[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Fri Dec 1 17:56:37 MST 2006

On 12/1/06, Joaquin Bustelo <jbustelo at bellsouth.net> wrote:
> Actually before, beginning with Marx and followed by Engels, and not once
> in
> an offhand phrase but repeatedly, "as Marx used to say, commenting on the
> French 'Marxists' of the late [18]70s: 'All I know is that I am not a
> Marxist.'"

The MIA <
describes the background to this remark as follows:

"In May 1880,  French workers' leader Jules Guesde came to visit Marx in
London. The Preamble was dictated by Marx himself, while the other two parts
of minimum political and economic demands were formulated by Marx and
Guesde, with assistance from Engels and Paul Lafargue, who with Guesde was
to become a leading figure in the Marxist wing of French socialism. The
programme was adopted, with certain amendments, by the founding congress of
the Parti Ouvrier (PO) at Le Havre in November 1880.

"Concerning the programme Marx wrote: "this very brief document in its
economic section consists solely of demands that actually have spontaneously
arisen out of the labour movement itself. There is in addition an
introductory passage where the communist goal is defined in a few lines."
[1] Engels described the first, maximum section, as "a masterpiece of cogent
argumentation rarely encountered, clearly and succinctly written for the
masses; I myself was astonished by this concise formulation" [2] and he
later recommended the economic section to the German social democrats in his
critique of the draft of the 1891 Erfurt Programme. [3]
"After the programme was agreed, however, a clash arose between Marx and his
French supporters arose over the purpose of the minimum section. Whereas
Marx saw this as a practical means of agitation around demands that were
achievable within the framework of capitalism, Guesde took a very different
view: "Discounting the possibility of obtaining these reforms from the
bourgeoisie, Guesde regarded them not as a practical programme of struggle,
but simply ... as bait with which to lure the workers from Radicalism." The
rejection of these reforms would, Guesde believed, "free the proletariat of
its last reformist illusions and convince it of the impossibility of
avoiding a workers '89." [4] Accusing Guesde and Lafargue of "revolutionary
phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggles, Marx made
his famous remark that, if their politics represented Marxism, "*ce qu'il y
a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste*" ("what is certain is
that I myself am not a Marxist"). [5]"

1. Marx and Engels, *Selected Correspondence,* 1975, p.312.

2. Ibid., p.324.

3. Engels, 'A Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891", in
Marx and Engels, *Selected* *Works, *1983, Vol.3, p.438.

4. Bernard H. Moss, *The Origins of the French Labour Movement,
1830-1914, *1976,

5. Ibid., p.11. Marx's famous remark, quoted by Engels in a letter to Eduard
Bernstein, can be found here: <

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