Welcome! Some videos under the video bar may not represent our views. Your views and comments are invited. Want to follow updates? click on the 'follow this blog' button.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


A Rational Critique of Marxism and Communism - XII
(Selections from the book:
“New Humanism – A Manifesto” by M. N. Roy) 
1.   “As an economist, Marx was a critic. There is nothing of social engineering or technology in his voluminous writings. Any planning of the future was utopia, which he so severely condemned. While defending his “New Economic Policy”, Lenin said that in the works of Marx there was not a word on the economics of Socialism.
Nor did Marx write anything about post-revolutionary political practice. He postulated proletarian dictatorship as the instrument for breaking down the resistance of the dethroned bourgeoisie. What would happen thereafter, how the post-revolutionary society would be politically organized and administered – that again was all left to the operation of the determined and yet incalculable forces of history. He evaded the political issue by setting up the utopia of the State withering away”.(Page:11)
2.   “The post-revolutionary political practice and economic reconstruction in Russia have been purely pragmatic. They have no theoretical foundation, no bearing upon the ideological system of Marxism. Therefore it is arbitrary to call them Socialist or Communist. On the other hand, since the prophet did not prescribe how the new order should be built, not held out any picture even in broad outlines, the label can be attached to anything, and nobody can prove that the Soviet State and Soviet economy are not Communist”.(Page:12)

3.   “The non-proletarian ‘periphery’ was alienated, seriously weakening the Communist movement, which became completely subservient to the pragmatism of the Soviet State. Its function was no longer to promote world revolution, but to do whatever was necessary for the opportunist policy of the new Russian National State, which claimed to be Socialist.

The Communist International, forged as the instrument of the coming world revolution, was the first victim of the crisis. It was torn asunder by the contradictions between the problems of pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary Communisms; between the theory and practice of Communism. By virtue of being the only party in power, the Russian Communists monopolized the leadership of the International. The parties in other countries voluntarily forfeited the freedom of reacting intelligently to the pre-revolutionary conditions under which they had still to operate. The Russian Communists were recognized as the authority not only of Communist practice, but also of theory. Pragmatic practice under unforeseen post-revolutionary circumstances provided the sanction for the dogmatic degeneration of the theoretical pre-suppositions of Marxisms. The interest of the State established by the first proletarian revolution militated against the possibility of world revolution. Socialism in one country precluded the realization of the ideal of international communism.”(Pages:13, 14)
4.   “The “economic man” is a liberal concept; and it is the point of departure of the Marxian interpretation of history. The labour theory of value is the corner-stone of Marxian economics. It was inherited from Ricardo. The theory of surplus value was a logical deduction from the labour theory of value. The idea of surplus value had, indeed, occurred to early English Socialists, such as Gray, Hodgskin, Thompson and others. On the whole, it cannot be denied that Marx drew upon the doctrines of classical English political economy, which he so severely criticized. His was a truly constructive criticism, the object of which was to free the criticized system of ideas from its fallacies, so that its positive essence might be the foundation of a more advanced theoretical structure. Adam Smith had expressed the view that “the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments”. The father of bourgeois political economy anticipated the Marxian doctrine that man’s ideas are determined by the tools with which they earn their livelihood.” (Page:19)

5.   “The philosophical Radicals approached moral problems from the individualist point of view. They disputed the morality of asking the individual to sacrifice for the interests of society. Deprecating the virtues of obedience and humility, they held that general prosperity and well-being were promoted only by the defence of individual rights and interests. Moral order resulted necessarily from an  equilibrium of interests. Running counter to his own Humanist conviction, marx, however, rejected the liberating doctrine of individualism as a bourgeois abstraction.” (Page:20)

6.   “The producer not receiving the full value of his labour is not a peculiarity of the capitalist system. Social progress, particularly of the capitalist system. Social progress, particularly, development of the means of production, since the dawn of history, has been conditional upon the fact that the entire product, at any time, of the labour of the community was not consumed,. The margin can be called social surplus, which has through the ages been the lever of all progress. What is called surplus value in Marxist economic language, is the social surplus produced under capitalism.” Page:22)
7.   “Economically, a demand for the abolition of surplus value will be impractical, indeed suicidal. Social surplus will disappear if production of surplus value is ever stopped; then, with the disappearance of the lever of progress, society will stagnate and eventually break down. Ancient civilizations disappeared owing to  inadequacy or shrinkage of social surplus.” (Page:22)

