Critical Theory of Art as Technology (audio recording)

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone teaches in the Departments of Art History, Theory and Criticism and Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Congering 1. He is an Instructor at the Institute for Clinical Social Work and was a longtime lecturer in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago, where he completed the PhD degree in the Committee on the History of Culture and the MA in Art History Sodrive Premium. His doctoral dissertation was on Adorno’s Marxism. He received the MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the BA from Hampshire College Concubine of The King of The Palace. He is also a writer and media artist committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. He is the original lead organizer of the Platypus Affiliated Society, an international Marxist educational project. 

Background reading list: 

The Relevance of Critical Theory to Art Today by Chris Cutrone for the Platypus Affiliated Society public forum
http://platypus1917.org/2011/01/01/the-relevance-of-critical-theory-to-art-today/#cutrone

Critique of Revolutionary Art: Trotsky, Benjamin, Adorno, and Greenberg by Chris Cutrone for Caesura 
https://caesuramag.org/essays/critique-of-revolutionary-art-trotsky-benjamin-adorno-and-greenberg

Art and Politics in Our Epoch by Leon Trotsky https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/06/artpol.htm

The Author as Producer by Walter Benjamin
https://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/benjamin_authorproducer.pdf

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

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Chris Cutrone on the Death and Life of the Left, the Hidden Potential of Liberalism and Potential Futures (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone interviewed by Laurie Johnson (Political Science, Kansas State University) on the origins of Platypus, the death and life of the Left, socialism and the hidden potential of liberalism and potential futures 연애 서큘레이션.

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Kautsky in the 21st Century (audio and video recordings)

The legacy of Karl Kautsky

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a Platypus Affiliated Society on-line public forum panel discussion with Adam Sacks (Jacobin magazine contributor), Ben Lewis (Communist Party of Great Britain) and Jason Wright (Bolshevik Tendency) on Saturday September 5, 2020.

For me, the question of the legacy of Karl Kautsky’s Marxism is not as a Marxist, but rather as the Marxist. He was the theorist, not of capitalism or socialism, but of the working class’s struggle for socialism, the social and political movement and most of all the political party that issued from this movement and struggle Latest 2019 August. Kautsky articulated the historical and strategic perspective and the self-understanding of the proletarian socialist party. He helped formulate the political program of Marxism — the Erfurt Programme in which the German Social-Democratic Party became officially Marxist — and explained it with particular genius. He was not a theorist of German socialism but rather of the world-historic social and political task of socialism, for the entire Socialist International 지 파일.

He was rightly if ironically called the “Pope of Marxism,” and this meant as a world political movement, indeed of the world party for socialism, in every country. For instance his writings converted the American socialist Eugene Debs to Marxism. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky and countless others learned Marxism from Kautsky Download the softwareserial.h library. Kautsky provided the theoretical self-understanding and strategic vision for all Marxists and for the broader socialist movement led by Marxism throughout the world, precisely when Marxism was a mass form of social struggle and politics, and precisely when this was so in the core metropolitan advanced capitalist countries.

In this respect Kautsky was one of the greatest political leaders of all time, in all of world history. However, he was the leader of a movement that failed, for Marxism failed Download Minecraft 1.12.1 apk.

This makes Kautsky a peculiar historical figure, and makes his thought — as we inherit from his writings — a specific kind of object and legacy. Kautsky explains something to us that no longer exists, namely the mass socialist political party and the class struggle for socialism of the working class, aiming for the world dictatorship of the proletariat taking over and transforming global capitalism Gx log viewer.

Kautsky’s Marxism summarized and appropriated the entire history and experience of the socialist workers’ movement up to that point, namely, the radical tradition of the bourgeois revolution, the industrial social visions of the Utopian Socialists, the unfinished tasks of the failed revolutions of 1848, the civil collective and social cooperative movements of labor organizers and anarchists, and the party as what Ferdinand Lassalle called the “permanent political campaign of the working class” aiming to win the “battle of democracy.”

But the history of socialism had exhibited antagonisms and conflicts between its various aspects and protagonists. The disputes within socialism were considered by Marxism such as Kautsky’s as not mere differences and disagreements, but rather expressed the self-contradictory character of the struggle for socialism and its tasks. The question was how the working class must work through such self-contradiction.

One catch-phrase from 19th century history preceding Kautsky was “social and political action.” Kautsky understood the proletarianized working class’s struggle for socialism to require both kinds of activity, and moreover sought to combine them in the political party for socialism and its associated civil-social movement organizations. This is what Kautsky and the greater Second International Marxism meant by “social democracy,” a legacy of the unfulfilled tasks of 1848, to achieve the “social republic.” Marxists understood this to require the independent political and social action of the working class leading the broader discontented, exploited and oppressed masses under capitalism.

