Tuesday, 15 May 2012

AWL Stalinism, Once More - Part 6

Moral Socialism v Marxism

Reformism be it of the Social Democratic or Stalinist variety is based on Idealism and Moralism. This “Petit-Bourgeois Socialism”, or Moral Socialism has its roots in the ideology of the petit-bourgeoisie as Marx sets out in The Communist Manifesto. Where the Petit-bourgeois socialists of the Sismondist type, in Marx's day, were characterised by their attempts,

“either to restoring the old means of production and of exchange, and with them the old property relations, and the old society, or to cramping the modern means of production and of exchange within the framework of the old property relations that have been, and were bound to be, exploded by those means. In either case, it is both reactionary and Utopian”,

in short protecting the old feudal monopolies and the paternalism that went with them, the AWL are characterised by their defence of the bureaucratic, 'feudal', state capitalist monopolies, and the paternalism that goes with them.

It bases itself upon how it would like the world to be, rather than how it is. The Moralism of the AWL and SWP is a reflection of the abandonment of Marxism. Marxism provides a scientific – historical materialist – basis for understanding social laws. It provides the basis for understanding, for example, that a society has a Bonapartist regime for reasons directly related to the material conditions in which that society exists. For example, it may have Capitalist productive forces at a low level of development, with a consequently small, weak and poorly developed bourgeoisie. That facilitates the State in such a society being able to raise itself up above society. We have seen such regimes in many places – Cromwell in Britain, Napoleon In France, Bolivarian regimes in 19th Century Latin America, and in 20th century Latin America, as well as in Asia, and the Middle East. Or there have been those societies where Capitalism has been relatively developed, but alongside it has been a relatively developed working-class, whose strength weighs in the balance against that of the bourgeoisie, making it relatively weak. Such was the case with Louis Napoleon, or with Bismark. In addition there are those societies where other social cleavages, usually along ethnic or religious lines lead to a stalemate within society that allows the State to rise above it.

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
In all these instances, Marxists, who might wish to see the establishment of a bourgeois democratic polity, if not Socialism, can understand the material conditions, which stand in the way of its achievement. That should then influence the positions the Marxists adopt. It should cause us to reconcile ourselves in some conditions to simply recognising that our options are limited, until such time as material conditions change. But, for Moralists like the AWL, this is not the case. Instead, they simply see the establishment of bourgeois democracy as a Moral good, which can be advocated whatever material conditions exist. And, when the material conditions do not exist to make it possible, they are left simply resorting to an appeal to other class forces to make up for it, and with the consequent deleterious results for the longer-term.

The Results Of Stalinist Gangsterism
The result of all this is another irony. Having arisen as a moralistic, petit-bourgeois response to the Stalinist/statist deformation of the USSR, these Third Campist organisations (the AWL and SWP), have degenerated themselves into Stalinist sects. Both share a common petit-bourgeois social base. The reason for this is simple. Having abandoned Marxism, these organisations are led into numerous mistakes, just as was Stalinism in the 1920's and 30's. But, they cannot acknowledge these mistakes, or accept that they have zigged and zagged to different positions in an attempt to remedy them, or cover their tracks. Unable to defend their positions, mistakes and actions by resort to Marxist theory, and rational argument they are forced, as were the Stalinists in the 1920's and 30's, to resort to other methods, to bureaucratism, to rudeness and bullying, to bowdlerisation of Marxist texts and so on. In short to adopt all of the classic organisational and political methods of Stalinism. All of those features can be plainly witnessed in the actions of the AWL, and of the SWP. In the end it leads to outright gangsterism.

Back To Part 5
Forward To Part 7

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