By Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. Completed August 16, 2015
“To leave error unrefuted is to encourage intellectual immorality.”-Karl Marx
“Dug up a mountain, looking for gold. Only found a mouse. Even that was dead.”-A proverb of South Asia.
“…Fuller of words and emptier.” -Holderlin
After the Grand Betrayals of socialism in the USSR, Eastern Europe, and China, all types of opportunists, charlatans, speculators, and slanderers have been trying to jump to the center of the leftist political arena, masquerading as “Marxists”, “socialists”, “anti-capitalists”, and “revolutionaries” etc. Many of them have academic backgrounds and are using their academic, oratorical, and demagogic skills to concoct all types of distortions, corruptions, and perversions of Marxian and Leninian political economy, philosophy, and thought. In doing so, they are taking the utmost advantage of the prevalent ignorance of Marxism, Socialism, Communism, and Politico-economic Revolutions, not only in the general society, but also in most of the academics, intellectuals, and leftists. Some of them are wearing the personae of Marxism, while others are anarchists and anti-communists. They are getting away with astounding slanders, ignorance, falsehoods, and distortions in such an environment.
This necessary and brief criticism is targeted at some of the essential and central slanders, errors, and distortions of a few selected Pseudo-Marxists, Anti-Communists, and Anarchists (PMACA). Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Richard Wolff, Stephen Resnick, Noam Chomsky, and Chris Hedges are the PMACA included in this review. This partial critical review is based upon a partial review of the voluminous books, articles, and videos they have produced. I am doing even that out of a sense of duty, as it is an extremely time consuming and boring, but necessary, task. Hopefully, someone will have a greater sense of duty and go through thousands of pages of their writings and innumerable videos to write a more comprehensive review. In fact, some have already done that, in case of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s voluminous books, “Empire”, “Multitude”, and “Commonwealth”. However, I did not find such comprehensive and effective critical reviews of other PMACA.
It is not easy to write rather strong criticisms of the flaws of some of these writers, like Professor Chomsky, Professor Wolff, Professor Resnick, and Mr. Hedges, as they are also disseminating accurate and necessary information, with much of which I concord. Their flaws, errors, and distortions are mostly in the politico-economic, philosophical, and theoretical areas, which counteract and transform even the positive effects of their accurate empirical, statistical, and other information, into negative, as these interactions lead to misdiagnoses of the root causes of the problems they identify and discuss, as well as to proposals for wrong solutions. Under the current conditions of drastic deterioration of intellectual integrity-not only in the mainstream, but also in much of the left-it is essential, more than ever, to try to differentiate true from false, right from wrong, and real from apparitions, as well as to show the logical directions and outcomes of interactions between accurate facts, their accurate abstract analysis, and right emotions, on the one hand, and wrong theory, political economy, and philosophy, on the other.
The current epoch is unprecedented in history, as it is both post-socialist and pre-socialist. It is post-socialist as a result of the replacement of socialism with capitalism in the former socialist countries, and pre-socialist because all the capitalist and imperialist countries are embroiled in a prolonged and all-round structural crisis that is irresolvable within these systems. Objectively, it can only be resolved with the transition to socialism. As a result of the crisis, all the problems of poverty; unemployment; inequality; crime; police brutality; racism; and social, moral, cultural, and mass psychological decay and depravity have been exacerbated and multiplied. Some of these problems have been extensively researched by various individuals and organizations-mostly in the form of single issues-the results of which have been published in numerous publications. The PMACA are using such information very skillfully and demagogically to tap into the discontent and sufferings of the victims and their allies. These activities have contradictory effects, both positive and negative, because of the contradictions between the accurate statistical and other information, and its connection to the government and corporate policies, on the one hand, and erroneous theoretical politico-economic and philosophical frameworks into which these are placed and analyzed, on the other. The former have positive effects of dissemination of accurate information, while the latter, in interactions with the former, produce erroneous and distorted results, leading to wrong diagnoses of the problems and wrong proposed solutions. This great flaw is common to all the PMACA discussed in this review. Over all, this flaw does more harm than good to the potentials and prospects of transformation of capitalism into socialism in the US, or any given society, without which all the above and other evils and injustices will not only continue unabated, but will multiply. Marx, Engels, and Lenin had discovered the law-governed developmental processes of capitalism and imperialism, and outlined the general directions that these would lead to. Later, numerous other authentic Marxists also contributed to the development of knowledge and information in their particular societies, on the basis of the essential foundations of Marxism, listed below. Some of the relatively recent such Marxists in the US include the late Victor Perlo (1), Dr. Michael Parenti (2, 3), and Professor James Petras (4). The late Philip Agee (5) also tried to expose the sinister international operations of the CIA within the context of the political economy of capitalism and imperialism. He was a former CIA official, who rebelled against such operations, exposed their nature as best as he could, risked his life and family by doing all that, and transformed into a Marxist socialist.
The biosphere of the world and mankind are passing through the most dangerous period in their history, which will either end in global socialism or global destruction, if capitalism and imperialism are not replaced with socialism. Under these conditions, no task is more important than teaching and learning the real nature and causes of the sinister reality that has been constructed on this planet. Self-centered and self-aggrandizing “intellectuals” and academics, who twist, distort, confuse, and obscure this reality in any way-under such dire circumstances-are adding to its worsening. Hence, it is of utmost importance to choose one’s teachers and enlighteners wisely, after doing adequate research on their work.
Marxism is a developmental dialectical philosophy and political economy. Its contents are continually and dynamically updated, in the light of new facts and events. However, all the authentic developments have been taking place on the basis of certain primary foundations, which remain, and will continue to remain, as long as capitalism continues to exist and is not replaced by socialism and communism. Some of those foundations are:
1. Primacy of the economic basis over the superstructure in the political economy.
2. Clear and objective definitions of classes in their relations to the means of production.
3. Necessity of the replacement of the politico-economic rule of the capitalist class with that of the working class and its allies. All such successful replacements in the past have been achieved through social revolutions.
4. Transformation of the private ownership of the means of production into their social ownership.
5. Necessity of establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, after the socialist revolution, to prevent the inevitable violent counterrevolution by the capitalist class, and its internal and external allies, for the restoration of capitalism.
One can never be an authentic Marxist, socialist, communist, or revolutionary, if one ignores, undermines, or contradicts any of these essential foundations in theory or practice. Lenin had developed Marxism by incorporating the changes and new facts that developed during the period of transformations of free enterprise capitalism into monopoly capitalism and imperialism. However, he did that on the basis of those foundations, both in theory and practice. During his time too, there were numerous pseudo-socialist and conceited intellectuals, who were claiming to renew and develop Marxism and socialism, but were actually doing the opposite and were reverting to pre-Marxist phases, as well as contradicting some or all of the above-mentioned essential foundations. Lenin effectively refuted their pretensions, fallacies, and errors. In the post-Soviet period, similar opportunists, pretenders, conceited academics and intellectuals, and reformists are raising their heads again, sowing confusions, diversions, distortions, and fallacies, by analyzing and integrating accurate factual information into distorted apparitions of Marxism, which contradict and subvert some or all of its essential foundations, mentioned above. Hardt, Negri, Resnick, and Wolff are some of the prominent examples of those who have done that.
I am not against the creative development of Marxism. To the contrary, I consider it essential. Marxism itself puts great emphasis on its scientific nature, which requires constant improvement, development, and renewal. I have also attempted to contribute towards its development by proposing some new laws of interactions between imperialism, capitalist democracy, and human nature (6), as well by creating and publishing a new and original macro-level theory on the biosocial and epigenetic regulation of human nature by the combined and intertwined processes and forces of capitalism, imperialism, technocracy, and culture(7). These contributions are consistent with the essential foundations of Marxism and are parts of the development of historical and dialectical materialism.
Addiction to the Stars. Added on November 11, 2015
According to a Daily Mail article, about a third of ordinary people are suffering from some degree of Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS) in the US. Certainly, celebrity addiction is also common in politics, including among the leftists. Observational evidence indicates that this has mutilating effects on people’s critical thinking and intellects. They start relying on their particular stars for those functions and abilities. The stars, of course, take maximum advantage of such addictions and greatly benefit from them in every way, including the bottom-line, financial.
The following link is to an article that I wrote on this matter. It contains more relevant analysis of the effects of this modern psychopathology.
Part of Daily Mail Article
Recent research shows that increasing numbers of people are getting addicted to the stars. “One in 10 people may be addicted celebrity worshippers, it was claimed today. Research suggests as many as 10% of the public are developing unhealthy obsessions with celebrities which can lead to depression, anxiety and psychosis.” “According to psychologists in the United States, about a third of ordinary people are suffering from some degree of Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS).” (Daily Mail, London, UK, November 11, 2015). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-192343/Addicted-stars.html.
1. Perlo, V. Super Profits and Crises: Modern US Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1988.
2. Parenti, M. Democracy for the Few. 8th Ed. Thomson Wadsworth. 2008.
3. Parenti, M. Against Empire. City Lights Books, San Francisco. 1995.
4. Petras, James and Henry Veltmeyer. Imperialism and Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: A System in Crisis. Ashgate: Williston, VT, 2013.
5. Agee, Philip. Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); American edition (July 1975).
6. Rahman, F. Multidimensional and complex nature and effects of imperialism on democracy, society, nature, and human nature.
7. Rahman, F. Effects of the contemporary technological model on the genetic regulation of inner human faculties. Journal of Social and Biological Structures. 3, 375-389, 1980.
1. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri:
Michael Hardt is an American political philosopher and literary theorist, currently based at Duke University, North Carolina, and Antonio Negri is an Italian Marxist, with a long history of struggle against the Italian capitalist government and state. He was accused of involvement with the Red Brigades and participation in the kidnapping and murder of a former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, in May 1978. He was also accused of other terrorist activities and some other murders and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He fled to France and was helped by some French philosophers to get a teaching position at the Université de Vincennes (Paris-VIII) and the Collège International de philosophie, where he taught along with the other post-modernists, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. In 1997, he returned to Italy and, as a result of plea bargaining, served the reduced sentence of 13 years in jail.
Among many other publications, Hardt and Negri coauthored a series of voluminous books, “Empire” (2000)-which they declared to be the Communist Manifesto for the 21st Century-“Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire” (2004), and “Commonwealth” (2009) (1, 2, 3). The three books consist of around 1,500 pages.
These books are written in post-modernist style and contain post-modernist contents. What Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont wrote in their 1998 book, “Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science”(4), mostly about the pretentious garbage bookfills of some French post-modern philosophers, written in unnecessarily complex and hard-to-comprehend language-also applies to these “Marxist” Theaters of the Absurd. I have never encountered such nonsense, written in the post-modern fashion. Fortunately, some knowledgeable and competent Marxists and others have gone through those huge garbage bookfills and written comprehensive critical reviews (5, 6, 7). Obviously, these reviewers also did that out of a sense of duty to expose the real nature of that huge grotesque output, in the name of New Communism. Their sense of duty was much greater than mine. I could never have forced myself to do that.
As the cited critical reviews have dealt with all the essential contents of those books, I refer the readers to them, and will only mention a few major problems, briefly.
The authors declare that the era of imperialism is over, at a time when there is an unprecedented conglomeration of imperialist and wannabe imperialist countries, even Russia and China having joined that conglomeration, after the Grand Betrayals of socialism and restoration of capitalism there! Never in history, there was such a large number of imperialist countries, cooperating as well as competing with each other, individually and in different blocs. They are also armed with incomparably more, and more destructive, weapons of mass destruction. Whenever the Third World War gets started, it would be the end of mankind, as well as most other forms of life. Even the imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, and the imperialist intimidation and coercion of Iran, did not open the eyes of these hallucinating post-modern “philosophers”, even though almost every one in these countries and most in rest of the world, including those that are illiterate, are aware of it, on various levels and in different forms. They claim that imperialism has been replaced by empire, which they describe in very fuzzy, hazy, and confusionist post-modern ways. In contrast to Marx, Lenin, and other authentic Marxist writers, there is no clarity in their writings. Only confusions and super-confusions. Their declaration of the end of imperialism and the publication of the bizarre “Communist Manifesto for the 21st Century” are also declarations of the end of Leninism-including Lenin’s theory of imperialism, which continues to be the trailblazer on this subject-, as well as of Marxism. They filled around 1,500 pages with all types of postmodern subjective diarrheas, which they claim to be the New Communism. There is no need to waste time on citing and refuting those here. The reader can see some of those in the cited references. After going through those 1,500 pages, one will only find a dead mouse (see the South Asian proverb on page 1).
