stalin/Marx

Alex Trotter uburoi at panix.com
Fri Mar 17 10:59:58 MST 1995



Philip Goldstein  wrote of the "good things" Stalinists did in Russia:
"they educated the population, created large-scale industry, and
established a large urban population..."

Are these necessarily good things? If so, maybe that's what the whole of
the "underdeveloped" world needs--more belching factories and crowded
cities. Environmentally sustainable? No way.
	What Goldstein is really saying (in agreement with that
particular form of marxism and even, to some extent, with Marx himself)
is that there couldn't be communism (i.e., liberation) without first
having the development of the productive forces, because Russia hadn't
yet reached the stage at which it would be ripe for it. Development of
productive forces entails, of course, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears
(something that the West accomplished over the course of centuries
through mercantile colonialism, the slave trade, etc.) but Stalin, genius
that he was, could telescope it all into the space of a couple of
decades. Gotta take your medicine, comrades!  It's historically
necessary. Stalin didn't invent this notion. It was common among Russian
marxists (Social Democrats) for decades--especially among the Mensheviks.
And they derived it from the German Social Democrats, who picked it up
from certain positions held by Engels and by Marx himself.
	The "revolutionary reformism" that occupied the greater part of
Marx's political life implied that, contrary to what the Old Man was
saying in 1848 (i.e., the workers themselves must liberate themselves),
the time was not ripe yet for communism. The productive forces must first
be developed, and only the bourgeoisie can do that. Capitalism has not
played out its "progressive" role. To the extent that Marx supported
Lincoln or Bismarck he was supporting the crushing of the class struggle
in favor of the national war aims of the bourgeoisie of Germany or the
U.S.A. Of course, this is not all there was to Marx. I've pointed out
several times on this list that he eventually came to question this
policy, both in the face of the Paris Commune and later, toward the very
end of his life, in respect to the "Russian road."
	Now, to make another point, there was plenty of *marxist*
opposition to Stalinism and even to Leninism in its time. See, for
example, Hermann Gorter's (German council communist) "Open letter to
Comrade Lenin" which took some of the piss (but oh so politely) out of
the big daddy of Bolshevism.
	To sum up, I think that Ralph has been very trenchant in his
critiques of pomo academicism and the lazy thinking that attempts to make
an uncritical amalgam of marxism and stalinism; however, I would disagree
with him to the extent that he disavows any significant connection or
continuity between them. Like it or not, Stalin is an albatross that
every marxist must wear around his neck.

Nuff said for now. Discuss.

--AT	




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