Anarchism / Marxism debates

Mr P.A. Van Heusden pvanheus at
Wed Aug 18 04:17:19 PDT 1999

On Tue, 17 Aug 1999, Carrol Cox wrote:

> Doug Henwood wrote:
> > Seems to me
> > you push where you can - more unionization, more worker control of
> > the workplace, more socialization of consumption and investment (free
> > day care, education, health care, etc.), more democratic forms of
> > land use planning, regulatory and other constraints on corporate
> > power. . . .
> I would like to see a scenario for this. My own suspicion is that as
> difficult (perhaps impossible) as revolution may be, this process is
> even more wildly improbable. If this is the only route, Red Rosa's
> alternative of barbarism seems most likely.

I'm with Carrol on this one. I think Marx's critique of the early Utopian communists in the CM (Only from the point of view of being the most suffering class does the proletariat exist for them.") has in it the seeds for a critique of any kind of attempt to 'rationally and reasonably' plan one's way to communism.

At the core of Marx's understanding of history is his understanding of history as unfolding as an active process. The question of the possibility of communism will always be a practical one, because "The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question." While I agree with Doug when he says 'The point [is] not only to improve people's lives, but to give them more confidence and capacity to improve them in the future.', I see the core question that of being the 'confidence' built up from struggles - the 'confidence' to take back our lives for ourselves.

Again Marx:

"Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers." - I think it is pretty clear that what Marx meant here was something much like what Gramsci described in his writings on 'The Modern Prince' - i.e. a collective of the working class willing and able to battle for the *leadership of society*. The practice of such a collective will necessarily be *revolutionary practice*, since the capitalist class will not idly stand by and allow its leadership (i.e. hegemony) to be challenged.

While I agree with Sam Pawlett that blueprints might have a theoretical use in showing that there is a possible alternative to capitalism, I think history has taught us sufficiently that Marx was right, and the 'plan' for a future society will be layed, in pieces, imcompletely, but always at times of real, revolutionary working class struggle.

Peter -- Peter van Heusden : pvanheus at : PGP key available 'The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions.' - Karl Marx

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