Tuesday, July 01, 2008

*Again, An Anniversary of Sorts- On Keeping (Or Trying To Keep) A Revolutionary Perspective In Hard Political Times

Click on title to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's copy of pages from Leon Trotsky's Journal for 1936 and 1937, a tough period for him politically and personally before the Mexican exile came through.


Parts of this entry were used last summer (An Anniversary of Sorts, July 2007 archives) to mark my 35th year as a follower of Karl Marx. Most of these remarks are also pertinent here as I celebrate my 35th year as a follower of Leon Trotsky.

This summer (2007) marks the 35th year of my commitment to Marxism. Those who have been reading my commentaries for a while know that I try to commemorate, and comment on, important anniversaries in our common working class and leftist history like the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti or the start of the Paris Commune. Those same readers also know that I have been rather short with bourgeois politicians like John Kerry who have a habit of commemorating every little political move they have taken. The winner for me was Kerry’s very public celebration at historic Fanueil Hall in Boston in 2006 of the 35th anniversary of his anti-war testimony before Congress in 1971. Christ, I still chuckle over the absurdity of that one. But hear me out on this. I want no pat on the back but to just make a comment about why, despite the current historic trend away from socialist solutions to the world’s problems, I still proudly carry the title communist.

I once remarked in a review of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto that the third section of that document where he polemicizes against the various liberal and so-called socialist groups of his day that in my search for political solutions in my early days I had probably held virtually every position that he argued against. And believe me, dear reader, that is no exaggeration-except maybe I did not advocate for feudal socialism. But the rest, liberalism, both tactical and principled versions of pacifism, anarchism, guerrilla warfare, and ...well you get the drift I was right in the thick of. This is probably why when I headed, reluctantly I might add, to Marxism it stuck. And that is the main idea I am trying to get at in this piece. That is the power of Marxism as a tool for looking at and changing the world. The only other point I would add is that over the past thirty-five years nothing in politics, our few victories and our many, too many defeats at the hands of the capitalists, has made me regret that I took the road back to my working class roots. I have made many a political mistake in my life, that is for sure. But this is not one of them. LONG LIVE THE WORLD SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!!!


Recently in an entry (A Slight Irving Howe Confession, May 2008 archives) I mentioned Professor Howe’s role in my introduction (at least conscious introduction) to the work of Leon Trotsky. As mentioned below it was not enough back in 1972 to come to a Marxist understanding of the world it was also necessary to trace the threads through to the thoughts of more modern Marxist thinkers. I repost the section on how I was introduced to Trotsky’s thought here as a little reminder that fate takes some funny turns in this wicked old world.

Confession#2- Irving Howe actually acted, unintentionally, as my recruiting sergeant to the works of Leon Trotsky that eventually led to my embrace of a Trotskyist worldview. As I noted last year I have been a Marxist since 1972. But after some 150 years of Marxism claiming to be a Marxist is only the beginning of wisdom. One has to find the modern thread that continues in the spirit of the founders. This year marks my 35th year as a follower of Leon Trotsky. Back in 1972, as part of trying to find a political path to modern Marxism I picked up a collection of socialist works edited by Professor Howe. In that compilation was an excerpt from Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, a section called On Dual Power. I read it, and then re-read it. Next day I went out to scrounge up a copy of the whole work. And the rest is history. So, thanks, Professor Howe- now back to the polemical wars- the truce is over.

Once Again in 2008- Long Live The World Socialist Revolution!

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