[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Fri Dec 1 18:02:56 MST 2006

Joaquin Bustelo wrote:
> WHY do we criticize? Because it is quite evident, on its face, that this
> left, the organized Marxist left of the second half of the XXth Century in
> the United States, has failed in what just about every group said was its
> purpose, building a revolutionary party, as well as in countless other ways.
> And when we begin to examine these failures, we see everywhere dogmatism and
> idealism run amock.

What is not clear is whether they ever had a chance of succeeding or
not. I agree with you (as does Lou and thousands -- 10s of thousands
--of other marxists) that we don't want a party of the 2d or 3d
international type. Big deal. But to blame the failure to make a
revolution in the last 50 years on incorrect theory is, quite frankly,
lunatic volutarism.

It is possible, even probable, that we (stalinists, 'maoists,'
trotskyists, castroists, council communists, what have you) made all
sorts of mistakes, and it is possible that we WOULD HAVE failed even had
we had a chance of succeeding. But that is pure aery speculation,
because we never had a chance of winning. In fact, I think the left has
done amazingly well the last 30 years to even maintain itself in

You are operating on a deeply dogmatic assumption that theory has a
direct link to practice and that if practice fails the theory is wrong.
But practice can fail for innumerable reasons -- and more often or not
from reasons outside the control of the actors. Before you elaborate a
huge aery and quite academic theory about the relation of theory to
practice 1960-2006 you have to prove that  a different theory would have
made a difference, and I don't think it would have. The burden of proof
is on you.

What is a theory of history supposed to provide? Directions on which
side of the bed to get up on and when to blow your nose?


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