We have repeatedly critiqued marxism.com for its knee jerk bolshevism even as we take up its useful articles, softball pitches for our swing. Whatever we say about the russian revolution the fact remains it was a gross failure and if we cite its legacy in such glowing terms the whole chance of convincing a skeptical public will be lost. To say that it was this was the first time the working class took power is nonsense but if it is true we should be wary of working class revolutions. The working class was eliminated swiftly and lost the right even to form unions. Continue reading “the working class was shafted by the bolsheviks…try something else…//Workers’ democracy in the Russian Revolution …and other bullshit…”
We have critiqued Sanders but can the left mount a revolution at this point if the opportunity arose? We have tried to warn that the marxist canon is too flawed to allow a repetition. Apart from anything else the public detests it. But the issues it raises remain key. The only solution is a completely new formulation that remains faithful to revolutionary assumptions but moves into a new language and conceptual universe. Done right, the evolutionary tradition can be considered but disciplined against social democratic idiocy.
We have indicated a new book here, in fact we have already written it several times over:
There are ten more books here, but that’s a start. See the sidebar for a partial list.
I recommend the following to blow your circuits clean on the fantasy of historical materialism…
We may skip our new book but assemble an outline nonetheless: you can try to write your own version based on our materials:
The legacy of revolution springs from the early modern, crystallizes around the English and French revolutions and slides into its critical revolutionism in the generation of the early socialists. Marx/Engls picked up that legacy but produced an overly theoretical and flawed synthesis based on a fallacious historical materialism and confusion over the dialectic. The result influenced the hopeless failure of the bolshevik fiasco which is held against the left/marxism to this day. There is a simple way beyond this failure if the left can break old habits and get past the heavy handed monopoly Marx created out of the socialist idea.
We have often seemingly muddled the idea of ‘revolution’ with discussions of ‘virtual revolution’. But the idea is simple: it is a mere bluff on the threshold of the real thing.
Continue reading “Virtual revolution, and observing the total problem”
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.
I think a useful way to start this discussion is to briefly paint a picture of the outlook of those of us who turned toward revolutionary politics in and around the watershed year 1968. From there I will summarize the experience of a large layer of 1960s revolutionaries who embraced Third World Marxism and built what was called the New Communist movement.
The logic of (r)evolution… February 2nd, 2018 We have made a number of dialectical feints back and forth between evolutionary and revolutionary perspectives but overall our task here seems to be ad…
What a hopeless foundation for attempts to create a new society! We have critiqued Marx’s claims for science, but the quagmire of philosophic inderterminacy is an equal liability. Hegel and the source of dialectic make a fascinating historical exploration, but how on earth did making sense of this set of enigmas become the foundation for attempts to lead beyond capitalism? The result has been the whole garbage of dialectical materialism, material dialectic, and claims for a foundational science (with Hegelian whispers) that doesn’t exist. It is a failed strategy. To try and repeat it is lunacy. And the public won’t listen.
Schopenhauer made the claim/jibe that everyone who studied Hegel was confused for life and lost the power of thought. It seems so when reviewing marxism.
The crisis of capitalism requires something practical and free of attempts at the critical moment to be distracted by the subtleties of philosophy dressed up as scientism, and vice versa. The result here is that marxists have no clear program and no practical plan of action. And every student of the subject ends up confused.
Their theories contributed to the downfall of bolshevism and turned the idea of communism into an arcane mystery that must be elucidated by a cadre of experts who in fact are as confused as the plebs with their theories are designed to control the working class with a priestly arcana.
The american rebs, in their bourgeois democratic finery, at least produced a successful revolution, however limited. Their troopers needed no theory to grasp the basics of a new republican, soon democratic, sort of, politics. If they had had to study something as arcane as marxism we would never have had the american experiment.
In the second part of his new introduction to The Revolutionary Philosophy of Marxism, Alan Woods explains some of the fundamentals of the Hegelian dialectical method and how these apply to both the natural world and human society. He also details how Marx masterfully applied the dialectical materialist method to his study of capitalism, and in so doing laid bare its inherent contradictions.