"... forms of socialism in which the working class remains more or less passive — or at least subsidiary — while an elite group of would-be socialist saviors introduce socialism to the masses from on high." Do you think that this description fits Lenin and the Bolsheviks? Why/why not?
By way of an answer, I would invite you to read some of these articles which I agree with and which detail the history of the Russian revolution as a mass workers’ uprising premised on workers’ and peasants’ control of the economy and their own state. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party merely played a leading role in this revolution because they were the only party in Russia at the time advocating precisely such a course, i.e., Marxism.
Of course, this would only last no longer than a decade before the revolution was strangled and fell victim to a counter-revolution led by Stalin and his cohorts.
I consider myself a revolutionary socialist, as per the original writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Luxemburg in the Communist Manifesto, State and Revolution, and Reform or Revolution, respectively.
The socialist Hal Draper also described it well when he counterpoised “socialism from below” to “socialism from above.” Socialism from below comprises the classical Marxist notion that the “emancipation of the working class must be the self-conscious act of the working class itself.”
This is opposed to various forms of socialism in which the working class remains more or less passive — or at least subsidiary — while an elite group of would-be socialist saviors introduce socialism to the masses from on high. This could include either a reform-oriented electoral socialist party which seeks to win seats in Parliament from which to “enact” socialist legislation on behalf of the workers; or a Maoist party which seeks to take over the state either through the mobilization of a clandestine band of guerrilla fighters or through a purely military conquest of territory on the part of a standing army.
See the following for some good info on all of this:
What is Marxism? (Karl Marx + Super Mario Bros.) – 8-Bit Philosophy
This is an awesome animated introduction to the ideas of the “German poet and philosopher Karl Marx.” It reminds us that “even to this day” there are those for whom the “ushering in of the Marxist utopia still lies in the not-too-distant future.”
Covers: dialectical materialism, alienation, capitalist inequality, class struggle, revolution.
How NOT to be a revolutionary socialist: Condemn the right of a people facing genocide and colonialism to resist by any means necessary and of their choosing.
The violence of the oppressed and the violence of the oppressor are not equivalent.
Seattle Socialist Alternative Councilmember Kshama Sawant: “We also condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas against the civilian population living in Israel. We stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of Israel and their desire for security … “
The ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas hit Seattle this morning, when socialist council member Kshama Sawant and her colleague Tom Rasmussen exchanged sharp words over the violence in the region, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, mostly of Palestinians in Gaza.
Sawant said during this afternoon’s council meeting that she is drafting a letter, which she hopes other council members will sign, addressed to President Obama, condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.
UPDATE: The letter, which PubliCola obtained a draft of this afternoon, reads in part:
"The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is reaching a critical breaking point. The 139 square mile territory contains 1.8 million people who literally have nowhere to go and no place to hide from Israeli attacks. The UN reports that medical facilities are “on the verge of collapse.” An attack on Gaza power plant has left more than half the population without electricity, and more than 270,000 people are reportedly crammed into 90 UN shelters. Without an immediate end to all hostilities, the Palestinian death toll will continue to rise rapidly.
"We also condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas against the civilian population living in Israel. We stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of Israel and their desire for security, and in particular with the Israeli anti-war movement. We stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of both Israel in their desire for security. …
"We call on President Obama, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate to issue a formal statement denouncing Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza. We also call for an immediate end to all U.S. government military aid for the Israel."
Are there any books you can recommend for getting a better understanding of capitalism, or books for beginning to learn about other types of government (communism, anarchism, marxism etc)? I don't know anything at all about any form of government other than capitalism, and even that I don't know much about. I want to know more about other systems to support, other than just being anti-capitalist. Anything you could recommend to me would be very helpful. Thank you for running this blog!
It is important to note that the two primary groups of people who categorically equate Zionism with Judaism tend to be Israeli Jews and hardcore anti-Semites.
The rest of the world and the rest of world Jewry understand that Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine has more to do with colonialism, racism, and/or imperialism, than it has to do with religion or Judaism, as such.
The fact is that Israel is not a “Jewish project” — it is a colonial-settler project that serves the interest of Western imperialism in a vital political-economic region of the world. It just so happens for historical reasons that this project is being carried out by a substantial proportion of European-descended Jews who for the past 60 years have largely put themselves at the service of one or the other of the world’s biggest post-war empires — first the British, and now the U.S.
Neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism offer a way forward — for either Jews or for any oppressed people anywhere. Both ideologies are premised upon racism and national chauvinism. Both contain either the implicit or explicit germs of fascism within them. And both must be rejected in favor of genuine international solidarity amongst all oppressed people in a united fight against the various world powers and ruling elites who exploit and crush all of us — from Greece to the United States to Ramallah.
The real enemy is the system of imperial conflict between competing nation-states over control of resources, land, and labor. It is the capitalist system which gives rise to this international conflict by repressing all human trends towards cooperation, equality, justice, and genuine democracy amongst the masses of the world. It is a system which has brought us to the state of affairs in which 400 of the world’s billionaires have as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire global population. It is a system in which billions of people — comprising millions of people in virtually every country — suffer from chronic hunger, poverty, and homelessness, while the elites of each country enjoy unprecedented luxury and spend unprecedented mountains of wealth on instruments of war rather than peace.
That is why I am a socialist and why only a united world premised upon the mutual betterment of all under the guiding collective hands of all can truly lead humanity through its present impasse.
Lol id like to see some spoiled socialist living in a democracy live in a country like Venezuela, Cuba, or Russia where you can't vote because the voting system is rigged. Let's see how much longer you'll be walking around in a Che Guevara shirt. I laugh at people like you. So blind
there is not a true democracy anywhere on this planet. and if you don’t think the voting system in the U.S. is rigged then you are either a member of the 1% (i.e., the only people for whom the US voting system actually works), or you are hopelessly deluded.
also, russia is not socialist. it, like, china, are fully capitalist, and have been for a long time (even before the toppling of the Communist Party in Russia, in fact). the misery of those countries is the result of vast economic inequality, low wages and the exploitation of cheap labor, and the repression of trade unions and workers’ rights. these are all the ABCs of capitalist economics. it’s why China is currently the wet-dream of all Western capitalists and and financial investors.
finally, venezuela and cuba are both Third World countries. they are more impoverished than the u.s. not because they are socialist but because they are poorer countries. one need only look at all the other capitalist Third World countries of the world to see how they are actually more so impoverished than venezuela or cuba.
the true liberation of all these places — from cuba to venezuela to vietnam to iraq to the philippines — can only come when we abolish the power and parasitism of the large Western imperial powers of the world. only then can these former countries be allowed to freely develop without having to depend on the un-fair and un-free trade regimes and debtor systems imposed upon them by the latter.
Prefatory note: Abram Leon was a Jewish Marxist who died in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Before perishing, however, he compiled these essays and notes attempting to develop an historical materialist analysis of the history of the Jewish people, the Jewish religion, and the phenomenon of anti-semitism, both in its pre-capitalist, feudal form, as well as in the form of modern fascism.
It is essential reading for anyone who truly wants to understand these questions.
Have you read Richard Wolff's <i>Democracy At Work</i>? If you haven't, I highly suggest both you and your followers to do so, or to at least watch some of his talks on Youtube. I feel like he's going to go down in history as one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the century.
yes, i have read that book, actually. and i agree with you. it is a significant contribution to a clearer understanding of the nature of capitalism — both in its free-market and state-control (so-called “Communist”) forms, as well as looking at what genuine workers’ democracy, i.e., socialism, would mean.
Every time I try to discuss socialism, it never fails that someone says "Go back to North Korea, fag!" The existence of the DPRK seems to be used as a reason we can't have universal health care and other things. But in practice, since both Juche and Songun are built around depriving the massed of resources that are then given to an elite class and an over bloated military seems to owe far more to Reaganism than to Marx. What do you think?
The people who think North Korea is socialist are just as delusional and voluntarily ignorant as those who think the U.S. is a democracy.
And, yes, you’re right. Right-wingers in the U.S. want a society without independent trade unions; without the right of workers to go on strike; without women’s rights, or rights for gay people; where all children have to pledge fealty to the military and police; where workers are exploited without any protections whatsoever … in a word, they want the kind of totalitarian state capitalist systems that currently prevail in North Korea and China. Where the absolute freedom of the powerful elite is premised upon the absolute lack of freedom for everyone else at the bottom of society.
This is why China is literally the best performing capitalist economy on the planet right now; and why the Chinese economy is literally the main thing keeping American capitalism afloat right now (both as a cheap-labor source to corporations like Apple and WalMart, but also as the single largest holder of US foreign debt).
Indigenous feminism is a significant current of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics, one from which Marxists have much to learn. In fact, indigenous women have inspired Marxist ideas about women’s liberation for decades, but we often fail to recognize the contribution. Historically, these women and their families were the objects of study of Lewis Henry Morgan, the American colonialist who provoked Marx’s commentary, and who would in turn serve as the experiential basis for Frederick Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Challenging extreme racism, sexism and violence, indigenous women of North America continue to lead movements from Idle No More to the justice for the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.
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We are told that technology, market mechanisms, or individual lifestyle changes are what will save the planet. They will not. Because they are all solutions that accommodate the system, not challenge it. The root of the problem is an economic system that exploits people and the planet for profit. It is a system that requires constant growth, exploitation, warfare, racism, poverty and ever-increasing ecological devastation to function.
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