Lessons to be drawn from Maoist wars

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at marx.econ.utah.edu
Sat May 11 09:24:58 MDT 1996


I am still trying to learn the necessary lessons from the acrinomious
struggles our comrades are involved in.  Here are some raw thoughts:

(1) One basic theoretical error which clearly permeates everything
Adolfo writes, and which is also present in the views of many others
on this list, is that Marxism is a partial science.  I.e., one must
somehow pre-scientifically assume the standpoint of the proletariat in
order to arrive at the conclusions Marx and the classics of Marxism
arrived at.  This is the recipe for Stalinist purges: only those who
are committed to the point of view of the proletariat can make valid
contributions.  Therefore it is necessary to separate the wheat from
the chaff, but this can not be done on the basis of reasoning.  This
leaves much less room for allowing people to be themselves (here the
question of sexual orientation enters also) and to think for
themselves, and much less hope that unity can be achieved voluntarily.
It is an open invitation for opportunism and moralism, and it
underestimates our greatest strength for building a mass basis: that
we simply have the better arguments.

(2) With his criticism of morality, Marx threw out the baby (of an
ethics embedded in the world, i.e., the fact value distinction is
wrong) with the bathwater (of moralism and hypocricy as instruments of
exercise of power).  I think there are ethical principles, the
"success of the revolution" cannot be our only guideline.

(3) Marx wrote that the emancipation of the individual is the
condition for the emancipation of all.  Many revolutionaries act as if
he had said the opposite.

Of course, one can also argue the opposite on each of these
points, but I think I have pinpointed the dominant sides of the
contradictions.

Hans Ehrbar


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