Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marxism has had considerable "historical traction", though, outside of South America, its appeal today is pretty well limited to the academy (and an aging set of professors at that). As a model of radical historical change it has been a demonstrable failure. many anarchists think that there is much to admire in Marxism, and the major modern anarchist criticism of Marxism has been restricted to the very restricted idea that it doesn't accommodate new movements against hierarchy such as feminism, the ecology movement and anti-racism (amongst others). All this is, of course, merely sniping at the edges of the ideology of Marxism, and none of it explains the failure of Marxism in its real world political incarnations. Some of it is grossly !!! beside the point, such as the anti-racist position. At its best such a position would advocate nothing more than a diluted version of the "proletarian internationalism"-minus the "proletarian" part, of course, system of propaganda that was practiced with a "vengeance"(and I do mean vengeance) in the former Soviet Empire and even in the old Yugoslavia. The historical results, after the collapse of communism. show the limitations of this propaganda model.
Molly is of the opinion that "fashionable leftism" ie a demand to incorporate anything and everything that is the shared belief of a small leftist subculture is not a reasonable alternative to the Marxist "God that failed". Molly is also of the opinion that anarchism can provide a much better guide to action than Marxism ever did. This guide, however, is still very much in the making, and it demands that anarchists abandon the superstitions of the past. Parts of Marxism are very much such crude superstitions.
Please go over to our sister site Molly's Polls to express your opinion on Marxism. Molly will soon conduct her own post-mortem on the decaying corpse of Marxism over there.


Anonymous said...

Marx made some important contributions, specifically developing the critique of capitalism started by other socialists (such as Proudhon).

His political ideas, though, were often wrong (such as on the state, standing in elections, urging "political action" and so forth). But, hardly surprising, as I'm an anarchist!

Another problem is that most Marxists reject vast chunks of Marx's actual ideas, usually on voting and the notion that the republican state can be captured and transformed by the working class.

So, as long as he is recognised as a person who made significant contributions in certain areas and was very wrong in others, I think anarchists can take useful things from him -- such as elements of his critique of capitalism.

An Anarchist FAQ

Larry Gambone said...

I would agree with Iain. In fact I came to anarchism by way of Marx. My first reading of him was at university where we read the 1844 Manuscripts. I soon realized that what he was talking about was the fact that workers were dominated under capitalism - turned into objects - and the whole point of socialism was to end that domination and have the workers control the production process. This was totally unlike anything I had seen in existing alleged Marxist groups. So when I ran into the IWW and anarchists, I found the socialism I was looking for.

It is also not unusual for anarchists to synthesize certain aspects of Marx's thinking into anarchism - Guerin, Bookchin and Kevin Carson to mention but a few. (I have always done so myself, since reading the Manuscripts way back in 1968.)

Transcona Slim said...

I think one of the current problems of todays anarchists is that they rely to heavily on Marx as the back bone of economic theory.

Heres an anecdote: I once posted on Libcom about how the IWW should be involved in organizing prostitutes in SanFran. One poster chastised me for supporting the "petty bourgeois". I argued that us anarchists should look outside of the simple Marxist political economy as a weight. I pointed out that Bakunin thought the "lumpen" where just as revolutionary as the working class.

He was generally dismayed at the fact that an anarchist can reject Marxism: for him, most anarchists today accepted Marxist political economy, and class analysis.

Anyway, I feel it's about using what can be used, but not getting dogmatic, or thinking that Marxism is a scientific truth.