Their farce of empire is interwoven with globalization, which they, in round-about and delusionary ways-and in contrast to almost all the progressives-consider to be good and essential for the establishment of their version of New Communism. Their imaginations in this regard are similar to those of Karl Kautsky’s ultra-imperialism. Within that paradigm, they consider any form of nationalism anywhere, including the national liberation movements, to be hindrances in the way of globalization and their New Communism! They even assert that the very low membership of American workers in the unions is a sign of their strength! Most of their declarations, statements, and assertions are so grotesque that they deserve multiple exclamation marks.
The lack of economic analysis and data in their most famous book, “Empire”, enables them to float above the reality in ethereal space and concoct all types of post-modern fantasies in pompous jargons.
In an earlier period also, during Lenin’s time, various new diversionist theorists, like Karl Kautsky (8) and Eduard Bernstein (9) had appeared in the socialist movement, with ideas that had similarity to the “new” ideas of Hardt and Negri, even though they were not as absurd as those of the latter. Rosa Luxemburg (10) and Lenin (11, 12) had effectively refuted their illusions and counter-revolutionary ideas and influences.
At the end of “Empire”, following demands of the “Communist Manifesto for the 21st Century” are listed:
1. The general right of the multitude (a hazy, confused, and confusing term) to control its own movement through global citizenship.
2. A social wage and a guaranteed income for all.
3. The right to reappropriation. This means the right of workers to have free access to and control the means of production of knowledge, communication, information, etc.
How are these demands to be implemented, does not concern the authors. It is impossible to achieve any of these demands without a socialist revolution of the working class and its allies, like the one that was carried out in Russia in 1917. Moreover, the achievement of first demand will only become possible after such revolutions have been successful in most or all countries of the world. The authors are again hallucinating here and floating freely in the empty space. After around 500 pages of nonsense of “Empire”, this is the dead mouse one finds.
“Empire” received such great applause and publicity by the academy- which is saturated with anti-Marxists, majority of who, like rest of the population, are totally ignorant of Marxism-and by the media, in the US, including The New York Times, that it created a shopping frenzy and the bookstores ran out of supplies. This once again shows the enormous powers of the media on the mass psychology and behavior of the Americans, including most of the so-called leftists. It is very likely that most in the frenzied crowds were such leftists. “Empire” was given such support and publicity because it preached anti-Marxism, in the name of Marxism, anti-Communism, in the name of Communism, and imperialism in the name of empire. Hardt and Negri are worst of all the phony stars of the left.
1. Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Empire. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000.
2. Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004.
3. Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Commonwealth . Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2009.
4. Sokal, Alan. and Jean Bricmont. Fashionable Nonsense. New York: Picador. 1998.
6. Di Nardo, Pietro. The Empire does not exist – a critique of Toni Negri’s ideas . Naples, Italy Wednesday, 15 January 2003
7. Empire, Multitude and the “Death of Communism”: The Senile Dementia of Post-Marxism. http://www.icl-fi.org/english/esp/59/empire.html
8. Kautsky, Karl. Der Imperialismus, in: Die Neue Zeit. 32 (1914), Vol. 2, p. 908–922; Karl Kautsky: Imperialism and the War, in: International socialist review, 15 (1914).
9. Bernstein, Eduard. Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie, Stuttgart 1899. First published in English under the title Evolutionary Socialism in 1907 by the Independent Labour Party.
10. Luxemburg, Rosa. Social Reform or Revolution. First Published: 1900 (revised second edition 1908).
11. Lenin, V. I. The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. First Published 1918 in pamphlet form by Kommunist Publishers, Moscow
12. Lenin, V. I. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. First published in mid-1917 in pamphlet form, Petrograd. Selected Works Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 1. 1963.
2. Professors Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick:
Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick are American academics, who have taught economics at the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst. Resnick has passed away. They have written several books and numerous articles on many politico-economic topics, including Marxism, political economy of the USSR, and other subjects. During the past few years, Professor Wolff has been getting the attention of various left-leaning and some other media, and significant publicity. He is also giving regular public lectures on the politico-economic problems in the US and other countries, and on his version of Marxism. As I did not find as good and comprehensive critical reviews of their works as I found of those of Hardt and Negri, I will have to spend more time on these. As I stated earlier, this will be a partial review of parts of their work and hypotheses, selecting and focusing on some of the major issues.
On the USSR, relations of production, and class theory
After the 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution, along with its innumerable supporters, throughout the world, it also had innumerable enemies, including capitalists, imperialists, ultra-leftists, anarchists, and even Marxists, who for various reasons, were anti-Soviet. Paul Sweezy, Charles Bettelheim, Martin Nicolaus, Samir Amin, and Cornelius Castoriadis were among the latter, who attempted to deny that the USSR was a socialist country, as opposed to the capitalist and imperialist enemies, who condemned it for being a Godless Communist state. Even China’s Mao Zedong had turned against the USSR during the late 1960s and started calling it “Social Imperialist” and “State Capitalist”, due to territorial and political conflicts and disagreements between the leaders of two countries. After the betrayal of socialism in the USSR and its destruction, a new breed of the so-called “Marxists” and “Communists” has emerged, among them Hardt, Negri, Wolff and Resnick, who have started destroying some of the most essential foundations of Marxism, Socialism, and Communism-under the guise of renewing and developing them-and using various subjective and prefabricated notions, are again trying to attach those labels to USSR, which is not even there anymore. They seem to be doing that mostly for self-aggrandizement and profits from the sales of books, lectures, videos etc., feeding on the cradle to grave brainwashing and disinformation against the USSR in the US and other capitalist and imperialist countries.
Even though Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and many German and French socialists had written about state capitalism in different contexts, and later, numerous other Marxists had tried to label the USSR with that term, Resnick and Wolff claim that their use of the term is original, as it is based upon their change of the definition of classes, on the basis of production and appropriation of the surplus, instead of on the basis of their relation to the means of production, one of the most important foundation of Marxism. However, even that claim is not true, as the Cornelius Castoriadis (a Greek-French eclectic, frequently switching political and professional positions, anti-Soviet, and had worked for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) had already described the class structure of the USSR in terms of production and appropriation of the surplus in late 1940s (Castoriadis, C. (1949). “Les rapports de production en Russie”, in La société bureaucratique 1, Paris: Union Générale d’éditions, 1973.). A large part of their book consists of discussions of this “original” and, what they obviously consider, a most important contribution to the knowledge of political economy. Throughout the book, much of their effort is devoted to asserting the originality of their definition and its applications. There is a dearth of facts and their relation to the theoretical discussions and speculations. They also try to muddy the waters by the use of some mathematical formulas, which some analysts have found to be erroneous.
I will start with a partial review of Resnick’s and Wolff’s book, “Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR” (1), published in 2002, two years after the above-mentioned book of Hardt and Negri, “Empire”. They had previously published another book on knowledge and class, in 1987, which was the precursor of their 2002 book, and has contents that are relevant to this review (2). The book is based upon their changing the Marxist definition and classification of classes, the most important foundation of Marxism. In Marxism, the classes are defined in their relation to the means of production. The owners of the means of production constitute the capitalist class, while those not owning them and working for wages for the capitalists’ extraction of surplus value and profits from their labor, constitute the working class. These are the two main classes in the capitalist mode of production. Resnick and Wolff change that to classification of classes on the basis of production and appropriation of surplus (1, p. 8). Working class is defined as the producer of surplus, while the capitalist class is defined as the appropriator of surplus. Hence, they define the classes in relation to the production and appropriation of surplus, instead of the Marxist classes, which are objectively determined by their relation to the means of production. This change may appear to be minor to laymen, but actually is of fundamental importance, especially for what the authors construct on it and use it for. In case of the political economy of USSR, they use it to mischaracterize it as “State Capitalist”, instead of Socialist or Communist (Marxist Socialism is a stage, involving a long period of time, during which the productive forces are developed to such a level that it becomes possible to transform the socialist relations of production into communist relations and the socialist society into communist society).
In his talks, Wolff constantly makes false statements about Lenin having said that the 1917 Socialist Revolution had created state capitalism in Russia (3).
The policy of using state capitalism, in the service of construction of socialism, was formulated by Lenin in 1918, in order to regulate the innumerable small and medium private capitalists and their enterprises by the new socialist state, during the transition period from capitalism to socialism, and prepare for their social ownership, attract investments from the developed capitalist countries for rapid development of the productive forces-on fixed terms and under the control of the Soviet state-, prepare the innumerable small peasants in countryside for collective socialist farming, and develop complimentary and harmonious relations between the two major classes in the Soviet society, that is, Peasantry and the Proletariat. Lenin had repeatedly stressed that the temporary and limited state capitalism under socialism would be completely of a different nature than that under capitalism. He also pointed out that no one, not even Marx, had written anything about the usage of state capitalism during transition from capitalism to socialism and that it was a new phenomenon that was necessary during the initial stages of the construction of socialism in the USSR, after the revolution (4). However, the civil war and foreign military intervention necessitated the implantation of War Economy. After the defeat of counterrevolution, under the New Economic Policy (NEP), state capitalism was introduced, along with and in the service of overall socialist political economy, under the control and planned regulation of the socialist state. The NEP and state capitalism were mostly terminated under Stalin, in the 1930s, and the transition to socialist political economy was mainly completed.
The example of a hypothetical socialist revolution in the US or other developed capitalist countries may be useful in this regard. After such a revolution, all the major means of production and industries can be transferred immediately from private ownership to social ownership. However, it will not be possible to do that immediately in case of innumerable small businesses and small family farms. Some form of state capitalism will be necessary to regulate them in a way that would prepare them for transformation into socialist enterprises, during transition from capitalism to socialism. It will have some similarities to the state capitalism, in the service of socialism, in the initial stages of construction of socialism in the USSR, but will also have major differences, because of the highly developed nature of productive forces. Among other things, it will not need to seek foreign investments or expertise to develop these forces or to make concessions to the foreign investors.
Soon after the revolution, armies from 14 capitalist countries, including that of the US, had invaded Russia to support the Russian counter-revolutionaries, who wanted to destroy the newly emerging socialist system and restore feudalism and capitalism. The civil war went on for several years, causing enormous destructions of property, industry, other resources, and lives. Russia had War Communism during that period. On top of that, these factors and the droughts caused the Great Famine in 1921. People were experiencing great sufferings, hunger, and malnutrition. Industrial and agricultural production were in great difficulties. Under these conditions, on Lenin’s initiative (5), the Bolshevik leadership found it necessary to introduce the New Economic Policy (NEP), which permitted private small scale farming, replaced surplus acquisition with taxes in kind, and some other small scale capitalist operations. Also, efforts were made to attract foreign investments. As all these changes were regulated and controlled by the socialist state apparatus and government, Lenin called it state capitalism, meaning that the newly introduced small scale capitalist operations, within the overall structure of socialist political economy, were introduced and regulated by the state, as temporary measures to boost production during that special period, in order to allow people to fulfill their needs in the best way they could-under those dire conditions-and to prevent any further social conflicts. This form of state regulated limited capitalism was introduced for the benefit of the peasantry, working class, and other common people of Russia, as well as for creating conditions for the development of socialism. This unique state capitalism was totally different from the state capitalism in capitalist countries, where the capitalist states and governments control and regulate parts of the production and distribution facilities and operations, which overwhelmingly benefit the capitalist classes. After the death of Lenin in 1924, the economic conditions continued to improve, and Stalin, in 1928, began the end of NEP and restarted social ownership of all the means of production through the socialist state. Wolff, again misstates the facts by claiming that Stalin merely declared the Soviet political economy to be socialist, while Lenin had stated that it was state capitalist. Attributions of both of these to those leaders are completely false (3). I have already shown the falsity, in regard to Lenin and NEP, above. As far as Stalin is concerned, he did not merely declare that the Soviet political economy was socialist. He instituted concrete and specific measures to end the NEP, and the particular form of socialist-state-regulated private capitalism in a very limited part of it, and associated with it, and replace it with all-round socialization of all the means of production. Do these very important errors of Wolff originate in his sloppiness or blatant lies? Whatever the subjective cause, objectively, these lead and add to the enormous false propaganda and disinformation against the USSR, prevalent in this country, in particular, and the West, in general. Under socialism, after the end of NEP, the USSR started making unmatchable progress in science and technology, industrial and agricultural production, education, culture, and peoples’ standard of living. During the Second World War, as a result of the socialist organization of military, human, and natural resources, it was able to defeat the largest invasion of history by the Nazi Germany’s armed forces, which were armed with all types of high technology weapons and means of transportation. On the subjective level, the Soviet socialist spirit was also one of the most important factors in victory. The Soviets were not only defending their fatherland/motherland, but also socialism against capitalism, imperialism, and fascism. At least 20 million Soviets sacrificed their lives for that purpose. Some estimates are as high as 30 million. This was indeed an unmatchable sacrifice and unequaled accomplishment, which not only saved the Soviet people, but the whole mankind from Nazi and fascist barbarism, racism, and slavery.