Otherwise, the task of socialism in capitalism was liable to fall out into an antinomy of having to choose between social movement activism and political activity. It was Kautsky’s Marxism’s ability to comprehend and transcend this antinomy and achieve the combined tasks of both.

This is what the subsequent socialist movement since Kautsky’s time — since the failure of Second International Marxism — has foundered upon, starting at least as early as the 1930s Old Left of Stalinism and reformist Social Democracy, and especially since the 1960s New Left and its eschewing of the tasks of building the political party for socialism.

The historical wound of this history we face is that the Kautskyan political party both made the revolution and prosecuted the counterrevolution. Both Social Democracy and “Marxist-Leninism” — Stalinism — are descended from Kauskyan socialism — from this history of Marxism.

But rather than engaging and trying to work through the problematic legacy of Kautsky’s Marxism, socialists and the greater Left — and indeed democracy — has drawn back and retreated from it — avoided it.

The reason the question of Kautsky’s legacy specifically as well as that of Marxism more generally returns periodically is that it represents the unfinished work and task of history that must still be worked through.

In one way or another, we must engage the tasks — and contradiction — of social and political action in capitalism that points beyond it to socialism. So long as this task remains we will be haunted by Kautsky’s Marxism. | P

The fate of the American Revolution (audio and video recordings)

American Psycho

Chris Cutrone, Reid Kotlas, Spencer Leonard, Pamela Nogales, James Vaughn

2020 summer lecture series by the Platypus Affiliated Society

Panel Discussion by the lecturers James Vaughn, Chris Cutrone, Reid Kotlas, Spencer Leonard and Pamela Nogales

The red thread running through the lecture series, and the question discussed in this final panel among the lecturers, is the persistence and legacy of the revolution 사전 파일. How does Marxism appear today in light of the American Revolution, and vice versa?

Background reading:
Chris Cutrone, “The American Revolution and the Left” (2020)
https://platypus1917.org/2020/03/01/the-american-revolution-and-the-left/

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The philosophy trap (Is theory good for anything?) Zero Books interview (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation 나혼자 레벨업 텍스트 다운로드. He returns to the Zero Books channel to discuss his 2014 essay “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique” and to discuss the role that critical theory should play in the struggle for socialism Nintendo Switch nsp.

Suggested reading:

Mike Macnair, “Lukács: The philosophy trap,” Weekly Worker 11/21/13 https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/987…

Chris Cutrone, “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique,” Weekly Worker 8/11/11
https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/878…

Georg Lukács, Original Preface (1922) to History and Class Consciousness (1923)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/luka…

Chris Cutrone, “Why still read Lukács 브라운아이드소울 right 다운로드? The place of ‘philosophical’ questions in Marxism” (2014)
https://platypus1917.org/2014/02/01/w…

Suggested viewing:

Chris Cutrone, “CPGB contra Lukács” teach-in at SAIC, 1/11/14 https://youtu.be/kKt3zePUtMI

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The legacy of the American Revolution: The Gilded Age (audio and video recordings)

Chris Cutrone

Audio recording available at: https://archive.org/details/gilded-age-7-17-20

The Legacy of the American Revolution 2020 summer lecture series by the Platypus Affiliated Society

6.) Chris Cutrone on the Gilded Age and Second Industrial Revolution

The retrospective view from the present allows for regarding the 20th century as the outcome of the Gilded Age — of the Second Industrial Revolution 나루토 만화 다운로드. We still live in the after-effects of the crisis that conditioned the 20th century. The inability to overcome the discontents of capital from a century ago still swamps us today Download kakaotalk animated emoticons. In the late 19th century U.S., the Second Industrial Revolution was governed by the Republican Party, which was the combined party of progressive liberalism and big capital Download the rain to walk through the night. Progressivism emerged as a reform effort from within the Republican Party against manifest problems of Gilded Age capitalism in the 1890s–1900s — most dramatically under President Theodore Roosevelt and his run for reelection as a Progressive in 1912 Download netflix computer. In America and Europe, discontents with the Gilded Age capitalism of the Second Industrial Revolution manifested in the Socialist Parties of the Second International log4net.dll 다운로드. Liberal capitalism was opposed by a mass industrial workers politics — for instance the Socialist Party of America of Eugene Debs.

