State Marxism vs “Neo-Marxism” of American Street Hipsters

“Neo-Marxism” is a dead end that falls away from the main road of communism. One can continue to speculate on the tragedy of the collapse of the USSR, or one can turn to reality and notice the current achievements of socialism, which have nothing to do with “neo-Marxism”. In the end, any research on this topic always confirms the unconditional opposition of “neo-Marxism” to real Marxism, and it is fuelled not by the meanings that “neo-Marxism” lacks, but by a destructive protest style.

It’s amazing: for more than six months, protests have been taking place in the US under the auspices of left-wing movements and the BLM and Antifa groups, but only now have zealous “theorists” come to their senses, realising, apparently, or someone suggested to them what a “fertile” field of discrediting Marxism they are missing. And they began, in solidarity, both in Russia and in the west, to launch outright speculations that the riot tendencies of “colour” coups are the result of the developments of Marxist classics. The fashionable term “neo-Marxism”, which they associate primarily with the Frankfurt school of philosophy, helps them a lot in this regard, and it turns out that they get the desired and, apparently, ordered provocation against the Great October, its role and cause in history, as well as against the Soviet experience of party-state socialist construction.

Through their teeth, speculators recognise as “neo-Marxists” not only the “thinkers” of Frankfurt, among whom, looking ahead, Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno stood out for their cynicism. But also representatives of the completely opposite “world-system” school led by Immanuel Wallerstein, who gave the world a whole galaxy of researchers who, and this is especially valuable, formed their views from within capitalism. The relationship between the “world-system” theory and the “frankfurters” is somewhat similar to the internal arrangements in the early USSR, the period of struggle against the right and left “deviations” and the Trotskyism that united them. Again, gritting their teeth, speculators, reducing both history and modern times to the same, convenient for them and their clients, level, are forced to admit that against the background of the departure from the active activity of V. I. Lenin in the party, the struggle between L. D. Trotsky and I. V. Stalin began. And during it, Trotsky, who had gathered the entire train of the then “neo-Marxist” tendencies, lost, was thrown out of the USSR, and … no one would have touched him with a finger, let alone with an ice pick, if not for two circumstances. First, Trotsky created his own “pocket” IV International, which coincided with the transition of the Comintern under Stalin’s control (Georgy Dimitrov came to the leadership in 1935 instead of Nikolay Bukharin). Thus, a split in the global communist movement was organised, and on the eve of the Second World War, when, on the contrary, it needed to strengthen unity. The second circumstance: the little-known and carefully suppressed “official” historiography of Trotsky’s collusion with the Nazis, framed in the same 1935 “Trotsky-Hess Pact”: the Third Reich’s help in changing power in the Kremlin in exchange for the loyalty of the new Trotskyist authorities. Including the restoration of capitalism and the organisation of the plunder of the country by German capital. In other words, the ice axe was needed only when the opposition theoretical chatter with waving fists after a fight turned into concrete agreements with the enemy, which threatened the existence of not only the Soviet government, but also Soviet – it is also Russian – statehood.

