Monday, October 11, 2010

Hamas, Hezbollah, and So-Called “Resistance” Against Zionist Imperialism

I recently discovered a blog called The Charnel-House. It is a socialist blog devoted to philosophy and art. I found it to be one of the most insightful blogs on the left, and should be supported. The writer doesn't pull punches. This piece is a good piece for discussion.

To all those who support the actions of jihadist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas on the grounds that they are supposedly putting up brave “resistance” to the imperialist forces of the U.S.-backed Israeli military, I submit the following quotes from Lenin (whose original theory of imperialism is unfortunately claimed as an inspiration by so many the anti-imperialist zombies floating around today). First, from chapter five of his 1916 work, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism:

“Imperialism is as much our ‘mortal’ enemy as is capitalism. That is so. No Marxist will forget, however, that capitalism is progressive compared with feudalism, and that imperialism is progressive compared with pre-monopoly capitalism. Hence, it is not every struggle against imperialism that we should support. We will not support a struggle of the reactionary classes against imperialism; we will not support an uprising of the reactionary classes against imperialism and capitalism.

Consequently, once the author admits the need to support an uprising of an oppressed nation (‘actively resisting’ suppression means supporting the uprising), [Kievskii] also admits that a national uprising is progressive, that the establishment of a separate and new state, of new frontiers, etc., resulting from a successful uprising, is progressive.

Notice, Lenin states that Marxists should only support progressive political tendencies in their struggle to achieve national self-determination. I.e., not the reactionary jihadist forces of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose sexist and homophobic ideology is founded on the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism. Indeed, if Lenin didn’t make himself clear enough on this score here, he spelled it out even more explicitly in 1920:

“With regard to the more backward states and nations, in which feudal or patriarchal and patriarchal-peasant relations predominate, it is particularly important to bear in mind:

first, that all Communist parties must assist the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement in these countries, and that the duty of rendering the most active assistance rests primarily with the workers of the country the backward nation is colonially or financially dependent on;

second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries;

third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.

Now I understand that many critics of Israel are influenced by Homi Bhabha’s post-colonial theory, and are familiar with his tedious notion of “hybridity.” Still, in light of Lenin’s unequivocal call here for Communist parties of all nations to combat Pan-Islamism and similar forces, it strikes one as exceptionally odd that some today would attempt to create a hybrid “International Pan-Islamic Communist Party of Proletarian Islam,” which claims to “believe in the Teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad” while “also believ[ing] in and follow[ing] the Revolutionary Communist teachings of V.I. Lenin [!!], Mirza Sultan-Galiev, Tan Malaka [this makes sense, obviously], J.V. Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kwame Nkrumah, Fidel.” This ideological confusion is compounded by the fact that Stalin personally signed the order to have Mirza Sultan-Galiev executed in 1940, on grounds of deviation brought about by his attempt to synthesize Marxism with pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic ideas (despite his perverse authoritarianism and numerous betrayals of revolutionary Marxism, it seems Stalin remained in fundamental agreement with Lenin on this point, at least).

Disregarding such extreme and contradictory manifestations of this bizarre tendency of leftists today to side with reactionary movements in their struggle against imperialism, we may return to the more troubling mainstream phenomenon of which this is a symptom. Imperialism, as Lenin states, is more progressive than the fanatical religious tendencies that fight to resist it, or the so-called “Marxist” groups (the PFLP, the LCP) that collude with them. But to be clear, this does not amount to an endorsement of U.S. or Israeli policies of aggression. All that it means is one should not support tendencies that are even more wretched than foreign, imperialist domination, simply in the name of national self-determination.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the re-post of my entry. This blog has a lot of great posts, so I'm honored to have had mine featured.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: Send me an email at my address at my profile. I have some interesting things to tell you.

Anonymous said...

All right, I will.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, what are your main theoretical and political influences?

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: I'm in the International Marxist Tendency, formed by Ted Grant and Alan Woods. It's a Trotskyist group.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm mostly familiar with the Spartacists, as far as Trotskyist organizations go. I checked out, and I was impressed. The site seems very well-organized, and it seems to generate a lot of relevant material one world politics and events. I don't share the enthusiasm about Venezuela, however, though of course I oppose further U.S. intervention into South America.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious, though, as for their reasons for supporting the Chavez government. Why do they feel the Left should support the Bolivarian Revolution?

sonia said...

