[Marxism] Scope and Limits of Theory: Provisional Draft

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 7 09:11:48 MDT 2010

S. Artesian wrote:
> While the moderator disavows the distinction between a "moral basis" and 
> historical necessity, the assertion that 20th century revolutions have 
> nothing to do with Marx's analysis of value cuts the ground out from under 
> the equally Marxist determination of historical necessity.

Let me make this crystal clear. The analysis of capitalist 
exploitation in Capital and other such works is the foundation for 
  socialist revolution. It would be truly ridiculous for me or 
anybody else to disagree with this.

But to repeat, the insight that the abolition of class society 
based on commodity production is a sine qua non for communism is 
*USELESS* for developing strategy and tactics. When 
revolutionaries participate in the class struggle, they have to 
have an analysis--for example--of the relationship of class 
forces. In Nicaragua, the "informal sector" was critical in the 
fight against Somoza. In Czarist Russia and in China, the 
peasantry was an important social class.

My problem with Angelus is that his harping on commodity form 
analysis is disengaged from anything he has ever written about the 
*living class struggle*, although I have to admit that I have 
never seen him actually address it. I simply don't understand how 
a deep reading of the Grundrisse will help activists fight against 
German xenophobia and attacks on the trade unions more effectively.

That is why I find his support for a classless society so besides 
the point. Our task is to move the class struggle forward so as to 
create a powerful challenge to the capitalist system in the *here 
and now* that might culminate in the workers taking power. You 
can't get to communism without overthrowing capitalism, right?

That is why the focus is on strategy and tactics here. That is why 
we examine how new political parties like Die Linke might be the 
first step in creating a powerful anti-capitalist alternative in 

Those are the kinds of questions that the Bolsheviks dealt with as 
well. They were always examining openings that could lead to 
advances in the struggle against Czarism. If you study the history 
of the Cuban revolution, you will see the same kinds of 
preoccupation. Whether to support one candidate or another against 
Batista or to launch guerrilla warfare. Studying the commodity 
form would seem to be a distraction from that effort, although I 
am sure that Fidel Castro did have that in the back of his mind 
when he was on the Granma.

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