[Marxism] Buying off the German people

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Mar 24 20:14:22 MST 2005

"Carlos A. Rivera" wrote:
> Now, me being anti-revs and all that, this might sound funny, but I think
> Hebert Marcuse has already solved all this for us:
> More recently, Noam Chomsky, has also explored the same theme.
> It saddens me that except for a few exceptions, nominally Marxist writers
> have ignored such questions as "superstructural", or worse, accepted them as
> part of what is required to run a State, in other words, accepting
> totalitarian statism as principle.

1) It is nonsense to say that marxist writers of the last 30 to 40 years
have dismissed any question as "superstructural." In fact, almost all
marxist writers have been (correctly) obsessed precisely with
superstructural questions. You cheapen the whole thread by pulling in
this diversion.

2) "Totalitarian" is (a) a general -- generic -- label, and many
specifically different forms of totalitarian states may well exist;
hence (b) The fact that State A and State B are both totalitarian
contributes nothing to the question of whether either is fascist or not.


3) Marcuse chose his terminology badly; the word he wanted was
_Authoritarian_, "Totalitarian" being a word exploited in the 1940s and
thereafter for the specific purpose of identifying Hitler with Stalin.
Here is the OED on the word (which includes Marcuse's passage quoted

 A. adj. Of or pertaining to a system of government which tolerates only
one political party, to which all other institutions are subordinated,
and which usu. demands the complete subservience of the individual to
the State. Also transf. Cf. TOTAL a. 3c.
  1926 B. B. CARTER tr. Sturzo's Italy & Fascismo ix. 220
Anti-Fascism..has, however, a positive sense if it is taken to represent
an element antagonistic to the ‘totalitarian’ and absolute position of
Fascism. 1929 Times 2 Nov. 7/5 A reaction against parliamentarism..in
favour of a ‘totalitarian’ or unitary state, whether Fascist or
Communist. 1936 E. UNDERHILL Worship xii. 251 This cultus is, in origin,
an acknowledgement of the corporate and totalitarian character of the
Christian response to God. 1937 E. POUND in Germany & You 25 Apr. 95
(heading) Totalitarian scholarship and the new paideuma. Ibid. 96/2 In
1937 we are concerned with the reintegration of the arts in totalitarian
synthesis. 1940 Hutchinson's Pictorial Hist. War 2 Oct.-26 Nov. 183 We
have all heard lately about total or totalitarian war. It has been
defined as conflict between nations taking the place of armed forces.
Every citizen is in a sense a combatant and also the object of attack.
1951 H. ARENDT Burden of Our Time III. x. 303 Totalitarian movements aim
at and succeed in organizing masses{em}not classes. 1964 H. MARCUSE One
Dimensional Man i. 3 ‘Totalitarian’ is not only a terroristic political
coordination of society, but also a non-terroristic economic-technical
coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested
interests. 1977 M. WALKER National Front i. 15 The totalitarian society
is a single-minded structure. It mobilizes all its resources under one
authority to achieve one goal.

    B. n. A leader or member of a totalitarian party; an advocate or
supporter of totalitarianism.
  1938 Times 20 Oct. 15/3 The new methods of the totalitarians. 1944 A.
HUXLEY Let. 10 Apr. (1969) 504 The Left-wing Intellectuals and the
Labour Party are eager totalitarians. 1958 R. LIDDELL Morea II. vi. 149
Sparta has one of the finest romantic backgrounds in Greece; this is not
surprising, for only romantics can successfully be totalitarians. 1978
L. DEIGHTON SS-GB xiv. 115 The totalitarians of right and left have
constantly to describe the faith they have in common.
    Hence totali{smm}tariani{sm}zation, the action or process of
rendering totalitarian; the fact of becoming totalitarian.
  1941 ‘G. ORWELL’ in Partisan Rev. July-Aug. 321, I don't believe that
the ordinary man cares a damn about the totalitarianisation of our
economy. 1954 Encounter Dec. 32/2 Professor Hayek originated the phrase,
‘the Road to Serfdom’, to describe the progressive totalitarianisation
of a whole society by a government that only wanted at first to control
the economy, but finds more and more human obstacles to this aim. 1958
M. FAINSOD Smolensk under Soviet Rule xxiii. 446 The stately procession
includes urbanization, industrialization, collectivization,
secularization, bureaucratization and totalitarianization.


It is simply bad politics -- I would say, probably _disastrous_ politics
in the long run -- to lump all forms of capitalist tyranny under one


P.S. Incidentally, the bad-mouthing of Chip Berlet that takes place
intermittently on this list is also bad politics. Berlet is on the whole
on our side -- and he is _very_ useful on the topics of fascism and of
conspiracy theories.

P.S.2 The chief political effect of calling Bush fascist is to help the
Democratic Party and to hurt efforts to build a movement outside the
two-party system.

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