A very intelligent post. Unfortunately, this is a minority position on the Left.


You should listen to Rosswolfe on Chavez. There is nothing even remotely progressive about him - his latest praises of China confirm once again his totalitarian tendencies. He's blinded by his hatred of United States.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: I don't endorse Chavez. I support him. I only endorse the ideas of the IMT.

Chavez is an honest person, often confused. He is a supposed dictator, who won more monitored, fair elections than anyone.

He built the largest labor party in the world, the PSUV. Our group is based as the Marxist tendency inside mass workers parties.

With a popular leader like Chavez, if you denounce him, people will think you are pro-oligarchy etc. How you deal with a popular leader is agree with the good things they do. If Chavez says food is being hoarded to get raised prices, you reply nationalize the food distribution industry, under workers control. Lenin never said, "Down with the Czar." They raised slogans against corrupt capitalist ministers. Instead of "Down with Castro," you call on him to expand workers control. Even in the US, when workers follow corrupt union leaders, you make positive demands. All of my examples are hypotyhetical, but the idea is about how to deal with popular leaders.

Chavez is a friend of Alan Woods. He tells Alan that people complain he goes too far. In an oil economy, there are jobs for bureaucrats and careerists. They obstruct Chavez's good points.

It's a dialectical world. Not every situation can be pure or ideal.

The Spartacists tactically are the opposite of us. They believe workers will come to them. We are based in mass parties.

When workers move, the first place they head is to the unions and labor parties. That is lesson one.

In Pakistan we have thousands of members. We are based in the PPP as its Marxist wing. The PPP at one time had a socialist program, that we agitate to return to. In England we took over the government for years in Liverpool. In Venezuela we are the Marxist wing of the PSUV and lead the workers control movement. In Brazil we're in Lula's party. Our candidates all won.

Sonia: I don't word things like Ross.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: No matter how imperfect Chavez is, the opposition in power would be catastrophic. During the 2002 coup, they were so undemocratic, that they split, with many going to Chavez's side. Their first act was abolishing elected offices. Food programs, literacy campaigns, affordable college will be gone. No Cuban doctors, who go to remote areas.

Ted Grant added to Trotsky's theory of Proletarian Bonapartism. The idea that a government could have a nationalized economy and a Bonapartist government. That characterizes Stalinism, and various third world governments led by generals, intellectuals etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the present alternatives to Chavez's government in Venezuela are grim, and I can see your point about the approach mass movement like the IMT must take with popular leaders. The political situation in many of these South American states are similarly poor, with corrupt, U.S.-funded quasi-dictatorships and anti-imperialist movements which are often hardly much better. For Venezuela's sake, given the options it currently faces, I hope Chavez remains in power.

However, I do have a problem with a lot of the political messianism that has centered around the Bolivarian Revolution in general and the character of Chavez in particular. A lot of the people I've talked to on the Left have really latched onto Chavez's success in building a grass-roots labor movement and his brazen defiance of the U.S. and believe that Venezuela might provide the launching point for a world socialist revolution, or at least a revolutionary model for other Third World countries to follow. Most of them have grown disillusioned with China after its shift to state-directed catastrophe capitalism, and now feel that they must rally around Chavez in Venezuela and defend him at any cost.

Frankly, I think such a position is delusional. I'm not sure how the IMT comes down on this, but from your response you seem to express healthy reservations about endorsing everything Chavez does. From the little I've read from IMT's website, they appear to be pretty rational and circumspect. This is more than I can say for many on the Left, whose love affair with Chavez blinds them from having any critical perspective on the matter.

I tend to view the Left's current attachment to such figures as a sign of desperation, as a measure of how far progressive politics have fallen internationally in the last hundred years. This is the perspective my friend Marco Torres adopts with respect to the Bolivarian Revolution. He wrote an article detailing this interpretation for the Platypus review, "The Dead Left: Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution." I'll warn you, it's pretty mean, but you might find it an interesting reassessment of Chavez.

Larry Gambone said...

"Unfortunately, this is a minority position on the Left."

Not true, Sonia. The Communist Party does not support Hamas etc, neither do the anarchists, nor do the Mandelist Trotskyists, nor do the Greens, nor do democratic socialists like the SPUSA, nor does the French New Party etc. The groups who do, are with one exception Maoist or Trotskyist groupucules which account for nothing in numbers and influence. The only group of any size is the IST (SWP UK) and they are very much a minority of the worlds socialist movements.

