The whole question of socialism, and a central one for Marx, is the question of its origins. From where and under what circumstances does socialism arise? Does it arise through the processes of capitalism itself, and, if so, how? Or is capitalism entirely antithetical to socialism so that we must think of socialism as proceeding only through the creation of social relations entirely alien and opposed to capitalism, outside of and subsequent to capitalism? If we affirm this second approach, as has most of Western Marxism during the twentieth century, then socialism today, in this era of global capitalism, must seem very far away indeed (Eagleton 1991:146). 1 Yet if we take the first approach, then where and how can socialism come to exist? How can the politics for socialist democracy, which Marx envisioned in his writings, be said to have any foundations within the present processes of capitalist development?
I argue throughout this book that socialism is, among other things, an objective development of capitalism. That is, as capitalism develops it creates the premises for social reproduction which are also the bases for a socialist and democratic construction of society. Because capitalist private appropriation is more and more antithetical to social requirements, even as it extends them in its own reproduction, capitalism makes socialism both possible and necessary. Socialism requires the reproduction of social relations according to developed human requirements in their own right, independent of the requirements of private appropriation. The creation of common social requirements is the promise of capitalism, what Marx called its “historical task” (Marx 1986b, vol. III: 250). At the same time, however, because of its opposition to the very social requirements which its own concentration and centralization presuppose, capitalism becomes more reliant upon social exclusion and repression for its reproduction. This, in its most essential form, is capitalism’s threat to the human future. In this regard, the tasks of building socialism require a recognition that we, as human beings, are the creators of both sides of this opposition. The increasingly social character of