The question to all theorists from both the theoretically interested and the practically minded alike is this:
Given the state of wordly affairs is dismal and not what it should be, what am I as an individual to do about it? What should we do?
To this question every theorist who is honest can only bow their heads in shame and stand in silence. The question, however, I here will give the honest response to:
No one knows.
Why this answer? It is clear and obvious from the standpoint of existent reality that no one knows what to do, for if they did they would have already done it. But this state of ignorance on what to do is not the affirmative answer that there can be no knowledge of what to do nor actual practice to get towards what should be. The question, then, is “What is the nature of the knowledge of what to do to get from the flawed reality to the ideal of what should be?”
Given that the materialist dictum of the final determination of consciousness by its existence and its ground in the material reproduction of social life is empirically shown to be false, in that it is the final determinant of consciousness, since the mere material life of humans indeed can be shown to lead nowhere to radically transformative action in-and-of-itself without the guiding light of passionate theory born not of material conditions alone, the question of what is to be done to transform the world into what it should be is seemingly left to unintelligible realms. If there is neither material necessity nor ideal necessity—that knowledge of what should be itself will create movements towards its realization in movement towards what should be—what are we to do?
The question itself is a genuine one, albeit a confused one. I have written on the impossibility of theorizing revolution prior, and here I want to expand on a further limitation to a universal theory in any practical action. The question truly asks:
What can I do to determine other subjects to be grasped by an idea and act towards its realization?
The first thing to note is that, in this case, an idea must grasp a people. Regardless of the claims of materialism by Marxists, communism itself is an idea as an ideal towards which the masses must strive. Without this idea, the movement of revolutionary upheaval loses its revolutionary character in a positive sense and can only lead to more of the same being reconstituted or possibly even something worse.
To answer the question posed: the truth is that nobody knows for certain. The fact that people are subjects and thus free is itself the theoretical point at which all practical theory finds its necessary and inevitable break regarding the actions of subjects as such. Even the much simpler and supposedly much easier task of mere reform is inconceivable beyond this point of subjectivity. What indeed are we to do about the freedom of others? What are we to do about their ignorance, their stubbornness, their prejudice, their submersion within ideology?
The reductive materialists as Accelerationists say we need not do anything, given the theoretical and material fact that the forces of production’s developments will of their own change the consciousness of subjects and necessarily cause the transformation of consciousness at the proper point of development. Other kinds of reductive materialists say that the failure of class consciousness of the workers has not arisen because they are a bit too comfortable, i.e. the theory of the labor aristocracy in the first world in comparison to the third. While it is an empirical fact that receptivity to revolutionary ideas is much higher in the so-called developing or third world, it is also an empirical fact that the mere existence and experience of extreme destitution, poverty, and misery does not generate revolutionary ideas nor practice in general, nor does it guarantee receptivity to such ideas.
How is it possible that given the unbelievable horror of the realities of human exploitation through even pure subjugation by force in many parts of our world, even those in this very subjugation of slavery are themselves unwilling to wage revolution and overthrow their oppressors, let alone the system of their existence? It is not simply because they have no access to the ideas of liberation of the communists. Indeed, one would think that Africa of all places in the world today would be a pressurized gas barrel ready to explode at the tiniest spark of revolutionary theory, and yet this is not the reality. Various theories are fronted as to why the oppressed subject rejects the theoretical standpoint in which its oppression is not only a moral wrong, but demands the action towards the realization of at least their own freedom. Do not the oppressed want and demand freedom? Of course they do! The problem, however, is both a material and spiritual one, but not in the typical Marxist sense of mere forces and relations of production or ideology. It cannot be ignored that we are animals, and as such, we must accept that the basic psychological mechanisms of animals likewise are present in us even with our higher mental capacities—especially when these higher capacities are left underdeveloped. The perniciousness of the material base and the ideological superstructure appear all the more glaring in the subject which is constituted by them not merely in some ideological structure, but in connection with a material psychological determination. The problem of the subject is not simply one of mere ideas, but one of breaking through a host of powerful unconscious psychological mechanisms which determine the subject more strongly the more ignorant they are of them. The knowledge of these mechanisms, however, does not itself guarantee any kind of sudden freedom from the powerful psychological will under the so-called rational will.
