Bird’s Eye View – Howling lapdogs and the wrong tree
‘Marx partnered with Lenin to launch the Communist movement…’ (American Greatness, 1 March). Lenin was 12 when Marx died and they never met! Worse still, we are told ‘Communism [is] ‘A system, devised by Karl Marx, in which the state controls virtually all economic activity. Private property is outlawed and income inequality is reduced. The theory is idealistic; in practice, communist regimes have been highly authoritarian.’ The Economist‘s definition of socialism is equally inaccurate: ‘… Socialists believe in some forms of collective ownership but not the near-complete abolition of the private sector imposed under communism. They will attempt to redistribute wealth through taxes on the rich and welfare for the poor, but not to eliminate all income differentials’ (The A to Z of Economics). This is somewhat surprising considering the same source is cited not unfavourably by Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)! Even the Association of Mature American Citizens, a self-described ‘vigorously conservative’ United States-based advocacy organization and interest group, know that the terms communism and socialism are ‘…typically used interchangeably by Marxists’ (AMAC, 11 March). A far better A to Z of economic terms, from ‘abundance’ to ‘zero-growth’, ‘ is available here.
The entry for Lenin in that A to Z concludes:
‘When he died from a stroke in January 1924, most of the main feudal obstacles to capitalist development had been removed, together with all effective political opposition. With his concepts of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ and the leading role of the vanguard party, and a transitional society of ‘socialism’, Lenin distorted Marxism and thereby severely damaged the development of a socialist movement. Indeed, Leninism continues to pose a real obstacle to the achievement of socialism.’
Bibek Sen in an obituary titled Marxist Economist Of Global Fame Dr. Paresh Chattopadhyay Is No More (The Arabian Post) writes along similar lines: ‘We were fed with Leninist ideas of two stages of communism, of workers’ inability to change the society, of state capitalism as Marx’s Socialism. Paresh opened our eyes that Leninism is a complete vulgarisation of Marx’. By contrast, Harsh Thakor’s obituary in Countercurrents (10 March) gets it completely wrong berating Chattopadhyay as he ‘…completely relegated the great advances in Socialist production through collectivisation in Russia, Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China, the reasons for the defeat of Fascist forces by USSR in World War 2, the democratic form of power contrived in the Soviets and Communes or how encirclement of imperialist countries or penetration of counter revolutionaries, made it all the more imperative for the vanguard party to exercise its power. He failed to diagnose the symmetrical developments of the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Mao or how they were an integral part of each other’. An echo of Radio Moscow from the time of the state-capitalist USSR.
The lapdogs of bourgeois society
Mao, like Lenin before him, hastened the development of capitalism. He stated in 1949 ‘China must utilize all the factors of urban and rural capitalism that are beneficial and not harmful to the national economy and the people’s livelihood, and we must unite with the national bourgeoisie in common struggle. Our present policy is to regulate capitalism, not to destroy it’ (On The People’s Democratic Dictatorship). That wages have increased since Mao’s day is not in doubt. The 1 percent in China and the US, unlike the vast majority of us, are doing very nicely: ‘The Chinese Communist Party is thought to have more than 80 billionaire delegates as part of its ranks this year’ (Daily Express, 15 March). ‘Xi’s government has cracked down on young people who apply Marxist analysis too critically to abuses of labour allowed under China’s system of state capitalism’ (Financial Times, 28 June 2022). Capitalist hallmarks, such as class society, commodity production, profit motive, exploitation of wage labour, markets, etc., are found in China as they are worldwide. By contrast, the socialism Marx envisaged involved ‘abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production’ (Communist Manifesto, 1848).
Barking up the wrong tree
‘Sanders new book It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism reads like Marx and Engels’ 1848 Communist Manifesto. The only difference is that in their manifesto, Marx and Engels clearly underline the positive role that capitalism played throughout history. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, doesn’t have a single good word to say about capitalism and – here he resembles Marx and Engels – calls for a working-class revolution to raze the capitalist system to the ground’ (American Thinker, 10 March).
Hardly! The status quo is safe – Sanders is all bark and no bite. Defining what ‘democratic socialism’ means to him, Sanders said:
‘I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad’ (Slate, 15 November 2015).
The American Marxist Daniel De Leon would have identifed Sanders as a reformist lapdog!
‘As a poodle may have his hair cut long or his hair cut short, as he may be trimmed with pink ribbons or with blue ribbons, yet he remains the same old poodle, so capitalism may be trimmed with factory laws, tenement laws, divorce laws and gambling laws, but it remains the same old capitalism. These “humaniitarian parts” are only trimming the poodle. Socialism, one and inseparable with its “antirent and anticapital parts,” means to get rid of the poodle’ (The Daily People, 2 November 1908).