Central planning of the socialist economy of USSR had guaranteed real full employment (not around 5 percent unemployment considered as full employment, as in the US), free education at all levels, free healthcare, adequate food, and really affordable housing, for everyone, in the largest country on the planet. That was made possible only by the socialist mode of production, distribution, and exchange. No capitalist or other class-divided system or society has ever been able to do that in the entire history. No one could accumulate wealth and the highest incomes were ten times higher than the lowest. Numerous scientists were reported to have higher incomes than the government and political leaders or the bureaucrats. Resnick and Wolff insinuate that because the surplus was not appropriated by the direct producers, it was appropriated by the state and government officials. However, that is a blatant lie. The surplus was managed and distributed by the state and government officials to ensure that the above-mentioned and other needs of people, as well as the needs of industrial, agricultural, and military developments, were satisfied. It was also used to extend socialist economic and technical aid to other socialism-oriented and many Third World countries. Many of the economic and trade relations of USSR had socialist orientation. For example, they were selling oil to Cuba below and buying sugar from it above the market prices. After they built steel mills and other factories in India, they accepted payments for those expenditures and loans in the form of products produced in those. They also provided military, technical, political, and economic support to the victims of imperialist and racist aggressions and invasions, e.g., Vietnam, Angola, Cuba, and Afghanistan. The USSR also invested heavily in the rapid development of human and natural resources of those of its republics that lagged far behind in such development. All these operations required enormous expenditures of resources, which were created and met through the socialist organization of the economy, and with the mass politico-economic psychology of socialism, socialist solidarity, and anti-imperialism. They did not, and could not, appropriate the surplus for themselves, even if they wanted to, as extensive accounting and other controls and records were kept of everything. As there were no capitalists in the USSR, and the old Marxist definition of classes, under capitalist mode of production, could not be applied to the Soviet system and society, Resnick and Wolff manufactured the new definition of classes, in order to subjectively invent a capitalist class in the state officials.
Resnick and Wolff, in the aftermath of the Grand Betrayal of socialism in the USSR, shamelessly try to affix the label of “State Capitalism” over the whole period of socialist development in that country. Their above-mentioned maneuver to arbitrarily bring about a subjective change in the Marxist definition and differentiation of classes-and hence in the very foundation of socialism-enables their subjectivity to engage in and invent all types of other fantasies too. For example, they attribute feudal relations to soviet households and families-implying that men were exploiting women in the households- which is extremely asinine, as the relations of production in the Soviet society were determined by its politico-economic system, through the state. They were not determined separately by the households or enterprises. Soviet women had the same relations of production as men in that political economy, that is, socialist. There were no different relations of production in the households there, which the Professors invent in gross violation of reality. The Professors really got carried away on this one! Some other relations of production that they attribute to the Soviet system are also inaccurate and absurd concoctions.
This matter is of great importance, as it is related to future forms of transition to socialism and communism. Such slanders create the disinformation that the Soviet model of socialism was inherently defective, was not even socialism, and failed because of that. Hence, it should not be repeated in the future. However, the truth and objective facts are the opposite. Soviet model of socialism was highly successful. It did not fail. It was the human nature of the top Soviet traitorous leadership, under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, which failed and betrayed and destroyed the Soviet socialism and the USSR. Once that betrayal started on the leadership level, it started a chain reaction and spread like wildfire among the leaders and various sections of the populations of all the republics. Capitalism was restored in all of them. There was resistance to that Grand Betrayal, but it was not powerful enough to stop or reverse it. Like everything created by humans, Soviet socialism was not perfect, but it was the best of all the then existing socialisms. Its main features will be essential for any future socialist revolutions and their development. However, future socialist societies will have to institute much stronger safeguards against the emergence and success of traitors and counter-revolutionaries in the state and party organizations. That is the main lesson to be learnt from the demise of Soviet socialism and the USSR. Gorbachev had placed anti-socialists and counter-revolutionaries in key position of the state and party, as part of his Perestroika and Glasnost. The lower ranks of the party membership and the population at large failed to remove and replace them. That is the essence of what actually happened and is factually verifiable. The Professors attribute totally erroneous and highly speculative causes of the destruction of socialism-which they slander as state capitalism-in the USSR, speculating that it was mainly the result of petty production, outside the state regulated economy, which created individualism and opposition to bureaucracy, hence reducing the whole matter to subjective realm, offering very little “evidence” for their speculations. Hardt and Negri had also tried to attribute similar speculative causes to the demise of socialism in the USSR and the USSR itself, before The Professors did. As Clark (6) points out, “To characterize urban secondary employment as petty production is also subject to qualification, since plumbers, decorators, builders and electricians could not legally sell their services but generally helped out friends and neighbors in exchange for gifts in kind – a bucket of potatoes or a bottle of vodka.” They also include the small subsidiary plots of peasants, which they had, in addition to sharing the large collective farms, in the category of petty production. These subsidiary plots were allotted to them by the collective farms, on which they produced food with their own labor. They could not use hired labor there.
Everyone knows the disastrous consequences, throughout the world, that followed the destruction of socialism in the USSR. The diabolical imperialist invasions and wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, and Ukraine would never have happened, if Soviet socialism had not been betrayed and the USSR had not been destroyed. What Nazis could not do with all their high tech weapons and might and the largest invasion in history, the internal traitors were able to do with astounding ease. That is another lesson, which has been learnt repeatedly throughout the human history: The internal traitors are frequently far more dangerous than the foreign enemies.
Wolff similarly insinuates against Cuba, labeling its politico-economic system as having been state capitalist!
So, all the Soviet and Cuban leaders, including Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gromyko (a long time Foreign Minister, political economist, and author), Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara etc., as well as all the highly educated and competent Soviet and Cuban political economists and philosophers-as well as those from other countries-and hundreds of millions of workers, who believed that they were working for and building socialism, did not know what kind of politico-economic system they had and were building! Too bad, their book was not published earlier and they did not ask our Great Professors to enlighten them about that! What unmatchable conceitedness and arrogance, what unmatchable ignorance, being broadcasted all over the media, making money and gaining followers! However, that is a requirement for success in this sick society. Look at all the presidential candidates, for example. They are all exploding with loud-mouthed arrogance, ignorance, authoritarianism, and conceitedness, which money and oratorical skills magically transform into essential qualities for success. If you are modest, non-arrogant, non-authoritarian, knowledgeable, and unconceited, you will not get anywhere, not only for high offices, but also the lowest offices, like the city councils. In spite of what they claim, most people are conditioned to vote for the authority figures in the elections, and, of course, you cannot be an authority figure in this society, unless you have a lot of money.
In one of his public lectures, Wolff claimed that socialism can be established in diverse ways, including electoral (3). He gives the example of France for the latter, as the Socialist Party came to power there through elections. That is absurd, as the Socialist Party has only has the word “socialist” in its name. All its policies and actions are capitalist and imperialist, within the capitalist-imperialist political economy of France, as well as in various Third World countries-especially in its former African colonies, like Mali, where it has been intervening militarily, in support of its neocolonial clients-in full collaboration with the other major capitalist and imperialist countries.
In the US, among others, the late political economists, Victor Perlo (Even though, most of his book is about the political economy of the US, there is also a great deal of information about the political economy of USSR in it), and Albert Szymanski had done in-depth studies of Soviet socialist political economy and published books that contained great amounts of relevant economic and social data, and other information (7, 8). Szymanski had started out questioning and researching the nature of political economy in the USSR at a time when there was widespread propaganda, within the so-called “ultra-left”, about its being social imperialist and state capitalist. His methodology was scientific, as he examined large amounts of data and other information from a variety of American, Soviet, and other sources, and derived his conclusions from those. In spite of the widespread biases of American sources, which he included and cited in his research, the results showed that the Soviet political economy was socialist, in all the essential aspects. He could have used more information and data from the Soviet sources than he did, which would have shed more light on the subject he was researching. That book has a lot of statistical and empirical information, which the author placed and analyzed within the proper theoretical frameworks and tools. That 1979 book is the most effective refutation of the above 2002 book of Resnick and Wolff. In contrast, the whole sand castle of Resnick and Wolff is erected on subjective, unscientific, and erroneous foundations. As stated above, they concocted a subjective and erroneous definition of classes, and the hazy and ethereal anti-scientific notion of “overdetermination”, discussed below, and applied them to their distorted version of subjectively selected parts of Soviet political economy and society, for the predetermined goal of slandering the whole of Soviet political economy, throughout its long existence, as “state capitalist”. In other words, they tried to tailor the Soviet political economy to fit into their prefabricated subjective hypothesis. Among other authentic Marxist political scientists, Professor James Petras and Dr. Michael Parenti have written extensively on capitalism and imperialism. They, as well as Professor Noam Chomsky, who is not a Marxist, write in clear and simple language about complex issues, as opposed to the muddying, confusionist, and post-modern language, like that used by Hardt, Negri, Resnick, and Wolff, to muddy the waters, so as to make them look deep. In his lectures to the public, Wolff uses a much different and simpler form of language than that of his writings.
The Professors also use the obscurantist concepts of “Overdetermination”, borrowed from the French philosopher, Louis Althusser-in this book and others-to sow confusion about the interrelations between the Economic Basis and Superstructure (with numerous components, like cultural, political, educational, and media institutions; mass psychology etc.)-another foundation of Marxist political economy and philosophy-as well as its other important parts. The term “Overdetermination” has been used in mathematics and was also used by Freud in his interpretation of dreams. It was used by Althusser to hypothesize that any event or entity is shaped by other multiple events and entities. Even though, this led him to believe that there were no specific causes of specific effects, he conceded that some causes have more weight than the others, for example, economic causes having more weight than cultural, political, or psychological causes in politico-economic matters and problems. Resnick and Wolff carry that notion to an extreme and not only deny such relative weights of causes, but also any division between causes and effects. For them, all aspects of society shape each other and act both as causes and effects. They use these notions to undermine the relative importance of economic factors, class struggles, forces and relations of production, and revolutionary transformation of capitalism into socialism, etc., some of the key concepts and categories of Marxism. While Marxism tried to highlight these as the dominant factors, among all others, Resnick and Wolff attempt to drown these among the multitudes of other factors, including those that are relatively trivial as well as much less important. This is an extremely confusionist notion, which is not only the diametrically opposite of the clarity of Marxist philosophical and politico-economic concepts and positions, it is also detrimental to any rational and common sense understanding of social or natural reality. Through such obscurantist jargons, mathematical and other professional skills, and use of language that has much in common with the post-modern nonsense, their books and articles appear scholarly. In the upside-down world of the contemporary academia, among other things, the quality of writings and writers is judged by their more complex, jargon-filled, and round-about language-criteria of sophistication-instead of simplicity and clarity. Through such language, and the use of some theoretical daggers, they try to stab the very hearts of Marxism and Communism, in the name of renewing and developing them!