Lecture based on Cutrone’s essay “The end of the Gilded Age: Discontents of the Second Industrial Revolution today,” available online at:
<https://platypus1917.org/2017/12/02/end-gilded-age-discontents-second-industrial-revolution-today/>

Socialism in the 21st century: Living Art WKPFT Houston 90.1 FM radio interview with Chris Cutrone (audio recording)

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Michael Woodson interviews Chris Cutrone on capitalism, post-neoliberalism and prospects for socialism in the 21st century, for the radio program Living Art on WKPFT 90.1 FM, Houston, Texas, broadcast in two parts, May 28 and June 4, 2020 강철지그 다운로드. Part 1 addresses the difference between Ancient and Modern or traditional civilization and bourgeois society; Part 2 addresses the new contradiction of capitalism with the Industrial Revolution and the task of socialism Download Narcos Season 1.

“Socialism in the 21st century” article referenced in the interview available at:

https://platypus1917.org/2020/05/01/socialism-in-the-21st-century/

Part 1, May 28, 2020

Part 2, June 4, 2020

Complete unedited audio recording

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What is capitalism? (audio and video recordings)

A discussion among Dick Howard, Chris Nineham, Shane Mage, Leo Panitch and Chris Cutrone Billboard app. (Chris Cutrone’s prepared opening remarks were his three recent articles on capitalism, “Robots and sweatshops,” “Jobs and free stuff” and “Capital and labor.” [PDF flyer])

The present is characterized not only by a political crisis of the global neoliberal order but also by differing interpretations of the cause of this crisis: capitalism Download private videos on facebook. If we are to interpret capitalism, we must also know how to change it. We ask the panelists to consider the following questions:
– What is capitalism 더트랠리?
– Is capitalism contradictory? If so, what is this contradiction and how does it relate to Left politics?
– How has capitalism changed over time, and what have these changes meant politically for the Left Xml?
– Does class struggle take place today? If so, how, and what role should it play for the Left?
– Is capitalism in crisis? If so, how class-dump-z? And how should the Left respond?
– If a new era of global capitalism is emerging, how do we envision the future of capitalism and what are the implications of this for the Left?

Capital and labor

Chris Cutrone

Platypus Review 126 | May 2020

ACCORDING TO MARX, capitalism is the contradiction of bourgeois social relations and industrial forces of production.[1] The effect of this self-contradiction of bourgeois society in industrial production is the division of capital and labor 2017 달력 다운로드. It is from this division that the opposed classes of capitalists and workers derive. The class struggle between workers and capitalists is a phenomenon — the phenomenal expression — of the self-contradiction of capitalism. It expresses labor’s contradiction with itself — which is also capital’s contradiction with itself. When referring to “capital and labor” there are actually just two forms of capital — Marx called these “variable and constant” as well as “fixed and circulating” capital — and both refer to labor — Marx called capital “alienated labor.” Labor and capital are two aspects of the same thing in capitalism 리눅스 서버 파일 다운로드. The bourgeois social relations of production are the social relations of labor.

The usual oppositions posed by the labor movement and by socialism, such as profit vs. human needs (and the needs of the natural world beyond humanity), are expressions of this self-contradiction of society in capitalism, the needs of capital as opposed to the needs of labor 아가능불회애니. The contradiction of capital is not external but internal.

Marx described capitalism as “false necessity.” What he meant by this was not simply wrong necessity, but rather self-contradictory necessity. For the needs of capital and the needs of labor are the same. In becoming opposed in capitalism, there is the conflict of labor with itself as well as of capital with itself Download powerpoint objects.

In capitalist politics, there is another phenomenon — expression — of capital’s self-contradiction, namely, the disputes among capitalist politicians over government policy, which can also express conflicting interests of different capitalists, including different sectors of industry, between different capitalist nation-states, etc. Workers employed in different occupations as well as in industries can thus have different and conflicting interests, competing over the priorities of social investment in capital 캔디크러쉬. The opposed aspects of capital — and of labor — are inseparable. Labor cannot be extricated from capital any more than capital can be from labor.

The goal of socialism is to realize capital as well as labor — to negate labor as well as capital. It is to realize as well as negate — overcome — capitalist necessity. What would such Aufhebung [sublation] mean?

Discontents in capitalism take various different and even opposed forms. The history of socialism itself as well as the history of capitalism expresses self-contradictory desires and goals. At different moments in the history of capitalism, the goals of socialism have taken various different and indeed opposed forms. For instance, socialism has variously regarded its goals as realizing the potential of capitalist production as opposed to abolishing capitalist production: achieving hyper-industrialism versus returning to subsistence primitivism[2] have both found home at one time or place or another in the struggle for socialism. Socialism could be defined as both and neither of the opposed alternatives that capitalism generates as its own positive goals and its own self-negations. All the various opposed demands arising from the discontents in capitalism will be both fulfilled and negated — overcome — in socialism.

