Saturday, February 06, 2016

*****The Latest From The British Leftist Blog-Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

*****The Latest From The British Leftist Blog-Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

Click below to link to the Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism blog  

Markin comment:

While from the tenor of the articles, leftist authors featured, and other items promoted it is not clear to me that this British-centered blog is faithful to any sense of historical materialism that Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin or Leon Trotsky would recognize I am always more than willing to "steal" material from the site. Or investigate leads provided there for material of interest to the radical public-whatever that seemingly dwindling public may be these days.

Since 2014 the site of necessity had taken to publicizing more activist events particularly around the struggle to defend the Palestinian people in Gaza against the Zionist onslaught in the summer of that year. That is to be commended. However, in the main, this site continues to promote the endless conferences on socialism, Marxism, and Trotskyism that apparently are catnip to those on the left in Britain all the while touting the latest mythical "left" labor leader who is willing to speak anywhere to the left of the now banished Milibrands after the last election debacle. They will be on sturdier ground with the new head of the Labor Party, Corbyn. I continue to stand willingly with the original comment above about "stealing" material from the site though.      

No question since the demise of the Soviet Union as a flawed but vital counter-weight to world imperialism and the rise of the basically one-superpower American world theories and politics based on socialism, communism, hell, even left radicalism as poles of attraction except in spots (like South Africa or Greece) to the working and oppressed masses of the world has taken a serious hit. Have become seen as something like “utopian” schemes by pro-labor leftist militants, students and intellectuals around the world despite the desperate situations today in many parts of that world, including America and Great Britain, which cry out to high heaven for socialist solutions.

As the weight of that Soviet demise has set in there has been a corresponding demise in the level of programmatic and theoretical understandings by those who still espouse the "good old cause." The scheduled events and works by socialist commentators highlighted on this Histomat blog amply demonstrate the proposition that in the post- Soviet period (if not before) there has been a dramatic tendency to throw out all the experiences since the Russian Revolution of 1917 and try to begin anew as if that event never occurred. Unfortunately that means generally to go back to pre-World War I theories of revolutionary organization (and in some cases to forgo the necessity of revolution as if capitalism were the permanent condition of humankind). The main organizational form to face the scrap heap is Lenin’s theory, a theory many times honored more in the breech than in the observance in the past, of the “vanguard party” of conscious revolutionary intellectuals and advanced workers working as full-time professionals revolutionaries.           

The clearest example of this is the revival of certain pre-World War I theorists like the “Pope of Marxism,” Karl Kautsky, although interestingly not back to Marx and Engels of the post-1848 period. A main organization concept of Kautsky’s German Social-Democratic of which he was a leading theorist was the “party of the whole class,” a concept which denied, or muted the sometimes vast differences in the working class movement in the interest of numbers (numbers of votes in parliamentary elections really) that would somehow be worked out in the course of the revolution. Well life itself, with many, many examples, has shown how worthless that type of organization was when the deal went down.

The date August 4th 1914 when the German Social-Democrats piled onto the Kaiser’s bandwagon by voting for his war budget should be etched in the brain of every serious leftist militant. There are, granted, many new concepts necessary in the 21st century to reach the masses in order to revive the socialist message with the new communications technology, the new urgency, and the new allies necessary to fight for socialism but the threadbare theory of the “party of the whole class” is not one of them.        

Additional Markin comment:

I place some material in this space which I believe may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. One of the worst aspects of the old New Left back in the 1970s as many turned to Marxism after about fifty other theories did not work out (mainly centered on some student-based movements that were somehow to bring down the beast without a struggle for state power) was replicating the worst of the old Old Left (mainly Stalinism but the Social-Democrats despite their democratic professions could teach a lesson or too about bureaucratic suppression) and freezing out political debate with other opponents on the Left to try to clarify the pressing issues of the day. That freezing out , more times than I care to mention including my own behavior a few times, included physical exclusion and intimidation. I have since come to believe that the fight around programs and politics is what makes us different, and more interesting. The mix of ideas, personalities and programs, will sort themselves out in the furnace of the revolution as they have done in the past. 

One of the great sins of Stalinism (which the latter-day Social-Democrats of various stripes have honed to a fine art as well) was to silence both dissent inside the party and try like hell to keep other tendencies silent outside the party. Instead of letting various positions and programs be fought out to see who had something to add to the revolutionary arsenal the “word” came down (sometimes changing overnight) and that was that. It looks to be from this great distance that the very much still Stalinized Greece Communist Party is saddled with some of those old-time attributes when there should be in the Greek situation a bubbling up of discussion and clash of programs. Else the capitalists will once again prevail in a situation where they should be sent to "the dustbin of history" as Leon Trotsky once said in another context.   

Off-hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these various blogs and other networking media. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read on. 


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