reply to Phil on Stalin

Fri Aug 5 13:12:49 MDT 1994

Phil Goldstein asks:

"Is th(e) distinction between Marx and Stalinism naive? Doesn't
Stalinism grow out of Marx's thought, including his belief that
the workingclass must expropriate the expropriators or take
control of the means of production? I don't mean that Marx was
not more sophisticated, liberal, or profound than the Stalinists
(or Marxist-Leninists); I mean that his views are clearly
implicated in or complicit with the practices of the Stalinists."

One can agree that Stalinism "grew out" of Marxism without going
so far as saying that Marx's own views are "implicated" by the
disaster of Stalin, much less that they are "complicit with
Stalinist practices."  "Complicity" really strikes me as linking
Stalin far too closely with Marx.  "Expropriating the
expropriators doesn't directly "imply" gulags; nor does
"dictatorship of the proletariat" imply Stalinist-style
dictatorship: on the contrary, Marx uses it in parallel/contrast
with the actually-existing "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"
which often takes precisely liberal-democratic form.

The point is: all kinds of things can have grown out of as
spacious and as "radical" (in the biological sense) an oeuvre as
Marx's -- which leaves us with the (endless) task of pruning the
growths (e.g. the less sophisticated, the less profound, the less
democratic ones! etc.) that didn't bear the kind of fruit we
like, rather than chopping down the whole tree "by implication".

On a completely different note:  I'm sorry to learn than Donna
Jones will fall silent (here); her postings were great.
 Best of luck (if you're listening) on your dissertation project!

          Gene Holland


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