Changing Concepts of Socialism

glb_headshotLIVING FOR CHANGE
Changing Concepts of Socialism
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Sept 22, 2009

I was in New York September 17-18 for the 60th anniversary celebration of Monthly Review. While there, I was on Democracy NOW two times [ 1 | 2 ].

At the MR celebration I began my remarks with Einstein’s article “Why Socialism,” the lead article in the first issue, May 1949. I had in mind the tens of thousands of angry Americans who recently descended on D.C. shouting “We want our country back! “ and denouncing Obama as a “Socialist.”

I explained that Einstein advocated a radically humanist and evolutionary view of Socialism much like Martin Luther King’s in his 1967 call for a radical revolution of values against racism, materialism and militarism. As a 20th century scientist and socialist, Einstein’s naturally thought more like MLK than like Marx who created his concept of Scientific Socialism in 19th century Europe when rapid economic growth was a priority.

It was Einstein’s radically humanist and evolutionary view of socialism that made MR an independent socialist magazine and empowered founders Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman to write lively articles about the new human beings created by the Cuban and Chinese revolutions.

It was this view of Socialism which moved Sweezy and Huberman to publish The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Workers Notebook by my late husband, Jimmy Boggs, in 1963. Jimmy’s experiences of racism in the deep South and his work at Chrysler had taught him that Marx’s concept of Socialism was no longer useful for our post-industrial epoch. Since Labor itself has been made unnecessary by what we then called automation, we now need to create a profoundly new concept of what it means to be a human being.

MR has just re-issued The American Revolution in an expanded edition with a new introduction by me and commentaries by six other Detroit activists.

In 1967 black youth exploded in Detroit and other cities across this country, To explore the significance of these rebellions, Jimmy and I wrote Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century (RETC), which MR
published in 1974 and re-issued last year with a new introduction by me.

In chapter 6 of RETC, Jimmy writes that because this country has achieved its rapid economic growth at the expense of African Americans, Native Americans, and peoples all over the world, “the Next American Revolution will be the first revolution in history to require the masses to make material sacrifices rather than to acquire more material things. We must give up many of the things which this country has enjoyed at the expense of damning over one third of the world into a state of underdevelopment, ignorance, disease and early death.“

Until that happens, Jimmy warned nearly 30 years before 911, “this country will not be safe for the world and revolutionary warfare on an international scale against the United States will remain the wave of the present.”

Thus, the Next American Revolution is about acknowledging that we, the American people, enjoy middle class comforts at the expense of African Americans, Native Americans and peoples all over the world, and also of Planet Earth.

It is about creating a new American Dream whose goal is a higher humanity instead of the higher standard of living which is dependent upon Empire.

About living more simply so that others can simply live.

The current economic meltdown coinciding with global warming provides us with unprecedented opportunities to take strides towards this goal.

Because Detroit began experiencing economic meltdown in the form of deindustrialization decades ago, we began this process of {r}evolution earlier than other cities: growing our own food, putting the neighbor back into the ‘hood, redefining education to involve children in community building, and developing Detroit as a City Of Hope

That’s why so many young people come to Detroit to get a sense of the other world that is now both possible and necessary.

That’s why so many grassroots activists participate in the Allied Media Conferences in Detroit every summer.

And that’s why the 2nd USSF is bringing 20,000 people to Detroit in June 2010.

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