Paths to Sovereignty

But despite its long-standing policies and its traditional opposition to socialism and social democracy for many decades, the United States is nevertheless the key in the big picture which can unlock socialism and social democracy virtually everywhere, hence the paradox that is inherent in the American psyche. It is now safe and logical to infer that history does not end with neoliberalism. Thus, the question is what comes after neoliberalism. Both the basic ‘periodization’ of capital and the basic fact that nothing lasts forever means that neoliberalism does not mark the ‘end of history’ per se. 

As Marx argued, there is a basic “contradiction” between “productive forces” on one hand and the prevailing “form of intercourse” in a society on the other hand. All of it then evolves and transforms over the course of time, to the point where a community is formed and in turn the previous “substitute” for the community – namely, the state – is replaced by the community. As Marx said: “Only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions; only in the community, therefore, is personal freedom possible.” 

The conditions of the people, according to Marx, have long been determined and shaped “within their given historical conditions and relationships, not on the ‘pure’ individual in the sense of the ideologists.” And the most consequential relationship in a society, arguably, is the relationship between state and society. Hence, in order for societal conditions to change, the state either has to be abolished or transformed. But as has been demonstrated in other countries such as China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, India, and some others, this change will take years, if not decades, in a society like the United States to take root. As Mao said: 

“It will take a fairly long period of time to decide the issue in the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in our country. The reason is that the influence of the bourgeoisie and of the intellectuals who come from the old society will remain in our country for a long time to come, and so will their class ideology. If this is not sufficiently understood, or is not understood at all, the gravest mistakes will be made and the necessity of waging the struggle in the ideological field will be ignored.” 

The basic task, as Mao noted, is to not allow the influence of the class ideology to “spread unchecked.” Why the influence has to be checked and not left to run rampant is because the ideology seeks to maintain and preserve rigid class distinctions in society and in turn prevent and thwart social equity and social mobility from taking root. The point of the ideology is to keep people in the cage or prison that is none other than their class. And as Moises Naim wrote: 

“Power becomes entrenched as a result of barriers that shield incumbents from rivals. Such barriers not only prevent new competitors from growing into significant challengers but also reinforce the dominance of entrenched players. They are inherent in everything from the rules that govern elections to the arsenals of armies and police forces, to capital, exclusive access to resources, advertising budgets, proprietary technology, alluring brands, and even the moral authority of religious leaders or the personal charisma of some politicians.”

But in recent decades, the barriers to power “have weakened at a very fast pace.” Due to the overall changes and evolutions in what Marx highlighted as the historical conditions and basic intercourse or relationships of society, the barriers to power “are now more easily undermined, overwhelmed, and circumvented.” Plus, in a country like the United States, class ideology is a foreign and inorganic ideology which stems from a foreign power and from abroad, not a local or organic ideology which stems from the American people. Also, the basic character of class ideology as well as the character of those who seek to advance, propagate, and preserve class ideology in the American mainstream can bring about its demise, as it did in many places which have undergone the process of decolonization in the past. 

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