My point has been to show very briefly that the crimes of Stalinism shouldn't be used as an excuse to reject Marxism. On the contrary, the counterrevolution in Russia was a confirmation-a ghastly negative one-of Marx's most central propositions about how socialism could be achieved and on what basis. On to the second objection: Marx predicted the inevitable downfall of capitalism, leading to the establishment of socialism. This hasn't happened, so marx must have been wrong. There's a shorter answer world to this objection: Not true. As common as this misperception is, it stands in sharp contradiction to a number of basic points in Marx's writings. Start with the communist Manifesto.
Certainly, such a society could never survive by itself in an economically backward country where the working class was a minority. Because of the peculiarities of its development, the russian working class led the revolt that toppled the Tsar and essays took power as the social force most determined to prevent the old order from being re-imposed. But it could never hold power and create socialism without the support of revolutions in other countries. In the event, the new workers state survived a civil war backed by the intervention of 14 imperialist countries, but at the cost of a ruined economy and a working class that was physically destroyed. No russian revolutionary had anticipated this. The desperate measures taken to try to hold power in the hopes that international situation would change laid the basis for a state bureaucracy that, under Stalin, began acting for itself. Ultimately, this counterrevolution was only accomplished by cutting off every living connection to the 1917 revolution-literally, with the murder of almost every veteran Bolshevik. Much more could be said on this question.
If socialism is the "self-emancipation of the working class as Marx put it, then how could any society in which workers exercised no power be called socialist? How does a society that tolerated and encouraged hundreds of forms of oppression-based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality and ethnicity, to name a few-square with Marx's vision of "an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free. The answer must be that Stalinism used the rhetoric of Marxism to justify a very different reality-an exploitative system, characterized by the rule of a minority, using forms of authority not that very different to capitalism in the west. Such a masquerade isn't that strange in history. After all, we live in a country where half of political power lies in the hands of a party that named itself Democratic-though its commitment to corporate America means that it regularly acts in the most undemocratic ways. So was the russian revolution doomed to degenerate into Stalinism? The answer to this question is yes- if the revolution remained isolated in Russia, without the victory of socialism in other more advanced countries. Marxists have always believed that the basis for socialism is abundance-having enough to go around.
Autobiography of Red - m / miscellany
The practical application of the principles will depend, as the. Manifesto itself states, everywhere and advantages at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing.". Marxism and the struggle for socialism. The recognition of the way that Marx's analysis of capitalism remains vital is part of explaining Marxism's relevance. But the discussion doesn't end there. After all, this is the part of Marxism that even the investment banker cited in Cassidy's article can accept-in isolation from the struggle to change society.
No socialist or radical should be satisfied with proving the relevance of Marxism's insights into capitalism. Marxists want not only to explain what's wrong with society, but how to change. The question of Marxism's relevance depends not only on its usefulness history in explaining how the current system works, but on whether it remains useful as a guide to the struggle to change capitalist society. Judged from this standpoint, two objections arise right away. The first is that Marxism has been tried-and failed, a judgement passed by masses of people in Russia and Eastern Europe who rebelled against "socialism" and tore down the berlin Wall in the hopes of gaining the prosperity and freedoms offered by capitalism. But the question depends, above all, on whether these societies should be called socialist. In fact, the "rule of Marxism" in the ussr and its satellite regimes in Eastern Europe-not to mention other imitators that still exist, in China and Cuba-was diametrically opposed to basic principles of Marxism.
Now bear these facts in mind while reading a few random passages from the. Communist Manifesto: "The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science into its paid wage laborers." "In proportion as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed. Reading these passages instantly brings to mind images of the world today-an internationally interconnected world dominated by corporate globalization; a world where the reign of profit reaches into and subordinates every area of society and every corner of culture; a world where the newest technological.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels didn't have psychic powers. If their writings of more than a century and a half ago seem as if they were directly related to the problems of today, it's because they grasped essential dynamics of the emerging system of capitalism that remain central, despite the massive technological, economic, social. Marxism's relevance, as the, new Yorker's, cassidy put it, lies in Marx's "riveting passages about globalization, inequality, political corruption, monopolization, technical progress, the decline of high culture, and the enervating nature of modern existence-issues that economists are now confronting anew, sometimes without realizing that they. Manifesto: "However much the state of things may have altered during the last 25 years, the general principles laid down in this. Manifesto are on the whole, as correct today as ever. Here and there, some detail might be improved.
A marxist analysis
At least one of the statements of Marx and Engels in the. Communist Manifesto prompts renewed attention. 'The executive (the top level of government) of the modern state they wrote in 1848, 'is merely a committee for help arranging the affairs of the (capitalist) bourgeoisie. It's a telling statement about the continuing power of Marxism when supporters of the status quo feel the need to measure themselves and the society they champion against ideas that are supposed to be irrelevant. After all, it's not immediately clear why marxism-a body of ideas whose essential core, though developed over the years, was expressed with only a few exceptions more than mattress 150 years ago- should be relevant today. When the, communist Manifesto-, marx and Engels' agitational pamphlet stating the principles of their version of scientific socialism-was written in 1847, capitalism as we recognize it today was confined to a few countries on the northwest edge of Europe. Only a small fraction of the world's population living in parts of Europe and North America were in the early stages of a different way of life, based on capitalist factory production. The number of industrial workers everywhere in the world at the time was smaller than the number of industrial workers in south Korea today. And the technology that we take for granted today-and which Marxists believe can, if democratically controlled, be the basis for constructing a new society of abundance, instead of poverty and competition-was unimaginable 150 years ago.
Marxism and capitalism, even after the fall of the berlin Wall-when both defenders of the free market and many people on the left viewed the collapse of Stalinism as the signal of Marxism's long-foretold death-marx's name keeps popping. In 1997, in an article marking reports the 150th anniversary of the publication of the. Communist Manifesto, new Yorker staff writer John Cassidy discovered "The return of Karl Marx." "Many of the contradictions that he saw in Victorian capitalism and that were subsequently addressed by reformist governments have begun reappearing in new guises, like mutant viruses cassidy wrote. He reported a conversation with an investment banker: "To my surprise, he brought up Karl Marx. 'The longer I spend on Wall Street, the more convinced i am that Marx was right he said.". More recently, editorial writers at the Allentown,., morning Call dusted off their Marx in the wake of the Enron scandal: "For several years, we have been told that Marxism is now a defunct doctrine. However, the apparent collusion of our 'democratically elected' leaders in the deceitful (though quite profitable) methods of the firm called Enron should lead us to be less hasty in dismissing Marx as a total lunatic.
1919, when one in five workers were on strike-many of those who could justly be called the most active in the struggle looked to marxism as the best explanation of what they were fighting against and fighting for. Though the years after the first World War marked the highest point of the influence of Marxism-or at least the genuine marxist tradition, before the distortions caused by its association with Stalinism, in both Russia and other countries-its impression can be seen to some extent. Even, for example, the 1980-81 Solidarnosc revolt in Poland, which pitted the 10 million-strong Solidarity union against a dictatorial regime that ruled in the name of Marxism. Nevertheless, leading figures in the uprising and veterans of past struggles in Poland, such as Jacek kuron and Karol Modzelewski, looked to an anti-Stalinist version of Marxism, with democracy and workers' self-activity at its core. Every time marxism is buried, it seems to rise from the dead, whether a decade or a few years or even a few months later-to become recognized, by supporters and opponents alike, as an important influence on a new generation concerned with the issues. If this is the case, then there must be something about Marxism that draws people to reexamine it time and again. If so, then the version of Marxism put forward by its critics in order to dismiss it-of dusty, old-fashioned ideas, obsessively focused on economic developments to the exclusion of all else-must be inaccurate. Marxism must be a living set of ideas that helps to better understand the world-and more importantly, how to change.
It wasn't written in the last year or the last decade. It's nearly a century old-the words of Italian intellectual Benedetto Croce from an article in 1907. Croce was declaring that Marx and hippie Marxism were irrelevant in the new century-the 20th century, that. As Daniel Singer, the socialist journalist and writer who sadly died a year and a half ago, put it (citing Croce's words during a 1997 talk that was reprinted. Monthly review) : "I have"d it to remind you that gravediggers of Marx-the new philosophers, the fukuyamas-have plenty of ancestors and will have plenty of successors, and it's not worthwhile spending much time refuting their paid or unpaid funeral orations.". Croce had the misfortune of passing judgement on Marxism a decade before the russian revolution of 1917-the great revolt against one of the world's cruelest dictators, the Tsar; the most thorough expansion of democracy and freedom known to the world to that point; and the. The fact that this first experiment in socialism survived for only a brief few years before the bureaucratic counterrevolution of Stalinism doesn't change the fact that Marx and Marxism were very relevant indeed-viewed as a guide and a framework by masses of people who hoped.
Episode 128: Turkey talk and Transatlantic ties that
Is Marxism Relevant today? By alan maass, july 6, 2002 "Marx is definitely dead for humankind.". quot;tions like this come up all the time when questions of radical political and social change are discussed. They can be found in the corporate media, especially the blowhard punditocracy. They can be found in textbooks and academic journals. And they can be found-actually, more often and with greater acrimony-in discussions on the left, among people who agree on many points. A variety of arguments are put forward as evidence-that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels predicted that capitalism would collapse, and it hasn't; that the fall of the berlin Wall exposed the failure of Marxism; that class struggle can't survive in a world of cable television. What connects them is the desire to bury marx and Marxism-historically interesting, maybe, but an irrelevancy in the modern world. But there is one point worth making about the specific"tion cited above.