[Marxism] Revolutionary states and workers states

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Sun Oct 28 17:26:32 MDT 2007

> A penny or two on this topic. Marxism emerged as the revolutionary
> doctrine of the European working classes at the end of the
> nineteenth century. As we all know it was, because of the
> limitations of the time and place, very Euro-centric. A funny thing
> happened.
> Imperialism.
> The European working classes failed at revolution, in large part
> because many, probably most, of the workers supported their own
> imperialist governments in WWI, and afterwards. Of course much of
> the blame for this lies on the shoulders of their leaders, as we all
> know.

As we all know? Really?

Do you think support for imperialist governments was simply the result
of wrong thinking? Yes, there certainly were subjective factors such
as nationalism, but these subjective factors had a material basis, and
so should our explanation not start there?

What was the purpose of imperialism? Is it not at heart a result of
deepening capitalist contradictions? Did it not aim to export the
effects of those contradictions abroad? In fact, one could argue that
the conditions for revolution in Europe passed with the development of
imperialism, and the working class was just being sensible and
accurately assessed their new circumstances.

We know today that revolution was impossible in Europe as long as
there was imperialism and that the ultimate interests of European
workers would be to counter imperialism. But leaders have to work in
terms of real need and real possibilities as they are directly
experienced. We can't expect them to have the global experience and
the potentials that globalization has brought us in recent times.

The most obvious reasons for the European working class not pursuing
revolution were the subjective and objective factors that make it
nearly impossible at the time. Why pillory a section of the working
class instead of the capitalists?

Who needs such sectarian infighting? Some leaders may have been
mistaken in not being more revolutionary, but why condemn them for
their mistake in judgement? It is always difficult to assess a
situation as a basis for action, especially one as evanescent and
complex as Europe between the Wars. Today the working class in the
U.S. has almost no leadership at all, and would you say that this is

You catalog revolutions that arose in situations that were less
industrialized and where the working class was relatively small
compared to peasants, or where a national bourgeoisie played a pivotal
role. You seem to make revolution an end in itself instead of a
means to an end. Marxism is primarily the ideology of the modern
working class, not a recipe for revolution.

> Or were they mass mobilizations of the Cuban people, lead by popular
> revolutions who were not tied to any one social class?
> I think there is a distinction between revolutionary states and
> workers states, it's just that I think 20th century Marxists really,
> really wanted to have more workers states than really existed.

My fear that you are more revolutionist than working-class in your
outlook is only strengthened when you distinguish "popular"
revolutions from working-class revolutions. What class is this
"popular" class? Well, none, of course, but a mix of different
classes. You seem to underestimate the centrality of classes and class
conflict, and you are drawn to political revolution for its own
sake. That's fine as long as you understand that it is not Marxism;
that it has nothing to do with the working-class; and that it is not

> In other words, captialism was able to continue to develop the means
> of production on a global scale because social revolutions in some
> countries, and world wars, allowed it to partially solve some of the
> contradictions which had existed between base and superstructure.

In terms of working-class ideology, contradictions are never
"solved". I'm not sure, but I suspect an argument could be made that
your revolutionism is an aspect of bourgeois culture left over from
the French Revolution and reflected in such folk as Blanqui. Your
fixation on revolutionary leaders suggests that maybe Blanqui is your
soul mate. 

Go ahead with your Blanquist assault on the establishment. Best of
luck to you?! But, _please_ don't associate your project with the
modern working class or label yourself a Marxist.

       Haines Brown, KB1GRM


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