Speculators are forced to stipulate that the roots of “neo-Marxism” are thoroughly imbued with anti-Stalinism, but recognising this, they opt for another, even more rigid and conscious forgery: that it was Trotsky, and not Stalin, who drew the line of Lenin in the communist movement, and that “neo-Marxism” is therefore “connected” with Leninism. An utter lie, and also obscenity. Firstly, Trotsky was not a Bolshevik; until July 1917, almost before the historic 6th Congress of the RSDLP (b), he was a member of the inter-district group of Mensheviks formed in 1913 on the ruins of the so-called “August bloc”, which fiercely opposed the Leninist Central Committee. Especially harshly — on the approaches to October, when Trotsky made frank attempts to push Lenin away from the issue of power, to the point that Lenin was forced to threaten that further ignoring his opinion on the timing of the October Uprising would force him to withdraw from the Central Committee and appeal to the masses. Playing on Trotsky’s contacts with representatives of oligarchic capital, speculators without shame and conscience spread his “sins”, which don’t correspond to reality, to the entire party. The subject of the famous, allegedly Leninist, “Letter to Congress” directed against Stalin is hushed up. However, according to a number of authoritative experts, it is a forgery of Trotsky himself, embedded in the party annals, including all the collected works of Lenin, with the help of Krupskaya, who really got close to the “demon of the revolution” in the last years and months of the leader’s life. Lenin at this time, looking ahead, was moving in a completely different direction, 180 degrees opposite to the European “vector” of Trotsky. Without going into details, we can say that the operation of introducing Trotsky to the Bolsheviks with the money of American oligarchs and under the control of British intelligence agencies was required in the summer of 1917 in view of the final “divorce” between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, which occurred in May. When the Mensheviks entered in the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks called for the Bolshevisation of the Councils and the transfer of power to them, starting preparation of the Great October revolution, the oligarchs tried to seize the leadership of the party, centring it on “their” Trotsky, who serves as a forerunner of “neo-Marxism” to the extent he is a “neo-Menshevik”, who has occupied the niche of the “eternal” anti-Leninist and anti-Stalinist opposition in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (b) in replacement of the Menshevik leaders of the Petrograd Soviet. Therefore, if we are to be honest and consistent researchers, we should not just separate the “neo-Marxism” that is associated with Menshevism and Trotskyism from real Marxism, recognising it as a capitulant departure from Marxism as such. But also to explain what this zigzag, which gave rise to “neo-Marxism” in its Menshevik-Trotskyist version, was due to.

Summarily. The fundamental difference between Bolshevism and Menshevism is in relation to the transition from capitalism to socialism. The Mensheviks believed that socialism would grow from within capitalism as class contradictions were smoothed out. Therefore, a long period of “normal” capitalist development must pass between the bourgeois-democratic and socialist revolutions. The Bolsheviks did not see the conditions for this. So that the working class can create the “rudiments of civilisation” necessary for socialism, Lenin blamed the Mensheviks, by taking power into its own hands and keeping the process of acquiring “civilisation” under his own control, or rather, by leading it, including by suppressing the landowners and the bourgeoisie. The essence of Trotskyist “neo-Marxism” disguised as “centrism” is the populist-demagogic combination of Bolshevik rhetoric with Menshevik politics. Hence the constant skirmishes between Lenin and Trotsky, both before and after the revolution, over everything from the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to the role of trade unions and the fate of internal party factions. Lenin’s short note “On the blush of shame in Judas Trotsky(1911), from the time of the campaign against Otzovism and liquidationism, is indicative. In it, Lenin accuses Trotsky of receiving money from the party (“subsidies”) in exchange for assurances of devotion and loyalty. Having received it, he, as usual, did not care about all the promises and continued his subversive work against the party in the media.

Secondly, speculating on the supposedly Leninist, Bolshevik origin of “neo-Marxism”, those who undermine Marxism do not by accident appeal to the early works of Lenin, without “crawling” beyond the framework of 1913. In 1914, Karl Kautsky, a leading German social democrat, published “Imperialism”, in which he argued with Lenin that imperialism is not the highest or last stage of capitalism, but the penultimate one. And that it will be followed by “ultra-imperialism” – the subjugation of the rest by the strongest national imperialism and the formation of a global ultra-imperialist “world-system” on the principle of transferring the practice of cartel collusion to international relations. It is clear that Kautsky was referring to what is now called globalisation, and we understand that historically he was right. Why did Lenin launch a fierce fight against the theory of ultra-imperialism, i.e., globalism? Because he saw it as his task to avoid a similar fate for Russia — to lead our country out of imperialism and create next to it its own independent, socialist “world-system”. At the same time, as follows from the work “Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism” (1916), Lenin perfectly understood the globalist essence of ultra-imperialism, realising that to get into this system means to turn into a dependent “non-state” that has lost its sovereignty. And seeing the rapid transition to the socialist revolution as the only way to avoid this, he played ahead of the game. This is the main reason why the Bolsheviks did not see the possibility of maturing socialism in capitalism, while the compromise of the Mensheviks, and then the Trotskyists with the west, reflected their desire as agents of the west within the Bolshevik party to subordinate Russia to the west by imposing on our country such a “long growth”, equal, let us emphasise this again, to external governance. Having broken this vicious circle of external dependence, the Bolsheviks consciously inserted into the Great October not only a socialist, but also national liberation content. The facts? The mere transfer of the capital to Moscow, which realised the age-old national aspirations, already speaks volumes. And the defeat of the Kornilov revolt, given that the entire logistics of financing and political support for the rebellion was taken over by the office of the military attache of the British Embassy? It’s enough?