Capital seeks to abolish labor and labor seeks to abolish capital — but more importantly in capitalism capital seeks to abolish itself and labor seeks to abolish itself. By making labor more productive it becomes less necessary; by producing excess capital it becomes more superfluous — less a real measure of social value. Labor seeks to abolish itself in capitalism, and thus to abolish capital, tasking socialism.

Only by encompassing the wide variety of discontents within the working class and across the history of its developments in capitalism could the political movement for socialist revolution to overcome capitalism become adequate to its task and mission, by becoming conscious of it. Since capital is the product of labor and labor the product of capital, this would mean encompassing the divisions among the capitalists as well as within capitalism itself as a total movement of society. The achievement of socialist revolution would be when the working class can take responsibility politically for capitalism as a whole. In so doing, the working class would confront the choices posed by the contradictions of capitalism that are otherwise expressed by the conflicts between the different capitalists and thus among workers of the world. All the conflicts exhibited in the world must be grasped as expressions and various forms of the self-contradiction of capitalism. Such conflicts are necessary — to be overcome.

The false necessity of capitalism as self-contradictory but opposed real needs can only be truly engaged and overcome from the standpoint of universal world history.[3] This can only take place from within the social antagonisms of capitalism, and not from partial, single-sided aspects of its contradictory totality.

The “workers of the world must unite” because the world is united in its self-contradiction and crisis in capitalism. The laborers must themselves take up and overcome the social relations of labor in crisis in capitalism by assuming the socialist political responsibility for capital that is eluded by capitalist politics.

Otherwise, the social conflicts in capitalism — between and among its capitalists and workers — will reproduce its contradictions forever. | P


[1] Please see my prior articles on “Robots and sweatshops,” Platypus Review #123 (February 2020), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2020/02/01/robots-and-sweatshops/>; and “Jobs and free stuff,” PR #124 (March 2020), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2020/03/01/jobs-and-free-stuff/>, of which this is meant to be the third and final entry in the series.

[2] See the articles in the Platypus Review issue #125 (April 2020) published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first observation of Earth Day, April 22 (the same date as Lenin’s birthday), in 1970 (thus on the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth in 1870), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/category/pr/issue-125/>.

[3] See my “Capital in history: The need for a Marxian philosophy of history of the Left,” Platypus Review #7 (October 2008), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2008/10/01/capital-in-history-the-need-for-a-marxian-philosophy-of-history-of-the-left/>.

Lenin at 150 (audio and video recordings)

Lenin today

Chris Cutrone

Presented at a Platypus teach-in on the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, April 22, 2020. Video recording available online at: <https://youtu.be/01z8Mzz2IY4>.

ON THE OCCASION OF THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF LENIN’S BIRTH, I would like to approach Lenin’s meaning today by critically examining an essay written by the liberal political philosopher Ralph Miliband on the occasion of Lenin’s 100th birthday in 1970[1] — which was the year of my own birth.

The reason for using Miliband’s essay to frame my discussion of Lenin’s legacy is that the DSA Democratic Socialists of America magazine Jacobin republished Miliband, who is perhaps their most important theoretical inspiration, in 2018 as a belated treatment of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917 — or perhaps as a way of marking the centenary of the ill-fated German Revolution of 1918, which failed as a socialist revolution but is usually regarded as a successful democratic revolution, issuing in the Weimar Republic under the leadership of the SPD Social-Democratic Party of Germany. There is a wound in the apparent conflict between the desiderata of socialism and democracy, in which the Russian tradition associated with Lenin is opposed to and by the German tradition associated with social democracy, or, alternatively, “democratic socialism,” by contrast with the supposedly undemocratic socialism of Lenin, however justified or not by “Russian conditions.” The German model seems to stand for conditions more appropriate to advanced capitalist and liberal democratic countries.

Ralph Miliband is most famously noted for his perspective of “parliamentary socialism” But this was not simply positive for Miliband but critical, namely, critical of the Labour Party in the U.K. — It must be noted that Miliband’s sons are important leaders in the Labour Party today, among its most prominent neoliberal figures. Preceding his book on parliamentary socialism, Miliband wrote a critical essay in 1960, “The sickness of Labourism,” written for the very first issue of the newly minted New Left Review in 1960, in the aftermath of Labour’s dismal election failure in 1959, Miliband’s criticism of which of course the DSA/Jacobin cannot digest let alone assimilate. The DSA/Jacobin fall well below even a liberal such as Miliband — and not only because the U.S. Democratic Party is something less than the U.K. Labour Party, either in composition or organization. Miliband’s perspective thus figures for the DSA/Jacobin in a specifically symptomatic way, as an indication of limits and, we must admit, ultimate failure, for instance demonstrated by the recent fate of the Bernie Sanders Campaign as an attempted “electoral road” to “socialism,” this year as well as back in 2016 — the latter’s failure leading to the explosion in growth of the DSA itself 킴스 컨비니언스. Neither Labour’s aspiration to socialism, whether back in the 1960s or more recently under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, nor the DSA’s has come to any kind of even minimal fruition. Thus the specter — the haunting memory — of Lenin presents itself for our consideration today: How does Lenin hold out the promise of socialism?

