Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘marxism’

“The powerlessness of the workers is not merely a ruse of the rulers but the logical consequence of industrial society, into which the efforts to escape it have finally transformed the ancient concept of fate.”

– Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, Dialectic Of Enlightenment. 1944/1947. Translated by  Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Read Full Post »

“Humanity had to inflict terrible injuries on itself before the self, the identical, purpose-directed, masculine character of human beings was created, and something of this process is repeated in every childhood.” 

– Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, Dialectic Of Enlightenment. 1944/1947. Translated by  Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Read Full Post »

“The Marxists emphasize the importance of primitive communism not
because they dream of a return to it. The purpose is rather to show that
private property and the state machinery are not eternal adjuncts to
human existence: They will fall as inevitably as they arose at an
earlier stage. Similarly, the primitive proto-materialism is discussed
not for the purpose of a glorification of it and surely there is not
even the remotest apology for any return to it. Yet it has its value by
way of showing that the spiritualistic outlook is not innate in man. It,
too, will be finally washed away as inevitably as it arose at an
earlier stage: if the spiritualistic outlook came into being, it will
also, along with the social separation between manual and mental labour,
pass away.”

– Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya,

Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House, 1959.


Read Full Post »

“The proletarian is the destitute, that is to say the propertyless, the without-reserves and not the badly paid. The sentence is formulated in a text of Marx’s in 1854 which says that the more a country has proletarians the more it is rich. Marx defines the proletarian as follows: the waged employee who produces the capital and valorises it, and that capital throws on to the pavement as soon as he becomes superfluous to the requirements of “Mr. Capital”. With his sharp wit, Marx laughs at an author who speaks of the “proletarian of the primitive forest”. In fact, the inhabitant of this place is not a landlord, nor a proletarian, “because if he was, it would mean that the forest exploits him instead of him exploiting it”.

The place of the worst barbarism is that modern forest that makes use of us, this forest of chimneys and bayonets, machines and weapons, of strange inanimate beasts that feed on human flesh.

The situation of all the without-reserves, reduced to such a state because, dialectically, they are themselves a reserve, has been aggravated terribly by the experience of the war. The hereditary character of membership of economic classes implies that to be without-reserves is even more serious than to be without life. After the passage of flames of the war, after carpet bombing, members of the working class, no less than at the time of all other disasters, lose not only, most likely, their present job, but see even that minimum reserve of mobile property that constitutes the parts of a rudimentary household destroyed. Titles of possession partly survive all material destruction, because they are the social rights sanctioned by the exploitation of other people. And to write again in letters of fire the Marxist law of antagonism, there is the other observation accessible to all, that the industry of the war and destruction is the one that brings the biggest profits and the biggest concentrations of wealth in the least numerous hands. For the others who lose nothing, there is the industry of reconstruction and the forest of business and the Marshall plan and ERP whose big Jackals are the worthy supreme Administrators.

The wars have therefore thrown, unambiguously, millions and millions of men into the ranks of those who no longer have anything to lose. They have given revisionism the knock-out blow. The word of radical marxism must resound in a terrifying manner: proletarians, in the communist revolution, have nothing to lose but their chains.”

– 

Amadeo Bordiga, “Class Struggle and “Bosses’ Offensives.”” Battaglia Comunista, No. 39. 1949

Read Full Post »

“To speak of literal music for a moment more, it has been a very long time since insurgents worldwide shared a moral equivalent of “The Internationale,” the anthem adopted by the (second) Socialist International in the late nineteenth century and subject to the contesting claims of socialists and communists ever since. International solidarity and the putative brotherhood of workers crashed and burned in 1914, when the German Social Democrats voted war credits to the Kaiser so that Germany could slaughter its ostensible class allies, and left-wing parties across Europe split over whether to support their respective nation-state or oppose an “imperialist war.”

In 1917, Lenin’s Bolshevik heresy was able to capitalize on antiwar sentiment in Russia to seize power. A few years later, the Soviet Union was promoting a version of “internationalism” that conveniently withered into a defense of the Kremlin’s foreign policy interests of the moment. As Vaclav Havel wrote in his great 1978 essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” universalist slogans like “Workers of the world, unite!” shriveled into loyalty cheers lacking any concrete meaning.

