The latest triumph over Marxism|György Lukács


First published on the Kommunismos magazine, n. 05, in 1920.

From «marxists.org». Translated by Conttren. September, 2017.


 

It is difficult for a year to go by without Marx being “triumphed over” by some associate professor or some fashionable philosopher. The deadly struggle that bourgeois society must carry out also developed in its ideological terrain. To the keen observer, these “triumphs” always present the same face. The demonstrated content is changed, the gnosiological or metaphysical arguments appear as new, but the essential character, the starting point and the destination point, are always the same. They find its origin in the petite-bourgeois-parasitic nature of the intellectual’s class situation. As faithful petite-bourgeois, the intellectuals are in no position of correctly observing the reality of class struggle, and therefore even less able to value it. They gravitate to, as Marx has said, the established institutions, such as “not to abolish the two extremes, capital and wage labour, but to mitigate its contradictions and lead them to live together in harmony.” Given that intellectuals are parasitic beings within the capitalist State, the latter is presented to them as an absolute being, or even as the Absolute. They contrast to Marxist theory a utopia that, more or less deprived of seductive phrases, rests over the adulation of the existing State.

This series’ last great representative is the popular philosopher Oswald Spengler, whose work The Decline of the West, though creative but amateurish in nature, recently achieved this success which in reality should have happened with the profound work by Ernst Bloch, The Spirit of Utopia. The new book by Mr. Spengler, Prussianism and Socialism,¹ wishes to “liberate German socialism from Marx.”  It seems Marx dodged a great philosophical problem of the modern epoch—that our philosopher outlines as such: “[T]hree Western Peoples have embodied socialism in this larger sense: Spain, England, and Prussia. Florence and Paris were the sources of the anarchic antithesis to socialism: Italy and France.” Because of this, Marx was in no condition to make the following fundamental discoveries: first, that there was no class struggle in the French Revolution; however “every true Frenchman was then and is today a bourgeois. Every true German is a worker”; there are no real classes in France.

The second discovery is that in England there is no State; that only England knows capitalism in its true sense; that, consequently, class distinction only exists in England. Thus, the superficial Marx, who distinguishes class according to one’s position on the process of production, was strengthened and overcome; class division would arise from the distinct possession of goods, as the antagonism between rich and poor. Poor Marx, to whom all this escaped and could not but fail to understand that socialism had already been realized long ago, in the Kingdom of Prussia. For this reason, Marx was not in position to understand the problem of the State; this follows his “amateurish” compliment to the Commune of 1871; because of this he was not able to cherish the system of councils (Rätesystem) that Baron von Stein had designed years before. Superficial socialism is recovered in this manner, by such philosophically detailed socialism. This socialism is an order of authority, “it is bureaucracy’s principle in technical terms.” Thus, it is only natural that Marx was not able to see the existing socialization “introduced by Frederick William I and incessantly developed until Bismarck.” Corresponding to such profound philosophy, the concept of Imperialism is too renovated: “The true International is Imperialism.” Therefore the Conservative and Socialist parties, who represented this “profound” socialism, belong to the same group “… in which the Conservatives made better officers, the Socialists better troops.” The reconciliation of brother-enemies is the objective of such philosophically rediscovered socialism. Is the critique of such work worth it? Considered as a symptom, it is interesting. The fact that Mr. Spengler’s only citation is from Mr. Lensch does not only show his ignorance regarding Marxism, but also shows where the right-wing socialists’ theory and praxis necessarily lead to. And the rest of this pamphlet differs in nothing from many other “triumphs over” Marxism that have been written since Dühring’s days, who already was the front rank of worship of the Prussian State. What is new is the proof that Revolution can not cure the Germans “of their servile spirit, rooted in national conscience,” as once Engels said.