Previously, I have written on several occasions on Lenin.[2] So I am tasked to say something today that I haven’t already said before. First of all, I want to address the elephant in the room (or is it the 800lb gorilla?), which is Stalinism, the apparent fate of supposed “Leninism” — which is also a demonstrated failure, however it is recalled today in its own peculiar way by the penchant for neo-Stalinism that seems to be an act of defiance, épater la bourgeoisie [shock the bourgeoisie], on the part of young (or not so young) Bohemian “Leftists,” in their deeply disappointed bitterness and antipathy towards the political status quo. “Leninism” means a certain antinomian nihilism — against which Lenin himself was deeply opposed.

An irony of history is that Lenin’s legacy has succumbed to the very thing against which he defined himself and from which his Marxism sharply departed, namely Narodnism, the Romantic rage of the supposedly “revolutionary” intelligentsia, who claimed — understood themselves — to identify with the oppressed and exploited masses, but really for whom the latter were just a sentimental image rather than a reality. Lenin would be extremely unhappy at what he — and indeed what revolution itself, let alone “socialism” — has come to symbolize today. Lenin was the very opposite of a Mao or a Che or Fidel. And he was also the opposite of Stalin. How so?

The three figures, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky, form the heart of the issue of the Russian Revolution and its momentous effect on the 20th century, still reverberating today. Trotsky disputed Stalin and the Soviet Union’s claim to the memory of Lenin, writing, in “Stalinism and Bolshevism” on the 20th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1937, that Stalinism was the “antithesis” of Bolshevism[3] — a loaded word, demanding specifically a dialectical approach to the problem. What did Lenin and Trotsky have in common as Marxists from which Stalin differed? Stalin’s policy of “socialism in one country” was the fatal compromise of not only the Russian Revolution, but of Marxism, and indeed of the very movement of proletarian socialism itself Vrcano do. Trotsky considered Stalinism to be the opportunist adaptation of Marxism to the failure of the world socialist revolution — the limiting of the revolution to Russia.

This verdict by Trotsky was not affected by the spread of “Communism” after WWII to Eastern Europe, China, Korea, Vietnam, and, later, Cuba. Each was an independent ostensibly “socialist” state — and by this very fact alone represented the betrayal of socialism. Their conflicts, antagonism and competition, including wars both “hot” and “cold,” for instance the alliance of Mao’s China with the United States against Soviet Russia and the Warsaw Pact, demonstrated the lie of their supposed “socialism.” Of course each side justified this by reference to the supposed capitulation to global imperialism by the other side. But the point is that all these states were part of the world capitalist status quo. It was that unshaken status quo that fatally compromised the ostensibly “socialist” aspirations of these national revolutions. Suffice it to say that Lenin would not have considered the outcome of the Russian Revolution or any subsequently that have sought to follow in its footsteps to be socialism — at all. Lenin would not have considered any of them to represent the true Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat,” either. For Lenin, as for Marxism more generally, the dictatorship of the proletariat (never mind socialism) required the preponderant power over global capitalism world-wide, that is, victory in the core capitalist countries. This of course has never yet happened. So its correctness is an open question.

In his 1970 Lenin centenary essay, Miliband chose to address Lenin’s pamphlet on State and Revolution, an obvious choice to get at the heart of the issue of Lenin’s Stalinist legacy. But Miliband shares a great deal of assumptions with Stalinism. For one, the national-state framing of the question of socialism. But more importantly, Miliband like Stalinism elides the non-identity of the state and society, of political and social power, and hence of political and social revolution Download it in the wind. Miliband calls this the problem of “authority.” In this is evoked not only the liberal-democratic but also the anarchist critique of not merely Leninism but Marxism itself. Miliband acknowledges that indeed the problem touched on by Lenin on revolution and the state goes to the heart of Marxism, namely, to the issue of the Marxist perspective on the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Marx considered his only real and essential original contribution to socialism.