All these years later, the left is still tuneless. Missing from social democracy is a galvanizing cross-border spirit, a sense of historical destiny, and yes, a literal song. In the twenty-first century, attachment to the identity tribe is fiercer, more binding, than any attachment to a common purpose. Today’s most prominent left-wing chant, “The people united will never be defeated,” is a tautology. When it originated, in Allende-era Chile, it meant something topical. Today, it is strictly sentimental. Trump supporters could cheerfully sign on to their version of what it means to be “the people united”—designating immigrants and Muslims, not the bourgeoisie, as the excludables.”

– Todd Gitlin, “The Missing Music of the Left.” New York Review of Books blog, May 28, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“It is of course true that Marx and Engels acknowledged the obvious, namely, that the overthrow of capitalism demands the overthrow of its state. For them, the political aspect of the proletarian revolution exhausts itself in overwhelming the capitalist state apparatus with all the means required to this end. The victorious working class would neither institute a new state nor seize control of the existing state, but exercise its dictatorship so as to be able to realize its real goal, the appropriation of the means of production and their irrevocable transformation into social means of production in the most literal sense, that is, as under the control of the association of free and equal producers. Although assuming functions previously associated with those of the state, this dictatorship is not to become a new state, but a means to the elimination of all suppressive measures through the ending of class relations. There is no room for a “socialist state” in socialism

though there is the need for a central direction of the socialized economy, which, however, is itself a part of the organization of
the associated producers and not an independent entity set against
them. 

Of course, for reasons not as yet discernible, this might be altogether
utopian, as thus would be a socialist society in the Marxian
sense. It has to be tried in a revolutionary situation if a serious
effort is to be made to reach the classless society. It may be forced
upon the workers by objective conditions, quite aside from whether
or not they understand all its implications. But it may also fail, if
the proletariat abdicates its own dictatorship to a separately organized
new state machine that usurps control over society. It is
also not possible to foresee under what particular concrete social
conditions the revolutionary process might unfold, and whether or
not the mere extension and intensification of dictatorial rule will
degenerate into a new state assuming independent powers. Whatever
the case may be, it is not through the state that socialism can
be realized, as this would exclude the self-determination of the
working class, which is the essence of socialism. State rule perpetuates
the divorce of the workers from the means of production, on
which their dependence and exploitation rests, and thus also perpetuates
social class relations. 

However, it was precisely the attempt to overcome the apparently
utopian elements of Marxian doctrine which induced the
theoreticians of the Second International to insist upon the state
as the instrument for the realization of socialism. Although they
were divided on the question of how to achieve control of the
state, they were united in their conviction that the organization of
the new society is the state’s responsibility. It was their sense of
reality that made them question Marx’s abstract concepts of the
revolution and the construction of socialism, bringing these ideas
down to earth and in closer relation to the concretely given possibilities. 

Indeed, the construction of a socialist system is no doubt a
most formidable undertaking. Even to think about it is already
of a bewildering complexity defying easy or convincing solutions.
It certainly seems to be out of reach for the relatively uneducated
working class. It would require the greatest expertise in the understanding
and management of social phenomena and the most careful
approach to all reorganizational problems, if it is not to end
in dismal failure. It demands an over-all view of social needs, as well as special qualifications for those attending to them, and thus
institutions designed to assure the social reproduction process.
Such institutions must have enough authority to withstand all irrational
objections and thus must have the support of government
which, by sanctioning these decisions, makes them its own. Most
of all, the even flow of production must not be interfered with
and all unnecessary experimentation must be avoided, so that it
would be best to continue with proven methods of production and
the production relations on which they were based.

– Paul Mattick, Marxism: Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie?  Armonk, New York: M. E. SHARPE, 1983. pp. 160-162.

Read Full Post »

“I have a small confession to make here: my loyalty is more to the working class than to Marx. I was raised in the labor movement, was taught my Marx at party school. Our Marxism was always a little vulgar. Like Alexander Bogdanov, I take the most enduring feature of Marxism to be this: the point of view of the working class. To me, Marxism has no essential method or dogma or theory other than that.

So when asked: ‘Why Marx now?’ I don’t think the answer lies in a return to a philosophy or method or dogma that was current in the small world of even the more cosmopolitan radical thinkers of the middle of the nineteenth century. “All that is solid melts into air, all that is sacred is profaned,” and surely that includes even the verities of classical Marxism itself.

The Marx of use now is no particular method or dogma or philosophy. The Marx of use now as then is the labor point of view. Or to put it in the robustly vulgar terms in which an old comrade explained it to me: the party sticks to working class like shit to a blanket.”

– McKenzie Wark, “Why Marx now?Verso blog, May 7, 2018.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »