Marx and Lenin’s views contrasted

September 2021 Forums General discussion Marx and Lenin’s views contrasted

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  • #209302

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mehring/1918/marx/index.htm

    This is the most accurate biography written about the life of Karl Marx and his participation in the working-class movement. He was not a rocking chair theoretician, and it also contradicts Lenin little biography of Marx and Engels. Marx was a revolutionary socialist, and he was not a Marxist

    #209680

    Russia, Lenin and State Capitalism

    Russia, Lenin and State capitalism
    The World’s First Socialist Revolution?

    When Jack Fitzgerald of the SPGB wrote in the Socialist Standard that the Russian upheavals of March and November 1917 were by far the most important events of the First World War, he was stating an opinion which, with hindsight, seems a self-evident truth.1 But the extent to which these important upheavals would actually affect the SPGB itself, and the entire political tradition which had spawned it, could hardly have been appreciated or predicted at that time. As has already been noted, the practical debate within the working-class movement before the Bolshevik seizure of power had centred on the efficacy of reformist and revolutionary strategies for the achievement of a social transformation. The Russian Revolution, however, seriously muddied these waters and brought to the world’s attention a political theory – Leninism – which, perhaps for the first time, sought to systematically reappraise and reinterpret Marxism rather than simply reject it outright in the pursuit of piecemeal reforms.

    There had certainly never been any doubt that there was room for interpretation – indeed the SPGB showed at its foundation the type of synthesis possible between various strands of broadly Marxist thinking, its outlook and political strategy bearing the influence of such diverse elements as Kautsky and De Leon, Engels and Morris. But the Bolshevik Revolution went further than this and challenged some of the very foundations on which pre-1914 Marxism had been built. The perceived need to achieve mass socialist consciousness among the working class, the role of a mass socialist party as both a spur to, and an expression of, that consciousness, and the necessity of a developed economic basis of society for a successful socialist revolution, all came into question.

    The apparent triumph of the Bolsheviks in backward Russia sent the Marxist movement into turmoil. Moreover, previously impotent political organisations across Europe and North America showed themselves to be more impressed by the sudden and unexpected Success of revolutionaries in the midst of bloody world war, than concerned for the event’s potential impact on core elements of Marxist theory as they had always understood them. Contrary to legend,2 the SPGB was initially affected by this feeling like another radical party

     

    #209686
    LBird
    Participant

    Dave Perrin wrote: “The perceived need to achieve mass socialist consciousness among the working class… came into question.

    This is still a valid analysis, regarding the relationship between ‘mass socialist consciousness among the working class’ and ‘science’.

    Lenin’s materialism held (as do all 21st century materialists hold) that ‘democracy’ is not necessary within ‘science’. This political need is still currently questioned.

    Without democracy in every social activity of production (including science), Marx’s ideas are meaningless.

    Plus, Marx himself specifically warned that ‘materialists’ would deny the need for ‘mass’ involvement, and would institute a rule by an elite.

    Marx was correct, of course, and Lenin’s political and ideological career was testimony to Marx’s foresight.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by LBird.
    #209692

    The Socialist Party and the WSM have known, have said, and have propagated for more than 100 years that without a socialist consciousness the working class will not be able to establish a post-capitalist society, and before the Bolshevik coup and before the establishment of the Soviet Union we knew its capitalist character and we knew that there was no relationship between Marx and Lenin. We have written thousands of articles and pamphlets about that

    #209693
    LBird
    Participant

    MovimientoSocialista wrote: “The Socialist Party and the WSM have known, have said, and have propagated for more than 100 years that without a socialist consciousness the working class will not be able to establish a post-capitalist society…

    Given that the SPGB membership seem to embrace a ‘materialist’ perspective, they contradict your statement, if  this ‘post-capitalist society’ is to include a ‘science’. All ‘materialists’, obviously including Lenin (but excluding Marx) argue against the necessity of ‘a socialist consciousness’ within ‘the working class’ as regards ‘science’.

    MovimientoSocialista wrote: “…we knew that there was no relationship between Marx and Lenin.

    Again, this is untrue, because Lenin was a ‘materialist’, and the SPGB argue (erroneously) that Marx shared Lenin’s view about ‘materialism’. Thus, if this is true, the SPGB argues that there is a ‘relationship between Marx and Lenin’.

    The simple answer to this contradiction is to argue for ‘the democratic control of science‘ – which separates Marx from Lenin, as the former argued for working class political control of all social production, whereas the latter didn’t.

    ‘Materialists’ cannot countenance ‘democracy’ within ‘science’ – they argue for ‘political control by an elite’. Ask any of them – Leninist or supposedly ‘Marxist’.

    #209694
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    LBird, isn’t it true that the SPGB had its proponents of Dietzgen and his British advocate, Fred Casey and his Dutch advocate Pannekoek who dismantled Lenin’s bourgeois philosophical roots in his ‘Lenin As Philosopher.’

    So credit where credit is due that the SPGB promoted thinkers who did NOT argue that Marx shared Lenin’s view about ‘materialism’. That there was NOT any philosophical relationship between Marx and Lenin.

    I keep reading the name Plekhanov who i have not studied, but it may well be Lenin learned from his works. You may be able to enlighten me.

     

    #209695
    LBird
    Participant

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “LBird, isn’t it true that the SPGB had its proponents of Dietzgen and his British advocate, Fred Casey and his Dutch advocate Pannekoek who dismantled Lenin’s bourgeois philosophical roots in his ‘Lenin As Philosopher.’

    Yes, alan, Pannekoek did dismantle Lenin’s ‘materialism’. Pannekoek argued that the supposed ‘laws of physics’ were a socio-historical product (see Pannekoek’s Lenin as Philosopher, chapter 2 ‘Middle-Class Materialism’). Thus, it seems Pannekoek would logically support the democratic control of such human-produced ‘laws’. Lenin, in contrast, most certainly wouldn’t support such mass control of physics.

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “So credit where credit is due that the SPGB promoted thinkers who did NOT argue that Marx shared Lenin’s view about ‘materialism’. That there was NOT any philosophical relationship between Marx and Lenin.

    But the ‘materialists’ within the SPGB deny that the ‘laws of physics’ are a socio-historical product. They argue that the ‘laws of physics’ correspond to ‘material reality’. So, you’re incorrect about ‘credit being due’, alan. The SPGB (and many other ‘materialist’ parties, like the SWP, Militant, WRP, etc., etc.) seem to ‘promote’ the works of thinkers like Pannekoek and Marx, without actually reading and understanding them.

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “I keep reading the name Plekhanov who i have not studied, but it may well be Lenin learned from his works. You may be able to enlighten me.

    Yes, Lenin took all of his ‘materialism’ from Plekhanov (not from Marx). Plekhanov got his ‘materialism’ from a complete misunderstanding of Engels’ ‘materialism’, and further removed any need for ‘mass socialist consciousness’ within the working class, when dealing with ‘science’ (in contrast to Engels’ contradictory insistence on mass democracy, which undermined his version of ‘materialism’).

    I can highly recommend a book which deals with the relationship between Marx and Plekhanov. When Marx was confronted with supporting Plekhanov’s ‘materialist’ views, in opposition to the supposed ‘idealist’ Narodniks, Marx wrote a letter supporting the Narodniks.

    See James D. White (2019) Marx and Russia: The Fate of a Doctrine Bloomsbury. Also, perhaps see an older book Teodor Shanin (1983) Late Marx and the Russian Road MRP, which contains an extremely detailed account of Marx’s letter and its fate.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by LBird.
    #209697
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    #209698

    L Bird

    Do you want us to come back to the 1844  and become idealist/materialists like the Marxist Humanists ?  We already passed that stage already a long time ago, or probably we correctly skip it. I read Plekhanov directly from his work not from a second hand philosopher, and he did not misunderstand Engels, he was wrong like many Russians thinkers of his time. Blaming  on Engels the problems of the Russian experience it is the same tactic of the capitalists who are always blaming their mistakes and failures on somebody else, that is what you are doing all the time

    #209699
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Again the SPGB was one of the few organisations – and emphasis on organisation – that held Fred Casey’s ‘Thinking’  to be worthy of study.

    I note even Marxist Internet Archive does not include any of his writings and his contribution more or less forgotten and neglected. Perhaps your good self have not had the opportunity to have read him. However if you have, perhaps you could transcribe your copy and get it uploaded to the web for the world to share. That alone would be a valuable gift to Marxism.

