We Want No Condescending Saviors

classstruggle

“… Kautskyists (or “Leninists”) are silly. They think they need to bring some grand theory to the ‘ignorant proles,’ as if historical materialism is some kind of prescriptive theory or tactic and not a descriptive outlook that is about the interaction between objective phenomena and subjective consciousness, and therefore envelops both. When it comes to survival and necessity, ideology is trumped by class, the true determinant in social development in the last instance as proved by the actual proletarian revolutions of the early 20th century which have unfortunately become eclipsed in our ideological world by the petty party politicking that engaged in necrophilia with the bloated corpses of the revolutions.

“Our class does not need to have learned old (or young) men leading us by a leash and it is precisely Marx who uncovered this by uncovering that people do not make their history the way they want but that they are coerced by their own alienated powers, by forces that are beyond mere human control (capital, market discipline, etc.). History is the product of human conscious will, but it almost never turns out the way the actors would have wanted it to be because the real relations that drive people and the forces that coerce them are alienated from them and therefore overgrown with layers of ideology. The modern degenerating neoliberal capitalist system was not the creation of any Enlightenment theorist or any big boogeyman. The fact that we are in crisis and no one has any ideas or sees a way out should tell us that our ideas and theories are not in control of the trajectory of this society, but rather capital is, a blind force of our own creation.

“Encompassed by Marxist theory itself is the fact that no theory can extricate itself from the development of history and act as a universal panacea. What makes communism fundamentally different then from a ‘political ideology’, is precisely that it is not the outcome of ideology or enlightening enough people, but is rather a result of these alienated forces of history themselves acting upon and compelling human agency. Marx pointed this out in Capital, which rather than being a mere scientific work on capitalism, was also an outline of the traces of future communist society, by pointing out the interaction of alienated forces that prepare the conditions for the self-destruction of capital. This is why communism is not ‘political’ and why all these ridiculous Trot, Tankie, and Maoist cults with their red flags are irrelevant and why left unity is a dumb concept in general because all of this is just ideologues mistaking the class struggle for a struggle of ideas.

LU

“Only after class society has been abolished can social existence be determined by self-consciousness, be it by some lay person or by a learned intellectual, because only then alienation has been overcome and society is re-created rationally every day by people who have not only conquered the forces of nature that were alien to them (for Marx the fundamental drive behind historical development) but also reconquered their own activity which had become alienated in its turn. Communism can be created by people who do not even know what they are doing but are simply following their self-interest when confronted with a particular historical situation.” — Aeolianharps of /r/socialism

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One response to “We Want No Condescending Saviors

  1. From something I wrote a while back regarding Kautsky and Lenin, in a review of a recent book by Peter Hudis:

    Also, Hudis claims that the organizational theories of Karl Kautsky and V.I. Lenin, the two most prominent post-Marx Marxists of their day, were influenced by Marx’s rival Ferdinand Lassalle in that they believed “that the vehicle of ‘science’ was not the proletariat, but rather the radicalised bourgeois intelligentsia,” (89) and hence that revolutionary consciousness is brought to the working class “from without.” A selective reading of Kautsky may support this conclusion, but as early as 1903 Kautsky distanced himself from Lassalle’s

    aphorism on science and the proletariat [that] science…stands above the class struggle. […]When brought to the proletariat from the capitalist class, science is invariably adapted to suit capitalist interests. What the proletariat needs is a scientific understanding of its own position in society. That kind of science a worker cannot obtain in the officially and socially approved manner. *The proletarian himself must develop his own theory.* [emphasis added] For this reason he must be completely self-taught, no matter whether his origin is academic or proletarian. The object of study is the activity of the proletariat itself, its role in the process of production, its role in the class struggle. Only from this activity can the theory, the self-consciousness of the proletariat, arise. [Karl Kautsky, “The Intellectuals and the Workers,” Die Neue Zeit Volume XXII, No.4 (1903)]

    As to Lenin, there has been much reconsideration of his political thought and the history of Bolshevism since the publication of Lars T. Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered: ‘What Is to Be Done?’ in Context (Chicago: Haymarket, 2008). It appears that Lenin was not, at least initially, the elitist-minded reviser of Marx that he is generally thought to be, nor was Bolshevism an authoritarian political trend prior to the Russian Civil War. Lih demonstrates that Lenin’s famous pamphlet has been broadly misinterpreted, largely due to mistranslations of key terms. All Kautsky and Lenin were arguing, Lih maintains, is that it was the task of Marxists to bring about a “merger of socialism and the worker movement” which would not arise automatically.

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