For many, Communism is a scary, dangerous, violent word. The collapse of the Sovient Union in 1989 is viewed by many as a good thing. I have sympathies with this viewpoint, though many of my revolutionary friends were more troubled by that event. I tend to side with the viewpoint that the Sovient Union at some point in its history – earlier rather than later – betrayed the Communist goals that it claimed to be pursuing. It is tempting to rehearse the various points each of the different schools of thought, but nearly all of us today who identify with Communism have rejected significant parts of the Russian, Chinese, Cuban, and most of the several other Communist regimes as unrepresentative of the fundamental goals of Communism.
However, if we are going to renew and revive the Communist vision for our era, how do we go about such a project? We have a substantive history to draw upon, from Karl Marx, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxemburg, and thousands of others. The central core of Communism is its one fundamental principle and defining goal, creating a society in which power, wealth, pleasure, and other aspects of life are shared equally, democratically, and freely. If that sounds like a utopia, I have no problem with that. If Christians can absolutely reject adultery, theft, murder, and so on, but humanity still regularly engages in these acts, why can Communists not in some sense embrace their ideals as in some sense absolutes that nevertheless make demands on us in the present? Utopianism has been bashed by the Marxist left for over a century, but the real truth is that Marx was a utopian, however much he tried to claim his system was a science.
The core principle of Communism has never been more succinctly stated than in this sentence from Louis Blanc, “from each according to ability, to each according to need.” I would extend this principle in directions that are developed in my integrative revolutionary ecology framework, first of all ecology, “To each being according to need, from each being according to ability.” I propose that communism for the 21st century needs to be an ecological communism. The planet itself is under daily siege by industrial capitalism and nothing short of a revolutionary change in economic priorities can save the planet from severe and deadly consequences.
The ecological approach I recommend is in part an attempt to go beyond Marxism as a dialectical or historical materialism. In Marxism, humans tend to be viewed as “homo economicus” an economic agent. In integrative ecology, humans are viewed as ecological beings, and our economic activity is included within that framework. Embracing Communism as an integrative revolutionary ecology is still developed in terms of my larger framework that integrates gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, politics, and martial systems into the dynamic ecological whole.