 


  1. N.T.: SPENGLER, Oswald. Preußentum und Sozialismus, available «here

Advertisements

I. Economic aspects of the Cuban Revolution | Celso Furtado

From Economic Development of Latin America,  1970

Translated by Suzette Macedo


Singularity of the traditional Cuban economy

Cuba displays a number of peculiarities worth analysing separately in an overall study of the Latin American framework. Along with Puerto Rico, the island remained under Spanish rule until the beginning of this century, the colonial period having lasted almost a century longer in this area than in the rest of Latin America. When the Cuban people’s struggle to win their independence created impediments to US trade, the United States government used the conflict as a pretext for taking over the remnants of Spain’s former Empire in the Americas and Asia. Consequently, the Cuban National State started its independent life under the occupation of United States forces. This occupation has not yet entirely come to an end—the United States government still has a base on Cuban territory—and up to 1934 it could have been extended to the whole island at any time, ‘in the interests of the Cuban people’ as adjudged by the President of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the famous ‘Platt Amendment’. The delay of almost a century in starting the process of building a nation-state, and the particular circumstances attending its emergence under the tutelage of a powerful neighbour, make the Cuban process unique in the Latin American context. However, Cuba’s singularity lies even deeper and its roots are to be found in the economic evolution of the island within the framework of the Antillean region.

The Spaniards first used the Caribbean islands as defence bases for their lines of communication with the mainland colonies. The indigenous populations, living at a rudimentary cultural level, were practically wiped out and extensive stock farming was established on the larger islands to supply the metropolitan fleets. From the seventeenth century, the smaller islands were occupied by the French and the English, who wanted to secure a foothold for an assault on the mainland. With a view to eventual penetration of the Spanish Empire, they encouraged white colonization of the islands they had occupied, founding settlements of small planters who combined the growing of subsistence crops with the production of tobacco and indigo for the European market. These settlements, which had been of political value to the metropolitan countries because they could provide colonial militiasto be mobilized against the rich Spanish Empire, underwent profound changes during the latter part of the seventeenth century when the cultivation of sugar-cane was introduced into the islands by the Dutch settlers who had been driven out of the Brazilian Northeast. In fact, Dutch interests were responsible for developing sugar production in the Antilles. They financed sugar mills and the importation of slaves, provided technical assistance and guaranteed markets.

Continue reading →

Revolution, the unexorcised ghost | Florestan Fernandes


Article available at marxists.org.
Translated by Conttren, 2017.

 

 

In a provocative and intelligent book, Hobsbawm sought to demonstrate that the drama of Europe consisted in the combination (or tradition) of revolutionary intellectuals and a society that repels the Revolution. The historian, who lived through the post-Bolshevik period, was felt subtly dealing with internal convictions and justifying the Soviet Union’s intra-party errors, within both its borders and its international policy of concessions, during the “Cold War.”

In Brazil, we were not even able do this. Leftist parties saw themselves forced into tortuous opportunism, compensated with moments of pure theoretical glorification, having only come into practice once with the Aliança Nacional Libertadora [National Liberation Alliance], in 1935. This “subjective revolutionism” began to suffer rectifications exactly during the decadence of the “cold war” by proclaiming the new bourgeois belief of  the “death of socialism.” Intellectuals, in general, prefer to save their own skin when disconnected from practice as a way to not sacrifice their own consciousness… There was an incoherent and veiled shift towards social-democracy, which would not be an evil in itself. Evil proceeds from the disposition of conceding space without any struggle in Social Democracy’s orchestration as the Left-hand of the bourgeoisie. Such process continues and threatens us with the loss of the few partisan alternatives for the establishment of a new society.

I would like to deal with the theme as a sociologist. At PUC [Pontifical Catholic University], for example, where I have lectured in the last quarter of 1977, I was faced with the richness of the courses available. There was one focused on social organization. In an automatic impulse, I questioned why there was no course that dealt not only with social change, but specifically with social revolution. There, the two poles are given: order and its reproduction; order and its radical, or inverted, transformation. My postgraduate colleagues, who were open to critical thinking, soon agreed to this necessary addition.

Continue reading →