[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Mon Dec 4 17:03:52 MST 2006


This is a perfect excuse for perpetual failure.

It's also extremely wrongheaded. "False consciousness" (or whatever term one
wishes to use for the confusion resulting from the difference between what
is and what is believed) affects the ruling class as well as the working
class (as well as the middle class as well as...etc...). 

The ruling class will always have greater organization, greater secrecy,
greater means of infiltration, greater resources, greater legal protections
(duh) and a host of other advantages at their disposal. This was true in
1917, just as it is today. 

Our side will always have disadvantages until a revolution. And then we will
only have the advantages of economic power and numerical power. The ruling
class will continue to have sorts of other advantages. 

I'm not one to quote Trotsky or any of the other famous Marxists as
"authorities," but the complaint that McCarthyism was a stroke of ruling
class genius that could not be countered sound amazingly similar to the
Spanish anarchists complaining that circumstances were "exceptional" during
the Spanish Revolution. It's like complaining that your raincoat keeps you
perfectly dry, except when it rains.

McCarthyism is not even remotely the worst thing radicals have faced in the
history of capitalism, and we in the US are likely to face worse in the

CB; Nonetheless, it may be true that it would have been very difficult to
impossible to overcome the ruling class' advantages in that period in the
U.S. So, "excuse" may be an inapposite term, rather, "explanation" would be
more accurate.

The perpetual problem is in fact that ruling classes almost always have
better class consciousness than ruled classes. As ruling classes are always
elite minorities, their superior class consciousness is the _only_ and most
critical advantage they have. When they lose that , they are threw. 

McCarthyism doesn't have to be the worst thing ever faced, or a stroke of
genius, only that it was effective and dominant in that specific time period
and generation. Class consciousness is always a relative class
consciousness. If the U.S. ruling class was more conscious than the U.S.
working class at that time, the U.S. ruling class comes out on top. The U.S.
ruling class may have been more class conscious exactly because it was
alerted by the Russian Revolution and the success of the Soviet Union.

What I'm saying is that the Bolsheviks had an advantage of surprise, since
the Russian rulers were probably not taking Marxism very seriously, not
focussing so heavily on countering Marxist propagandizing of workers and
peasants. The American Marxists had less of an advantage of surprise over
the American rulers exactly because the Russian Revolution showed the ruling
classes of other countries that Marxism wasn't some totally unrealistic
pipedream, that it was a real threat, and so the different ruling classes
were more on their guards after the Russian Revolution. Particularly after
the Soviet Union showed its prowess in unexpectedly defeating the formidable
German army, capitalists of the world stood up and took notice of Marxism
even more. They could read the most elementary Marxist-Leninist texts and
know that they had to battle for the minds of workers. And they took steps
to do that.

 Also, the Czarist system was in greater crisis than the American system in
1948. That was just a contrast in objective and subjective conditions that
American Marxists really could not change. 

Yes, what I say is very pessimistic; but it doesn't mean it's not true,
unfortunately. The fact that the ruling class will always have all the
advantages you list can't be overcome in the real world by denouncing it as
wrongheaded to state that fact. Socialism may very well be impossible
because the capitalists have been so alerted to it. Sorry. I don't like
that, but I'm not going to pretend it's not true by covering it up with a
burst of revolutionary enthusiasm or wishful thinking.  It is only by facing
the reality and specifics of enormous ruling class advantage then, and now,
that we might be able to find a strategy to overcome what is a really
formidable obstacle, more formidable than the Czarist regime.

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