(fwd from Richard Harris) Re: Canon and Democratic Centralism

Shane Hopkinson s.hopkinson at cqu.edu.au
Wed Nov 6 18:35:47 MST 2002

Dear MM

I don't think this and what follows makes much sense except as an eloquent
apologia for the complete abandonment of revolutionary proletarian politics,

I know Mark J is trying to provoke a response here buy
really. I mean if someone says

the politics of merciless revolutionary struggle, of relentless
organisational work (a great example of this right now is offered by the
WWP, whose stance on the antiwar movement seems to my admittedly remote eye,
100% right) and of cruel and stringent partisanship; and no-one was more
stern a rebuker of bourgeois hypocrisy, more cruel a critic of
social-democratic backsliding (Critique of Githa Prog.; vide) and more
bracing and whole hearted a partisian of the working class *cause*, thru all
its vicissitudes, setbacks and shortlived triumphs, than was Karl Marx in
his day. (btw if the world of Petrograd in 1917 is remote, as Harris argues,
then the world which Marx moved in and where he conceived the Grundrisse, is
immeasurably more remote and incomprehensible today). Marx was not a
Bolsehvik because he did not live in the times of failing autocracy and of
nascent revolutionary internationalism, of the unstoppable forward march of
the Russian Social-Democracy, which Lenin did. Bolshevism was the product of
a veyr specific confluence of trends and events; it was borne into an
absolutist state with an omnipresent secret police but with no tradition of
democracy outside the primitive communism of the village assembly, that is,
from the depths of rural Russia where in 1917 95% of Russians hailed from. I
agree with almost everything Lou Proyect has said about this in his great
articles about John Reed and the Bolsheviks, and won't repeat it here. But
the idea that the Russian Revolution was defeated in 1918, which appeard to
be Harris' position, belongs to the history of anarchism and Narodnism, is
hopelessly bad as history and has no place on a Marxist list, I would argue.
As for Marx's 'humanism', that is something which he definitively abandoned
as early as 1844.


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