- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Barry Stoller on November 24, 1999 at 18:49:05:

In Reply to: An explanation of the commune thing posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on November 24, 1999 at 13:26:23:

: The principle that is supposed to smooth over all of that, to make the strategic blunders of sectarian Marxists acceptable, of course, is the "capitalism creates its own gravediggers" principle, the principle by which the proletarian movement is supposed to occur naturally as a result of capitalist exploitation...

This statement is a distortion.

Marx NEVER said that proletarian revolution would occur naturally---Berstein did.

Marx (and Engels)generally said that material conditions needed to be developed enough (by capitalism) to support socialism, AND political conditions needed to be developed enough (by a proletarian party) to support struggle.

Leaderless, spontaneous socialism is NOT AT ALL a characteristic of Marxism.

It is the specific duty of the leaders to gain an ever clearer understanding of the theoretical problems, to free themselves more and more from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the old conceptions of the world, and constantly to keep in mind that Socialism, having become a science, demands the same treatment as every other science---it must be studied. The task of the leaders will be to bring understanding, thus acquired and clarified, to the working masses, to spread it with increased enthusiasm, to close the ranks of the party organizations and of the labor unions with ever greater energy.(1)

(Also see Engels' 'On Authority.')

: Julius Braunthal:

One of the basic ideas, and one on which Marx founded his hopes for the triumph of Socialism, was the idea of workers' solidarity, of their unbreakable unity and single-mindedness in their struggle for liberation. 'The Communists," he declared in the Communist Manifesto, 'do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties... they do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.'(2)

Only OMITTING the lessons of the 1848 - 9 revolution---as Marx and Engels learned them!:

[U]nity must be rejected in a decisive manner. Instead of letting themselves out to the bourgeois Democrats to serve them as a sort of applauding choir, the workers (and above all the League) must work for the establishment of an independent secret and open organization of the worker's party side by side with the official Democrats, and make every municipality a center and a nucleus of workers' socities, in which the posistion and interests of the proletariat should be discussed independently of bourgeois influences.(3)

: Thus Marx the strategist distinguished himself from the sectarian Marxists of today.

Well...maybe in your revisionist literature, Sam...

: So what does any of this have to do with communes? My own inclination is to believe that the coming revolution may perhaps take the form of a communal movement, a movement to decentralize economic life a la the Green Party, simply because the technological requirements of the future will require a degree of energy conservation and local energy production that capitalist society has been unwilling to consider.

But communes---due to their historically small membership---are the form of opposition LEAST LIKELY to have ANY impact on the polluting prectices of transnational corporations!

Your 'commune movement' relies on the same 'natural' spontaneousness as the proletarian movement you (erroneously) attribute to Marxism---and THEN dismiss.



1. Engels, The Peasant War In Germany [1874], International 1926, p. 29.

2. Braunthal, History of the International vol. 2, p. 178.

3. Marx, 'First Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League to its Members in Germany' [1850], appendix to Engels, op. cit., p. 140, emphasis added.

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