In 1917, Lenin was accused of “assuming the vacant throne of Bakunin” in calling for “all power to the soviets [workers and soldiers councils].” — Indeed, Miliband’s choice of Lenin’s writings, The State and Revolution, written in the year of the 1917 Russian Revolution, is considered Lenin’s most anarchist or at least libertarian text. Lenin’s critics accused him of regressing to pre-Marxian socialism and neglecting the developed Marxist political perspective on socialist revolution as the majority action by the working class, reverting instead to putschism or falling back on minority political action. This is not merely due to the minority numbers of the industrial working class in majority peasant Russia but also and especially the minority status of Lenin’s Bolshevik Communist Party, as opposed to the majority socialists of Socialist Revolutionaries and Menshevik Social Democrats, as well as of non-party socialists such as anarchist currents of various tendencies, some of whom were indeed critical of the anarchist legacy of Bakunin himself. Bakunin is infamous for his idea of the “invisible dictatorship” of conscious revolutionaries coordinating the otherwise spontaneous action of the masses to success — apparently repeating the early history of the “revolutionary conspiracy” of Blanqui in the era of the Revolution of 1848. But what was and why did Bakunin hold his perspective on the supposed “invisible dictatorship”? Marxism considered it the corollary — the complementary “opposite” — of the Bonapartist capitalist state, with its paranoiac Orwellian character of subordinating society through society’s own complicity in the inevitable authoritarianism — the blind social compulsion — of capitalism, to which everyone was subject, and in which both and neither everyone’s and no one’s interests are truly represented. Bakunin’s “invisible dictatorship” was not meant to dominate but facilitate the self-emancipation of the people themselves. — So was Lenin’s — Marxism’s — political party for socialist revolution Download one fun man op.

Lenin has of course been accused of the opposite tendency from anarchism, namely of being a Lassallean or “state” socialist. Lenin’s The State and Revolution drew most heavily on Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme, attacking the Lassalleanism of the programme of the new Social-Democratic Party of Germany at its founding in 1875. So this raises the question of the specific role of the political party for Marxism: Does it lead inevitably to statism? The history of ostensible “Leninism” in Stalinism seems to demonstrate so. The antinomical contrary interpretations of Lenin — libertarian vs. authoritarian, statist vs. anarchist, liberal vs. democratic — are not due to some inconsistency or aporia in Lenin or in Marxism itself — as Miliband for one thought — but are rather due to the contradictory nature of capitalism itself, which affects the way its political tasks appear, calling for opposed solutions. The question is Marxism’s self-consciousness of this phenomenon — Lenin’s awareness and consciously deliberate political pursuit of socialism under such contradictory conditions.

The history of Marxism regarding rival currents in socialism represented by Lassalle and Bakunin must be addressed in terms of how Marxism thought it overcame the dispute between social and political action — between anarchism and statism — as a phenomenon of antinomies of capitalism, namely, the need for both political and social action to overcome the contradiction of capitalist production in society. This was the necessary role of the mass political party for socialism, to link the required social and political action. Such mediation was not meant to temper or alleviate the contradiction between political and social action — between statism and anarchism — but rather to embody and in certain respects exacerbate the contradiction.

Marxism was not some reconciled synthesis of anarchism and statism, a happy medium between the two, but rather actively took up — “sublated” so to speak — the contradiction between them as a practical task, regarding the conflict in the socialist movement as an expression of the contradiction of capitalism, from which socialism was of course not free. There is not a question of abstract principles — supposed libertarian vs. authoritarian socialism — but rather the real movement of history in capitalism in which socialism is inextricably bound up 인터넷 보안설정. Positively: Lenin called for overcoming capitalism on the basis of capitalism itself, which also means from within the self-contradiction of socialism.

Lenin stands accused of Blanquism. The 19th century socialist Louis Auguste Blanqui gets a bad rap for his perspective of “revolutionary conspiracy” to overthrow the state. For Blanqui, such revolutionary political action was not itself meant to achieve socialism, but rather to clear the way for the people themselves to achieve socialism through their social action freed from domination by the capitalist state.

Miliband is at best what Marx/ism would have considered a “petit bourgeois socialist.” But really he was a liberal, albeit under 20th century conditions of advanced late capitalism. What does this mean? It is about the attitude towards the capitalist state. The predecessor to Bakunin, Proudhon, the inventor of “anarchism” per se, was coldly neutral towards the Revolution of 1848, but afterwards oriented positively towards the post-1848 President of the 2nd Republic, Louis Bonaparte, especially after his coup d’état establishing the 2nd Empire. This is because Proudhon, while hostile to the state as such, still considered the Bonapartist state a potential temporary ally against the capitalist bourgeoisie. Proudhon’s apparent opposite, the “statist socialist” Ferdinand Lassalle had a similar positive orientation towards the eventual first Chancellor of the Prussian Empire Kaiserreich, Bismarck, as an ally against the capitalist bourgeoisie — Bismarck who infamously said that the results of the 1848 Revolution demonstrated that not popular assemblies but rather “blood and iron” would solve the pressing political issues of the day. In this was recapitulated the old post-Renaissance alliance of the emergent bourgeoisie — the new free city-states — with the Absolutist Monarchy against the feudal aristocracy.

