[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Thu Dec 7 11:34:18 MST 2006

 Joaquin Bustelo 

Who was this aimed at? Dogmatists who liked to suck all sorts of conclusions
out of the "theory" instead of studying concrete conditions.

What have Bustelo and Goff criticized (and it's not yet clear to me whether
we actually see eye to eye on everything but on this we do seem to agree)?

The fetishization and reification of "the working class." The downgrading or
negation of the questions of race/nationality and gender. The creation of
two, three ... many revolutionary parties, leagues, groups and
organizations, each and every one claiming to be the one-and-only true road
to salvations. 

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.

And then we begin to look at the material conditions under which this
failure has taken place, and we see that in the U.S., there's not been a
real working class movement, of the class as such, for many, many decades.
And that, for a dialectical and historical materialist, DEMANDS an
explanation, REQUIRES understanding, because Marxism is not a doctrine but a
MOVEMENT, the conscious and self-conscious expression of one side in a class
struggle actually underway. 

And the absence of the working class as such, as a class-for-itself, in the
United States, as a social actor, as a protagonist in this struggle,
probably has something to do with the state of the political/ideological
movement that claims to be the expression of this class.

This is a serious discussion and, from the number of places I see similar
issues and questions being raised, I do not believe it can be just dismissed
as "the same old story." There is something wrong, seriously wrong,
extremely wrong, about Marxism as it has been understood and *practiced*
collectively by thousands of cadre from God knows how many groups. 

And, please, let's not have this idealist response that the theory, the
doctrine, is o.k., the people doing it just fucked it up in practice, sort
of what Neocons say about Bush in Iraq. The founders of Marxism insisted
that communism was not a theory but a movement. What needs to be assessed is
not ideal Marxism, but the real thing on the ground in the real world. 



CB; Absent from this analysis is the "elephant sitting on the shopfloor, in
the neighborhoods and the party headquarters" - the ruling class. The U.S.
ruling class has done "Marxism-in-reverse" for a long time. There is a U.S.
workingclass in-itself.  The ruling class consciously, precisely,
skillfully, materially, effectively prevented the U.S. working class
in-itself from becoming a class-FOR-itself, thwarted and blocked the
development of working class and socialist consciousness. 

The ruling class, in the first place, perpetuated the Confederate tradition,
nurtured and fomented New Racisms, "whiteness", white racism, white skin
privilege. The racism of white workers you have very eloquently and
accurately described did not fall out of the sky. It has been caused to grip
white masses by a million clever actions by the ruling class - divide and
rule.  Our slogan is "Workers of all countries, races,nations ,religions
unite !" How difficult is it for the ruling class to see that their slogan
is "Divide the workers by nationality,race , country of origin, religion,
etc.!" ? They just read our stuff and do the reverse. And they really do it.
And they have the resources and power to do it very effectively.

The ruling class, of course, also melded anti-Communism with patriotism
through the Cold War.  This prevented U.S. Communists from playing their
role of inculcating the U.S. working class with working class and socialist

We really shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. It wasn't a fair fight once the
ruling class realized that they could practice our theory in reverse to do
what they had to do. The U.S. ruling class has had for a long time an actual
Anti-Communist Party, conscious, focused, theoretically-guided and precise
working class misleaders.

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