The professors resort to obscurantist generalities on the subject of overdetermination and float above the concrete and specific, instead declaring this or that part of politico-economic or social reality to be overdetermined. A specific example may be useful in clarifying this matter. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). According to overdetermination, there are numerous factors involved in that, e.g., genetic make up of the virus and the patients, deficiencies and weakness of the immune system, presence and effects of numerous other germs that also contribute to the symptoms, general health of individuals, nutrition, transmission and infection mechanisms, environmental factors, sexual and other contacts, etc. These other factors may well influence-and some of them may interact with the virus-the success and development of the infection, but the basic cause of the disease is the HIV, in the absence of which there will be no possibility of developing AIDS. Similarly, in the social disease of capitalism and imperialism, their economic basis produces all the symptoms and features of injustice; inequality; class divisions and conflicts; biased brainwashed and brainwashing news media, educational, judicial, cultural, political, and other institutions; poverty; unemployment; racism; colonialism and neocolonialism; mass dehumanizations; wars and other conflicts; etc. Of course, all these products and symptoms of the political economy of capitalism and imperialism interact with and influence the economic basis-as it creates and influences them-in multiple and variable ways, and may even become part of the secondary causal complex-but, the original and overwhelmingly more weighty and important cause of these and numerous other phenomena, is and remains the economic basis. But, the Professors would have us believe that, according to their version of overdetermination, both AIDS and symptoms and manifestations of capitalism and imperialism involve numerous factors and entities, none of which have more causal weight than the others and all of them are both causes and effects, and are overdetermined! Can there be any assertion more absurd and obscurantist than that?
This matter can also be described with the category of essence and appearance. In AIDS, HIV constitutes the essence of the disease, while all the other factors and symptoms are parts of the appearance complex. Similarly, the economic basis constitutes the essence of the capitalist mode of production, while all the numerous other factors and symptoms are parts of the appearance complex. Of course, there are dialectical interactions between the essence and appearances in both cases, with mutual conditioning and transformations. But, as long as the essence remains the same, the system as a whole also remains unchanged in its nature. In case of AIDS, medicines can relieve the symptoms and enable the patients to survive a few years longer, but, if the virus is not eliminated, they die after a few years. Similarly, progressive reforms can relieve some of the symptoms of capitalism and imperialism. However, unless their essence-the economic basis-is not changed, the capitalist mode of production continues unabated, through cycles of recession and recovery, which, inevitably, affect the existence and nature of reforms, as well as numerous other factors and symptoms, as a result of the dialectical interactions between the essence and appearances.
The assertions of overdetermination are profoundly anti-scientific and subjective in the extreme. Science, both natural and social, aims at discovering the essence and causes of phenomena, and the laws that govern their development and change. Appearances and symptoms guide science in reaching those goals. In general, the verification of hypotheses and assertions is much easier in natural and biological sciences than in the social sciences. This is especially true in case of the macro-level hypotheses, theories, and assertions. Innumerable academics in social sciences, in the capitalist and imperialist countries, take advantage of that difficulty and engage in all types of concoctions, distortions, perversions, diversions, omissions, and mutilations of knowledge and information, turning those “sciences” into intellectual components of the dominant system. Even overwhelming majority of the “leftist” academics do not dare to cross certain boundaries, which are invisible, but are there, and are understood both by such academics and the administrators. Their books, articles, and lectures are masked in the cloaks of “objectivity”, hiding various types of biased and omissive subjectivities.
The Professors attempt to eliminate all the distinctions between the essence and appearances, causes and effects, blending them subjectively into a mixture, in the subjective blender of overdetermination, into which they also throw in another subjective and postmodernist word “entry point”, through which, as the gatekeepers, they can control which words would be allowed in, to be attached to the selected phenomena. Their whole concoction is subjective and bizarre in the extreme. And they act as if they have discovered a new theory of relativity!
Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE)
In his public lectures and various writings, a lot of what Wolff is saying about the economic problems in the US-like the problems of poverty, unemployment, pensions, corporate control of the economy and politics, collusion between the corporations and the government-is, obviously, accurate, and I agree with much of that. It has also been said by innumerable other researchers, writers, and speakers, before him. A lot of statistics that he cites have been researched and documented by other organizations and individuals, and have already been cited numerous times in various publications. However, he gives particular Wolffian flavors and twists to such information, by his oratorical and acting abilities. Even though, he efficiently and accurately presents these problems to his readers and audiences, the general politico-economic and philosophical frameworks, he places and analyzes them in, are not only un-Marxist but anti-Marxist, erroneous, and necessarily lead to proposed solutions that are flawed too, from the perspectives of real Marxism, Marxist Socialism, and Communism. This is the result of interactions of the accurate empirical and statistical facts with inaccurate theoretical contexts, which produce erroneous and distorted results. His constant preachings about Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE-workers coops) being an alternative to capitalism and solution to the problems he discusses, and leading to the socialist or communist transformations of capitalist political economy, is an important example of that. Instead of replacing the capitalist political economy with socialist, through a socialist revolution, and replacing the political power and control of the capitalist class with those of the working class and its allies, he advocates the worn-out anti-revolutionary and reformist view that socialism can be established in society with the spread of WSDE and other such methods. More than 115 years ago, Eduard Bernstein had also come up with the hypothesis of workers’ coops leading to evolutionary socialism (9). Rosa Luxemburg in a pamphlet, “Social Reform or Revolution” (10), had revealed the problems and contradictions inherent in that notion. She pointed out that such coops either become like the other capitalist enterprises or dissolve and fail, because they are forced to survive within the context of the overall political economy of capitalism. The accuracy of her insights has been proven repeatedly and continues its validity. Moreover, it is completely impossible for such workers’ coops to lead to the replacement of capitalism with socialism in the whole society. To imagine that this is possible, is delusionary in the extreme.
In one of his videos, he proposes that the government should buy out the corporate properties, by using the Eminent Domain laws, and transfer them to workers’ ownership! It is not only totally impossible to expect this from a capitalist-imperialist government-which is operating within an extremist and the leading capitalist-imperialist system in the world-but entirely unfeasible, as it will require countless trillions of dollars to do that. How can this economy, which has the greatest debt in human history-$18 trillion-come up with those kinds of colossal resources, for that purpose? The whole thinking of WSDE being the solution to the immense, complex, and multidimensional problems of the Advanced Capitalist-Imperialist Technocratic Societies (ACITS), and leading to their socialist transformations, is delusionary. Even if a few such companies and businesses are able to be created, these will function in the ocean of capitalist-owned companies and businesses, in the overall political economy of capitalism, and will be forced into various types of capitalist relations and competitions, increasingly leading to their becoming like the latter. In due time, if these WSDE survive, their worker-owners will acquire many of the characteristics of capitalist-owners. If workers themselves are able to finance such companies, the revenues will be distributed in proportion to their investments, leading to inequalities. No company in the modern economies are self-sufficient. They are entangled in the webs of interrelations, exchanges, purchases of needed items, sales of products, needed services etc. The WSDE will be almost entirely dealing with the capitalist-owned companies and businesses in this regard, which will inevitably affect their nature and operations. In an article in the Guardian (11), the Professor cites the example of Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC), a workers coop established in the Basque region of Spain, in 1956, which started with the ideas of a Catholic priest named José Maria Arizmendiarrieta. He paints a one-sided rosy picture of MCC, in support of his reformist agenda, and ignores and excludes many facts and developments that show the increasing accommodation and integration of MCC within the capitalist and imperialist political economy, as well as acquisition of some important features of capitalist-owned companies.
MCC is the largest workers coop in the world and since its modest start has become one of the largest corporations in Spain. It has also expanded to other countries, like the other corporations, in quest for higher revenues and profits. However, in most of its international branches, it practices the capitalist operations and the workers coop relations either do not exist or are minimized. Even inside the Basque region and Spain, it has been acquiring some of the features of capitalist owned enterprises, like part-time workers, lay-offs, bankruptcies etc., creating inequalities and dissatisfactions of the workforces. The decision-making processes in the MCC have become highly centralized and it has joint ventures with capitalist-owned companies.
The June 2015 Video (3) is a good example of the contradictions of the Professor. When he talks about the problems of American society, he is on the mark. But, when he talks about Marxism, socialism, and communism, he goes haywire and makes all types of false and bizarre statements and comparisons. He equates the Soviet Marxist Socialism and coming to power of the Communist Bolsheviks, after the revolution of 1917-which he slanders as state capitalism-to the non-existing socialism in France, as a result of electoral victory of the Socialist Party-which has nothing in common with Marxist Socialism-there. He declares that as an example of the accuracy of Eduard Bernstein’s reformist theory of evolutionary socialism, which he had proposed in 1899, and which was effectively demolished by Rosa Luxemburg, a very competent theoretician and practitioner of revolutionary socialism. However, Bernstein’s theory is inapplicable to the French Socialist Party or French political economy, because neither is Marxist Socialist, which is what Bernstein was writing about. As mentioned above, The Professor also slanders the statements and actions of Lenin and Stalin during the 1920s, in regard to state capitalism and socialism. He continues to peddle his reformist-syndicalist delusions of workers coops leading to socialism and disappearance of capitalism. He does all that with astounding assertiveness, self-righteousness, and oratory. He even puts words into Karl Marx’s mouth and takes some statement favorable to workers coops out of its context, in support of his agenda! Marx never considered the workers coops as the vehicles towards socialism. In fact, he pointed out how and why many capitalists had started endorsing them for the benefit of capitalism (12). Marx clarified his position on this matter in his “Inaugural Address of the IWMA (The International Working Men’s Association) 1864”, with the following statements:
“At the same time the experience of the period from 1848 to 1864 has proved beyond doubt that, however excellent in principle and however useful in practice, co-operative labor, if kept within the narrow circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly lighten the burden of their miseries. It is perhaps for this very reason that plausible noblemen, philanthropic middle-class spouters, and even kept political economists have all at once turned nauseously complimentary to the very co-operative labor system they had vainly tried to nip in the bud by deriding it as the utopia of the dreamer, or stigmatizing it as the sacrilege of the socialist.”
The Professor is very selective in his citations of out-of-context statements and facts. He also freely slanders the statements and actions of some of the greatest and sincerest leaders and theoreticians of Marxism, and confuses and muddles the nature and reality of various political economies and theories, with surprising incoherence and incompetence, e.g., the above-mentioned slander of USSR and Cuba having been state capitalist political economies, misapplication of Bernstein’s theory to the electoral victory of French Socialist Party, equating that to the victory of 1917 Russian Revolution and Marxist Socialism, and attributing his own delusion of workers coops leading to socialism to Marx.
In an interview on the Democracy Now, Professor Wolff was asked about his connections and meetings with the corporate executives. He replied that he was meeting them because they also need new ideas. Obviously, he is trying to develop relations with every side he can, no matter how contradictory these might be. For what, one wonders! He has been making a lot of money from the sales of his books, videos, lectures etc. He is also asking for donations on his web site and charges $10 from each of his audiences in the public lectures and asks the viewers on the Internet and other media to also send him ten dollars. He even tries to make them feel guilty if they do not. The man is evidently intoxicated with his new-found success and considers himself to be the gift of God to mankind! Unemployed and the poor cannot attend his lectures, as they cannot afford the fee he charges. Why does he not even allow such poor and unemployed people to attend his lectures, without having to pay the fees, when he is constantly roaring about the injustices being done to them and their victimization, and making a lot of money from that? The economics professor seems to be obsessed with money. He is financially very well off, getting retirement income from his previous well-paying job, new job at another university, and sales of books, videos etc. Why does he have to stoop down to this level, for making as much money as he can? Is it not the same kind of psychology and behavior that he condemns the super-rich and corporations for?