The 20th century social-democratic welfare state is the inheritor of such Bonapartism in the capitalist state — Bismarckism, etc. For instance, Efraim Carlebach has written of the late 19th century Fabian socialist enthusiasm for Bismarck from which the U.K. Labour Party historically originated[4] — the Labour Party replaced and inherited the role of the Liberal Party in the U.K., which had represented the working class, especially its organization in labor unions. The Labour Party arose in the period of Progressivism — progressive liberalism — and progressive liberals around the world, such as for instance Theodore Roosevelt in the U.S., were inspired by Wilhelmine Germany that was founded by Bismarck, specifically Bismarck as the founder of the welfare state. Bismarck’s welfare state provisions were made long before the socialists were any kind of real political threat. The welfare state has always been a police measure and not a compromise with the working class. Indeed socialists historically rejected the welfare state — this hostility only changed in the 1930s, with the Stalinist adoption of the People’s Front against fascism and its positive orientation towards progressive liberal democracy.

Pre-WWI Wilhelmine Germany was considered at the time progressive and indeed liberal, part of the greater era’s progressive liberal development of capitalism — which was opposed by contemporary socialists under Marxist leadership. But by conflating state and society in the category of “authority,” further obscured by the question of “democracy,” Miliband expresses the liquidation of Marxism into statism — Miliband assumes the Bonapartism of the capitalist state, regarding the difference of socialism as one of mere policy, for instance the policies pursued by the state that supposedly serve one group — say, capitalists or workers — over others. This expresses a tension — indeed contradiction — between liberalism and democracy. This contradiction is often mistaken for that of liberalism versus socialism, as for instance by the post-20th century “Left” going back to the 1930s Stalinist era of the Communist Party’s alliance with progressive liberals in support of FDR’s New Deal, whose history is expressed today by DSA/Jacobin.

For Lenin, by contrast, the issue of politics — and hence of proletarian socialism — is not of what is being done, but rather of who is doing it. The criterion of socialism for Marxism such as Lenin’s is the activity of the working class — or lack thereof. The socialist revolution and the political regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat was not for Lenin the achievement of socialism but rather its mere precondition, opening the door to the self-transformation of society beyond capitalism led by the — “dictatorship,” or social preponderance, preponderance of social power — of the working class. Without this, it is inevitable that the state serves rather not the interests of the capitalists as a social group but rather the imperatives of capital, which is different. For Lenin, the necessary dictatorship of the proletariat was the highest form of capitalism — meaning capitalism brought to highest level of politics and hence of potentially working through its social self-contradictions — and not yet socialism — meaning not yet even the overcoming of capitalism.

By equating the capitalist welfare state with socialism, with the only remaining criterion the democratic self-governance of the working class, Miliband by contrast elided the crucial Marxist distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. For Miliband, what made the state socialist or not was the degree of supposed “workers’ democracy.” — In this way, Miliband serves very well to articulate the current Jacobin/DSA identification of its political goals with “democratic socialism.” But, like Miliband, Jacobin/DSA falls prey to the issue of the policies pursued by the state as the criterion of socialism, however without Miliband’s recognition of the difference between (social-democratic welfare state) policies pursued by capitalist politicians vs. by the working class itself.

Lenin pursued the political and social power — the social and political revolution — of the working class as not the ultimate goal but rather the “next necessary step” in the history of capitalism leading — hopefully — to its self-overcoming in socialism. As a Marxist, Lenin was very sober and clear-eyed — unsentimental — about the actual political and social tasks of the struggle for socialism — what they were and what they were not.

In harking back to the manifest impasse of the mid-20th century capitalist welfare state registered by Miliband, however through identifying this with the alleged limits of Lenin’s and greater Marxism’s consciousness of the problem, but without proper recognition of its true nature in capitalism, those such as Jacobin/DSA actively obfuscate, bury and forget, not Marxism such as Lenin’s, or the goal of socialism, but rather the actual problem of capitalism they are trying to confront, obscuring it still further.

The “Left” today such as DSA/Jacobin wants the restoration of pre-neoliberal progressive capitalism, for instance the pre-neoliberal politics of the U.K. Labour Party — or indeed simply the pre-neoliberal Democrats. Their misuse of the label “socialism” and abuse of “Marxism,” including even the memory of Lenin and their bandying about of the word “revolution,” is overwrought and in the service of progressive capitalism. This is an utter travesty of socialism, Marxism, and the memory of Lenin.