    #209700

    I can not blame my problems, political mistakes, or failures on Engels, Lenin, or the SPGB. I was wrong and I continue making mistakes sometimes, If we do not make a self-critic we will never be able to recognize when we are wrong or when we are correct, but we can not spend our whole living bitching about and blaming somebody else for all our political mistakes seating on a rocking chair,  we might as well join the Club of Donald Trump. If we do not practice, we do not make any mistakes, and Marx and Engels made mistake like anybody else, and they were thinkers and doers

    #209709
    LBird
    Participant

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “Again the SPGB was one of the few organisations – and emphasis on organisation – that held Fred Casey’s ‘Thinking’  to be worthy of study.

    I note even Marxist Internet Archive does not include any of his writings and his contribution more or less forgotten and neglected. Perhaps your good self have not had the opportunity to have read him. However if you have, perhaps you could transcribe your copy and get it uploaded to the web for the world to share. That alone would be a valuable gift to Marxism.”

    I’ve never even heard of Casey, alan. I’ll give him a read, and let you know of my opinion of his ‘democratic socialism’.

    His book is available for download as a PDF, here:

    https://archive.org/details/thinkingintroduc00case/mode/2up

    #209710
    LBird
    Participant

    alan, having a very quick scan of Casey’s book, and came across this:

    From [Kant’s] time materialism and idealism became more decidedly separated but ultimately got reconciled by Dietzgen…” (p. 117).

    This of course echoes my argument that Marx was an ‘idealist-materialist’, because Marx’s achievement was the German Idealists’ goal of ‘reconciling’ mind and matter.

    The ‘reconciliation’ was ‘activity’, which required ‘consciousness’ as much as ‘being’. The ‘activity’ was ‘socio-historical’, which required humanity throughout its changing of its world.

    Marx called this reconciliation ‘Social Labour’. Humanity externalises (Entausserung) its own nature, through its social production, and by its labour produces its ‘Nature’. This ‘Nature’, which humanity knows, is its own social product. And this ‘Nature’ changes, and the changer is humanity.

    Thus, the ancient argument about the division between ‘mind’ and ‘matter’, ‘humanity’ and ‘nature’, was dead. We have unity. Or, so Marx, Dietzgen, Casey and Pannekoek thought…

    #209711
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    I’ve never even heard of Casey, alan. I’ll give him a read, and let you know of my opinion of his ‘democratic socialism’.

    And in all the years of exchanges and debates on this forum, we still learn new things. You of him and me of the link to him.

    It makes the forum worth being a member of…now, if you were also a member of the SPG…hmmmm….i think we been here before … 😆

     

    #209714
    LBird
    Participant

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “It makes the forum worth being a member of…now, if you were also a member of the SPG…hmmmm….i think we been here before … 😆”

    Yes, it certainly has been worth it for me, being a forum member. I’ve had many recommendations, like your Casey one, and I’ve enthusiastically followed them up, buying many of the books concerned. My knowledge of Marx and science (and dozens of other thinkers and subjects) has increased immeasurably. I hoped at the beginning that it would be a collective, comradely journey, and perhaps that I’d eventually join the democratic SPGB (especially after my experiences with the undemocratic SWP).

    But… imagine my horror, when I realised that the membership (and sympathisers) of the SPGB who post here, were concerned to defend, not socialism, not democracy, not revolution, not the proletariat, not social production, not Marx… but the bourgeois socio-historic product called ‘Science’ and its supporting philosophical ideology, ‘Materialism’.

    So, no ‘collective, comradely journey’, sadly, just constant personal abuse and strawmanning of my arguments (the very method, if you take up my earlier reading recommendation, of the notorious ‘Materialists’ Plekhanov and Lenin, when confronted with Marx’s democratic politics – I’m thinking of changing my name to LBogdanov!).

    More unhappily, I’ve also discovered that the SPGB, just like other parties, allows its own members to carry out actions that it bans non-members for reacting to. So, now I suffer the personal abuse, but don’t reply in kind (hard to do, for a working class bloke, but there yer go – I’ve learnt that, too).

    So, the SPGB? Bit of a disappointment, really. I’m never likely to join an organisation that can’t argue its own politics. For as long as it’s ‘materialist’, my democratic communist politics won’t fit. Defending ‘mud and rocks’, in opposition to humanity, is soooo pre-Einstein.

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