8.   “Blinking at the fact that production of social surplus represents “exploitation” of labour, in the sense that the producer does not get the full value of his labour, and disregarding the consideration that under any economic system, if it is not to stagnate, surplus must be produced, Marx held that under capitalism production of surplus value represented exploitation of labour because it is appropriated by one class. As a corollary to that fallacious view, he demanded that the class appropriation of social surplus should stop; that expropriation of the expropriators was the condition for the end of the exploitation of man by man.”(Page:23)
9.   “No, revolution has not been betrayed. It has unfolded itself according to the dogmas of the orthodox neo-Marxism of Lenin and Stalin. The fallacies and inadequacies of the old philosophy of revolution are thus exposed by experience to inspire efforts for blazing the trail of a new revolutionary philosophy.”(Pages:24,25)
10.       “Society undoubtedly was always divided into classes, and the classes had conflicting interests. But at the same time, there was a cohesive tendency, which held society together. Otherwise,, it would have disintegrated, time and again, and there would be no social evolution. The refusal of the contemporary capitalist society to be polarized into two classes according to Marxist prediction throws doubt on the theory of class struggle. As regards the past, with some ingenuity, facts may be fitted into any preconceived theoretical pattern.”(Page:25)
11.       “Marxism certainly is wrong as regards the role of the middle class in the capitalist society. The prophesy that the middle class would disappear in course of time has not been borne out by history. On the contrary, the intellectual and political importance of the middle class proved to be decisive in the critical period ushered in by the First World War, The concentration of the ownership of the means of production in fewer hands necessarily enlarged the middle class. But all those who are deprived of the privileges of capitalist exploitation are not proletarianised. Economically, they may be so described; but in other matters of decisive importance, such as culture and education, they remain a distinct social factor capable of influencing events. As a matter of fact, between capital and labour, the middle class numerically grows, potentially as an enemy of the status quo.

Socialism, indeed, is a middle class ideology, Detached from both the antagonistic camps – of capital and labour – and possessed of the requisite intellectual attainments, the middle class alone could produce individualswho saw beyond the clash of immediate economic interests and conceived the possibility of a new order of social justice and harmony. The decacy of capitalism economically ruined the middle class. The result was quickening of their will for the subversion of the status quo, which made no place for them, and the striving for a new order. Because of economic destitution, the middle class was prepared to join the protetariat in the fight for Socialism, by which they meant not State Capitalism, but a more equitable social order. They were, however, not culturally proletarianised. They were capable of appreciating cultural and moral values as the positive outcome of human civilization, and would not sacrifice the precious heritage at the shrine of the revolutionary Providence of economic determinism. The result was a split of the forces of revolution. Marxist dogmatism attached supreme importance to economic considerations. That, together with a cynical attitude to moral and cultural values, alienated the middle class, seriously weakening the forces of revolution intellectually. Selfish economism eclipsed the moral appeal of Socialism.”(Page: 25, 26)
12.“Lenin saw the mistake of ignoring the middle    class,
and tried to rectify it, but only in the field of organization. In theory, the proletariat still remained the chosen people of the Marxist world, Yet, while discussing the organizational problem of the revolutionary party, Lenin admitted that the proletariat by themselves could not develop a social-democratic consciousness, which must be brought to them from outside – by middle – class intellectuals. Emphasising this significant view, Lenin further said that, spontaneously, the working class did not become Socialist, but trade unionist. That revealed the contradiction between Marxist economism and the theory that the proletariat was the builder of the new order.
Lenin generalized his theory: Not only in Russia, but everywhere, the working class was unable to work out an independent ideology; it followed either the bourgeoisie or middle – class Socialist intellectuals. That was a clear admission that the ideal of Socialism and the theory of the proletarian revolution were not born out of the experience of the working class; the one was conceived and the other created by middle – class intellectuals. According to Marxism, the emotions and thoughts of the middle-class intellectuals must have been determined by the experience of that class. The glorification of the proletariat as the herald and builder of Socialism was obviously unwarranted. The credit belongs to the middle – class, which is so very woefully maligned and totally ignored in the orthodox Marxist scheme of revolution.”(Pages:26,27)
13.       “Lenin corrected a mistake as regards organization; but theoretically he was the most intolerant defender of orthodox Marxism. He pointed out the ideological limitations of the proletariat with an entirely different purpose – to expound his theory of party and its role. Since Socialism had to be injected in the proletariat by middle – class intellectuals, the party of the proletariat should be composed of professional revolutionaries who, by the nature of things, could hail only from the middle-class. Yet, theoretically, Lenin would not recognize the revolltionary significance of the middle class. The result of his realistic evaluation of the working class was to superimpose the party on the class which it claimed to represent. But in no way was the party a part of the class. It was the self-appointed leader of the class, incorporating its imaginary collective ego. Subsequently, the Fascists made much of the “leadership” principle. But the dogmatic, uncompromising Marxist Lenin was the theoretician of the principle which came to be the cardinal article of faith of the Communist movement.
According to economic determinism, the proletariat must be the most backward class, intellectually and culturally. Only after the establishment of Socialism could the economic conditions of their life improve, and the possibility of intellectual and cultural development be available to them. Disregarding this clear implication of its theoretical presuppositions, Marxism allots to the proletariat the honourable role of leading society towards a higher civilization. The contradiction is palpable. Communist practice has been vitiated by this theoretical contradiction. A way out of the vicious circle has been found by compelling middle-class intellectuals to sink to the intellectual and cultural level of the proletariat, as the price of the leader-ship of the party.” (Pages:27, 28)
14.   “There is no intellectual freedom in the Communist movement; proud of its proletarian composition, it has no use for the capitalist culture and bourgeois morality. But until now there is no other culture and morality. Proletarian culture is a contradiction in terms; and the cardinal principle of proletarian morality is that everything is fair in love and war; the working class is in the thick of a civil war-the worst of all wars; the end justifies the means. The Communist Party is admittedly amoral, and takes a cynical attitude to cultural values. That is hardly an inspiring leadership for the contemporary world engaged in a struggle for the salvation of the total heritage of human civilization, which alone can be the foundation of a new order of greater freedom and higher culture. Caught in the throes of a moral crisis, the civilized world is looking out for a better leadership with a more rational attitude towards the problems to be solved, and a nobler philosophy.”(Pages:28,29) 

