Marxism and the Militias

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Aug 30 08:15:14 MDT 1995


On Wed, 30 Aug 1995 Tim Wolforth:

> For example: fascism developed in Germany at a time when the working class
> was overwhelmingly socialist or communist.  It made sense, therefore, for
> fascism to take on a false "socialist" mantra.  Today the American working
> class has little of socialism in its past and nothing in its present.
>  Therefore why in the hell should an American fascism pretend to be
> "socialist"?
>
> Anyway Louis.  What's your view?  Where's the beef?
>

Louis: I'm doing some interesting reading on Lenin and the background of
"What is to be Done". Around the turn of the century, Lenin was trying to
show that capitalist agriculture was undermining the basis of the
agricultural commune. The populists had pinned their hopes on a
"socialism" based on peasant communes. Lenin wanted to show these hopes
were misplaced. His effort was directed toward showing economic and
social trends in the countryside. He spent months and months trying to
arrive at statistics that would support his thesis. This method needs to
be applied to understanding the "militias" and other populist trends. All
I get from Cockburn, Reed and yourself is speculation based on ideology.
Now if wanted this sort of thing, I would be better off reading something
like "Warrior Dreams" by James William Gibson. Gibson tries to explain
the militia movement in terms of the post-Vietnam disillusionment of
American men who felt defeated and impotent. He examines the Rambo
movies, etc. Now I have the book and all this stuff is pretty interesting
but its not Marxism.

If I had the time and financial support, I would spend a year out west
trying to develop a Marxist understanding of the militias. These are the
things I would focus on:

1. Land use statistics.

2. Employment statistics.

3. Class composition of various militias.

4. Funding of militias: grassroots or corporate?

5. Relationship of militias to bourgeois politicians, etc.

6. etc.

This is Marxism and this is not what I'm getting from you. When you talk
about the militias or Yugoslavia, you're talking more about Tim Wolforth
than these topics. You are always aroused and I admire that greatly. I
can't get aroused nowadays myself and it can really be embarrassing. The
reason I'm rough with you is that I have higher expectations from you. I
only get nasty with people like Justin Schwartz, Paul Cockshott and
yourself--people who have published books and articles and have a
reputation for socialist erudition--because I think we need Marxism more
than ever and I am greatly disappointed when you fall short.



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