Marxism and Progress Marxism (the cartoon version) From Theory to Practice Radical Jokes Photos Recommended Web Sites NYU Course Bibliographies UNDER CONSTRUCTION ETF Site Lectures Plays Not To Dare Butcher Shop Poems SUGGESTED READINGS Video Kiki & Bubu explain the neoliberal shift in labor relations Marcuse argues that, in the middle of the twentieth century, utopia remains an impossible dream only to those theorists who use "the concept of 'utopia' to denounce certain socio-historical possibilities." Every significant advance in wealth, technology and science extends the boundaries not only of the real but of the possible, of the ways this newly won potential can be realized.Today's production of goods and knowledge, together with accompanying skills, have transformed the utopias of an earlier time into practical alternatives to our everyday existence.