Forwarded from Anthony (reply to E. George)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Apr 9 07:33:31 MDT 2002

Part 3: Reply to Edward George on bourgeois revolutions

I have to say, that I like Edward George's second set of posts on the
bourgeois revolutions of Europe better than his first set of posts. There
is a lot in George's posts with which I agree, however in some important
ways our views are different.

For now, let me point out a point where Ed and I have general agreement.

Ed wrote,

"...what has passed itself off as Marxism up to now is no such thing, and
that a fundamental re-explanation and re-statement of the fundamentals of
Marxist theory is necessary. In particular, what is dragging Marxism
through the mud is the pervasive influence of Stalinism; and that, under
the influence of the semi-religious conceptions of Stalinist-manufactured
'dialectical materialism', in the vulgarization of Marxist concepts, both
the Stalinist bureaucracies of the Soviet Union and the 'people's
democracies' and those who operated under their political and ideological
influence world-wide borrowed heavily from the mechanical and crude
innovations developed under the auspices of the Second international - and
justified this vulgarization through recourse to higher authority, through
a systematic misreading of the texts of classical Marxism and a fundamental
distortion of their basic ideas. In this respect we can draw a line of
continuity that runs from Plekhanov and Kautsky right up to Soboul, Hill
and Hobsbawm in the near present, a continuity characterized by a
vulgarized materialist conception of history, a national-'Marxist'
interpretation of historical processes, and a dogmatic schematize of the
prospects for future historical transformation."

My views are:

1) Marxism split into revolutionary and reformist camps during the time of
the Second International. The reformist camp reflected the interests of the
privileged layers of workers and petty bourgeois which arose in Europe and
North America as the result of imperialism - both precapitalist and
capitalist imperialism proper. The revolutionary camp reflected the more
oppressed layer of workers in Europe and North America - and outside of the
imperialist countries. Ideologically this was reflected most sharply in t
he Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, and specifically the split
between Menshevism and Bolshevism. This split was fully realized when the
Third International was formed following the Russian revolution, and during
the Post WWI revolutionary wave.

2) The split between reformism and revolutionary camps was replicated
within the Third International with the division between the followers of
Trotsky and Stalin. Stalin's camp regrouped some of the privileged layers
of workers and petty bourgeois in the imperialist countries, with the newly
privileged soviet bureaucracy, and petty bourgeois from the colonial and
semicolonial countries. Their social position within the imperialist
countries, the workers' state, and the semicolonial and/or colonial
countries respectively was threatened by interwar crisis of capitalism:
they were doomed to sink into the more oppressed layers, to be destroyed by
fascism and war (even if some of them might rise to positions of privilege).

3) The Popular Frontism Edward George refers to was the political
expression of those social layers attempt to maintain their privileges in
the face of the potential destruction of those privileges by social
revolution on the one hand, and war and fascism on the other hand.

4) Popular Frontism was - and is - simply a revival of older reformism
under new conditions.

5) Stalinism, and social democracy, and French Radicalism, used the history
of the bourgeois revolutions of Europe - especially the great French
revolution - to provide an ideological justification for their attempt to
create a new 'national' and 'popular' unity, i.e. the Popular Front.

More to come,

All the best, Anthony

Louis Proyect
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