[Marxism] Farber, etc.

turbulo at aol.com turbulo at aol.com
Mon Dec 31 10:15:28 MST 2012


Angelus Novus wrote: 

But there is another aspect to Farber that I find highly irritating, which is 
not unique to him alone, but is symptomatic of the entire "Third Camp" (i.e. 
ISO, Shachtmanite, British state-caps, etc.) Trotskyist tradition: namely, the 
totally schematic evaluation of revolutions according to formal criteria of how 
much they resemble the Russian Revolution of 1917.

I get the impression that a lot of these folks aren't really interested in 
reading Marx or Marx's Capital, so they're not interested in conceiving of 
socialism as the suppression of the law-of-value and the commodity-form, and the 
reorientation of production for meeting human need.  They also seem unfamiliar 
with Marx's later writings, collected in the volume "Late Marx and the Russian 
Road" edited by Theodor Shanin, where Marx starts to seem anticipatory forms of 
communist organization in Russian peasant societies, and ponders a transition to 
communism that surpasses a capitalist stage of development entirely.

Instead, Third Campists seem to have a schematic, stagegist conception of 
history inherited from the Second International, in which a sociologically 
defined wage-worker class has to be the direct agent of a revolutionary 
transformation, through organs similar to those created in the Russian and 
German revolutions of 1917 and 1918.

Hence, according to the Third-Camp tradition, basically no post-war social 
revolution could possible be socialist or communist, regardless of its 
explicitly stated intent, because of its failure to conform to a schematic, 
sociological conception of what the agent of a revolution is (narrowly defined 
industrial wage-workers) and what forms it takes (the council).  They are quite 
simply not really Marxists, because they do not conceive of things in concepts 
such as social-form, modes of production, the suppression of the commodity and 
value, etc.

***************************************

It seems to me that no one can deny that the Cuban and (at least for a time) Chinese revolutions were genuine revolutions 
that suppressed the law of value. I haven't read Farber's book, but he is wrong if he denies this. I'm no third campist. But did it ever occur to A. N. tthat there may be some inherent connection between the non-proletarian character of these revolutions and the undemocratic regimes that resulted from them?

Marx didn't privilege the proletariat as a revolutionary agent simply because it happened to be the major oppressed class
in the Europe of his day. He did so because the workers were the first oppressed class in history that neither owned property nor
could hope to do so, and was brought together by capitalist industry not as an inchoate mass, but an organised and disciplined one.    
It was hence the first oppressed class in history with the cohesion to overthrow its rulers and inaugurate a society based on collective 
ownership and mass democracy.

Twentieth century history has proved that peasants can also act as revolutionary agents in times of crisis, but the conditions of
their existence as small proprietors, or aspiring ones, make them more individualistic and less collective-minded than workers. Weilding
them into a revolutionary force may thus seem to require a political organization much more authrotarian in nature than a workers' party.
This authoritarianism also seems to charactiarize the revolutionary regimes that issued from the victories of peasant armies.

As to Marx's views on Russia, it's helpful to read Perry Andersons "Lineages of the Absolutist State". Anderson argues that 
Marx's sympathy toward the Russian populists was borne of an almost pathological hatred of Tsarism resulting from Russia's 
role in suppressing the German revolution of 1848. Anderson also notes that Marx's view was later corrected by Engels.

Jim Creegan  
 

    



It was hence the first oppressed class in history with the cohesion to overthrow its rulers and inaugurate a society based on collective 
ownership and mass democracy.

Twentieth century history has proved that peasants can also act as revolutionary agents in times of crisis, but the conditions of
their existence as small proprietors, or aspiring ones, make them more individualistic and less collective-minded than workers. Weilding
them into a revolutionary force may thus seem to require a political organization much more authrotarian in nature than a workers' party.
This authoritarianism also seems to charactiarize the revolutionary regimes that issued from the victories of peasant armies.

As to Marx's views on Russia, it's helpful to read Perry Andersons "Lineages of the Absolutist State". Anderson argues that 
Marx's sympathy toward the Russian populists was borne of an almost pathological hatred of Tsarism resulting from Russia's 
role in suppressing the German revolution of 1848. Anderson also notes that Marx's view was later corrected by Engels.

Jim Creegan  
 

    





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