A discussion of the future of socialism and social transformation must be grounded in two realities. The first reality is the broader economic, environmental and state-legitimacy crises in which humanity finds itself. In other words, the convergence of these three crises means that the necessity for a genuine Left capable of leading masses of people is more pressing than ever. It means that while one cannot sit back and wait for the supposed “final” crisis of capitalism to open up doors to freedom — since capitalism is largely defined by its continual crises — it is the case that the convergence of these three crises brings with it a level of urgency unlike any that most of us have experienced. Not only is there a need for a progressive, if not radical set of answers to these crises at the level of immediate reforms, but the deeper reality is that capitalism — as a system — is incapable of providing legitimate, sustainable answers to these crises, whether individually or collectively.
The second reality, and the central focus of this essay, is that any discussion of a progressive post-capitalist future must come to grips with the realization of the crisis of socialism in which every trend in the global Left has been encased. This has been a crisis at the levels of vision, strategy, state power and organization. It is a crisis that cannot be avoided by either a retreat to pre-Bolshevik Marxism or slipping into the abyss of post-modernism. The reality of the crisis of socialism can only be avoided at our own peril.