Blaming a dead man, your parents and the labor aristocracy

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at
Sat Oct 28 00:40:39 MDT 1995

On Fri, 13 Oct 1995, Bryan A. Alexander wrote:

> > Even if we take the anarchists at face-value, and grant them 100%
> > of their story on evil Stalin in Moscow crushing Spain,
> > what does their story amount to? How is it that the proletariat
> > let Stalin crush them in every country this century? (Same
> > question to like-minded Trotskyists who blame Stalin for their
> > own failure to mobilize the proletariat and other laboring masses.)
> > If Trotskyism or anarchism are proletarian ideologies, they should be
> > able to mobilize the masses to stop evil Stalin. In fact, Trotskyism
> > and anarchism are just idealisms, not proletarian ideologies,
> > so they fail.
> 	Do you accept the possibility of deluded proletarian behavior
> parallel but not identical to false consciousness?

Pat for MIM replies: Thank you for separating the concept
of false consciousness and "proletarian behavior." It is food
for thought in itself. However, let me proceed as if you are
saying that Marx said there was false consciousness and
hence massively deluded proletarian behavior.

Our objection is that "false consciousness" was never
meant as a global concept (meaning both international
and general) used to justify disconnecting history
from theory. It is used by many Western "Marxists"
as a justification for various unique idealisms.
When used in excess as such, the concept of "false
consciousness" is no different than the
humility of humankind before God.

How much is excess? When you are in the position that
you are saying the social actors have never enacted
anarchism or even much of a successful anarchist movement,
you have used that concept of "false consciousness" in excess.
Truthfully, I Pat of 1995 don't know that Trotsky of 1925
was wrong just from looking at his debates with Stalin in 1925.
I do know that Trotsky was generally wrong because
of so many incorrect predictions he made (and the
multiple predictions he made for the same phenomena.) and
more importantly because of that lack of a sense of reality,
no Trotskyist revolution has succeeded without Lenin's
direct help. "False consciousness" cannot be used to
account for the actions of proletarians in so many countries
over so many decades. That's how I know Trotskyism is wrong.
Like the Theses on Feuerbach say, the point is not to
interpret the world but to change it.

If we look at Marx, he didn't adopt an extreme use of the concept of
"false consciousness" either. For example, as we all know,
the Paris Commune was not an explicitly Marxist affair.
It was not led by a Marxist scientific majority. This didn't
stop Marx from supporting it as the first dictatorship
of the proletariat. Was Marx unprincipled or unscientific for saying so?

The same is true of the Communist Manfesto of 1848. What
Marx said was based on his observation of the street
fighting in Europe. That's how he knew there would be
class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat.
He saw concrete struggles tending toward advance of society
and he named them as such. He didn't take Hegel's
"Principles" in a vacuum and decide in advance what
to say in the "Communist Manifesto."

Most Amerikans who disagree with us conjure up an image of
Trotsky or Bakunin as Principled. They believe that if you pay any
attention to history instead of Principle, that you will
fall for Amerikan pragmatism and next thing you
know you will be voting for Democrats.
In actuality, this is but pre-scientific dogma--religion.
Obviously religion whether it uses the term "false
consciousness" or not, is useful when an individual
needs to call the whole world and all its classes into

The concept of "false consciousness" should be used
in comparative historical context. As J. Sakai points out,
when we compare the McCarthyite repression with the
repression in Puerto Rico, McCarthyism was nothing. Yet
the Amerikan proletarian movement's energy was so
ready to "ooze away" as Marx said. There is false consciousness
in both Puerto Rico and Amerika, but one situation
is much worse than the other in terms of reactionary
"behavior." That can be accounted for by
the relative preponderance of a labor aristocracy
in one country relative to the other. Likewise in
southern Korea, the workers face corrupt and government-
sponsored unions in addition to state repression. However,
the workers there have the energy to form their
own unions outside the reactionary unions, so this gives
us an idea of what is possible for a real proletariat
to do. We need materialist explanations for differences
amongst proletariats.

When it comes to what happens in revolutionary
opportunities, sometimes the opportunity is completely
blown. Other times there is a revolutionary movement.
Misanthropic idealists want to say that all the
movements in Stalin's tradition were "deluded," while
none occurred outside that tradition. In addition,
they come up with the stuff about Stalin repressing
everyone in the world or giving everyone bad orders.
This is just intellectual dishonesty--an unwillingness
to apply the same standards to Stalin, Trotsky
and anarchism. They blame Stalin for all failures,
but they don't blame anarchism and Trotskyism for
all failures. That is just a double standard.

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