[Marxism] Party and Capital (Re: Molyneux's "On party democracy")

Max Clark poeticaleconomy at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 28 09:49:28 MDT 2009

(Originally addressed privately to the ISJ, I have re-edited and published this brief critique of Molyneux publicly here on account of my utter lack of faith in the ISJ publishing it. Also, everyone should read Proyect's critique, if only for the Vulcan "pon farr" (spelling?) reference. AH! I laughed and laughed. --St. Max)


Party and Capital (Re: Molyneux's "On party democracy")

'We are faced with the fact ... that the bourgeois apparatus of production and publication can assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes, indeed, can propagate them without calling its own existence, and the existence of the class that owns it, seriously into question.' --W. Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”

'It is precisely the problems of organization which have languished longest in the half-light of utopianism.' --Lukács, History and Class Consciousness

I salute the International Socialist Journal (ISJ) for re-opening the overwhelmingly massive question of party democracy in its pages. It is a testament to its superiority far over and above all other English-language Marxist publications otherwise available today. John Molyneux, moreover, for all of his true Cliffite absence of literary style, betrays himself as among the premier authors currently working in the Marxist tradition for even marshalling his special privileges to address the issue publicly. 

But all further praise aside, for it seems to me that Marxist criticism now errs on the side of "generosity" rather than its founding ruthlessness, all the legitimacy and value presently assigned Molyneux's retelling of the myth of "party democracy" must come to be annihilated. For what few novel ornaments he affixes upon this narrative, and these appear very few indeed, its substantial "deep structure" as false-consciousness and a specifically capitalist-generated ideology requires that the most intense critical violence be brought to bear against it; the true spirit animating all discourses being alone released in their wretched passage unto death. 

Indignation and denunciation, the pathos and essential work of criticism, must thus be extricated from the imbecilic fear of private defamation; the invisible erasures of censorship, worked by the likewise invisible hand of the market, must be made opaque to our vision. 

But here the analysis of uncritical form already passes into an analysis of its undemocratic social content, for it is precisely capitalist ownership over the means of communication, whose presence is felt in all contemporary party organizations, which also provides the exact location of their thoroughly concrete undemocratic aspect. 

A real class analysis of the party is thus inaugurated with regard to its "scaffolding", with regard to the ownership of its means of production, not abberant references to its class "composition", a phrase utterly void of actual social content. 

As Molyneux himself writes, without being aware of the full truth of his statement: 'the revolutionary socialist party has to be built under capitalism.' Not only under it, it must be said, but within it, as a capitalist element of capitalist social relations. 

That is, the party, insofar as it is a media outlet, is a means of communications production, is utterly, utterly saturated with specifically capitalist social relations, is itself, at root, an everyday capitalist organization/corporation. 

The "half-light of utopianism" with regards to organizational questions of which Lukacs references above is precisely the denial, suppression, and censorship of this truth. This truth of which Benjamin was already becoming well aware of decades upon decades ago. 

There is, there must be, in spite of all the secrecies engendered by private property relations and ideological sorcery, a ruling-class of the party structure: the ownership of the means of communication (which are, if we return to Lenin, also no less than the means of organization). I cannot unfurl here all the consequences of this insight, but suffice it to say here that the party is not an uncontested ground in class warfare. 

Not only do we not require recourse to Neo-Kantian "norms", i.e. infinite deferrals, to assuage "our" captive working-class audience of the right and truth of Leninist "inner party democracy", we do not require any further formalist, rule-mongering idiocy regarding, and complete disfigurement of, the real content of party democracy: seizing the party means of communications from the ridiculously philanthropic capitalist bastards who own them.

Whoever the capitalist be who denies these truths, or fails to publish them, only confirms my analysis over and again.


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