marx/stalinism

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Sat Aug 6 05:53:31 MDT 1994


	Thanks to Andy and Gene for their interesting comments. Andy is
right to remind me that Lenin intervenes between Stalin and Marx, but I
think that it is fair to describe Stalinism as a codified version of
Marxism-Leninism. Stalinism is other, uglier things as well, but it is at
least that. This description helps to clarify the close connection
between Stalinism and Marxism.
	Gene reminds me that, if we do not like Stalinism, we can ignore
or "prune" it and just consider other versions of Marx. Gene thinks that
I have overstated the case for a close connection between Marx and
Stalinism. The arguments for this close connection come from various
sources, not all right wing -- Glucksman's The Master THinkers, which
says that Marx elaborates Hegel's romantic notion of the world historical
individual, Lenin turns that notion into the dictatorial party, and
Stalin shows that Marx's HEgelian notion leads  right to the gulags;
Alfred G. Meyer's Communism, which says that Marx elaborates the leading
ideas of the French enlightenment, but, committed to a science of history
which makes communism the end of history, he opposes the democratic
ideals of the enlightenment. This opposition justifies Lenin, who
establishes the dictatorial party that leads to totalitarian Stalinism.
Laclau and Mouffe also make this argument: uneven development, which
makes the Russian revolution possible, leads to the democratic notion of
hegemony a la Gramsci, but scientific truth, which comes from Marx and
which makes the workingclass' identity a predetermined construct of
socio-economic positions, gives the party the unique right to represent
the interests of the workingclass and to dictate policy. Hence,
Stalinism.
      Marxists dismiss this line of argument as right-wing, but it gives
us the close connection between Marx and Stalinism and it suggests
that, as Laclau and Mouffe argue, the Soviet experience requires us not
just to prune growths that we don't like but to reconfigure the basic
model or plant.
Phil Goldstein


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