15.       “The proletariat by itself is not a revolutionary force. The ideal of a new order may have an appeal for it. But intellectual and cultural backwardness does not permit it, as a class, to have a long – distance view. Originally, Marxism took this basic fact into account and set up the doctrine that the historical necessity of revolution was felt by the class-conscious vanguard of the proletariat, which was to constitute the revolutionary party.

The dogma of an uncompromising class struggle, and the false expectation of a polarization of society into two classes, moved exclusively by economic incentives, led Marx and Lenin, particularly the latter, to visualize revolution taking place through an insurrection engineered by the so-called vanguard of the proletariat, to be followed by its dictatorship over the people. This theory not only defeats its purpose, as proved by the Russian experience, by creating a new system of political domination, cultural regimentation and economic enslavement, but the uniform failure of Communists all over the world, after their accidental success in Russia, proves its utter inadequacy even as a technique for the capture of power.”(Pages:29,30)

16.       “Scientific inventions since the days of Marx have vastly increased the military might and coercive strength of the existing States, and have rendered the idea of a minority-insurrection impracticable and out of date. On the other hand, by virtue of their class ideology and their failure to offer anything more inspiring than proletarian dictatorship, the Communists were unable to gather together in one movement all the progressive and revolutionary forces; they remained a sectarian and dogmatic body. Even in relation to the proletariat, the Communist Parties failed to attract the culturally more advanced section, which largely remained attached to older Social – Democratic Parties. Consequently, the revolutionary appeal of Marxism was addressed largely to the most backward strata of society. Finally, Stalin went to the extent of declaring that the unemployed and the unorganized were the most revolutionary social force.

The proletariat could not make the expected revolution; nor did the mystic forces of history unfold themselves cataclysmically, as predicted. But revolution, that is to say, radical reconstruction of society, remains a pressing need of our time, felt by a much larger section of society, and more keenly and consciously, than the proletariat. The urge for a new order is a reaction of the threat for the destruction of the values of civilization. Naturally, it is felt more acutely by those who can appreciate and cherish those values. But a new philosophy of revolution, suitable for our age, is yet to arise as the beacon light for civilized humanity. The new philosophy must be able to destroy what remains of the moral sanction of the status quo, by providing an idea of a new social order to inspire all those disgusted with the present state of affairs. It must also indicate new ways of revolution appropriate to the needs of the time. While the concrete steps for social transformation must differ from place to place in accordance with prevailing conditions, the movement for freedom, if it is to succeed, must out-grow its sectarian class character and be inspired by the Humanist spirit and cosmopolitan outlook. It must, further, take the initiative of organizing the people into democratic bodies to provide the basis of the post-revolutionary order.”(Pages:30,31)

17. “The bourgeoisie versus the proletariat, capital versus labour, is no longer the central issue; indeed, it has never been, although it has been, and still is, an issue to be settled. The conflict of our age is between totalitarianism and democracy, between the all-devouring collective ego – nation or class – and the individual struggling for freedom. Continuation of the capitalist order demands substitution of Liberalism by Fascism, in practice, if not as yet in profession. On the other hand Communism in practice has also established a totalitarian regime, under which all the aspects of life are rigorously regimented. For the moment, the perspective of the fight for freedom looks like the legendary struggle between David and Goliath. But man will once again destroy the Frakenstein of his creation, and tame the Leviathan.” (Page: 31)

                         (To be continued)
'New Humanism - A Manifesto',                                                                                                         M.N.Roy,
(First Edition : August 1947,
Second Edition : August 1957,
Reprint        : December 1961,
The above quotations from : July 1974 reprint.)

No comments: