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Our mission is to correct
the wrong conceptions
which grew out of
the 1917 revolution
and to lay
the theoretical foundation
for the 21st century
Last update was Jan 2. Ben is still furiously working on a polemic and this page is still temporarily frozen. Your numerous additions are all "in process". Sorry for the interruption -- but I can't seem to walk and chew gum at the same time. Check back at the end of this month.
(Ben -- March 12)
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Over the years, however, we felt that theoretical weaknesses within the anti-revisionist movement had to be looked into and by 1982 or so we concluded that Stalin had made a number of impermissable concessions to imperialism (and imperialist ideology) in the period following the end of World War II. At that time we still thought that the young Stalin was OK.
As our investigation developed (over the years) we concluded that there were serious problems in the way the 1939 non-aggression pact with Hitler was concluded. It was more than a non-aggression pact and in certain ways was more like an alliance. Finally, by 1986 or so, we felt that we had traced the problems back to the 7th Congress of the CI in 1935 (The "United Front Against Fascism"). This appeared to be when the international communist movement began to degenerate at a fairly rapid rate. Certainly, we found, this was when the CPUSA began to degenerate and hook its fate to the tail end of Roosevelt's Democratic Party.
As we came closer to the source of the problem, however, our progress became more difficult. I believe the reason was that our investigation would have showed that Stalin opposed Marxism and the interests of the working class as early as 1924 when he converted Lenin's views on the necessity to suppress factions in the party--from a series of unfortunate and dangerous measures to deal with a dire emergency--to a religious principle designed to permanently suppress opposing views in the Bolshevik party.
I believe that such a conclusion threatened the material position of the man at the center of our party, Joseph Green, who forsaw that one of the conclusions of our investigation would be that our monolithic and highly centralized organizational structure was no longer necessary and did not conform to the needs of our organization or our mission of serving the proletariat. Such a restructuring of our organization--as would have inevitably followed from this--would have undermined the basis of this individual as a paid, full-time party worker. Rather than face up to this with courage and honesty, however, this person succumbed to the pressure of wanting to remain a supported "full-time revolutionary" and in pursuit of this aim, degenerated into charlatanism. Nor were there others in our organization with the courage and clarity of vision to stand up to this and prevent what would of necessity follow as the night follows day. Such, anyhow, are my views.
What is a fact is that my organization proved to be too weak to resolve its internal contradictions or reach conclusions on these theoretical matters. Instead it broke up amidst bitter and very unprincipled infighting marked by pronounced sectarianism and a general lack of clarity.
It may be a suprise to some, but as our opinion of Stalin went down, our opinion of Trotsky did not go up much. It may have been very wrong and undemocratic for Stalin to murder Trotsky--but this did not make Trotsky a man of extraordinary theoretical clarity. Rather, like many in a very confusing period, Trotsky seems to have lost his way. Some of his insights were brilliant and profound while others were stupid and shallow.
I believe the period of confusion ushered in with the death of comrade Lenin will end relatively soon. One factor here is the demise of the Soviet revisionist empire--which has shocked many "communists" who had their heads inserted into their hindside orifices--and may help many of them to sober up just a bit. Another factor (at least as important in my view anyhow) is the current communications revolution which is still in its earliest phase. One result of this is that it is now vastly easier for progressive people to talk to one another about matters such as this (ie: this web-based discussion for example, which has only recently become possible).
Joseph, I like your comments very much. You say we can't blindly adopt the theories of anyone--but must actually think for ourselves ? The religious sectarians would never approve of this. What are you--some kind of atheist ?
Ben -- Seattle -- 1 Jan 97
Well, friend, I appreciate your comments but I think you may be getting off on the wrong foot.
Last time I checked, this site gets about 50 or 60 visitors a week. Probably a third of them check out this forum. Most of these readers have likely never heard about the "Frankfurt school". So their first impression of it will come from reading your remarks. And I somehow doubt that most who read your comments on the Frankfurt school will be very impressed.
Because, irrespective of the strengths or weaknesses of the Frankfurt school, you come off sounding like something of a know-it-all.
