[Marxism] Marx as Left of the Marxists

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sun Feb 8 09:34:18 MST 2004

Louis wrote:

I am not quite sure what is so Hitlerian about this. Perhaps Jurriaan is as
susceptible to distortion as the Marxist straw-man of his imagination.


The actual texts of the published emails did not adequately capture the
"Marxist" response I had, and that aside I like to read between the lines.
Possibly I am exaggerating a bit, Louis. But I've met quite a few Marxists
who are just like little Hitlers, and they caused me trouble. I don't say
that all, or even most, are like that, but basically beyond a few good
people I personally try to avoid Marxist forms of association like the
plague, I want to get caught up as little as possible in the polemics,
villifications, innuendo and moral grandstanding.

You might say, then why do you write on Marxmail ? Because I'm still
concerned with and interested in Marx and socialism, and I think you're a
reasonable and creative host with a sense of humour. Yes, I am susceptible
to distortion, not infrequently things are apt to get a bit blurry.

But your reference to "straw man" is pertinent. I think "Marxism" is the
straw man. It's important to understand Marx, I think. It's important to be
a socialist. But whether somebody or something is "Marxist" is irrelevant to
me. And not only that, it's meaningless. You realise that when you meet many
different Marxists from different countries, you realise that Marxism means
something very different in different situations.

In reviewing Ernest Mandel's book Traite d'Economie Marxiste (completed
1960) in The Economist, Isaac Deutscher remarked how "the true doctrine is
to be found in the heresies" (he regarded Mandel's book, though ""Cartesian"
in architecture, as the best popularisation of Marx's economic ideas since
Paul Sweezy's 1943 text).

Deutscher was acutely aware of the transformation of Marxism into a
religious faith. He himself came from a deeply religious, orthodox Jewish
background, which he aspired to transcend with his communist stance.
Deutscher said later, I think in discussing Marx's book Capital, "try as I
might, I cannot think in any other way [than as Marxist]." I regard this as
a delusion. You cannot think as Marx thought. You can only think as you


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