On The Lethargic State of Marxism Today

The role of revolutionary philosophy has always been to identify the class antagonism that is present in every society and provide an analysis of the socio-economic development that each society has undergone from precisely that perspective. The role of revolutionary politics on the other hand, has always been to arm the impoverished sections of society with the political ideas, through which they will be able to identify themselves as a class opposed to the ruling class, and ultimately become aware of its historical role to transform society through revolutionary struggle and give birth to a new era in human history. That is to say, the role of revolutionary politics is to provide the political framework through which class consciousness will become revolutionary consciousness. .

Indeed, the two aspects of Marxism described above are interweaved in a way that one provides clarity of thought to the other and one opening the road ahead for further development to the other, by both staying true to their course and keeping their revolutionary essence intact, able to look back into history with a critical revolutionary eye, able to waste any prejudices and mistakes that have been inherited by the past, and thus, progress to the understanding of the current needs of the class struggle. Yet today, such a course is no longer true.

And how can this be disputed when one gazes at the current political state of the working class. How can this be disputed, when it is evident today not only that the forces of Marxism have failed to provide the path through which revolutionary consciousness would be reached, but moreover that class consciousness itself has become nothing but an echo of the past.
Indeed at the turn of the previous century what signified the political development of the working class and its passing to class awareness and consciousness, was the political unification of all sections of the proletariat into newly established worker’s parties. At the centre of this development, where the forces of revolutionary Marxism, and their constant struggle against reformist social democracy. What became clear was, that the sustainment of class consciousness and the potential of its transformation to revolutionary consciousness is precisely the result of the struggle between revolutionary social democracy and reformist social democracy.
The most magnificent example of this can only be the struggle of Lenin and the Russian Marxists against the reformist social democrats within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (R.S.D.L.P).
Within the walls of the R.S.D.L.P this daily revolutionary struggle protected the Russian working class from the apologists of the ascending Russian bourgeoisie and armed them with the ideas of social transformation under the banner of the international proletariat.
Through the reformists the Russian bourgeoisie sought to control, politically strangulate and fragment the Russian working class. And it was precisely the political defeat of reformism that provided the political framework through which the Russian working class moved in a revolutionary manner to fullfil its destiny.
History has proved again and again that the biggest enemy of the international proletariat is not the ruling class but their apologists that come in the face of reformism. And history has proved that the task of revolutionary Marxism is to constantly battle against those who seek to throw ashes at the eyes of the working class and attempt to blind them from the truth.

Yet what is blatantly evident today is that those who proclaim to be revolutionary Marxists, have voluntarily surrendered the hearts and minds of the modern proletariat to the hands of the modern Mensheviks. It is today’s reformists, that pollute the working class unopposed, with ideas of tolerance and acceptance of the status quo and the constant onslaught that is taking place against the international proletariat. In this political execution of the working class the forces of revolutionary Marxism are absent.
The deviations from the lessons of the Russian revolution have resulted to an absolute evacuation of revolutionary Marxism from the very political arena through which the bourgeoisie and their apologists control the current political nature as well as the future of the working class’ consciousness.
By dismissing the historical link that exists between worker’s parties around the world with their respective domestic proletariat, and consequently by dismissing this fundamental and historical battle that ensues, Marxism has become an exile of political reality.
‘What is to be done’, was the phrase that Lenin used as a title for a series of articles in which he explained the tasks of revolutionary social democracy at the time. That phrase has now been transformed to a question. A question the haunts us still, and will always haunt us until it is answered. We have not moved an inch forward to addressing this theoretical torture. And all that has been done instead is the wondering to unfruitful political destinations by turning our backs to it, trying to change and rewrite history to suit every sectarian route undertaken while ignoring the lessons that the class struggle has provided us time and time again.

Marxism has been set into a deep sleep and those who claim to speak in its name have done nothing but declare themselves high priests of a political cult. They have rewritten events of the past to justify their present status of political existence, afraid of the very ones they claim to fight for, simply because the closer they find themselves to the working class and its struggle the more they become exposed to what they really are. An irrelevance. Self exiled to the outer spheres of political existence slowly withering away and perishing to historical insignificance. Indeed there is no greater curse than being insignificant in what one has sought to be significant in. Yet the very obscurity in their words and beliefs points inevitably to that end. Evidently like the prophecies of Nostradamus and those of any religious gospel their books have predicted everything, but, cannot predict anything until it has come to pass. And like those old writing, their writings sound archaic, barren, soulless and gutless.

And if this is the truth behind the state of Marxism today, how can we then speak of revolution if we conserve the inadequate. And how can we be Marxists when in 2010 we are content simply with what has been already said. All great Marxists of the past and most notably Marx himself would demand nothing less, but for the future generations to critically examine their historic deposition. It is not a case of putting blame to actions of the past but of acknowledgement of their relevance to the present. An action can be seen as a mistake only when time allows that action to be detached from the potentially inevitable circumstances under which it took place.

To that effect, the debate over the creation of a new international the April thesis instigated in 1917 is considered one of the most important theoretical debates, as its conclusion, shaped the theoretical and tactical mentality of revolutionary Marxism, as well as dramatically changed the world political scenery. With the establishment of the third international revolutionary Marxism was shifted from what it was considered as a political bankrupt second international, to an independent from reformist elements, revolutionary international, able to shape and propagate revolutionary policy without the previous obstructions felt, by what Lenin called the social chauvinists.
As early as 1915 Lenin’s position was, that the leaders of the second international had betrayed and muddled, what up to then social democracy stood up for, by going against the international’s positions taken at the Basle conference in 1912. Not only did the respected sections of the second international not proceed in instigating revolutionary struggle in the case of war breaking out as promised, but they went ahead in voting for war credits in their respected parliaments putting an abrupt end to the existence of the second international.

The debate that ensued afterwards within Lenin’s circles as well as in international conferences starting with the Zimmerwald conference in 1915 was inevitably in relation to the form a restored second international should take. But most importantly, whether revolutionary Marxism should ever associate itself with such an international again.
In articles like ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Socialism and War’ Lenin expresses such questions surrounded by the fears, that any restoration of the second international would be such, of an attempt to throw ashes in the workers’ eyes as far as the war is concerned, rather than explaining to them the class reality of the political developments the world was experiencing.
The position that any revolutionary international would spring from the second international had also been formed, but without establishing the way and the frame of political development of international politics within which such a process would or should take place, until that is, the adoption of Lenin’s April Thesis.

However with the adoption of the April Thesis and the subsequent establishment of the third international, there is a distinct departure from the earlier theoretical positions that Lenin had put forward in relation to the tasks of revolutionary Marxism, since, for the first time revolutionary Marxism withdrew from the main political scenery in which the majority of international proletariat was active, and therefore allowing to the reformists total control of the respective sections of the second international. What is of essence in this, is not the nature of the inevitability of that action, but the lessons that can be found within it. We have the benefit of being in a historical position that can allow us to take a long look back into the past and re-evaluate the trail Marxism has undertaken without any narrow-mindedness, linking those segments of the past that are relevant to the needs of the international class struggle today. Anything other than that would be nothing but pure irresponsibility and philistinism.


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