Here we need a small “lyrical” digression, adjusted for the marginalisation of modern education and the systematic debilitation of its recipients. Imperialism is not an empire or an imperial policy; imperialism is the monopolistic stage of capitalism, where free competition gives way to the contractual monopolisation of the market by the leading players at the expense of all others, resulting in the growth and omnipotence of transnational banks and corporations.

So, having received such a “pass” from Kautsky, Lenin seems to have finally realised: the opportunism of western social-democracy and Russian Menshevism (and Trotskyism) was not the spontaneous or even conscious choice of its adherents, who were opponents of the Bolsheviks. This is a truly hostile project, launched by European social-democracy and the Mensheviks from above, focused on external governance, which the opportunists are a part of. And it was then, in the period 1915-1917, that three fundamental Leninist theories appeared one after the other, in which a break with both this project of ultra-imperialism and its globalisation was formed:

  • the theory of imperialism and its “weak link”, the presence of which is due to the uneven development under imperialism (the “weak link”, according to Lenin, then was Russia – but today?);
  • the theory of a socialist revolution in a single country (which Stalin later developed into the theory of building socialism in a single country);
  • the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

From the point of view of “classical”, pre-imperialist Marxism, these theories were seen as heresy, but in the framework of the political reality of imperialism, the quintessence of which was the First World War, they became a brilliant breakthrough into a future without imperialism and ultra-imperialist perspectives. It is no coincidence that the great puppet master Arnold Toynbee even in 1948 still lamented that “these Russians” turned western Marxism into an anti-western weapon that is more powerful than an atomic bomb. Lenin did not argue with Kautsky — when one is presented with the project of one’s enslavement, it is meaningless: try to come to an agreement with a crocodile. Lenin, on the basis of “classical” Marxism, developed a theory that in practice overturned Kautsky’s ideas, and it was its implementation that saved the country from external enslavement. This is why Stalin defined Leninism as “Marxism of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolutions”.

However, being “at loggerheads” with Menshevism, Trotskyism and globalism, which are united by the considered hypostasis of “neo-Marxism”, Lenin’s ideological and theoretical constructions are surprisingly consistent with the “world-system” theory, which considers the world divided into a stable core and periphery and a mobile semi-periphery. On the one hand, Lenin led Russia out of imperialism, avoided its inclusion in globalist ultra-imperialism on peripheral terms even before its formation, and founded his own “world-system” in which our country became the core. In the world there was a sharp confrontation between two “world-systems” – capitalist and socialist. On the other hand, the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in the 90s brought down this own Soviet “world-system”, incorporating the fragments of “Great Russia” into ultra-imperialism retroactively, where our country, as was originally planned by its enemies, was very far from the core. And close to the periphery. Before the collapse of the USSR, Wallerstein’s theory described the globalising world order outside the world socialist system, after which it turned into an adequate tool for describing the “world-system” as a whole.

So, the “world-system” theory is “neo-Marxist” only formally, in fact it is a direct continuation of Marxism, but outside the imperialist era, in the conditions of ultra-imperialism and the globalisation launched by it. Therefore, the “neo-Marxist” equals sign between speculators and the theory of “world-systems” is “bookish” hypocrisy. We will explain this in more detail below, when we deduce the main stages and milestones in the development of Marxism.