On the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, we owe him at least the thought that what he consciously recognized and actually pursued as a Marxist be remembered properly and not falsified — and certainly not in the interest of seeking, by sharp contrast to Lenin, the “democratic” legitimation of capitalism, which even liberals such as Ralph Miliband acknowledged to be a deep problem afflicting contemporary society and its supposed “welfare” state. By reckoning with what Marxists such as Lenin understood as the real problem and actual political tasks of capitalism, there is yet hope that we will resume the true socialist pursuit of actually overcoming it. | P

Postscript: On Jacobin’s defense of Miliband contra Lenin

Longtime DSA member and Publisher and Editor of Jacobin magazine Bhaskar Sunkara responded to my critique of Ralph Miliband by interviewing Leo Panitch of the Socialist Register on Jacobin’s YouTube broadcast Stay at Home #29 of April 27, 2020.[5] Sunkara has previously stated that rather than a follower of Lenin or Kautsky, he is a follower of Miliband. Sunkara and Panitch were eager to defend Miliband’s socialist bona fides against my calling him a liberal, but what they argued confirmed my understanding of Miliband as a liberal and not a socialist let alone a Marxist. The issue is indeed one of the state and revolution. It is not, as Panitch asserted in the interview, a matter of political “pluralism” in socialism.

Panitch, who claims Miliband as an important mentor figure, spoke at a Platypus public forum panel discussion in Halifax in January 2015 on the meaning of political party for the Left, and observed in his prepared opening remarks that in the 50 years between 1870 and 1920 — Lenin’s time — there took place the first and as yet only time in history when the subaltern have organized themselves as a political force.[6] In his interview with Sunkara on Miliband, Panitch now claims that Lenin’s strategy — which was that of 2nd International Marxism as a whole, for instance by Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Eugene Debs et al —of replacing the capitalist state with the organizations of the working class that had been built up by the socialist political party before the revolution, was invalidated by the historical experience of the 20th century. Instead, according to Panitch, the existing liberal democratic capitalist state was to provide the means to achieve socialism. This is because it is supposedly no longer a state of capitalists but rather one committed to capitalism: committed to capital accumulation. But Marxism always considered it to be so: Bonapartist management of capitalism in political liberal democracy.

Panitch claims that Miliband’s critique of the U.K. Labour Party was in its Fabian dogma of “educating the ruling class in socialism through the state,” whereas socialists would instead “educate the working class in socialism through the state.” But Lenin and other Marxists considered the essential education of the working class in the necessity of socialism to take place through its “class struggle” under capitalism — its struggle as a class to constitute itself as a revolutionary force — in which it built its civil social organizations and political parties aiming to take political and social — state — power. Panitch condemns Lenin for his allegedly violent vision of the overthrow of the capitalist state and replacing it with a revolutionary workers state — the infamous “dictatorship of the proletariat” always envisioned by Marxism.

Thus Panitch condemns the Marxist perspective on proletarian socialist revolution per se. But the question for Lenin and other Marxists was not revolution as a strategy — they were not dogmatic “revolutionists” as opposed to reformists — but rather the inevitability of capitalist crisis and hence the inevitability of political and social revolution. The only question was whether and how the working class would have the political means to turn the revolution of inevitable capitalist crisis into potential political and social revolution leading to socialism. By abandoning this Marxist perspective on revolution — which Miliband himself importantly did not rule out — Panitch and Sunkara along with Jacobin/DSA do indeed articulate a liberal democratic and not proletarian socialist let alone Marxist politics. | P


Notes

[1] “Lenin’s The State and Revolution,” Jacobin (August 2018), available online at: <https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/08/lenin-state-and-revolution-miliband>.

[2] See my: “The Decline of the Left in the 20th Century: Toward a Theory of Historical Regression: 1917,” Platypus Review #17 (November 2009), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2009/11/18/the-decline-of-the-left-in-the-20th-century-1917/>; “Lenin’s liberalism,” PR #36 (June 2011), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2011/06/01/lenins-liberalism/>; “Lenin’s politics,” PR #40 (October 2011), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2011/09/25/lenins-politics/>; “The relevance of Lenin today,” PR #48 (July–August 2012), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2012/07/01/the-relevance-of-lenin-today/>; and “1917–2017,” PR #99 (September 2017), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2017/08/29/1917-2017/>.

[3] Available online at: <https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/08/stalinism.htm>.

[4] “Labour once more,” Platypus Review #123 (February 2020), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2020/02/01/labour-once-more/>.

[5] Watch at: <https://youtu.be/oBJR3xfmgA4>.

[6] Transcript published in Platypus Review #74 (March 2015), available online at: <https://platypus1917.org/2015/03/01/political-party-left-2/>.