Capitalist governments, states, and corporations fully realize that they have nothing to fear from the workers coops and that these can be beneficial to the capitalist system, as workers energies are diverted from any revolutionary activities against the system to such ineffective operations. Even the fascist regimes of Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy had encouraged such coops. If there is some significant revolutionary upsurge in the working class and its allies in the US, and if there is a capable and smart capitalist administration, like that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt-which had countered such an upsurge, prevented its growth, and saved capitalism, with its various reformist and progressive policies-one of the intelligent and effective maneuver it may use would be to encourage such workers coops, to deflect and divert the revolutionary energies of the working class to such ventures, create divisions within it, prevent the growth of such upsurge, and save capitalism, just like President Roosevelt had done, using other methods. Wolff’s proposed paths to socialism will lead to the opposite results in such a scenario. It will prevent the success of movement towards socialism and preserve capitalism.
The Professors declare that the private property is compatible with socialism and communism “private property can be consistent with and supportive of a communist class structure” (1, p.53)! Wolff has also stated that commodity production has nothing to do with capitalism “Intensive Introduction to Marxian Economics” video lectures, 2009 (13)! These are gross violations of the foundations of Marxist Socialism and Communism. In the USSR, a distinction was made between private and personal property. Private property involves ownership of the means of production, exploitation of hired labor of others, and extraction of surplus value on that basis, while personal property does not involve these and is based upon one’s own work. For example, small subsidiary plots were allocated to farmers by the collective farms, in which they worked, in which they could produce food with their own labor or labor of their families. They could not use the labor of hired workers on those personal plots. Hence, the private property was not allowed in the Soviet socialism, while personal property in the above and other forms, like possession of cars and other consumer goods, was permitted.
Professor Wolff is a very articulate and efficient salesman of Wolffism, which makes it difficult for most people to catch or challenge his theoretical, philosophical, and politico-economic flaws that are of crucial importance in the contradictory nature of his writings and lectures. Like Hardt and Negri, Resnick and Wolff try to stab Marxism, Marxist Socialism, and Communism in their hearts, dig their graves, create their apparitions, and claim those to be the renewal and development of Marxism, Marxist Socialism, and Communism. What they have proposed is Resnickian and Wolffian socialism or communism. They have every right to do so. However, they have no right to peddle it as Marxist Socialism or Communism. A leading Russian anarchist, Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (1842-1921) had also tried to develop a theory of communism in the form of anarchist communism, a stateless form that allegedly could be introduced immediately after the destruction of capitalism. However, that was a totally impossible, unrealistic, anti-historical, and subjective proposal and lead to nothing, even though many current anarchists still advocate that. There have been numerous attempts to reinvent communism and erode the foundations of Marxism, but they have all been proven to be wrong and ineffective, and failed. Even the most passionate and profound existentialist philosopher of consciousness, being, individuality, freedom, and freedom of choice, Jean Paul Sartre, was forced to recognize that, in the epoch of capitalism and imperialism, it is impossible to go beyond Marxism. A profound and accurate insight. I will only add “essential foundations” to that, so that it becomes, “In the epoch of capitalism and imperialism, it is impossible to go beyond Marxism and its essential foundations.”
1. Resnick, S.A. and R. D. Wolff. Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR. New York and London. Routledge. 353 pp. 2002.
2. Resnick, S. A. and R. D. Wolff. Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.
4. Lenin, V. I. On State Capitalism During the Transition to Socialism. Collection from Collected Works. Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR. 1983.
5. Lenin, V. I. The New Economic Policy And The Tasks Of The Political Education Departments. Report To The Second All-Russia Congress Of Political Education Departments October 17, 1921. Lenin’s Collected Works 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 60-79. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/oct/17.htm
6. Clarke, S. Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff: Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 22, 2003.
7. Perlo, V. Super Profits and Crises: Modern US Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1988.
8. Szymanski, A. Is the red flag flying? The political economy of the Soviet Union today. London, Zed Press, 1979.
9. Eduard Bernstein. Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie, Stuttgart 1899. First published in English under the title Evolutionary Socialism in 1907 by the Independent Labour Party.
10. Luxemburg, Rosa. Social Reform or Revolution. First Published: 1900 (revised second edition 1908).
11. Wolff, R. D. “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way,” The Guardian, Sunday, 24 June 2012 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree…
12. Marx, K. Inaugural Address of the IWMA (The International Working Men’s Association) 1864. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/10/27.htm
13. Wolff, R.D. Intensive Introduction to Marxian Economics” video lectures, 2009.
3. Professor Noam Chomsky:
I wrote the following critical article about some of Professor Chomsky erroneous positions on April 4, 2011. It was updated on April 7, 2015. It is self-explanatory and continues to be relevant to the issues discussed in it, especially to the situation in Libya. Libya under the late Moammar Gadhafi was incomparably better off in every way than under the current Western puppets and various militant Islamic groups, which are tearing each other apart, have created utter anarchy and chaos, and destroying all the social, political, economic, and international accomplishments and progress of the 1969 Revolution of the late Moammar Gadhafi. For a detailed analysis of the transformation of Libya after the 1969 Revolution and its destruction by the US and other Western powers, the following link to my article may be useful:
A brief review of some of Noam Chomsky’s erroneous positions (updated)
Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. Completed on April 4, 2011
First posted https://imperialismandthethirdworld.wordpress.com
As Chomsky is a great celebrity of the left and much of the left is also bogged down in the intellectually and spiritually debilitating cult and mass psychology of celebrity worship-like rest of the American society-the identification and critiques of his erroneous positions from leftist perspectives-some of which are of fundamental importance-are very rare, even though there is superabundance of attacks on his ideas and positions by the right-wing writers, in the service of their ruling class ideology and interests. As Chomsky has had great intellectual influence on the left, it is of utmost importance to differentiate his blunders and errors from his positive and accurate contributions, in order not to be mislead by the former and to develop accurate and logical leftist positions on political economy and various events in the world.
Along with his great intellectual contributions, Noam Chomsky, the Guru of American Left, has taken some erroneous positions, some of which are astounding strategic blunders. As much of the left in this country and a considerable part of it in other Western countries has been, and continues to be, influenced by him, it is important to identify these, without denying or negating the accuracy and depth of much of his voluminous analyses and writings on various issues. Below is a brief summary of some of these:
1. In his latest and otherwise excellent interview and article on Libya (1, 2), Chomsky is using the same terminology about Gadhafi being a “dictator” and “brutal tyrant” that the mainstream media and Western governments are using, without mentioning or citing the specific facts of the political economy of Libya, within which, free education, including higher education, and free medical care are the substantial and legal rights of all Libyans. In the Green Book, Gadhafi also writes about the right of all human beings to own their own houses, and according to some published information in this regard, all Libyans have been provided with their own housing. Moreover, the prices of food and other basic necessities are heavily subsidized by the Libyan state and are very cheap and affordable. If that is dictatorship, then probably everyone-especially the tens of millions of impoverished and suffering people in the US-should have it too. Libyans have incomparably superior economic democracy than in the US, the most boastful citadel of capitalist democracy, which is engulfed in the swamp of a prolonged and all-round structural economic, political, cultural, and social crisis. The more it tries to extricate itself from it, the deeper it sinks. With close to $14 trillion national debt; more than 50 million of its citizens without health insurance (according to a recent Harvard Medical School Study, 45,000 Americans die every year because of lack of health insurance and medical treatment); 20 percent unemployment; 43 million so poor that they cannot even feed themselves and have to depend on food stamps to survive; 22 percent poverty and hunger rate in the children; 3 million suffering the horrors of homelessness; the greatest inequality of wealth and income in the industrialized world (according to a recent publication, relative inequality in the US is greater than even in Egypt. It certainly is much greater than in Libya.); and systematic state violations of domestic and international laws and its own constitution; application of draconian laws and practices, like the Patriot Act; prolonged incarcerations without judicial trials; international tortures and kidnappings; putting tens of thousands of its citizens and residents on the “No Fly List”, without even informing them that they are on it; widespread espionage and violations of the privacy of its own citizens; systematic firing of people from their jobs because of minor political dissent; widespread racist discrimination and injustice against the minorities, etc. etc., in the US, the American intellectuals-who need to address these problems in their own country-must also take these comparative substantial factors into account, when passing wholesale judgments on the politico-economic systems and regimes of other countries. It is also important to be open-minded to understanding the nature of alternative models of democracy that may be different from the conventional model of western capitalist democracy. Very few American intellectuals have attempted to do that. Instead, in spite of their criticism of the politico-economic system of the US, they generally act as if it is the bastion of freedom and democracy or has the best relative democracy in the world, in spite of its various flaws. With few exceptions, when they talk about democracy, they do not specify the kind of democracy they are talking about. In particular, they confuse the capitalist democracy with democracy in general, which is totally erroneous and leads to a plethora of blunders.
Why did the interviewers and Chomsky totally exclude these most important and substantial facts from the interview? Is it ignorance or deliberate undermining of the substantial issues, and restricting discourse to only subjective, idealistic, and positivistic-analytic realm, which is free from the need to relate to the objective politico-economic facts and reality? This interview is not an isolated case. Almost all the other ZNet articles and writers are also infected with similar biases, flaws, and deficiencies. ZNet is overflowing with such speculative articles that, with rare exceptions, float above the concrete political economy of Libya. This is also the general approach of almost all the authors at ZNet to other events, issues, and problems. Some of these are truly bizarre, e.g., Robert Zaretsky, in his piece, compares the Libyan rebellion to the Spanish Republican resistance against the fascist forces of Franco, implies that their fight is anti-imperialist, and advocates the imperialist intervention and support of the rebellion, on the basis that Orwell would have done that too!(3). Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan also follows a similar line, strongly advocates the active support of rebellion and imperialist intervention, and admonishes those sections of the Left that are not taking such a position, for not doing that (4). There seems to be censorship of articles that do not follow the ZNet Party-line. Also, ZNet and other so-called “leftist” Western “intellectuals” restrict democracy only to its Western capitalist forms and do not even bother to inform themselves on alternative forms of democracy, like the innovative form that it took in Libya after the 1969 Revolution. Chomsky and numerous other bourgeois or petty bourgeois intellectuals in the US have no experience of poverty, hunger, unemployment, lack of medical care, inability to afford the high costs of higher education or proper housing etc., as a lot of them are well off and some have become very rich, compared to not only the poor and unemployed, but also to the working and middle classes. Therefore, they do not really understand or relate to the great importance of the solutions of such problems for the people who suffer such deprivations in the capitalist “democratic” systems. For them, the non-substantial subjective-intellectual dimension of democracy and imperialism-and their incessant analyses, sprinkled with volumes of arguments and relevant and irrelevant examples-becomes the determining criterion in assessments of diverse politico-economic and social systems, conflicts, and problems. The objective and substantial dimension of economic democracy and issues are relegated to such a secondary position in this regard that these are not even mentioned in such assessments. This is particularly the case when the former is contradicted by the reality of the latter, as in case of Libya and Gadhafi. These leftists float above the concrete political economy.
Chomsky’s approach to invasion of Libya is similar to that of Afghanistan, in which, in spite of his opposition to the invasion, he had stated that it was good that the Taliban were overthrown by the invaders, even though, he would have preferred that Afghans themselves had done it, with the arming and support of the West (5). But Taliban were popular at that time and the imperialist intervention and invasion have made them even more popular now, as they constitute the main force of resistance to the invasion. It was impossible to replace them democratically or otherwise. They could only be overthrown by the kind of imperialist invasion that actually took place. Now, the puppets of imperialism are heading the government there, do not have control over much of the country, except in the capital, and even there they are in the process of losing it. Corruption, cronyism, warlordism, crime, war and destruction of lives and property, opium and heroin production and smuggling etc. have all multiplied. So, was the overthrow of Taliban government by the invaders a good thing or bad? Chomsky has been proven completely wrong in this connection. In Libya, the situation is even more complex, as the main mobs and leaders of the rebellion are being controlled by the CIA, MI6, and other imperialist masters. So, if the current Libyan leadership and government are replaced by them, it would be an incomparably worse development.
Some references and links have been included in the Notes that contain such facts and analyze the Libyan politico-economic system, and its invasion by Western imperialism, far more comprehensively, concretely, and accurately (6, 7, 8, 9).
2. The foundation of politico-economic and philosophical positions of Chomsky remains murky, varying between anarchism and socialist anarchism. In general, even most of the socialists and communists in the US have contradictions between their ideology (socialist or communist), on the one hand, and their psychology and behavior (predominantly capitalist), on the other. This is not surprising and is to be expected in a society that is dominated by such an extremist form of capitalist political economy, like the US. Mass psychology and behavior in a given society are overwhelmingly determined by its political economy. US is no exception in this regard. To the contrary, it is the best proof and example of it.
3. The greatest blunder of Chomsky has been, and continues to be, in his appraisal of the collapse of USSR, as a positive and good thing. To my knowledge, he has never repudiated that position, even though, it has now become crystal clear even to many of the not so intellectual leftists and other progressives that it has been one of the greatest disasters that mankind has suffered in its history. As a result of that collapse, the US imperialists are now claiming and acting as the “Sole Superpower” and “Full Spectrum Dominance” over the whole planet. If the USSR had not collapsed and socialism was not betrayed there, there would have been no invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya; no bombing of Yugoslavia; no millions of dead and wounded; no tens of millions of refugees, impoverished, and subjugated people; and numerous other unchecked manifestations of US militarism and aggression.
4. Chomsky also continues to stick to his extremely bizarre and irrational position on Lenin and Leninism, which he considers to be anti-socialist! In an email, he had informed the author that Lenin had destroyed socialism in Russia! It does not make any sense. How can such a great intellectual, with such a great intellect and reservoir of knowledge, can come up with and maintain such an anti-factual, anti-logical, anti-historical, and grotesque position. Lenin was the greatest genius of communism and politico-economic knowledge after Marx, and, under his leadership, the first successful communist revolution took place in the largest and most diverse country on the planet, Russia, which was transformed into USSR, in which progress and development in all areas of life and society were achieved with unprecedented speed. The greatest traitors of all history-Gorbachev, Yeltsin et. al., inflicted the greatest betrayal on revolution, the USSR and its people, and all the progressive mankind on this planet, restored capitalism there, and gave the greatest gift to the imperialists and capitalists, creating immense demonic joy and gratification in the latter. But, why would the Guru of leftists in the main imperialist country be also gratified and happy about such most sinister setback for the USSR and mankind? The following critical assessment of Michael Parenti is relevant in this regard:
“Noam Chomsky, who is an inexhaustible fount of anticommunist caricatures, offers this comment about Leninism: “Western and also Third World intellectuals were attracted to the Bolshevik counter-revolution because Leninism is, after all, a doctrine that says that the radical intelligentsia have a right to take state power and to run their countries by force, and that is an idea which is rather appealing to intellectuals.” Here Chomsky fashions an image of power-hungry Leninists, villains seeking not the revolutionary means to fight injustice but power for power’s sake. When it comes to Red-bashing, some of the best and brightest on the Left sound not much better than the worst on the Right. […] According to Noam Chomsky, communism “was a monstrosity,” and “the collapse of tyranny” in Eastern Europe and Russia is “an occasion for rejoicing for anyone who values freedom and human dignity.” I treasure freedom and human dignity yet find no occasion for rejoicing. The postcommunist societies do not represent a net gain for such values. If anything, the breakup of the communist states has brought a colossal victory for global capitalism and imperialism, with its correlative increase in human misery, and a historic setback for revolutionary liberation struggles everywhere.” (10).
Update of April 7, 2015
It is obviously very important to assess the ideologies and various positions of influential intellectuals, like Chomsky, accurately and objectively. Too many just follow lockstep with them and their positive and accurate as well as negative and erroneous positions. Some of Chomsky’s negative and erroneous positions and flaws are of fundamental and ideological nature. He usually writes and speaks in abstraction from those and therefore these remain hidden, and, in abstraction, he appears to be convincing and brilliant on various individual issues, even though the foundations of his thinking affect and color these in usually subtle ways, and sometime, nakedly and transparently. If one reads or listens to him with knowledge of his flaws and contradictions, and with a critical mind, one can select and benefit from a lot of important and accurate contents in what he is saying. But, one has to be able to differentiate and abstract these from the overall ideology and flawed contents. One does not have such problems with writers like James Petras or Michael Parenti, as they do not have such flaws of fundamental and ideological nature and their various positions are transparently consistent with such foundations. Of course, one may, as I do, disagree with them on certain issues or some of their analyses, but such disagreements are of logical and factual nature, and do not involve dealing with the author’s inherent. contradictions.
A couple of specific examples of Chomsky’s contradictions:
His anti-communism, anti-Leninism, and anti-Sovietism-which are the very essence of the foreign policies and actions of imperialism-coincide with those of the American and Western European imperialist ruling classes, and yet he claims to be opposed to US and European militarism and imperialism. In the international affairs, the most important essence of communism, Marxism-Leninism, and Soviet policies and actions has consisted of anti-imperialist and anti-militarist policies and actions. This is a fundamental and objective contradiction. He cannot resolve it by ignoring it, floating above it, and resorting to abstract subjective discussions, which may only make sense and appear rational and convincing if one treats them in abstraction from the above contradiction.
Similarly, if he is opposed to Cuban communism and Marxism-Leninism, his opposition to the US interventions in Cuba are politico-economically and logically contradictory, as the primary goal of US imperialism has been, and continues to be, to overthrow and destroy the politico-economic system there, which has been constructed on the basis of communism and Marxism-Leninism.
Noam Chomsky is a famous American writer who has written some penetrating critiques and analyses of the American foreign and domestic policies and actions. However, some of his positions, like his anti-Sovietism, anti-Leninism, anti-communism, and glee at the overthrow of socialism and restoration of capitalism in the former USSR, have been extremely irrational and bizarre. These positions, regardless of his intentions, objectively coincided with those of the American and European imperialists. They must have been overjoyed that such an influential leftist, with large followings, held the same positions, in such crucial matters, as themselves. Whether he realized it or not, these positions were very useful to the powers that controlled the levers of imperialism and were applying them throughout the world, their biggest goal being the reversal of history in the former USSR, Eastern Europe, China, and other socialist countries, which were trying to create classless societies, and in which the monstrous inequalities and injustices of capitalism had been greatly reduced and replaced with unmatchable relative equality, justice, and satisfaction of the essential human needs of housing, food, healthcare, employment, education etc., for everyone in society. These goals were accomplished to variable degrees in different socialist societies, depending on the level of development of their productive forces. Even Cuba, a relatively under-developed Third World country, was able to make great strides in implementing many of these objectives. After the counter-revolutions, overthrow of socialism, and restoration of capitalism, all the sinister problems of social inequality, injustices, corruption, prostitution etc. have exploded in the former socialist societies with such great speed and force that they have even surpassed those in the US and Western Europe.
How can such a bright intellectual like Chomsky not see the connection between the betrayal and destruction of socialism in the USSR and USSR itself and the invasions and devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria by the US and its NATO allies, in which more than three million humans have been slaughtered, countless millions injured, uprooted, and turned into refugees, with all the immense sufferings that result from that, infrastructures and economies destroyed, sectarian and other civil wars started that continue unabated, victims hardened into brutal revenge seekers, creation of Taliban, Al Qaeda, Islamic State (Daesh), and numerous other militant groups? If socialism had not been betrayed, capitalism not restored, and the USSR had remained what it was, the US and NATO would never have dared to engage in such invasions and aggressions. Even people with average intelligence understand that. How can an extraordinary intellectual like Chomsky not understand that?
The catastrophic dangers of the Third World War have also multiplied because of the multiplications of aggressive inter-capitalist and inter-imperialist competition for the world’s resources, markets, and spheres of influence and domination, as a direct result of the betrayal and destruction of socialism in the former socialist countries. And yet, Chomsky has not repented or rectified this one of the greatest blunders of his life. And his numerous followers continue following his footsteps. So, what is the great Guru of the American left so happy about? What is happening in the post-socialist world was totally predictable.
Another great problem with Chomskyism is that it has no credible proposals for solutions to the problems it analyzes so sharply and exhaustively, mostly in the positivist and analytical mode. Dialectical mode seems to be alien to it. It has no vision of what and how the current politico-economic system of imperialism, and its countless institutions, will be replaced with. In contrast, Marx and Lenin had identified and explained such transformations and replacements, in great detail, precisely and concretely. Some of Chomsky’s associate anarchist gurus at the Znet and Zmagazine have come up with various subjectivist illusions of the so-called Parecon (Participatory Economics), which they consider to be a substitute for Marxist-Leninist theory of politico-economic revolutionary transformations. Parecon is nothing but an updated version of the thoroughly discredited hot air balloons of the anarchists of the 19th Century, like Bakunin, Kropotkin etc. There is no substitute for the essential stages of the socialist revolutions that were discovered and worked out by Marx and Lenin, and later further elaborated upon by numerous Marxists-Leninists. No matter how the current anarchists cloth their subjectivist politico-economic concepts-with floods of written and spoken verbal diarrheas-which may even look and sound convincing, these remain hot air balloons, impossible and unrealizable.
Postscript August 24, 2015
References 11 and 12 have been added for this review, as these involve an interview of Professor Chomsky on March 12, 2013, and the paper on Chomsky was posted in 2011. I will only comment on a few selected issues of that interview, as I do not want to spend more time on it.
In this interview, he is completely distorting, misrepresenting, and slandering the nature of Russian Revolution of 1917; Soviet political economy; Lenin’s role in and objectives for that revolution; Lenin’s tireless efforts to guide it correctly on the socialist tracks-even when he was in disabled condition on his death bed-in the dire conditions, created by the civil war, foreign invasion, and famine; the nature of Marxist political economy; and essentials of replacing capitalism with socialism, etc. Chomsky excludes all the concrete factual information and data from his rant, and resorts to empty subjective rhetoric that rationalizes his long-established subjective and erroneous positions on these issues. What I wrote on the position of Resnick and Wolff on the USSR above, is applicable even more to Chomsky’s position, as he deals with it in total abstraction.
Professor Chomsky’s positions on Lenin, and his role in the 1917 Russian Revolution, are incredibly grotesque. He slanders Lenin, his great accomplishments, and his impeccable character and politico-economic and philosophical genius with astonishing arrogance, vulgarity, and ignorance, claiming that he destroyed Soviet socialism and that he was power hungry. Anyone who knew Lenin was impressed with his great intellect, dedication to Marxism and socialism, and modesty. Numerous people wrote their personal testimonies to that. These and other slanders against Lenin, USSR, communism, and Russian Revolution are so bizarre that only an extremist prejudice and hate can explain their origin, a prejudice and hate that Chomsky shares with the capitalists and imperialists. Obviously he is not a stupid or ignorant person. To the contrary, he is a self-taught learned scholar in politics and international relations, who has been able to build great influence among the American and Western Left. However, prejudice and hate can paralyze and distort even higher level intellects. Overwhelming majority of social and natural scientists-many with high levels of intellectual abilities-in the US, Europe, and their Third World client nations are also blinded by such biases. Exceptions like Albert Einstein, who had advocated replacement of capitalism with socialism, are extremely rare.
