fascism and bolshevism

donna jones djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Thu Aug 4 01:33:01 MDT 1994

 The attribution of the failure of the German working class to an external
factor--here Stalinism--does not sit well with me. Again, I do not have the
knowledge to argue over the course of events in post-WW I Germany.(I am
going to read a piece by Paul Mattick, Sr. "Anti-Bolsehvist Communism" on
Germany in Telos, No. 26, Winter 1975-76). How are we to explain the
absence of a communist revolution in all of Europe or the United States
during the Depression? By Stalinism? On purely pragmatic grounds, such an
interpretation seems dangerous to me in that it may encourage naive
optimism in the western working classes now that Stalinism is not there to
contain us, to serve as an actual pole of attraction, or to repel us from
Communism.  Marx clearly said that the working classes must go through a
long line of battles in which we must transform ourselves as we transform
society.  That task is undermined by looking outward to explain failure.

It seems to me that Alex's argument relies on an overly abstract and
teleological conception of the working class: because the wage form
requires the working class to perform labor gratis for capital--no matter
the payment be high or low--all wage-laborers will become conscious of the
social relations of capitalism and attempt to revolutionize them--unless
ensared by Stalinism. Perhaps we could also mean that the law of value
implies both the homogenization of the working class through the deskilling
of labor and the reduction of petty bourgeoisie to basically wage-slaves
for monopoly capital (e.g. low, low profit rates for shopkeepers in
depressed areas).  However, once we believe the proletariat to be so
broadened (within the national framework of the imperialist countries),
then I fear that the agenda that can unify all wage workers may not be a
revolutionary one. It may well be a democratic one that can be achieved
quite peacefully however.

I would only like to add that fascism is not only a real threat; it exists
and has existed in much of the third world--through the Washington
connection (as herman and chomsky have been putting it for years). Also, I
agree that scientific racism is not being officially invoked to fight the
war on drugs, on crime, on welfare (there have been calls for compulsory
sterilization), on the border, against the homeless (in soon to be
gentrified areas) etc. But such policies are, I believe, disturbingly
prefigurative of the fascist politics of a racial state that attempts to
transmute multi-racial class struggle into the projection of a barbaric
racial utopia (as Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann have put it in
their book The Racial State). Also, I think it is only comforting to assume
that whatever democracy and inter-imperial peace that there is now is bound
to last in the imperialist countries.  Even though GATT, for example, seems
to be a success for imperial unity, it is already being threatened by
competitive currency devaluations and manipulations, and it is bound to
engender massive resistance in the third world where transnational
corporations have trimmed all regulations.
d jones


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