[Marxism] Far Right

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri Jun 25 06:40:46 MDT 2004

Einde wrote (correcting spelling):

It has never been a Marxist contention that no workers ever voted for the
Nazis. The marxist argument has always been that the Nazis never made
significant inroads into the class-conscious organised proletariat.


Thanks for the comment. Absolutely, but that is a tautology, that is true by
definition. But I am not interested in Marxist doctrinal tautologies, but in
understanding the facts and the real movement of political opinion, as far
as I can verify that. Marx's insights are a means for this, but if we get
into literal Marxism we don't make much sense of anything.

It's not a point-scoring exercise, I am trying to say that any idea that
somehow the working classes are spontaneously socialist or that fractions of
the working class cannot follow even very reactionary political movements is
simply wrong. That was the basis for Lenin's critique of spontaneism and
economism, i.e. you have to actually organise politically for socialism
otherwise it will not happen and something else will happen.

Lenin sought to promote Marxist ideology as an easy-to-understand
instrumentarium in a party which, although socialist or social-democratic,
wasn't wellversed in Marx's ideas outside of the leadership and key cadres.
Many workers in the party either could not read, or did not have access to
literature (they could not get it, or it was censored and so on). The story
that you don't get in the Richard Pipes version of history is the very
elaborate repressive policing and spying apparatus which was operated by the
Czarist regime. In the Richard Pipes version of history, "bolshevik
totalitarianism" and the GPU just sort of drops out of the air, and the
bloody dictatorship of Czarism and the Okhrana is just ignored.

The subsequent doctrinalisation ("bolshevisation") of the RSDLP turned CPSU
created all these political tautologies but that just means people could no
longer engage in independent thought, but had to conform fairly rigidly to
what party ideology would allow. That's not conducive to good political
analysis, but to political ossification and degeneration.

These cultural habits linger on and so, often if you say something to
Marxists, that seems a little controversial from the standpoint of their
doctrine, endlessly repeated - they get terribly excited or upset, and want
to prove you wrong (you are a "liberal", a pettybourgeois, or whatever).
Because the doctrine has carved up the whole universe in known and
comfortable categories, which do not permit new thinking, it's a closed
system, they have the whole programme already and all that needs to happen
is for people to believe it. You know already what they are going to say,
and dialogue becomes difficult. I am on this list because of my interest in
Marx and as a socialist, but I try to avoid discourses about Marxism mostly.
Marx has a future, but Marxism has not future. The idea that the ideas of
one 19th century thinker is sufficient to make sense of the 21st century is
just ludicrous. What remains valid is concepts, some theories and methods,
which have to be applied and modified in new contexts. But for that purpose,
whether something is Marxist or not Marxist just isn't very interesting.

As Phil Ferguson implies, Marxists in large part failed to understand the
new dimensions of human freedom emerging in the last two decades. They sort
of railed against neo-liberalism as bogey, but that doesn't make much sense
of modern culture. Once we start talking again about socialism and
libertarian ideals without anxieties about doctrinal orthodoxy, we can
innovate new answers to new problems, and make sense of new forms of
association. Personally I think it's important to get rid of all forms of
Stalinist, Maoist and Trotskyist religiosity in the interpretation of Marx
or of revolutions, it has no future, and that's why I sometimes heckle the
Marxists, although I take some Marxists very seriously because they lived
something or investigated something. In modern radicalism, there is only
really the Marx-Engels type of trend and the anarcho-liberal type of trend,
in that sense politically it's not very different from the First
International. The Greens and autonomists kind of mediate between those two
core trends but their ideas mainly derive from those trends.

In New Zealand, the "crunch" period in the formation of a new radical
tradition was 1968-1972. Basically what happened was that the Stalinists,
Trotskyists and Maoists tried to be very orthodox programmatically, and
their political culture put off a lot of very creative, talented people,
including utopists, libertarians, ecologists and all sorts who were less
fixated on texts. That created the NZ Values Party which with a "softer",
more popular programme gained far more support and credibility from people.
And that had long-term cultural and political effects. The Greens now have a
substantial party with parliamentary representation, and gained influence in
the New Labour Party/Alliance Party also, and that had a lot to do with
being able to relate to the real culture of the times. Here in Holland, the
Maoists stopped trying to educate people in Marxism-Leninism and began to
make socialism popular, give it a content that people could see. And they've
been much more successful that way, they're the fourth largest party in the
country. I am not necessarily endorsing all that these parties and movements
do, it is just a general point about political cultures which worked or did
not work.


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