I guess I could be convinced that the term socialism can be reclaimed, that we might still be able to redefine it so that it refers to a desirable way forward politically. But it seems to me that the term is mostly used (especially in America?) primarily to mean all those things that are the opposite of we need: centralization, disciplined organization, and a strong party with a vanguard of wise leaders whose (often implicit) objective is to win the State apparatus in order to put “the workers themselves in power.” Of course what that agenda does (as Bakunin saw from the very beginning) is not to put the workers in power but to subjugate them (and everyone else) to a new set of bosses. Here is an eloquent statement of this lamentable polical vision.
So for now, in the face of what seems to be the dominant way to understand socialism, I enthusiastically join Negri in waving goodbye to the whole steaming mess.
2 thoughts on “Socialism? I’d Rather Not”
I think it is indisputable that Bakunin was correct in his criticisms of the notion of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariet,’ and of its potential and likely perversions. Nevertheless, he remained a socialist in the manner that is essential – with respect to the common ownership and sharing of the resources of a society, or a planet. How this is carried out can in fact be extremely democratic, but socialist nonetheless. It is best not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need a politics of the imperfect. We are, after all, the mere descendents from apes.
I agree about the bathwater, and there is of course a way to conceive of socialism differently than it is typically conceived these days. I guess I am agreeing with Negri that since the term almost always is used to mean the dead-end State-command agenda, maybe it’s fine to abandon it and focus on other terms instead…