: Back in August, Winslow Wacker posted:
: Here's a good M-E quote: "It is not a matter of what this or that proletarian or even the proletariat as a whole present as its goal. It is a matter of what the proletariat is in actuality and what in accordance with this being, it will be historically compelled to do." ("The Holy Family"). It seems to me that this is the exact opposite of Lenin's famous "There can be no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory." Hmmm.
: Well, let us look at these words of Engels (from 1874):
: It is the specific duty of the leaders [of the proletarian struggle] 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 world, and constantly 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)
: It cannot be denied that this quote is far more specific than the one from The Holy Family. It also cannot be credibly said that Lenin 'invented' the idea of the revolutionary vanguard. The more familiar an individual becomes with Lenin's work, the more apparent it becomes how Lenin merely applied the writings of Marx---and, in particular, Engels---to the conditions of the age he lived in.
: One may disregard the content of what Engels said, but to separate his words from Lenin's formation of the Bolshevik Party is to misunderstand Lenin's assiduous attention to Marxist theory.
: The idea that Marxist revolution shall spontaneously arise from the atomized members of the working class---or the trade unions---is sheer bunk. A vanguard is necessary to lead the revolution. To repudiate the idea of a revolutionary party is to repudiate the idea of revolution.
Social revolution is more profound and more important than mere political revolution. A worker's own labor excludes him from social life, which is the true life of man, and this exclusion is…[quoting from Marx]…
: 1. Engels, Preface to the Second Edition of The Peasant War in Germany, International 1926, p. 29.
:The idea that Marxist revolution shall spontaneously arise from the atomized members of the working class---or the trade unions---is sheer bunk. A vanguard is necessary to lead the revolution. To repudiate the idea of a revolutionary party is to repudiate the idea of revolution.
I think one of the things that makes the study of Marx so richly rewarding is the wide range of interpretation his theories offer. There's "early Marx" and "late Marx". There's the realpolitique political revolution and the social revolution.
Marx distinguishes between the two forms thusly:
"Every revolution breaks up the old society; to this extent it is social. Every revolution overthrows the existing ruling power; to this extent it is political."
Markovic, commenting on the above, writes: Social revolution is more profound and more important than mere political revolution. A worker's own labor excludes him from social life, which is the true life of man, and this exclusion is - [quoting from Marx]
"...much more complete, more unbearable, dreadful, and contradictory than the exclusion from political life. So also the ending of this exclusion, and even a limited reaction, a revolt against it, is more fundamental, as man is more fundamental than citizen, human life more than political lifeThe industrial revolt may thus be limited, but it has a universal significance; the political revolt may be universal, but it conceals under a gigantic form a narrow spirit...
Because the proletariat thinks politically it sees the source of bad social conditions in will and all the means of improvement in force and the overthrow of a particular form of state." *
But the serious consequence of reducing the revolutionary impulse to its political aspect is faced with the very real danger of the means distorting the ends, of the emergence of a new ruling class composed of the "vanguard", complete with its own forms of utilizing alienated surplus labor.
Markovic poses the question: "Do we have in mind the transformation of private capitalism or of capitalism in general or, the most radical, of class society based on commodity production and alienation of labor? How the question is to be posed depends, however, on how we understand the relationship of practice and the existing historical reality. The opposite extremes are the opportunistic positivism of Realpolitique and the voluntaristic utopianism of revolutionary romanticism."
[This romanticism (IMO) is far more radical, but totally impractable, except in so far as it can provide an emotionally informed energy source for evolving into the more pragmatic, critically minded, political transformation]
There's leadership and then there's leadership. I'm suspicious of "vanguardism" that is not informed by "the logic of the heart".
*quotes from: From Affluence to Praxis by Mihailo Markovic - pp177-8. (Interestingly, pp.173-4 provides a little more extensive (and slightly different translation) of the "The Holy Family" quote!)