Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Dec 7 08:12:44 MST 1999

James Stewart wrote:
>    One of the things that pricked my interest in Bukharin is the follwowing
>exerpted.  Sloppy record browsing has lost the author's name, so if you
>wrote it let me know---I have a couple of questions.  The point is,
>apparently thta the downfall of the Societ Union can be traced to Stalin
>needing to bring back the Bukharinists after the war simply to keep the
>country running.

This is the highly idiosyncratic analysis of a tiny Trotskyist group in the
Detroit area called the Marxist Workers Group (MWG), which is led by a
young worker named James Paris--I believe. It is an interesting
development. Not only have they decided to ignore the burned and crashed
detritus of previous attempts to build Trotskyist vanguard parties, they
also seem to insist that the central problem of all these groups is that
they were not working-class enough. Somehow, this does not ring true with
me but what the hey, it's a free country and youth will have its way. I
guess they are less offensive to my 54 year old sensibility than black-clad
messengers from Eugene, Oregon.

Essentially they present--in my opinion--an idealist interpretation of the
collapse of the Soviet Union, in some ways reminiscent of the Maoist
interpretation. A bunch of Krushchevite sneaks wormed their way into top
Communist positions and once they got there unleashed a perfidious plan to
restore capitalism. In the MWG case, they try to establish the pedigree for
modern day revisionism in Bukharin's right opposition. Thus Soviet Marxism
becomes analogous to a philosophical school with orthodoxies and
counter-orthodoxies. I firmly believe that material existence determines
ideas and not the other way around, but what do I know.

In any case, Bukharin was a good Communist and deserves to be read today. I
plan to read his reply to Rosa Luxemburg as soon as I get a chance. It
turns out that there was a fierce debate between her and Lenin over the
nature of imperialism and Lenin assigned Bukharin to answer her. She
believed that imperialism was characterised by a relentless drive to
transform precapitalist property relations into capitalist ones, while
Bukharin and Lenin seemed much more focused on intercapitalist rivalries. I
think both sides were presenting dialectically opposed interpretations of
the capitalist system which must be synthesized. In general, I am finding
Luxemburg's analysis most useful in putting the rape of indigenous peoples
and their habitats into a theoretical framework.

Louis Proyect

(The Marxism mailing list: http://www.panix.com/~lnp3/marxism.html)

More information about the Marxism mailing list