[Marxism] Rescuing Lenin from Leninists

Ruthless Critic of All that Exists ok.president+marxml at gmail.com
Tue Jul 8 22:37:50 MDT 2008

On Wed, Jul 9, 2008 at 12:15 AM, Joaquín Bustelo <jbustelo at gmail.com> wrote:

> It consists of PREACHING at the workers (or in reality, a few
> students, in terms of who is listening) in a way that wasn't just
> foreign to Marx and Engels, but anathema to them -- as their political
> activity from the early 50's until the mid 60's showed. (In case
> you're trying to remember just what it was that Marx and Engels did in
> terms of what we call "activist politics" in between when they were
> the young rebels of 1848 and before, and the greybeards of the First
> International and afterwards, the answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They
> wrote a fair amount for the bourgeois press, Engels exploited his
> workers and (as some would have it) Marx exploited Engels. Apart from
> that, Engels continued to accrue evidence for his reputation as a
> somewhat scandalous bon vivant -- which came in handy when he took the
> fall for the child Marx allegedly fathered with one of his maids --
> and by writing a few letters and having bull sessions in in the
> private room of a London pub (Dr. Marx's Circle, the publican called
> it, and it is the only name that has survived to our day), and hanging
> out in libraries, Marx (and it was mostly Marx in this stage) laid the
> foundations for the first and second internationals, the Russian
> Revolution and much else besides.

But not all of us have the intellectual acumen of a Marx. Perhaps,
even if you lock up Chegitz Guevara/ Luzietti in a locked room with
pen and paper for twenty years, he will not be able to produce
anything important. However, if you let him loose, he may be able to
talk to some workers (and students, as you say), and change a few
minds, and win some people to socialism. And that would be an
accomplishment, albeit a modest one -- certainly much better than no
accomplishment at all, which might well be the case if Luzietti were
to do "absolutely nothing" in terms of activist politics but write a
latter-day equivalent of Das Kapital instead. Why not let him make the
kind of interventions he thinks he is better at doing? Does everyone
have to be like Marx? We cannot all be like Marx -- we are not all so
intellectually endowed, and there should not be any feeling of guilt
or shame about that.

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