Thursday, August 21, 2008

Third Edition: Worst and Best of Marxism

By Joe Sims


1. Democratic Centralism. Isn’t it interesting that those who advocate democratic centralism most, practice it least? (which is not to say it’s practiced much or at all, anywhere, by anyone in the US.) How about substituting, all for one, one for all! That’s the spirit! ps: this concept, like many others, will have to be examined in relationship to the theoretical implications posed the Internet, where “lateral” and horizontal structures via social networks, gain increasing prominence. Stay tuned for a new article on the party of a new type and the Internet. It may make concept more dynamic or it may render it irrelevant. Let’s see!

2. Black-belt thesis. Borrowed from, but not necessarily approved by the Third International, the Black Belt Thesis, advocated “self-determination” for African Americans living is several counties in the US south. Theoretically wrong, misguided and ultimately harmful to the struggle against racism. Thank God, for W.E.B. Du Bois and James E. Jackson, the former for theoretically critiquing the concept and the latter for further developing and implementing the critique in communist policy.

3. One Party, one country, one socialism. This concept, premised on the need for a unitary working-class movement, seems anachronistic in light the possibility of multiple paths to the new society. The overwhelming requirement of unity – one of the few weapons available to the diverse forces confronting big capital – must be weighed against its assuming one organizational form. The existence of two or more working-class parties in a number of countries – in some cases – for several decades raises basic questions as to whether single structures in the long run are desirable or achievable. With the rise of the CPSU and the single party state for example, didn’t other trends (Menshevick, SR etc,) go into the CP creating a false sense of unity and ideological cohesion? Could this be true of others countries even today? What are the implications? Hmmmmm...

4. “Class against Class.” Policy advocated by Zinovev et al in the infamous “Third Period” of the Comintern, advocating directly battle with capital, with no allies or middle ground.

5. Peristroika. Subjective, class collaborationist policy advocated by Gorbachev and CPSU leadership. China once called it, “committing suicide.” Yuri Andropov, what were you thinking?

6. “Towards a Soviet America”. Title of a book by William Z. Foster. That’s a really bad title! Bill Foster, what were you thinking?

7. “Violence is the mid-wife of history.” Attributed to himself and Marx by Engels. Engels, however did not like Durhing, who he critiqued, see history as soley composed of the use of force, but rather economic relations.

8. Morality is whatever serves the working class. This concept appears to be Lenin’s. Today however, it seems too utilitarian and simplistic, where universal concerns may assume momentary priority (as opposed to general precedence).

9. Marxist theory is brought into the working-class movement from outside. Lenin’s dictum, while perhaps historically true has been made obsolete by public education and emergence of Communist parties and working class intellectuals. However, the middle-class intelligentsia remains too dominant a force in many Communist and working-class parties.

10. “Peoples want freedom, nation’s want liberation, the world’s in disarray: the situation is excellent." Mao Tse Tung. Chairman Mao said the darndest things!


1.“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to join your revolution.” Emma Goldman. Ok. She was an anarchist, but if I can quote Bob Marley, I sure as hell can quote Emma G.! One of my favorites!!

2.“Marxism is not a dogma, but a guide to action.” Engels. Then why do people get so darn dogmatic? Could it be the ongoing influence of religious thinking and bourgeois ideology in the working-class movement? Now that would mean that most dogmatic could be the most bourgeois...

3. "The division of a whole and the cognition of its various parts is the chief question of dialectics." Lenin. And to think that some us think it’s all about contradiction!

4. Story attributed to Ho Chi Minh or Zhou Enlai: When asked about significance of French Revolution in world history, replied, “Too soon to tell.”

5. Story told about meeting of Kruschev and Picasso, where the former critiqued the artist’s abstract paintings. “You take care of the politics. I’ll take care of the paintings,” said Picasso. Exactly.

6. United front policy. Attributed to Georgi Dimitroff, announced at 7th Congress of the Comitern, the concept is Lenin’s. Gramsci believed Lenin thought it to be of strategic significance and the only possible road to socialism in developed capitalist countries with more entrenched democracies and diverse forms of “civil society” (associations, clubs, unions, etc). Grasmci used that weird word “hegemony” to develop forms of this idea.

7. The smallest division of humanity is the number two. Karl Marx.

8. Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!

9.“Racism is the nation’s most dangerous pollutant.” Gus Hall

10. “Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” Marx