Professor Chomsky-who is not a Marxist, and as an anarchist, is an anti-Marxist-seems to think and act as if he knows Marxism better than not only Lenin, but also Marx himself! He tries to create a non-existing Chomskyian opposition between Marxism and Leninism and intoxicatedly arrogates to himself the intellectual powers to pass absolutely wrong, wholesale, and subjective judgements on who is Marxist and who is not, what is Marxism and what is not, and what is socialism and what is not. As elsewhere in his writings and talks, this whole interview lacks any concrete politico-economic facts or information about the relations of production in Russia and the USSR-and their dynamic and dialectical developments-either before or after the revolution. Much of the interview is an exercise in subjectively tailoring the Soviet reality to make it fit into Chomsky’s psychological fixations and biases, which, according to his own admission, he developed when he was 12 years old, at a time when Marxism-Leninism, Socialism, Communism, and the USSR were in their life and death struggle against fascism, imperialism, and Nazi Germany and its allies. Apparently, he never got over those fixations. Such delusionary arrogance is, among other factors, a product of the huge numbers of followers that he has developed, and their uncritical reinforcement, as well as the all-pervasive celebrity and star dominated mass psychology and culture in the general population-including almost all of its so-called leftists, most of whom are petty bourgeois, middle class academics, intellectuals, and students, aspiring to climb up the class ladders, Chomsky himself being an upper middle class petty bourgeois intellectual, who, in economic terms, has nothing in common with the working class, the poor, and the oppressed in this country or elsewhere-, mass media, and much of the so-called leftist media, which continue to promote only such misleading and contradictory “leftist” celebrities and stars.
Lenin had studied all of Marx’s writings thoroughly and reflectively, and had written their summaries, in clear and simple language, as a service to the working class, its allies, and the masses. No one has ever understood, developed, or applied Marxism better than Lenin. Under his intellectual leadership and guidance, the first socialist revolution had succeeded in the largest country of the world, against great odds. What has Professor Chomsky accomplished after decades of incessant and voluminous writings and talks, except personal financial and status success, and gathering large numbers of followers that he has been misleading and disinforming in some of the most important and crucial matters, like Lenin and Leninism, Marx and Marxism, communism, USSR, Russian Revolution of 1917, and what needs to be done to confront and replace the current absolutely evil and unjust capitalist and imperialist political economies and institutions. He neither has any credible or potentially effective proposals for that nor what exactly these would be replaced with. Even though his criticisms of the current system, and its various manifestations, are sharp, he proposes no effective strategy, tactics, or solutions to the problems he identifies. All his ideas in that regard are hollow, vague, and doomed to failure. His above-mentioned erroneous positions also created divisions within the Left.
His position on the workers cooperatives is also similar to that of Resnick and Wolff and my analysis of the latter above, also applies to Chomsky’s.
1. Chomsky, N. Noam Chomsky: On Libya and unfolding crisis. Interviewed by Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert. ZNet, March 31, 2011.
2. Chomsky, N. Libya and the world of oil. ZNet, April 5, 2011.
3. Zaretsky, R. Libya: What would Orwell do? ZNet, March 19, 2011.
4. Cole, J. An open letter to the Left on Libya. ZNet, March 29, 2011.
5. Chomsky, N. Interview-U.S. intervention from Afghanistan to Iraq, International Socialist Review, Issue 25, September–October 2002.
6. Rahman, F. Gadhafi, Libya, counter-revolution, and the pack of imperialist hyenas. Dandelionsalad.wordpress.com, March 27, 2011.
7. Perreira, G. Libya, getting it right: A revolutionary Pan-African perspective. Blackagendareport.com, March 2, 2011.
8. Martin, P. Mounting evidence of CIA ties to Libyan rebels. World Socialist Web Site, April 4, 2011.
9. Hyland, J. The agents of Washington and Britain within Libya’s opposition. World Socialist Web Site, April 2, 2011.
10. Parenti, M. Blackshirts and Reds. City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1997.
4. Chris Hedges:
The following partial critical analysis of some of the major theoretical, philosophical, and politico-economic flaws and errors of Chris Hedges was written on November 10, 2011, within the context of an article on Occupy Wall Street Movement, which he was disinforming about Marx and Marxism, Bakunin and Anarchism, 1960s anti-Vietnam War Movement, and Black Panthers etc., discussed briefly in this article. I have not kept up with his later positions and activities. However, in one of his recent articles on truthdig.com, “We are all Greeks now” (see the link below), he continues to slander communism. On page 2 of that article, he writes,” Fascist and communist firing squads sometimes charged the victim’s family for the bullets used in the execution.”, equating fascism with communism and giving no evidence for this slander against the communists. Of course, one can always dig up “evidence” from the volumes of lies and disinformation literature about communism, which has been created in the US and other capitalist-imperialist countries. As far as his anti-communism is concerned, it seems that Hedges continues to be part of that propaganda machine. In his anti-communist and anti-Leninist utterings, he parrots Noam Chomsky, as he himself seems to be totally ignorant of Marx, Lenin, and the contents of their writings or their great accomplishments. He, like the others leftist stars, feeds on the Celebrity Addiction Syndrome of his addicted followers, and gets away with astounding slanders and bizarre pronouncements, in this regard.
Like a typical demagogue, he remains vague about solutions of the problems he discusses. Exactly what kind of revolution he is proposing? Certainly, it is not the Marxist-Leninist socialist kind, the only real alternative to capitalism and imperialism. Noam Chomsky has written a lot more competently about American hegemony, deterrence of democracy etc. However, his approaches are also limited by his anti-communism. Many of these leftist elites are financially quite well off-some very well off-and their horizons are limited by that. Some are able to describe the problems accurately, but are unable or unwilling to identify their real and deep roots and causes. Marx, Engels, and Lenin did not have those mutilating limitations, and, therefore, were able to discover the real causes and deep roots of such problems, as well as foresee their development in the future, and propose effective solutions in the form of socialist and communist revolutions. Later, numerous Marxists-Leninists in this country, as well as in other countries, developed and deepened that knowledge and insights further, in relation to the historical and politico-economic developments.
Also, in response to his more recent article on Truthdig.org (with the following link) , I wrote a similar comment as the following, which is self-explanatory.
Comment on his article “What it means to be a socialist.”
There is nothing original in this article. Numerous other real socialist writers, like the late political economist, Victor Perlo, Dr. Michael Parenti and Professor James Petras, have written about most of these issues incomparably more competently, logically-factually, and in-depth, without the demagoguery and sensationalism that Chris Hedges resorts to in this as well as his other writings and talks. Most Americans, including most of the so-called “leftists” and “progressives”, are conditioned to relate to and be trapped by such demagogueries and sensationalisms to an astounding degree. These have magical effects, especially in the environment of almost complete ignorance of real socialism, Marxism, essential requirements for socialist revolutions, and what it would take to make the transition from capitalism to socialism. In contrast to objective and scientific definitions and criteria of socialism, this demagogue, who is loaded with fundamental contradictions, errors, and ignorance of real socialism, is substituting his own personal subjective judgments on what is socialism and what is not, who is socialist and who is not. Exactly what kind of socialism he is taking about? It certainly is not Marxist Socialism, which was a revolutionary transformation of all the previous utopian and idealist forms of socialism into scientific socialism. Is he regressing into one of the pre-Marxist socialisms that had even failed to produce any socialist reforms, much less any socialist revolutions or socialist societies, or is he creating his own personal-subjective version of socialism? At times, he seems to be reducing socialism to nothing but one’s moral development! Even though, he, like so many other critics of the system, describes its injustices and evils quite accurately, the overall context of his approach leads to extremely diversionary, misleading, and delusionary directions and conclusions.
The article is full of quotations of other writers and some data from other publications, to which Mr. Hedges adds his own sensationalist flavors. His previous writings have included anti-communism (anti-real-socialism) and anti-Marxism, even though he has used some out-of-context quotes of communists, like Friedrich Engels and Karl Liebknecht, in the service of his own vague, impossible, and demagogic agenda. He also cites the history of destruction of IWW, a Marxist revolutionary organization, and Big Bill Haywood and Eugene Debs, who were Marxist revolutionaries and with whom he has nothing in common-as far as the real nature of socialism or the socialist revolution are concerned- for the same purposes. His confusionist tactics in this regard are totally dishonest and bizarre. He also quotes Vaclav Havel, the Czechoslovakian anti-socialist counter-revolutionary, who, after the destruction of socialism and restoration of capitalism there, became its leader. A person who supports the anti-socialist capitalist counter-revolutions in the USSR and Eastern Europe has no right to call himself a socialist. His socialism is not only delusionary, but is anti-real-socialism (anti-Marxist-Socialism). In this country, the word socialism has become very confused and distorted, being used for all types of progressive agendas and changes. Its real meanings and contents need to be restored. With friends like Mr. Hedges, real socialism does not need any enemies. There is a whole bunch of such anti-socialists in this country who are masquerading as socialists. With verbal super-diarrheas, demagoguery, sensationalism, and connivance of the confused and confusionist leftist media, they have been able to achieve celebrity statuses among large parts of the left, which is as prone to celebrity worship and sensationalism as rest of the society.
The following link to my article contains an in-depth analyses of several of the stars of the American Left, including Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky, posted on my own web site. You can get a fuller understanding of what I am trying to say by reading it.
End of comment and postscript
Occupy Wall Street-On the strategy and tactics of non-forceful and forceful responses to the violence of the capitalist-imperialist state
Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. Completed on November 10, 2011
In this article, a dialectical approach to the strategy and tactics of non-forceful and forceful forms of struggle, in face of the all-round violence of the capitalist-imperialist state, is proposed. As some of the pacifist, progressive, and anarchist or anarchist-like speakers and writers of the 2011 American Protests (Occupy Protests) are absolutizing the non-violence-not only as a tactic, but also as a permanent strategy and philosophy of the struggle-a brief critique of them is also included in this paper. Also as some, like Chris Hedges, are misrepresenting the meanings, relevance, and role of Marx and Marxism, Bakunin and Anarchism, 1960s anti-Vietnam War Movement, and Black Panthers struggles etc., specific refutations of their specific distortions have also been presented here.
Constructive critiques of Occupy Protests
For the leftists, it is not easy to be objective and critical of a developing movement, like the Occupy Protests (OP), which has emerged from a politically brain-washed, brain-dead, and money-things-power-worshipping society-after decades of walking-deadism-as all leftists, Marxists, and other good-willed and social justice oriented people identify with it, want it to grow and succeed, and want to focus on its positive qualities and potentials, especially when the right-wing pundits and politicians are vilifying and slandering it. However, constructive critiques and identification of the flaws and deficiencies, by the Left, is most essential, as these are of such great importance that if these are not faced head on, it will inevitably lead to failure and dispersal, in relation to all the major politico-economic problems and issues. So far, such constructive critiques have been very rare (for example 1, 2, 3). Overwhelming majority of the articles of progressives and leftists have only focused on the positive qualities and potentials of the OP. There is no doubt that the emergence of OP in-itself constitutes a great positive development. Even if it does not aim for or achieve the essential larger politico-economic goals and objectives, and only attains partial and limited reforms, it will be a step in the right directions, and will be useful for subsequent revolutionary developments, just like the failed 1905 Russian Revolution had paved the way for the successful October 1917 Russian Revolution.
As William Bowles pointed out, the S-word (Socialism) seems to be a taboo in the OP (3). This is the greatest, most crucial, self-defeating, and self-destructive flaw in the developing OP-a result of the cradle to grave Pavlovian prejudicial conditioning against socialism in this advanced alienated society, which has made overwhelming majority of protesters unable to see the obvious and self-evident truth that socialism is the only real and effective solution to the great politico-economic, social, cultural, and mass psychological problems that have developed and accumulated in this extremist capitalist-imperialist society over decades and centuries. As pointed out in an earlier article (1), all the objective conditions for transition to socialism and socialist solution are over-ripe in the Advanced Capitalist-Imperialist Technocratic Society (ACITS). It is only the deformation, mutilation, and stultification of the Subjective Factor, mass subjectivity, and mass psychology, which are the greatest barriers to this and preventing this, at this stage of the history of ACITS.
