Is Marxism making a comeback thanks to ideals around climate change and sustainability?

Is Marxism making a comeback thanks to ideals around climate change and sustainability?

[ 4/May/21 ]

Marx was well ahead of most of his contemporaries in understanding some of the key drivers of economics, but his models were overly simplistic, lacked any real understanding of the systemic underpinnings of the complexity of life, and as such resulted in systems that created far more problems than they solved.

Some of the insights Marx had were really powerful in their time, some were not.

Communism as a form of central state control is not a stable solution to any problem space.

One theme required:


If one takes the time to deeply study and understand the major systemic themes that make life possible, then it becomes clear that all new levels of complexity are based upon new levels of cooperation.

Raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by “cheating” strategies, and thus to survive requires evolving ecosystems of cheat detection and mitigation systems (at every level of complexity present – and as human beings capable of reading this and making some reasonable sense of it, we have at least 15 levels).

Any level of competition that is not firmly based in cooperation is necessarily destructive of both complexity and freedom.

Another theme that is required:

Freedom requires responsibility.

All levels of structure have minimal sets of constraints required for their survival.

Any level of activity that violates any of the sets of necessary constraints leads to self termination. In this sense, all freedom must necessarily come with levels of responsibility if it is to survive long term. The higher the levels of freedom claimed, the deeper and more complex and context sensitive are the responsibilities that necessarily accompany any set of freedoms.

Another required theme is:


It is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that reality is more complex than any computational entity (human or AI) can accurately model in real time, and thus all levels of awareness must necessarily be based on simplified models of whatever reality actually is. All of our perceptions, experiences, and understandings are necessarily wrong in some essential aspects; and they can be useful in sets of contexts.

Being aware of the contexts and limits of the utility of our understandings is an important aspect of responsibility.

Another theme is:


Any real expression of freedom results in diversity. Thus any person claiming any form of freedom or creativity must accept and respect all levels and classes of diversity that are not actually a direct threat to their existence.

Any failure to do that means that they are a direct threat to other levels of agent and will necessarily be restrained as such.

Another theme is:


Reality is clearly always more complex than any entity can model in real time.

In such a complex system, optimality can best be approached by giving all individuals as much freedom and responsibility as they can handle.

Distributed cognition and action will always out perform central control in conditions of fundamental uncertainty and novelty.

Central control is not a survivable option, and central coordination between multiple levels of cooperating agents is, provided it is backed up by multiple levels of independent networks.

And when dealing with multiple levels and classes of agents it does get seriously complex very quickly – always.

Any agent at any level of agency that does not respect the right of all levels of self aware agent to exist, and to responsibly exercise its freedom, is a threat to all other agents, and must be restrained as such until they see the error of their ways.

And in an environment with multiple levels of fundamental uncertainty, there will always be a need for conversations around where the boundary of responsibility lies in any particular context. There is a very real sense in which the most powerful way to approach such uncertainty is through diversity, in having multiple instances of “safe to fail experiments” in a very real sense.

So Marx is worth studying in a historical perspective, and one needs to go many levels past Marx’s best if one wishes to make any real contribution to the sorts of conversations that have meaningful influence on the “shape” (in terms of non-Euclidean strategic geometries) of the boundaries of responsibility required for survival.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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