Thirdly, speculators’ “sub-arguments” about the “world revolution” and arguments about the reasons for its collapse have nothing in common. If only because in the reading of Lenin and Trotsky they were completely different topics, coinciding only in the formality of the name. Lenin saw the proletariat of each individual country as the driving force of the world revolution, and Trotsky saw the Red Army, which he called the “army of the Comintern”; Lenin’s vanguard of the world revolution was the Russian proletariat, and Trotsky’s was the European one. These are diametric opposites that are reflected in practical politics. Lenin, using the bogeyman of the “world revolution” to warm up the sympathy of the western working people towards the Soviet government, restrained the military aspirations of the western bourgeoisie. “Do you want to get this grenade under your ass? No? Then let’s not have any military adventures, okay?” For “we have been defencists since October 25th 1917”. Trotsky at the first opportunity, taking advantage of Lenin’s illness, really risked setting the “world revolution” on fire, provoking a “German October”. At the exit – the defeat of the German communists and the fascist “beer putsch” two weeks after that. Maybe the information about Trotsky’s intersection with the racial ideologue of Nazism Rosenberg in Baltic social-democratic circles is not so insignificant. Especially in light of his mentioned pact with Hess?

The final touch to this question. As Stalin summarised, neither Poland nor Germany will ever enter the Soviet Federation on a par with, say, Ukraine. So who was closer to Lenin – Stalin or Trotsky with Krupskaya joining him? This is, without exaggeration, the most important topic, which invariably collects an unprecedented number of historical speculations and falsifications, sharpened against the historical truth of the Soviet period.

Fourthly, and here we come close to the general logic of communism as a project that has passed through a number of successive stages in its implementation. Lenin and Stalin are the leaders not only of the Great October revolution, but also of the Soviet state. Theory only has the right to life when it is tested by practice. Trotsky could not implement his practice, although he tried. And when he failed and went into historical circulation, his followers, as speculators do not try to deny, completely abandoned statehood as an idea and concept. And having led those trends that are called “colour” protests and revolutions in the conditions of modern reality, they have written themselves down in the list of subversive elements that are such for any more or less stable state with more or less established and at least to some extent effective institutions. Thus, if Leninist-Stalinist succession is connected with state-building, then Trotsky’s “neo-Marxist” succession is connected with the undermining and destruction of statehood. It is clear that there can be no equals sign between the two, and that these are not consecutive but opposite hypostases of Marxism. The former provides sovereignty, the latter is focused on its destruction. It is easy to see that this is reflected in political practice: sovereign governance with its own centre in its own country, on the one hand, and external governance, locked in on external centres, on the other. The approximate consequences of the rise to power of “neo-Marxism” in the guise of Trotsky can be seen in the example of Menshevik participation in the Provisional Government.

This is a very important thing, in fact. All anti-Soviet acts of sabotage and speculation begin with the oligarchs giving the money for the revolution, and the Bolsheviks taking it. Who took it? Trotsky, and there is documented evidence of his associates, as well as “leaks” of the same British intelligence agencies. And the money was given to him, Yes, for October, for the victory in October, which was to turn the Soviet government led by Trotsky into a protectorate of New York’s Wall Street, where the money came from. But thanks to Lenin’s genius and Stalin’s support (who, in Lenin’s absence, would have made the main report at the sixth Congress, if not Stalin?), Trotsky lost, even though he controlled the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC). The oligarchs who collectively invested in “neo-Marxism” did so for nothing, the game turned out to be not worth the candle, and all that was left was to conduct rearguard actions, harming the Soviet power surreptitiously, like in Brest-Litovsk.

