[Marxism] Deutscher prize juror explains Kevin Murphy award, sort of

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Tue Nov 29 15:08:40 MST 2005

Louis writes, "Of course, one might have questions about what kind of
'class struggle' existed during the early years of the Russian
revolution since the bourgeoisie had been liquidated as a class but I
suppose that there are no rules against awarding prizes to books that
have an anti-Marxist concept of class." 

I hope Louis will agree after a moment's reflection that this basis for
being suspicious or critical of the book is bogus.

Of course there was class struggle in Russia at the time, unless one
wants to reduce the class struggle to the economic struggle of workers
against bosses. There was, for example, the civil war, an especially
acute form the of class struggle.

But more important is the point I think Tom O'Lincoln brings, which is
that the class struggle inevitably continues in the first stages of
building socialism.

"Class" isn't merely a relation between people and things, but social
structures so ingrained they have become part of the culture, the very
fabric of society itself. Lenin refers to this repeatedly as a central
problem that was preoccupying him in his waning days.

In March 1922, addressing the 11th Party Congress he says, "If we take
Moscow with its 4,700 Communists in responsible positions, and if we
take that huge bureaucratic machine, that gigantic heap, we must ask:
who is directing whom? I doubt very much whether it can truthfully be
said that the Communists are directing that heap. To tell the truth they
are not directing, they are being directed."

Nearly a year later, in the last article he ever wrote, "Better Few but
Better," Lenin returns to this theme:

"Our state apparatus is so deplorable, not to say wretched, that we must
first think very carefully how to combat its defects, bearing in mind
that these defects are rooted in the past, which, although it has been
overthrown, has not yet been overcome, has not yet reached the stage of
a culture, that has receded into the distant past. I say culture
deliberately, because in these matters we can only regard as achieved
what has become part and parcel of our culture, of our social life, our
. Let it be said in parentheses that we have bureaucrats in our
Party offices as well as in Soviet offices."

"A past which has been overthrown but not yet overcome" -- that is the
basis for the continuation of the class struggle after the socialist
revolution triumphs in a given country. and the grounds for what will
have to be in fact a prolonged struggle.

That's part of the meaning of "permanent revolution" that Celia Hart
writes about quite eloquently based on the Cuban experience. The
revolution isn't something that is spoken of as having taken place in
Cuba some decades ago, but something going on TODAY.


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