Utopianism, Lenin, etc.

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Fri Oct 14 05:31:08 MDT 1994

	Thanks, Jim Lawlor, for the detailed response to everyone's
comments. I would like to continue the discussion of the Hegelian theory
of history, granting that this is not a teleological or full fledged
Hegelianism that we are discussing. There is, at least, a strong
commitment to historical stages in your account. Here is what you say: "
The problem
Lenin faced was that the "old" society in Russia was only recently
coming into existence itself.  So if there is a "double transition"
in Marx -- the revolutionary transformation period in which there
is still a capitalist class, and the first phase of communism, as
communism stamped with the birthmarks of capitalism -- Lenin was
faced with a third transition, from a precapitalist society,
through capitalism as a tool of the pro-socialist state, to
socialism, as the first phase of communism, and then the maturing
of this socialist society into a developed communist one.

What this account leaves out is the radical force of what Trotsky and
others called mixed, combined or uneven development, whereby the presence
of these diverse stages produced a revolutionary process because of the
need for a political coalitions or hegemony. I am citing LaClau and
Mouffe's argument, which is that to define stages of these sorts you need
an objective scheme of history and the capacity to say what historical
development will be independently of the construction of political
coalition or the struggle for hegemony. One can loosely categorize this
view of history as a Marxist science and the objection to it is, I think,
that it places economic truths and historical stages ahead of political
processes and, thereby, justifies the party's arrogation of the power to
represent society, social development, etc., when what we want is a
political struggle to build coalitions among diverse groups .

Philip Goldstein


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