View Full Version : Modern Marxism

Mota Boy
11-15-2007, 08:10 PM
Obviously Per, this one's for you.

So, a couple days ago I stumbled across a book I found highly amusing, called "Arguments for Revolutionary Socialism". The author, who published a regular column in England's socialist newspaper in the eighties, argued that, in order to be a revolutionary socialist, one must argue for socialism at all times, daily on the picket lines and nightly in the pubs. In that spirit, I'd like to strike up a discussion on modern socialism, and the many reasons why, exactly, it's dead wrong. However, I don't expect you to answer for the author's multitude of intellectual sins, as I'm well aware that there are many shades of socialism. So I'll start by asking a couple questions.

1) What type of Marxist do you consider yourself to be - communist, socialist, Gramscian, etc.? What do you think is the proper form of government?

2) The author argued, hilariously, that the USSR was not socialist but was, in fact, capitalist, or "state capitalist" as he put it. Does this argument actually hold water in the commie community? Do people think that there's ever been a "proper" socialist/communist/whatever state?

I suppose that's it for now. The rough-draft critique I have sketched out in my head is probably general enough that it's a fundamental attack on the base assumptions of Marxism, including the Hegelian system of dialectics, as I'm trying not to get caught up in arguing the minutia, but I'd still like to know where you stand specifically.

11-18-2007, 10:49 AM
1) What type of Marxist do you consider yourself to be - communist, socialist, Gramscian, etc.? What do you think is the proper form of government?
I don't really consider myself a Marxist. I value some of the analyses it offers, but when it becomes forged with ideology (as in setting the term progressive with regards to the level of society) I find it becomes dogmatic. Actually this turn about happened in large when I was reading World System's Theory, and it's critique of Marxism struck a chord. So analytically speaking I like the interested based analysis provided. I find however that most marxists use it only shallowly.

Interest based in a class structure so to speak. Capital interests, working class interests, etc. However if you broaden it out into international conflicts, you see Marxists without fail taking a side in solidarity. Palestinians in Israel for example. There are many of the solidarity cases. However it often happens based on limited information and often biased information (which is annoying as hell to read). And for example if you took the case of Palestine/Israel. I personally would lean towards the conclusions of status-quo analysis. The conflict has become the best interest of the major actors, so they more or less maintain the status quo. This was a fundamental theoretical break from Marxism. (And don't argue with me about Palestine/Israel, I used it as a recognizable example, it's not a conflict I've read extensively in. I first became acquainted with Status Quo theory with regards to the internal conflict in Moldavia. But I wanted to make sure everyone followed, should they read this far.)

And then I also like Gramsci, incidentally I just gave a 30 minute presentation on Media Discourse Analysis. Which is heavily influenced by Gramsci. The main point being that news-media has an ideological bias based on the terms and vocabulary it uses and the information it presents and leaves out. I half agree with that. The main part I disagree in is that the terms it uses are also used to be understood by a broad mass without further explanation.

I suppose actually what I like about Marxist theory is the hegelian hypothesis, antithesis, synthesis. Especially hypothesis/anti-thesis. But analytically I suppose my outlook is influenced by various theories these days.

So I guess I'm half a marxist, I half agree with a lot of it.

Ideologically I'm still pretty left wing. I don't really know any category to describe it. Uh, liberal social-democracy perhaps. I think I like the Danish system quite a bit. A well functioning social security net. High standard of living for everybody. Right now we have an incredibly low unemployment to boot. Yeah it's pretty good here.

2) The author argued, hilariously, that the USSR was not socialist but was, in fact, capitalist, or "state capitalist" as he put it. Does this argument actually hold water in the commie community? Do people think that there's ever been a "proper" socialist/communist/whatever state?
State Capitalist is an interesting term because it has an underlying ideology. Trotskyism. The idea is that the ruling class of the USSR eventually became the state-bureaucracy. It developed into it's own kind of socialist capitalist. Hence State-Capitalism. That is what is meant by state capitalist. The re-entry of class struggle into the state-machinery. Now Stalinists will call it hogwash. Stalinists/Maoists/Hoxhaites will then refer to the USSR from '53 onwards, and to China after Mao as being "Capitalist roaders."

You can find proponents of any socialist state. Generally people ignore the socialist african states though. And no one remembers Socialist Laos.

But it's quite split, Trotskyites will deny the existance of any socialist state after the Paris Commune. Stalinists will deny anything after Stalin and maybe Mao/Hoxha. Titoists (a rare bunch) love Yugoslavia. Hoxhaites are scary. etc. etc. Fortunately for Marxists both Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung renounced Marxism-Leninism for their own ideologies. I'm not really sure what I personally would say. I guess I would have to define socialism and then analyze it based on the criteria I made.

11-18-2007, 03:58 PM
My aim name is actually MarkyMarx1986. I must've made that 3 or 4 years ago. My old email address was mickeymarx2003@yahoo.com (so actually 4 years ago going on 5.)

11-18-2007, 04:23 PM
I was about to get into this whole thing about how I'm really interested in cultural Marxism because I love placing ideologies in different contexts and avoiding dogmatic interpretations of any of them...but now I'm laughing my ass off at Marky Marxism.

11-18-2007, 04:31 PM
Uh I thought I made up the term cultural marxist. Like cultural jew :p

But yes I agree with what you mean. Also putting their implementation and understanding into a context. Which goes into Marxist sociology (and he was one of the founding fathers.)

11-19-2007, 07:22 PM
I actually made a tiny mistake. The term State-Capitalism is used by Maoists about Post-Stalinist Russia. (Mao upheld Stalin, his analysis of Stalin is commonly known as the 7 good, 3 bad theory. In overall good.) And was later used by Maoists/Hoxhaites to describe post-Mao China. The general idea is that this is due to the fact that Khruschev (and later Deng Chao Ping) introduced "the law of profit" into the planned economies, etc. Hence creating state controlled and planned capitalism. And turning the economies from being socially oriented to being monetarily oriented.

Trotskyites use the term Deformed Workers State. And that's because of the bureaucracy etc. that I covered earlier.

12-01-2007, 08:16 PM
since this is kind of similar and still on first page, what are your opinions on the situation going on venezuela? if you dont know whats going on: chavez is trying to make a bolivarian revolution, which is mostly based on socialist terms, he already nationalized (i dont know if that's the right word in english) most of the private companies, and closed a national tv network because they didnt agreed with him, and tomorrow people will vote to put him as an permanent president.

The shadow
12-02-2007, 05:32 PM
Well, I'm an oponent of Chavez' government, but I must correct you: he hasn't nationalized most of the private companies, he nationalized a few key companies and we didn't vote today on his presidency, we voted on a constitutional "reform".

By the way, sorry about the kidnapped. I sympathize with Uribe's government on this issue.

12-03-2007, 01:45 AM
My feelings for Chavez are two-fold. As a socialist I like what he's done inside Bolivia (but then offering subsidized oil to poor people in the US, only then to withdraw it as an ultimatum towards the Bush government is far more realpolitik with the poor as a bargaining chip than one would like.)

And then on the other hand he is like the world's worst democrat (or the world's best dictator). Ruling by decree, extending his term limit, creating his own union because the local union doesn't like him (odd thing for a socialist), altering the constitution etc. I mean these are things we've seen 1000 times in Eastern Europe and Africa.

So what's there to conclude? I like a lot of what he's done, but I also think Democracy is a good thing.