this and that

Scott Marshall Scott at
Sat Mar 11 08:14:46 MST 1995

Though I can't pretend to understand everything that is being discussed on
this list, some of it is fascinating. A few random comments that ought to
provoke (I hope in a good way):

Of course Stalin was a Marxist. I liked who ever said his work was shaped by
the social forces of the time etc. And on that score any serious marxist
can't just make sweeping condemnations and then be done with that period of
attempting to build socialism. Anyone who has seen the series "Russia at
War" about the Soviet war effort to defeat fascism and Nazi Germany will see
that in Stalin we are dealing with a complex product of the times and of
marxism. No matter how the ruling class and US imperialism tries to rewrite
history today, Stalin and the CPSU were *the* critical factor in the defeat
of Nazi Germany.

As to Stalin's philisophical writings - I'm no expert but find the little
I've read to be mechanical and by rote - possibly reflecting his religious
background. But here too one must also recognize that he helped, by virtue
where the class struggle put him in history, to bring a popular
understanding of marxist philosophy to millions of working people. Many if
not the majority of those who died in Spain, no matter what they later came
to believe etc - went there with ideas popularized by Stalin and the CPSU -
ditto the tremendous mobilizations of anti-fascists of all countries in WW2
not to mention the Soviet people. Stalin's works were read by and did
inspire tens of thousands of cadres in this country who were *critical* to
the leadership of the largest mass movement of the left ever to take root in
this country. No wonder the ruling class is so vicious and relentless in
it's attacks on Stalin etc.

Now to differentiate ourselves from the anti-communism of the ruling class
requires a lot more care in how we discuss and learn from the mistakes and
crimes of Stalin. Broad sweeping generalizations are flabby and dangerous
and not at all marxist.


New topic:

It is incomprehensible to me that some seem to regard marxism as a kind of
candy store of ideas to pick over. "Oh, I'll take the chocolate ones but I
hate the butterscotch."

Marxism on the philisophical level is a scientific system of thought. I
really like the previous comment that went something like: "Why is it that I
have no problem reading and understanding Marx but can't make out what some
are saying here."

In particular it amazes me that some can say, I am a marxist, but I reject
historical materialism." Historical materialism is not just some convient or
glib theory to explain stages of development - slavery to feudalism etc. It
is not a thing in itself isolated from all the laws of social development
that Marx and Engels outlined. You can't accept Marx's critique of
capitalism and reject historical materialism.

People seem to have a great deal of difficulty with enivitablity (sp?).
Enivitablility is just seeing that history has a progressive direction.
Marxist never hold this to be a static or mechanical concept. Historical
materialism and Marxism's view of the laws of social development are big and
flexible enough to take in the subjective as well as the objective factors.
Marxist of any substance have always rejected non-struggle approaches. In
other words in no way does understandiong histroical materialism mean you
can sit back and wait for socialism - rather understanding the social forces
and the direction of history can be a real source of energy and encouragement.

Lee Hayes, of Weavers fame, said at his last concert in the early '80's,
"Reagan has just been re-elected and things look grim, but let me tell you,
I been around a while and I can tell you - this too shall pass." He got a
tremendous ovation - people needed to hear it.

Similarly a good understanding of the class struggle and historical
materialism today should help us to see the seeds of rebellion and fightback
that are emerging and accelerating in response to the "Contract on America"
attacks on the people. People who accept "the end of history" are befuddled
and gloomy and see no direction to the struggle. They will not be in the
forefront of stuggle and will be passed by the masses in motion. By the time
they see the motion they will only be in a position to jump on the wagon -
which is important - but they will not help to lead or get the wagon in motion.

On working class manners:

To me the most important elements of working class manners are:

1) solidarity
2) unity
3) class partisanship

Scott Marshall                             *
3116 S. Halsted                              *
Chicago, Il. 60608                            **
(312) 842-5854                                 **
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Ask me about the Communist Party, USA      *****  **
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"An ounce of action is worth                * **
a ton of theory."   -Freddy Engels          **

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