Instead of putting emphasis on introducing theory into the workers’ movement, in worrying especially about theoretical formation, we ought to be very creative in taking advantage of or creating situations that allow people to learn through practice. - Marta Harnecker
Real, liberatory reform of consciousness can't happen on an intellectual, book-learning level alone - generations of Gnostics and Sufis would agree with Rosa Luxemburg, who said "You cannot learn everything from pamphlets, it is necessary to carry out a process of learning through practice." The reason Marxism has been slowly dying for seventy years or more is that the cutting intellectual wave was Trotskyism, a tradition which made up for practical impotence by building ever more elaborate fantasy theoretical structures. (Absolutely no disrespect to Lev Davidovitch intended, only to his idiotic acolytes.)
Marxists have to learn that a rationalist, scientific thought structure cannot understand, let alone resolve, deep psychological barriers based on a lifetime of living in the heart of the MACHINE. Sure, people change for the better during revolutions, but Petrograd 1917 didn't make the entire working class enlightened overnight - and it would be even worse now that corporate propaganda is so much more efficient and persuasive, as Michael Löwy understands:
How to distinguish the authentic from the artificial, false and makeshift needs? The last ones are induced by mental manipulation, i.e. advertisement. The advertisement system has invaded all spheres of human life in modern capitalist societies : not only nourishment and clothing, but sports, culture, religion and politics are shaped according to its rules. It has invaded our streets, mail boxes, TV-screens, newspapers, landscapes, in a permanent, aggressive and insidious way, and it decisively contributes to habits of conspicuous and compulsive consumption. Moreover, it wastes an astronomic amount of oil, electricity, labor time, paper, chemicals, and other raw materials - all paid by the consumers - in a branch of "production" which is not only useless, from a human viewpoint, but directly in contradiction with real social needs. While advertisement is an indispensable dimension of the capitalist market economy, it would have no place in a society in transition to socialism, where it would be replaced by information on goods and services provided by consumer associations.
Again - any Sufi could tell you the difference between the needs, wants and compulsive desires of the false self, the Ego, the "special and unique snowflake" which is in fact an extension of THE MACHINE, of the memetic apparatus of control and manipulation; and the real longings of the body and soul, which are an extension of God-However-Defined. Imagine what might be possible in a world where the social forces of culture and persuasion were under the democratic control of enlightened beings, as the spiritual master brings his/her ego under the control of the more holy parts of the personal. Imagine if the Demiurge repented and learned to serve Sophia. As below, so above, in spades.
But conversely, the faithful and the psychonauts have to understand that capitalism as a concrete set of social relations, and the ideology/mythology/culture/meme complex associated therewith, pretty much ensures that most of the planet will remain in ignorance, squalor and self-hatred when they don't have to. Elitism is dead. In previous eras there might have been an argument that only a minority could achieve enlightenment or altered states. And that was because there was a limit to how many people could have that much leisure time and freedom from the needs of biological existence. Spiritual elitism is no longer needed for exactly the same reason that poverty, disease and lack of education are no longer needed. Anyone who tells you that "the True Path" is only open to a special minority of people, and most people can only hope for being happy, well-fed animals or slaves at best, is not your friend, or the friend of humanity, no matter how much else they might have going for them.
The great paradox, or contradiction of modern capitalism, is that it has memetically enslaved us at precisely the same time that it has created all the physical requirements for our total liberation as a species, or even as a biosphere. There is really nothing holding us back now but "the subjective factor" - our mental chains. One huge problem is that existing radical groups, at least in the Western quasi-democracies, are treating their politics as a religion or a lifestyle. The absolute last thing they would want was to leave their identity as "rebels and outcasts" behind, and join hands with a victorious mass movement.
I am not sure that I have anything original to add to this theoretical mix. My job is probably just to point out the connections, and then see what people (including me) can make of them in practice. Is there even anything that CM can offer to actual political practice? Or is it just "transpersonal psychology and spirituality for dialectical materialists", or an argument for gnostics to take Marxism seriously?