Aristocratic communism is possible

When will communism come?

Richard David Precht discusses with Sahra Wagenknecht from the DIE LINKE party whether communism is on the rise again in the age of the digital revolution. Since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc 25 years ago, communism seemed to be over for all time. And yet the communist utopia of a classless and self-determined society is finding new supporters today. Left utopias - are they on the rise again?

At least since the financial crisis and its consequences, criticism of capitalism has been in vogue. Economists, political scientists and sociologists call for an urgent review of our capitalist social system. Not only does the belief in endless growth seem to have been shaken, the confidence in a socially and economically just society is also dwindling. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Unleashed financial markets, capital concentration, precarious working conditions, the crisis of the social systems: the state seems to be powerless to watch as we are increasingly governed by the economy.

Is capitalism the best economy ever? Or are there alternatives to be taken seriously? Richard David Precht asks Sahra Wagenknecht, probably the most prominent left within the DIE LINKE party, how their politics are facing the challenges of our time, the fundamental changes brought about by the digital revolution. Would a dust-free communism, communism 2.0., Be an alternative to the modern network society dominated by capitalism?

Ultimately, as the US sociologist Jeremy Rifkin sees it, the digital age makes it easier for each of us to gain access to the means of production. Share economy, crowdsourcing and collaborative consumption are the buzzwords of a new generation. She wants to redefine the meaning of ownership and work in life.

What is the value of Marx today?

However, it is not our politicians who develop visions, but rather the big data companies from Silicon Valley. But should we confidently leave our progress to Google, Facebook or Apple, who with their bold visions of the future repeatedly create facts that politics then have to chase after? What answer do left theories have to the questions of our time? Does Karl Marx have anything else to say to us, or does left-wing politics only offer dusty slogans today?

  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

    The German ideology

    Zernodot Publishing Company, 2011

    The quotation mentioned in the program about the communist goal of a self-determined life in which every shepherd, fisherman, rancher or critic can be without himself one as a wage occupation is one of the most famous passages of the "German Ideology". At the same time it is Marx ‘first definition of communism. In this early work, the authors take stock of the zeitgeist from the mid-19th century using the three protagonists Ludwig Feuerbach, Max Stirner and Bruno Bauer. Such a zeitgeist is "ideology" when everyone sells what is only the interest of the powerful: "The ruling thoughts are always the thoughts of the rulers". With regard to the concept of work, Marx and Engels dream in their first joint work of an end to alienation and the industrialized division of labor. It is particularly noteworthy that, with fields of work such as “shepherd”, “fisherman” or “cattle breeder”, they still mentally move in an aristocratic agrarian society and not in the industrial society that Friedrich Engels had recently been able to study in Manchester.

  • Dietmar Dath

    Machine winter. Knowledge, technology, socialism. A polemic

    edition unseld, Suhrkamp Verlag 2008

    Seven years ago, the author and journalist Dietmar Dath (* 1970) was already thinking about the political consequences of technology in the digital age. As a Marxist, he first testifies to the deterioration in employment conditions. Permanent employment turns into precarious working conditions. Mass unemployment is just as much a symptom of the times as the cold alienation of people in the healthcare system by robots and computers.

    What is not yet possible in the western industrialized countries, we are relocating to the Third World and exploiting the people there under the most shameful conditions. The human promise of the machines actually lies in improving the working world, thus freeing people from alienated work. The book that gave Dath the features name of a "Lenin 2.0." brought in, ends with the open question of how people could take possession of the machines themselves instead of continuing to be exploited in the machine age.

  • Dietmar Dath

    Class struggle in the dark. Ten contemporary socialist exercises

    Concrete texts, 2014

    In this, as in several of the author's other books, the question of how one could imagine an alternative to capitalism is explored. As in Machine winter Dath assumes that digitization will fulfill Marx's thesis of the impoverishment of workers and employees.

    The only question is whether one should watch in silence for so long and hope that, at the height of impoverishment, the classless society will be realized in a revolutionary way. Or whether one should fight against digital capitalism in a politically organized manner and replace it with a more just social order. But here, too, the question arises - in the border area of ​​irony, reason and over-reason - what an alternative society could look like in the digital age.

  • Peter Engelmann (Ed.)

    Philosophy and the idea of ​​communism

    Passagen Verlag, 2014

    The volume reproduces a conversation between the publisher Peter Engelmann (* 1947) and the French philosopher Alain Badiou (* 1937). As the best-known intellectual advocate of communism in France, Badiou analyzes the current crises in the world as crises of the capitalist system.

    For Badiou, capitalism is a pathological phenomenon that robs people of their inner authenticity and seduces them to conformism and consumerism. On the other hand, he sets the idea of ​​communism as a humanist counter-utopia, which, however, can only flourish under the conditions of a weak state in order to be democratic in the positive sense.