So, let’s summarise. At the first, pre-imperialist stage of Marxism’s development, Karl Marx himself, using the example of British colonial policy towards Ireland (1870), concluded that the predominance of reformism over revolutionism in the English labour movement is closely linked to the exploitation of the colonies, from which the workers also get something. After Marx’s death, Friedrich Engels, using this position as a justification for rejecting revolutionism, led the drift of European social democracy towards opportunism. I.e., to the idea of “growing socialism out of capitalism” within the class world of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie at the expense of colonialism. On the ideological plane, reformism introduced into western Marxism the metastases of English Fabianism – the ideas of non-Marxist socialism of the world metropolis, which forms the class world, squeezing the juice out of the colonies. Since 1900, Fabianism has been an integral and key part of the Labour Party’s ideological platform. Western Marxism has degenerated, from a doctrine that indicates the prospect of an exit from capitalism into a socialist “world-system”, into a part of the capitalist “world-system”. And voluntarily (?) agreed to take the place of the left flank of the two-party systems formed in this way. Thus the British model of bourgeois control over the working-class movement spread in Europe, taking root so deeply that Kautsky formed his theory of ultra-imperialism on a continental European basis, without a British reference, a decade and a half later. Summarising the technologies of external control, Trotsky’s successor as head of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Georgy Chicherin, noted that the core of English “state art” is the ability to enter into an alliance with an emerging political force in order to neutralise it. The first stage of development of Marxism has two main results. First: the fact of the opportunistic rebirth of social democracy with its inclusion in the capitalist project, against the background of which the formation of imperialism took place. The second result: a split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, during which the former, led by Lenin, broke with opportunism, reviving the project of their own “world system”, and the latter followed the European social democracy. It is significant that the renaming of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (b) to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (b) took place only in March 1918 at the seventh Extraordinary Congress; but the question of renouncing the social-democratic affiliation compromised by opportunism in favour of communism was first raised by Lenin in 1915.

The opportunists of Europe and the Russian Mensheviks are a “rejection” that fell out of the first, pre-imperialist stage of development of Marxism, whose further movement along the revolutionary path ensured the transition of Marxism to the second stage, at which “Marxism” itself was transformed into “Marxism-Leninism”, according to Stalin, as we remember, “Marxism of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions”.

The result of the second stage of development of Marxism-Leninism and now already in the era of imperialism was the Great October in Russia, in which, first, the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks finally parted, finding themselves on different sides of the revolutionary barricades, and then on different sides of the civil war fronts. Secondly, within Bolshevism, Trotskyism assumed the role of neo-Mensheviks. The break with opportunism, which saved the country from entering the “world-system” of ultra-imperialism predicted by Kautsky, put our country on a sovereign path of development. The split with Trotskyism in views on the “world revolution” was developed not only in the practice of socialist construction in a particular country, but also in theory. In January 1923, in his work “On Our Revolution”, Lenin formulated the principle of “originality” of revolutions taking place outside the west — in Russia and further to the east, where this “originality”, according to the leader’s conclusions, should have been even more pronounced. From the point of view of geopolitics and national interests of Russia, this Leninist eastern turn is highly indicative. If we reject prejudices and turn to the evolution of Russian political thought in these years, which was carried out against the backdrop of the outright betrayal of Russian national interests by the west, then not only in the red, but also in the white part of the ideological spectrum, the ideas of Eurasianism begin to take over. I.e., a turn to the east, the rejection of the former European vector, definitively discredited and disappointing. If we look at this situation from the internal party point of view, it is the collapse of Trotskyism, provided by Lenin, and then picked up and brought to its logical conclusion by Stalin. Trotsky and his legacy are so close to both the Soviet “perestroika” elite, which opposed him to Stalin, as well as to the current hipsters, that they were oriented toward the west, where the late Soviet elite, in the process of betrayal and degeneration, recorded by the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, prepared to direct their footsteps after the shameful handing over of the USSR.

And the attention paid to Trotsky by the mentioned speculators from “neo-Marxism” shows that at the second stage of the development of Marxist teaching, Trotskyism was added to the “rejection” of opportunists, which naturally descended to the betrayal of communism and an Alliance with Nazism.

