This situation is sufficiently lamentable, but even more unfortunate is the fact that many people who call themselves Marxists are equally ignorant of the writings of Marx and Engels. In my experience, even many people who consider themselves to be Marxist cadres rarely bother to plumb the depths of Marxist theory in all its richness and variety. All too often they merely skate over the surface, repeating thoughtlessly a few slogans and quotes taken out of context which they have learned by rote, the genuine content of which remains a closed book for them.
The marxist rubbish peddled ad infinitum at marxist.com has been useful target practice from this source as we have tried to critique Marx, but from the left in a consideration of a neo-communism. Alan Woods is lamenting the public’s ignorance of Marx and Engels but maybe that is an opportunity at a time when it has become essential to recast the platforms of the left into a new version/upgrade. Marx had many insights, e.g. into the emergence of class in civilization, but they all get lost in the rubbish of theory that emerged from the premature sociological analysis so ponderously considered by Marx, who toiled away at the masterwork he was so significantly unable to complete. Leftists would do better to simply leave this literature behind and recast the canon in some new form, mindful to be sure not to betray the projected socialist future with some coopted version, carefully considering the issue of social democracy from Bernstein onward as it arose out of the corpus, still a controversial alternate universe that might preempt real social transformation if we are either seduced or misled, or finally left with it as a last resort. With bolshevism the revolutionary idea simply struck out: we must not contaminate future efforts with its tragic muddle.
It may be too late: at time when we need a sensible transition to a new society marxists and their religion threaten to make a sane future abort in the name of Marx’s theories. Marxists seem unaware of how much people hate marxism/Marx.
The left would have to start over in any case just to get a public hearing.
So while critical of marxism we have tried not to water down the revolutionary implications of socialism emerging from the French Revolution, thence it seems, to be hijacked by Marx/Engels, unless of course we do that with dialectical deliberation (we use the term ‘dialectic’ deliberately in a default meaning: debate, duality, etc…): the Bernie Sanders’ of this age are not ignorable.
Let’s face it, there were a lot of alternate paths to a framework for the left but the domination of Marx is a strange phenomenon in itself. The year is 2018 and still the hopeless muddle of dialectical materialism is being promoted as a foundation in theory for a vast social transformation. It is almost sickening: people were shaking their heads already in the nineteenth century at this Hegelian garbage. Preoccupation with the subject condemns marxists to marginality at this point.
We need to start over and craft an upgrade that leaves behind the term ‘marxism’, addresses the issues of economy, class, socialism in clear language that is empirically based and not cursed with the arrogant pseudo-brilliance of Marx pedants. The Marx/Engels saga of the 1840’s makes a useful historical background with the classic Manifesto as a useful episode and exit point. The whole useless mess of historical materialism/dialectical materialism should not arise again except in a critique of poor theories.
The worst aspect of marxism here is the way its ‘stages of production’ theory has made leftists think socialism is inevitable without specifying in advance what that should be. The result was the bolshevik calamity with the details worked out by Stalin.
Socialists deserve another chance but not if they produce a platform that can’t disentangle from marxism and the idiot cadre of marxist true believers.