trotsky's marxism

donna jones djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sat Aug 13 04:17:27 MDT 1994


I think that it would be possible to agree with Alex's critique of Trotsky
and Stalin (for example on the grotesque reduction of the self-emancipation
of the proletariat to the nationalization of industry)without pointing to
the importance of the 1844 Manuscripts. (On Trotsky, see also Paul Mattick,
Sr. in Anti-Bolshevik Communism where, among other things, Trotsky's
approval of compulsory labor is disccused).  For example, isn't the 1870
Circular Letter to Bebel, Liebknecht and Bracke enough to differentiate
Marx from Stalinism, and isn't Marx's emphasis on the realm of freedom in
the third volume of capital enough of a critique of productivism as an end
in itself (a simple critique of productivism has dangers too--look at the
writings of the zero growth ideologues)?  It seems to me that an argument
could be made that the early writings are more open to grotesque
misinterpretations than the later ones--for example, Marx on commodity
fetishism is much more interesting and precise than Marx on alienation and
the species essence.

 It seems to me completely wrong that Marx's mature critique of political
economy moved him further away from or attentuated his commitment to or
muddled his exposition of what he clarified more than anyone else over the
course of his life--the emancipation of the working class must be conquered
by the workers themselves.    I have to think about exactly why I think
Stalinism and petty-bourgeois revisionism are best checked by the late
writings; I am definitely reacting to my undergraduate course in marxism in
which most of the semester was based on the 1844 Manuscripts and Avineri.
All that is taught in universities today is the pre-1850 Marx, and I think
that the real missiles against both the bourgeoisie in its private and
state capitalist forms are located in the late and very late marx (of
course, against Althusser, we should be allowed a careful reading of the
section on commodity fetishism)

 It would be unfortunate if Alex's post encouraged young students, like me,
to focus on the manuscripts as the key to liberating Marxism from state
capitalism.  I've been down that path, and it leads nowhere. Now much
later, I am turning to books like Marc Linder's Anti-Samuelson which
provides one with the basic knowledge that will militate against the
attempt to impose subjectivist, de-alienated and species essential views
upon reality, missing all along the real class struggle in the real world
and (very importantly) the painstaking critique of all the false mechanisms
--from fed reserve reform to keynesian instruments to post-fordist
regulation--to attentuate and mediate proletarian revolution.
d jones



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