At the third stage, Lenin’s conclusion about the “originality” of the east was brilliantly proved by the historical experience of the next great revolution — the Chinese one. The theory of “new democracy” put forward by Mao Zedong can serve as the quintessence of a new stage of its “originality”. It proceeds from the fact that in dependent countries that have not reached the industrial level of development, but are already part of the global capitalist “world-system”, the socialist revolution, like the socialist transformation, is carried out under the leadership of the Communist Party, in the form of a popular dictatorship of the revolutionary classes, including, under certain conditions, the national bourgeoisie. And in no other way! The “Chinese specificity” of socialism in the People’s Republic of China is nothing more than a corresponding interpretation of Lenin’s “originality”. And this is China’s invaluable contribution to Marxist-Leninist thought, which refutes the later Soviet ideas about the “universality” of the model of socialism that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union built. Life, as Lenin had foreseen, turned out to be richer than any scheme. And it is not difficult to see that the ideas of national “identity”, which proved their viability and effectiveness in the practice of state-building in the People’s Republic of China, continued the main development of communism. To paraphrase the above-mentioned definition of Stalin, it is not an exaggeration to consider the ideas of Mao and his followers, up to Xi Jinping, “Marxism-Leninism of the era of ultra-imperialism and national liberation revolutions”. From Marx to Lenin and Stalin, bypassing Engels at the head of the opportunists and Mensheviks, and then to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, bypassing Trotsky and those “neo-Marxist” tendencies and trends that have now degenerated into a “colour” bacchanalia of destructive anti-state elements, is the main path of evolution of Marxist-Leninist teaching. As we can see, it is quite relevant and competitive, and can still form a real alternative to capitalist globalism today. And this will inevitably happen in the near future.

It is difficult to disagree with some of the speculators that, unlike Marxism, “neo-Marxist” theories, both those that failed and continue to exist, sometimes within the framework of openly right-wing ideas, such as neoconservatism, are poorly developed and inapplicable to real life. However, their destructive, subversive content, laid down by the ideologists of the Frankfurt school, initially proclaimed the substitution of the industrial proletariat of large enterprises with a pseudo-proletarian “vinaigrette” of youth radicals, feminists, LGBT people, and colour protesters. It was on this social “contingent” that the political technologies of the “non-violent resistance” schools of Saul Alinsky and Gene Sharp eventually grew, which in turn became the ideological foundation for many modern nominees of the American Democratic Party. The Frankfurt doctrine was based on the idea of a “preventive revolution” formulated by Marcuse as a “vaccination” against the Soviet legacy. As well as the doctrine of the “great rejection” of Christian roots, mixed with the “pleasure revolution”. Appealing to the “satisfaction of instincts”, this doctrine considers it a tool for establishing control over the individual. So what does this “neo-Marxism” of declassed lumpenproletariat like BLM and Antifa have to do with real state Marxism? It is even more clearly seen that the “world-system” theory, which rightfully shares with Mao’s “new democracy” the merits in the further development of Marxism, just does not fit in these destructive series. In fact, “new democracy” and the theory of “world-systems” are two views of the same reality, the same historical dynamics from two sides — from the west, where Marxism came from, and from the east, where it was truly developed and found worthy application.

Therefore, it takes a very large, if not hopelessly ill, imagination to link Marxism and “neo-Marxism” in the form mentioned by the speculators with the evolution of Marxist-Leninist teaching. In fact, it is a dead-end route leading to nowhere, which, like a withered offshoot, falls away from the main path of the evolution of communism. One can continue to speculate on this topic, appealing to the tragedy of the collapse of the USSR, or one can turn to reality and notice the current achievements of socialism, which have nothing in common with the so-called “neo-Marxist” practice. In the end, any research into this topic every time confirms unconditional opposition to “neo-Marxist” to real Marxism, and it is inflamed not by meanings, which “neo-Marxism” is completely devoid of, but by a purely protesting, destructive style that falls on fragile young minds and souls, enthralling them along the slippery slope of the struggle with the state and statehood as a form of people’s survival in history. And on the example of the predictable fiasco of “neo-Marxism” in opposition to communism, speculators zombify the public, passing off communists – true patriots of the Motherland – as a fifth column and extolling to the skies the wretched protest hipster substance.

Vladimir Pavlenko

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