Readers might get the impression that you know the truth about these matters (or think you do, anyway) but are, unfortunately, too important and too busy to share it with the rest of us poor, ignorant fools.
You call the cyberLeninist Manifesto a "revisionist over-simplification of Marxism-Leninism" but you don't seem to get around to explaining how it is revisionist, other than that, in attempting to summarize the development of 80 years of marxist theory in 1500 words, it makes the unpardonable mistake of failing to mention your particular favorite school of thought.
Now the cyberLeninist Manifesto may be a revision of marxism. Or it may not. But if you believe you have some kind of scientific argument to present against it--or in favor of the Frankfurt school--then you should present this argument here in this public forum instead of relying on the method of assertion (ie: it must be true because some anonymous guy in the cyberLeninist forum said it was true).
Here is what I suggest: If you believe that the Frankfurt school is so gosh-darn important--give us a link to web site which summarises for us in a clear way the many important contributions of Marcuse, Horkheimer, Habermas and other "contemporary communists" and which will explain in simple, understandable language what "reification" means (terms like this may sound impressive when thrown around in slacker coffeehouses located near liberal arts colleges--but in my experience most often represent obscurantism by people who want to sound important).
Or--if such a web site does not exist--then create one. People like me can help you. It would not have to cost you a dime. Nor would it require any particular technical expertise. All it would require is the courage of one's convictions.
By some coincidence, the "Marxism-International" ListServ portion of the Spoon's Marxism space featured some discussion of the Frankfurt school in the past week.
I clipped 7 of the posts and put them together in a page here for reference by anyone who may be curious about the Frankfurt school.
The lead post describes the Frankfurt school as an "attack on Marxism" which denies that class struggle is the "locomotive of history". I am not familar enough with the Frankfurt school to know if this is true. Sometimes a school of thought (or a theoretical work) is misused and abused by people who seem to like it--but don't actually understand it (witness the incredible garbage being spewed in the name of "Marxism").
Here is what the lead post says:
"The American student movement fell in love with another Frankfurter text, Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. Activists held up these texts to explain why American workers supported the war in Vietnam or why German workers seemed more interested in the consumer culture than in fighting against the capitalists."Unfortunately many works like this tended to downplay the class nature of the struggle over culture. I have always thought, however, that such analysis of culture, whatever its weaknesses, can still be of enormous value.
In the chapter "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" of the "Dialectics of Enlightenment" it is said that Donald Duck cartoons:
"hammer into every brain the old lesson that continuous friction, the breaking down of all individual resistance, is the condition of life in this society. Donald Duck in the cartoons and the unfortunate in real life get their thrashing so that the audience can learn to take their own punishment."But the bottom line is this: the emerging technologies such as the web are rapidly becoming cheaper and easier to use--and will inevitably become weapons in the hands of the masses to fight "hegemonic, fetishized consciousness conditioned by consumerism".
The issue is to use these weapons and learn the tactics by which the organized masses can use them to fight for the hegemony of ideas which serve the workers and oppressed in all countries.
Ben -- Seattle -- 22 Dec 96
It is said that if you step on the tail of a dog it will yelp.
Nothing to worry about folks. This dog cannot bite. It can only bark.
These comments are quite valuable because they illustrate for readers what an impotent, know-it-all blowhard sounds like.
Such know-it-alls are unable to stand and fight for their views in an uncensored forum but can only "fling shit and flee".
This person appears to have a view that a modern society run by workers would actually be a repressive police state that would tell everyone how they are supposed to think and would not allow anyone to express their political views or openly oppose sleazy corruption, hypocrisy and incompetence in government officials. This is how Stalin managed affairs. How wonderful!
Such "orthodox Marxist-Leninist" views (which identify "communism" with the "thought police") can only serve the bourgeoisie by reinforcing the anti-communist views of others (see post #22 where Brian opposes the efforts of the "communist" Chinese government to "protect" the Chinese people from exposure to the ideas from the rest of humanity [or even from ideas originating in China] by restricting access to the web).
Brian is 100% right to oppose this censorship.
How about you?
If you are so smart, most wise and knowledgeable sir, please tell us whether you oppose or condemn the efforts of the Chinese government to shut off or restrict access to the web ?
In response to another know-it-all Stalinist (see post #5) who accused me of being a "trot" and "serving the bourgeoisie" I wrote The Digital Fire, which explores this question and concludes that the workers' dictatorship in the 21st century will NOT censor the internet. And I challenged him (and I now challenge you) to offer some kind of scientific counter-argument that might oppose this conclusion. But the earlier know-it-all did not respond and I doubt you will either. Why ? Because
Am I calling you "yellow" ? Could be.
I note that you are from Australia. I hear a new product has been developed there that could help people like you: a strap-on-spine.
Readers who check out the exit poll will see that the infamous "option 5" (ie: "stupidity, human nature, etc") was one of a number of possible responses to the question of why the various groups on the left which claim to be communists generally fail to cooperate with one another and instead act like
I have two points in response:
There is quite a distinction.
Just to illustrate this: note that our "Child of Stalin" considers it to be a "moronic question" to ask people about and try to develop discussion about "the most important problems facing the movement to overthrow capitalism". Hence, he appears to be opposed to even discussing this on an electronic forum. Talk about a lack of confidence that the communications revolution will assist in sorting out the problems of the communist movement!
Instead of using the communications revolution today to conduct propaganda and agitation about the nature of the capitalist system--our "child of Stalin" would appear to believe we should wait until that great day in the future when "capitalism reaches such a stage" that its "true nature ... becomes apparent". This is the theory which excuses passivity today by blaming the failure of "objective conditions" (ie: "capitalism has not yet reached such a stage so--what can we possibly do?").
Ideology, as well as a deeply ingrained tradition of sectarianism, is behind such impotent outbursts from our brave "Child of Stalin". But might not this look like, to many people, a good example of "stupidity" ?
Ola Eriksson Flamman BBS Sweden Fido@(2:205/624)
You have the longest pseudonym I have ever seen. Thanks for your comments.
You are the first to give this site a "fantastic" rating.
I will try to reply to you in this space very soon.
Ben replies (24 Dec)
Well first off, I would like to apologize for taking so long to reply to you. It was nearly two months ago that you left your comments at my web site on the need for an electronic newspaper to serve the left.
I have been quite swamped between my web work and my attempts to maintain my "day job". I consider correspondence to be very important--but have had to postpone this. My "cyberLeninism" site is fairly stable right now and I am at last in a mode where I can write to people just a bit.
1) You asked about addresses for mailing lists.
In the "Links" section of my site, under "discussion" is the URL for the Spoon's "Marxism Space" at:
The best of the ListServ's on it appears to be "Marxism-International", which generates an average of about 100 KBytes a day of e-mail. I have been reading it more-or-less non-stop since the beginning of November. I plan to post to it eventually since it is read by a large number of people (probably about 200) who either consider themselves to be Marxists or are interested in Marxism.
2) You asked about an electronic newspaper to serve the left.
I have a number of ideas here but I don't have time to go into them all now.
Briefly, I intend to create (or help create) such a newspaper/database of electronic articles. It would not only serve the left but would help to unite the reformist and sectarian groups in practical work without asking them to give up their opposition to one another.
Check out "www.pix.org" to see some of my ideas.
By placing electronic articles (and summaries/reviews of other material) in a common public-domain (ie: no copyright) database, accessible to all and with a common format, it would become much easier for activists and progressive people to see what is going on.
The development of something like this is, in my view, inevitable. In fact while the left may be coming "late" to the communications revolution--it is my view that it will eventually achieve hegemony in many of the key areas because it alone will be able to build a common news service based on volunteer labor--and by so doing--will be able to tap into vast reserves of human labor power.
Ola, I have to date received 27 comments at my cyberLeninism site. You, more than anyone, seem to understand what I am trying to do.
When you have some time, I would like to hear from you. Eventually, if I am going to accomplish something of real value, I will need guidance, assistance, criticism and interaction with other highly committed people.
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