Forms of violence of the state and forms of resistance
US society is one of the most violent capitalist-imperialist societies in the entire history of mankind, which subjects very large numbers of people, within its own boundaries, as well as in rest of the world, to numerous forms of violence, the most brutal physical-military forms unleashed on countries of the Third World that are no match for it in conventional military warfare and strength. The brute physical violence is only one of these forms. Economic and financial violence is another major form, which, in some ways, is even worse than the former. Blacks and other minorities have been subjected to this latter form throughout its sinister history. In fact, the Great Depression never ended for the Blacks and other minorities. Now, large numbers of Whites-who were complicit and silent on this great oppression and repression of minorities-are coming out and protesting, because they are also being subjected to some of the same deprivations that Blacks and other minorities have suffered for decades and centuries. These are irrefutable historical facts, which the current mostly White and White-lead developing movement must face, if they wish to bring large numbers of Blacks and other minorities into the movement. Most Whites, including those in the Protests, are conditioned in the WASP mass psychology, and are unable to relate to or incorporate ideas, analyses, thoughts, and feelings that come from outside the boundaries of that mass psychology. The origins of this mass psychology involve very complex politico-economic, cultural, philosophical, and technocratic factors-as well as the powerful influences of various forms of positivism and neo-positivism, operationalism, scientism, technicism, and dollarism, which have not only conditioned the academia, but also much of the society, as well-which this paper cannot go into here. However, its most important, debilitating, and self-defeating flaw is that it, by and large, is very shallow and superfluous and tends to float on the surface of phenomena, without relating them to their roots, essence, and fundamental causes. And, it does that most self-confidently, self-righteously, and arrogantly, with the pretensions and illusions of practicality and factuality.
The essence of current Protests is that the discarded progeny of Capital is demanding a small share of Capital. It has no larger politico-economic goals or agenda, at this stage. Only a very small part of it has such goals and agenda. Without such goals and agenda, nothing will change. Even if, somehow, most or all the protesters got their small share of the Capital and got employed, they will only become part of the greedy, corrupt, exploitative, dehumanizing, and repressive system, corporations, and companies. That may solve their personal financial problems, but will do nothing to solve the incomparably more important and larger politico-economic, social, cultural, and mass psychological problems. To the contrary, it would feed into and enhance these problems. That is what inevitably happens when a predominantly utilitarian approach to such problems is adapted and practiced, instead of one based on concrete principles, developed on the basis of deeper analysis and understanding of problems, their appearance, and essence.
Police, military, intelligence agencies, the Orwellian justice and court establishments are only the most visible institutions of repression and violence. All the other major institutions of this society-as integral parts of the system of domination, control, exploitation, and violence-are also practicing, perpetuating, and enforcing these.
Within such an environment, when protests, like the current ones, explode, it is essential to see the overall reality and multidimensional nature of the violence of the system and the society it has created-the worst of which is inflicted on the human nature itself-if real solutions, goals, strategy, and tactics are to be developed. The Protests neither have such deeper understanding of the complex problems, nor have any effective goals, solutions, strategy, or tactics, at the current stage. Instead of dealing with such fundamentally important matters and problems, and establishing the essential solid foundations to stand on and operate, they are spending almost all of their time, energy, efforts, and resources on the creation of bureaucratic procedures, committees, beating the drums, chanting slogans, and occupying some tiny areas of various cities. Some of the Occupy web sites are even purging and censoring the writings and comments of genuine leftists and Marxists from their sites, like that of New York Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and Occupy Chicago-latter being the worst, as it has installed a moderator, with power to censor comments and posts, even before these are posted, thereby making it impossible for anyone to know which posts were censored and why.
Non-forceful and forceful forms of struggle
Mankind is living in an era which is dominated and saturated by massive brutal violence of the capitalist and imperialist states, first and foremost, that of the Godfather of Imperialism, the USA, in all its numerous forms. Almost every important domestic and international issue and matter is being ultimately decided by brute force. In certain situations, like the current one in the US-in which the balance of forces is entirely against the resistance-it is necessary to resort to the tactic of non-forceful struggle (as the term violence has negative and unethical connotations, it is hereby proposed that it should be reserved for the unjust use of force, in the service of injustice and repression. The just and ethical resistance to that force, in the service of justice and freedom, needs a different terminology. Here, we will use the terminology of non-forceful and forceful forms of struggle, for that purpose). However, it is a great strategic and intellectual blunder to elevate the non-forceful struggle to the level of exclusivity and general strategy. Non-forceful resistance is predominantly associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and struggle for the independence of India. Combined with other forms in an extremely diverse society, it was successful in India primarily because the British imperialism was exhausted during the Second World War. However, it is important to note that forceful resistance of Afghans in Afghanistan had succeeded decades earlier, against the British Empire. The civil rights movement of the 1960s had also used this tactic and was able to achieve partial legislative success in civil rights, which also resulted in economic improvement for a tiny section of Blacks and other minorities that became part of the White bourgeoisie and middle class, but left overwhelming majority of them in the same or even worse economic deprivations. Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence has failed even in India, his home country, which has now become one of the most militarist states, with insatiable lust for nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and has been colonizing Kashmir and slaughtering its Muslim inhabitants for decades, killing at least 100,000 of them and wounding and inflicting other deprivations on countless others. The current Indian politico-economic system and mass psychology are diametrically the opposite of Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of non-violence.
The key point here is that to achieve success, the forms of struggle will need to be dialectically flexible, in accordance with the changes in the balance of forces.
Contradictions of the progressives: example of Chris Hedges
There are numerous progressives, whose activities and writings on the OP reveal contradictory qualities and tendencies. A good example in this regard would be Chris Hedges, whose numerous writings have appeared, among other media, on Dandelionsalad. On the one hand, as a reporter, he is presenting good empirical information and participating in the teach-ins about peaceful and non-violent protests. However, on the other hand, he is absolutizing these, not only as a tactic, but also as a permanent strategy and philosophy. Moreover, in some of his articles, when he ventures into the theoretical politico-economic matters and comparisons of OP with the 1960s anti-Vietnam War movement, he falls apart and starts misrepresenting the historical facts and the role, accuracy, and impact of some of the founders of Marxism and anarchism (e.g., 4, 5).
On 1960s anti-Vietnam War Movement and Black Panthers
After some good analysis of the important problem of alienation of minorities from the White liberals and their movements, in discussing the 1960s anti-Vietnam War movement, Hedges tends to tailor the facts to fit them into his subjective preferences and engages in astounding generalizations about a very complex and diverse movement (4). Even though, hippies and hedonists only comprised a part of the diverse groups of that movement, he focuses on those, as if they represented the whole or major part of the movement. Students for a Democratic Society had a very large membership and, in spite of diversity in its leadership, the top intellectual leader was Tom Hayden, who was very well-read, well-informed, and serious leftist. Hedges does not even mention him. Under his leadership, the movement was in the process of developing anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist positions and had established contacts with the revolutionary movements in the Third World, including that of Vietnam. Hedges selectively focuses on some of the obvious flaws and weaknesses of some selected parts of that movement, exaggerates and generalizes them, and omits its strengths and positive qualities and accomplishments. Similarly, he greatly exaggerates and generalizes the positive qualities and potentials of the current Occupy Protests and omits their flaws and weaknesses, most probably not even perceiving them as such.
Perhaps the worst blunder Hedges made, in this regard, was to equate the forceful resistance of the Black Panthers (BP) with the violence of the capitalist-imperialist-racist state. In fact, BP advocated the right to defend themselves and their communities with arms, against the routine armed violence of the forces of racism. They had also started community service programs, like free breakfast for children. In some cases, the FBI and police forces disrupted those services and destroyed the food supplies. In addition to direct violence of the FBI, police forces, and agents provocateur-planted by them against the BP –violence between the BP and some other Black groups, like United Slaves, was also plotted and instigated by them. Even the in-charge of the BP security in Chicago turned out to be a FBI plant, who provided crucial inside information that lead to the brutal murder of BP leaders in Chicago by the police. BP had become the main target of FBI’s Black Nationalist Counter-intelligence Program.
Organized Vs spontaneous nature of social revolutions
Like numerous anarchists and Trotskyites, Hedge’s characterization of social revolutions in Russia and other countries as spontaneous is also totally erroneous (5). Both Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were the result of highly organized working class and peasant strikes and actions. They had started the working class councils in various cities in 1905 that became soviets during 1917 and played a major role in the October Revolution under the leadership of Bolsheviks, which later became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Similarly, the revolutions in China, Vietnam, and Cuba were anything but spontaneous. These were the result of formulation of concrete goals, agenda, plans, strategy, and tactics. In the former two countries, these were carried out under the leadership of communist parties, and took decades of military and political struggle to succeed, while in Cuba, the revolutionary leadership formed and merged into the communist party after the success of the revolution.
On Marx Vs. Bakunin
Like overwhelming majority of Americans, Hedges reveals himself to be an anti-Marxist and starts denying and obscuring the enormous and unmatchable contributions of Karl Marx to political economy, philosophy, and world history (5). Before it was betrayed in USSR, China, and Eastern Europe, Marxist socialism had been established in numerous countries, containing around one-third of the world population, and had resulted in unprecedented rapid development in all areas of life there, including social justice. He omits and ignores these great historical facts and attempts to resurrect the anarchist Bakunin, stating and implying that he was right and Marx was wrong. In fact, Bakunin and other anarchists had produced some minor and mediocre works that neither contained any analysis of the political economy of capitalism nor of anarchism. These were mostly demagogic and appealed to peoples’ emotions for freedom and individuality, without identifying the concrete chains in which these were shackled in the political economy of capitalism, or the effective methods of breaking those chains. They advocated an immediate transition to a stateless and governmentless society. They and their followers were totally unsuccessful in creating any stable anarchist society anywhere. Wherever they tried on local levels, like Barcelona, Spain, these were very short-lived and resulted in chaos, anarchy, and misery, as well as damages to the war efforts of the Republican forces, against the fascist forces of Franco and their allies in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, in effect, strengthening and benefiting the fascists. Marx had an enormous reservoir of knowledge at his disposal, while Bakunin and other anarchists had very limited knowledge in the relevant areas. Marx spent all his life, much of it under conditions of poverty and misery-in which some members of his family died, due to poor nutrition and untreated illnesses-in writing the most original, in-depth, and comprehensive analyses of capitalism, its political economy, and concrete and specific methods of freeing society and human nature from its sinister shackles, in history. No other intellectual contributions come even close to his. Even though, his focus was on the production of the most essential theoretical and intellectual work, he also found time to participate in the practical actions of the working class, like in the International Workingmen’s Association (the First International) and the guidance and advice to the Paris Commune of 1871. More than anything else, Marx was a philosopher and political-economist of social revolutions. And yet, in one of Hedges articles, one finds this astounding statement, “Bakunin, however, unlike Marx, was a revolutionist.” (5). He also totally misrepresents Marx’s objective and dialectical analyses of the contradictory roles and relative importance of petty bourgeoisie, peasantry, poor, and the lumpenproletariat in the revolutionary process. Before, during, and after the October 1917 Russian Revolution, under Lenin, who understood and applied Marx’s strategy and ideas of class struggle better than anyone else, the importance of peasantry for the success of revolutionary struggle and the revolution was fully recognized, and was second only to that of the working class. Hedges reduces all the complex dialectical analyses of the contradictory roles and relative importance of peasantry and other groups, mentioned above, in the revolutionary process, by Marx and Marxism, to completely erroneous, shallow, and distorted assertions, as if Marx and Marxists had nothing but contempt for them. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Jean Paul Sartre, the famous French existentialist philosopher, who wrote incomparably more comprehensive, important, and deeper works on the nature and problems of human freedom, individuality, capitalism, and Marxism, than Bakunin and other anarchists, was forced to conclude that it was impossible to go beyond Marxism at the current stage of world history. A profound statement, the full explication of which will lengthen this article even more. Very simply put, what he meant by it was that as long as capitalism and imperialism exist, there is no alternative to Marxism. Only when these are replaced by socialism globally, will it become possible for a new philosophy and political economy to emerge and develop. Until then, all such efforts, in their essence, are doomed to end in the pre-Marxist and pre-socialist philosophies, political economies, and ideologies.
In some of his articles, Hedges admits the usefulness of vocabulary of Marx, but only in abstraction and fragmentation from its meanings and objective references. In other words, he wants to reduce Marxism to empty words that can be used freely by him or anyone else, for any purpose (6)! Like many other anti-Marxists, he put a short quote of Marx, taken out of context, at the end of one of his articles, supposedly in support of some of his anarchist or anarchist-like assertions about the OP (5).