[Marxism] Celebrating Death

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 12 09:36:27 MDT 2013

"It is not wise to discard everything that comes the cultural heritage. We should be a part of it, but at the same time, educate the masses, to raise their consciousness." and " As regards traits such as respect for elders, I do not ascribe any feudal character to it. It is a healthy tradition, being followed while working in the CP by many of us." Marla Vijaya

I appreciate your position, however, the notions one ascribes to cultural heritage are transitory at best and, of course, products of conflicting class, gender, and racial/ethnic, never mind regional and local differences. A macro-cultural "trait" or heritage is, like history, passed down by "victors" or differentially reframed by the oppressed. What tradition or heritage should we uphold, those that obfuscate or outrightly reinforce gender oppression or class oppression for the sake of some nationally "unifying" connection with "each other"? Certainly not, I am sure would be your response. 

For a culture, like a language (which I consider synonymous), to be an actual culture and not a religion, it must grow, evolve, change according time, history, and material conditions. Should one wait for the culture to evolve "correctly" or "educate the masses, to raise their consciousness"? It seems a daunting task for the entire society never mind a small or even large group of revolutionaries to attempt never mind accomplish. Better that we, simply, recognize the right of the oppressed to self-determination, uphold the rights of women to be free of bondage and economic/social oppression, and to wage intransigent war with the colonial and bourgeois mindset of the national bourgeoisie who will always align with their "cultural heritage" in imperialism. I believe it is the duty of revolutionary Marxists (see, my "cultural heritage" prefers that term to "communist" though I recognize the synonimity of the terms) to lead in the struggle to overcome bourgeois national oppression through our involvement in the bourgeois democratic revolutionary movements or their precursors as they emerge; that we fight intransigently against the reversion to vestiges of caste, class, or national oppression; that we understand at every moment what is taking place in the adherence of masses to national identity supporting their identity as the oppressed mobilizing against their oppressor and rejecting adherence to "national unity" when it inevitably results in the establishment of bourgeois hegemony. It's not an easy task navigating such relationships, but then that's what revolutionaries are for. 

Finally, regarding adherence to elders. Sorry, but, by definition elders experience the future in the context of our past, so, we are poor conduits, as elders, for revolutionary change; We never made it and it is still up to the youth to do so. To be sure, what the youth (a loose term here) bring is revolutionary will and the cognitive, social, and political flexibility required for a revolutionary upheaval, even if they may lack in experience. We may have experience, but is an experience born of the history that has transpired; it is a material explanation for what Lenin and Trotsky have said in one form or another for the tendency of "leaders" to lag behind the will of the masses. 

Elders have always told me to be patient or to "work within yourself". Good counsel if I want to navigate the society that is, but not necessarily the best counsel for struggling to overturn this kind of society for a better one. Respecting elders requires elders to respect the newer generations and to help win what we never were able to achieve. Of course, we all have such a role to play, but just like national identity, I believe it unwise to "respect" elders for being elders--the term "respect" often being a surrogate for obeying or giving unqualified adherence to elders' wishes or beliefs--as much as it is unwise to adhere to a national identity simply for its own sake. We are, after all, revolutionaries seeking a socialist and a yet quite undefined communist future. 

I am reminded of this lack of definition for a communist future by the recent discussion on other threads regarding crisis theory and the seemingly undefined clarity of Marx's thought on economy, profit, and their connection with our current experiences with capitalist economic crises and the finance capital that has spawned them. If such "rock solid" foundation for Marxism requires us to evolve and produce a more "mature" Marxism, certainly it must be necessary to recognize the evolution and change among living and on-going macro-cultures or the micro-cultures within them. 


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