Marx -> Stalin, Czars

Andy Daitsman ADAITS at macc.wisc.edu
Tue Aug 9 08:09:00 MDT 1994


Doug Henwood, I believe in error, writes:

>I second this request. A week ago, I posted a remark that all these
>Marx-Lenin-Stalin pedigrees somehow forget the Czars. No one reacted to
>that at all. Isn't it just a teensy-weensy bit important?
>
>Doug
>

In my defense, I cite myself:

>(By which I acknowledge the Czarist origins of Stalinism, but still link the
                             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>ideology back to the Marxist tradition.)

In total honesty, I was responding to Phil Goldstein whose post Re [2]:
marxism/stalinism rejects the Marxist origins of Stalinism and attributes
it *primarily* (if I understood him correctly) to Czarism.

Speaking for myself, I found Doug's original post on the Czars incredibly
helpful and clarifying.  A focus on the *Russianness* of Soviet Marxism
gives us the particular ideological context, the filter if you will,
from which (or through which) both Lenin and Stalin read Marx, and it
helps explain to a great degree why, for example, the Dictatorship of
the Proletariat, which in Marx is basically a liberal state that
advances the interests of the workers, in Soviet Marxism becomes a
highly restrictive centralized state that only advances the interests
of the Bolshevik party.  (Well, OK, I'll accept that some of the workers
"objective" interests were served by real existing socialism, but that's
small comfort to people who find themselves completely alienated from
the political process.)

Now, if I am unable to completely historicize the appropriation of
Marxism in Russia and the early Soviet Union, as Angell has asked me
to do, I apologize greatly.  But it so happens that my historical
specialty is Latin America, not Eastern Europe.  So if you want to
know about the appropriation of utopian socialism in Chile in the 1840s,
I'll be pleased to give you as much detail on that as you could possibly
want.  In fact, I have about forty pages written on it already...

See ya,
Andy


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Andy Daitsman                     +  "Without complete freedom of the press
Department of History             +   there can be neither liberty nor
University of Wisconsin, Madison  +   progress.  But with it one can barely
adaits at macc.wisc.edu              +   maintain public order."
                                  + Domingo Sarmiento -- El Mercurio, 1841
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