[Marxism] The Jihadism of Fools By Fred Halliday
brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Wed Feb 14 11:51:55 MST 2007
> Haines wrote: "In the description of this list, there is nothing
> about communism, for or against, but it is obviously concerned with
> Dear Haines,
> The idea that "Marxism" is something quite apart from
> "Communism" doesn't have a leg to stand on. Marx and his pal Engels,
> after all, did write the Manifesto of the Communist Party, and never
> until their dying day renounced either the fundamental ideas
> expressed there nor the name "communist."
> A counterposition of Marxism to communism simply won't wash,
> and neither will calling Dissent in some sense a "Marxist"
> magazine. It is in reality quite thoroughly "anti" everything that
> Marx and Engels stood for.
I'm afraid you don't really clear things up in my mind. Perhaps one
can't counter "Marxism" to "communism" simply because they are not the
same thing rather than competing ideologies. Are they not different
aspects of a single historical movement.
For example, it is debated just what "Marxism" is, but for the sake of
argument let's suppose it is an ideology appropriate to the modern
working class based on materialism and the dialectical method. If so,
"communism" seem something altogether different. It might refer to a
political method necessary to arrive at a possible future society
without classes. More specifically, the Manifesto written for the
Communist League called for _course of action_, which does not seem to
have the same kind of content as is implied by the word "Marxism".
Traditionally, social democrats are considered to be non-revolutionary
Marxists. The usual view is that because of the effects of imperialism
or because they believed the working class would be better served,
they put off the revolution into the indefinite future. That was a
tactical decision that distinguished them from communists, but
certainly not from Marxism. That is, Marx never offered any universal
law about when and where revolution will occur regardless of
And then as for Dissent, so far everyone seems to agree that it is
"social democratic" in some broad sense, open to a range of opinion
from center-left to left-center. It did not represent itself as
non-Marxist, but as non-communist. Since it is felt to be
social-democrat, the usual view is that it is Marxist and not
One can't casually say that someone is anti everything that Marx and
Engels stood for. That would be a very unlikely proposition, for
Marxism has percolated into mainstream economic thinking, and social
and political science. Also, Marx and Engels certainly developed their
views over time, and as a result Marxism is necessarily somewhat
ambivalent. Who today can pontificate and say exactly what is and is
not in the Marxist canon? And has not our understanding evolved
greatly since the days or Marx and Lenin so that we must necessarily
modify and supplement that canon? Marxism has represented a healthy
range of opinion, and were it to be narrowly and rigidly defined so as
to block any debate, I think we would all be in serious trouble.
Halliday's newer views are not likely to be congenial to those on this
list, but that does not mean they should not be presented or
debated. That he was once a Marxist means he must be taken seriously,
especially because most of us would disagree with him. Is he
fabricating facts out of whole cloth? Is he being illogical or
incoherent? Is he too stupid to taken seriously? I don't think so. His
views should be aired, not because we happen to agree with them, but
because they force Marxists to re-examine their positions and to
develop them in response.
More importantly, just who defines what position is allowed to be
discussed in this list, and how would that position be characterized?
This is a sincere question, for I really don't know.
Haines Brown, KB1GRM
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