[Marxism] Marx, Russia, and India

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Sun May 5 16:54:53 MDT 2013

Bravo, Louis!  Bravo!

I beleive Marx was so convinced of the coming revolution in Russia that he
started to learn Russian.



On Mon, May 6, 2013 at 12:51 AM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:

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> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
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> Dear Professor Gordon,
> In your New Republic review of Sperber's new bio of Marx, you write:
> "The outbreak of Bolshevik revolution a little more than three decades
> after his death would have struck him as a startling violation of his own
> historical principle that bourgeois society and industrialization must
> reach their fullest expression before the proletariat gains the
> class-consciousness that it requires to seize political control."
> Despite your Harvard credentials (or perhaps in light of them, given Niall
> Ferguson's foot-in-mouth disease), you show a shocking unawareness of
> Marx's late writings on Russia. In letters to Danielson and Zasulich, he
> warned exactly against the interpretation you proffer to New Republic's
> readers.
> In an 1881 letter to Zasulich, he stated:
> "Theoretically speaking, then, the Russian 'rural commune' can preserve
> itself by developing its basis, the common ownership of land, and by
> eliminating the principle of private property which it also implies; it can
> become a direct point of departure for the economic system towards which
> modern society tends; it can turn over a new leaf without beginning by
> committing suicide; it can gain possession of the fruits with which
> capitalist production has enriched mankind, WITHOUT PASSING THROUGH THE
> CAPITALIST REGIME, a regime which, considered solely from the point of view
> of its possible duration hardly counts in the life of society. But we must
> descend from pure theory to the Russian reality."
> You can find out more about this in Teodor Shanin's "Late Marxism", a book
> you would find most edifying, I'm sure.
> You also state: "In one of his many columns for  The New York Tribune, he
> reasoned that British imperialism, however regrettable, was a historical
> necessity: only via modernization could India overcome its heritage of
> 'Oriental despotism'.”
> Once again you demonstrate a shocking unfamiliarity with Marx's later
> thinking. I would refer you to the chapter in Aijaz Ahmad's "In Theory:
> Classes, Nations and Literatures" titled "Marx on India: a Clarification."
> Even in Marx's earlier writings, he qualified the benefits of capitalist
> modernization by saying in 1853: "The Indian will not reap the fruits of
> the new elements of society scattered among them by the British
> bourgeoisie, till in Great Britain itself the new ruling classes shall have
> been supplanted by the industrial proletariat, or till the Hindus
> themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke
> altogether."
> And, more to the point, in an 1881 letter to Danielson that reflects his
> total break with the "stagism" you attribute to him, he noted:
> "In India serious complications, if not a general outbreak, are in store
> for the British government. What the British take from them annually in the
> form of rent, dividends for railways useless for the Hindoos, pensions for
> the military and civil servicemen, for Afghanistan and other wars, etc.
> etc., -- what they take from them without any equivalent and quite apart
> from what they appropriate to themselves annually within India, -- speaking
> only of the commodities that Indians have to gratuitously and annually send
> over to England -- it amounts to more than the total sum of the income of
> the 60 million of agricultural and industrial laborers of India. This is a
> bleeding process with a vengeance."
> A bleeding process with a vengeance.
> This, Professor Gordon, notwithstanding your and Sperber's insistence that
> Marx belongs to the 19th century, is what makes him very much a 21st
> century figure since "A bleeding process with a vengeance" is a perfect
> description of the garment factory disaster in Bangladesh and the suicide
> epidemic in India of small farmers who have no future. I understand, of
> course, that a magazine owned by a Facebook billionaire rests on the
> assumption that there is no alternative to capitalism, but in the interests
> of serious Marx scholarship I would urge you to do your homework.
> Yours truly,
> Louis Proyect, moderator of the Marxism mailing list
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