In a world in which we are given our relation to each other as one of a free subjectivity to another, free subjectivity—no matter how theoretically and materially poor that subjectivity’s freedom and existence are—puts us in a blind spot concerning what is to be done about the desires, choices, and conceptions of other subjects. The question of what is to be done about others in general is the desperate plea for a mechanism—a formal answer—to an informal and non-mechanical problem. This problem, however, is only such on the level of individual to individual. The question of what is to be done on an institutional and structural level, however, is not a question of directly convincing particular subjects, and thus is actually susceptible to theoretical consideration. We can, as we all know, theorize about the structures that should be but are not, and while this is not the answer such a question demands it is nonetheless the answer that must in the end be given if there is to be any answer at all. The problem of how we are to theorize the practice of changing others en masse to the correct standpoint of the theory and practice of freedom, then, is not one of individual to individual, but must ultimately be one of social structure to individual.
Prior to the reality of any such structures of determining social consciousness, we are left only to change others through whatever arbitrary means possible given their individual determinations. Here the answer to the question of what is to be done is that we must become conscious sophists and rhetoricians willing to say or do anything to change opinion and belief and enter positions of power, just as the disgusting liars that are our real politicians and media have for ages. For that which is in essence arbitrary, the form of determination too is arbitrary. To extend it further, contrary to common belief, if what is good is not yet existent and must be brought into existence, then its coming to be itself cannot be considered as good itself. In a world where people are for whatever reason incapable and unwilling of higher reasoning and desires, one must play the game and attempt to find ways to determine them in less than honorable means. Truth, facts, and fair play take a back seat in such a reality, for one must exploit the irrational in its irrationality in order to move it towards rational ends if not rationality itself.
However, this is not to say that we need to stoop to pure lies. Indeed, we are gifted with the actuality that, for the most part, we on the Left are simply factually and theoretically right—factually right in that we have even empirical science behind us in majority and theoretically right in that we have far more rigorous and well grounded theories of what should be by worlds of intellectual advantage. The failure of the Left is in the way that this factual and conceptual truth is conveyed. For the religious, we must speak of a religious political redemption in freedom. For the individualists, we must appeal to the reality of a greater individual freedom possible with a collective care and plan than an anarchic and cold chaos. For the moralists, we must appeal to the goodness of freedom and its results. For the technocratic, we must speak of the greater freedom of technological development freed from capitalist interests in mere accumulation of profit. As nice as a universalist message is, it must be strengthened with individualized forms whenever possible.
But what is to be done about individuals in general? No one knows, but this is because of the nature of individuality which itself blocks a general approach to them. Thus, an empirically based theoretical strategy considering the individual in its specificity is required. Individuals, however, are not merely individual human beings. It is an impractical foolishness to attempt to change the world individual by individual. Instead, we must deal with more general individuals as much as possible: individual groups and communities that share a mindset and outlook susceptible to a more general strategy than that of the human individual. There the question becomes of how these groups are to be determined as groups and approached. Every group is not the same and cannot be convinced of the same things for the same reasons. We must be sly, functionally pragmatic, and recognize what can actually be done. Not everyone cares about communism as such, but many have much to gain from some aspect of communism, even those that despise the notion of communism at face value. The Left must take all it can in public outreach. If we cannot get the public to swallow the whole pie we can at least give a slice palatable to them. The ‘all or nothing’ mentality is not a pragmatic one when it comes to the reality of politics, not now nor ever in the future insofar as human beings must deal with freedom of others to come to agreement.
What are we to do about changing social structures in general? Here, there is a clear problem: Are we talking about changing current structures within the system of said structures, or are we talking about getting rid of the whole system in general? If the former, which is the path of reform, the only thing to be done is to engage the political process to its limits with the consequences of all its corruptions and disappointments. Such a process is one of a clear rhetorical game to convince voters as well as outing the corruption of the status quo ranging through the political process itself as well as the political ends. If the answer is the latter, and thus the question becomes how revolution may be sparked, there is, for the most part, nothing to be done, for such a moment is beyond the power of any theory and practice to generate. All practice and theory concerning this moment are blind regarding the masses around them before the revolutionary moment, and the only thing they can control is a meager outreach hoping to capture key persons to join their organizations in hope of being the historical player at a moment in which many players may be active. Each revolution is its own unique event and requires its own specific theory which refuses a generalized form to any other nation or people which do not share in its conditions or cultural spirit.