Larry Gambone said...

Ross, my former economics professor, Mike Lebowitz and his friend Marta Harneker are both advisers to Chavez. They do not worship him, and Mike has gotten into dispute with the right-wing of the PSUV. In fact, I don't know anyone who worships Chavez, but only supports the Bolivarian Revolutionary process in hope that it will continue to develop in a socialist direction. To stand on the side lines and throw insults, as many of my anarchist comrades do, is to get nowhere, as Ren points out.

Anonymous said...

I understand your position, Larry, and in fact I suspect that most who are actually close Chavez don't treat him as some sort of messiah-figure. It's from a lot of the itinerant leftists floating around, as well as some members of the Maoist Fight Back! FRSO and Trotskyist groups like the ISO and especially the WIL (in their Socialist Appeal publication) that I usually hear the more uncritical support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

Your anarchist friends are luckily spared from having to answer the political question, i.e. of having to try and understand what kind of state, what kind of policies, and what kind of movement one should support. Their position is properly one of anti-politics, as Gramsci pointed out, so you can't expect them to be too helpful in the matter.

In my opinion, the Left needs to drastically rethink the global situation we're currently facing and submit it to a thorough Marxist analysis and critique. Not in the abstract, of course; I think it's necessary to reexamine our position with reference to the history of the international Left and the anti-capitalist workers' movements it represented, in order to understand how we came to this point.

The Marxist Left cannot appeal to slogans or schemata that were designed to respond to specific historical circumstances by the great revolutionary figures of the past, like Luxemburg, Lenin, and Trotskii, and continue to apply them as if nothing has changed. So in short, I feel that taking stock of our present situation is more important at the present moment than standing behind any particular government or organization. This may seem a recipe for inaction, but I still believe this is the most pressing task confronting the Left today.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: Read the IMT's appeals to Chavez, related to Iran.

We fought within the PSUV, to get the policy changed.

About three weeks ago, Chavaz stopped direct flights to Tehran from Caracas.

Read the Venezuela articles closely. They usually have a clause as, "the next step should be," etc.

The main enemy of the Bolivarian process are within. Chavez has corrupt and ambitious all around. They push him to the right. They are more dangerous than the right.

In Venezuela they have the right to recall of politicians.

I think the IMT is real world based. Half of meetings are devoted to political education. At my blog people from the right debate. Our group reads intelligence reports, Wall Street Journal etc.

The leading place in world revolution is Latin America. That's the real world.

Movements are never pure, unless you're on the sidelines. Chavez gave us the PSUV, and we're putting it to use.

The IMT is revolutionary socialist (Bolshevik-Leninist) not Bolivarian.

Larry G: On Sunday some activists here, are having a forum on Marta's article on Latin America.

I agree.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: The IMT puts out "World Perspectives" documents every 2 years. They are our basic analysis for the upcoming period. I'll send you ours, when they are public.

Larry G who is an anarchist, even was part of the discussion, and submitted corrections.

We just finished our discussion. Analyzing China was a hot discussion.

Frank Partisan said...

When Alan is in Venezuela, he speaks to crowds of thousands. He is always on TV.

Thousands copies of his book, criticizing Heinz Dieterich's phony 21st century socialism were bought by the nationalized oil company.

Chavez likes Alan, even though he shrugs off some of the best advice.

Like it or not, any victory of the oligarchy affects all of Latin America.

The IMT was the first group to recognize the importance of Venezuela.

We support the protesters in Thailand. Pure socialist movement? Hardly.

Iranian protesters? Some good people have illusions in Mousavi. Be on the outside? Never.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, I applaud the IMT's call for Venezuela to distance itself from Iran.

The main enemy of the Bolivarian process are within. Chavez has corrupt and ambitious all around. They push him to the right. They are more dangerous than the right.

I'm also glad you recognize this. You're definitely correct here; this is nearly always the case. It is seldom the overwhelming power of the Right that defeats the Left. It is usually rather the Left's betrayal of its own historic mission.

The IMT's work to try and influence and direct the Bolivarian Revolution from within is certainly a noble one, and by no means do I think it's a waste of time. You're right, too, that South America is the most fertile ground for both popular and insurrectionary movements in favor of revolution. I think that such a focus, however, is an exercise in futility, so long as the most advanced technological-industrial nations remain bound to the capitalist mode of production. The Bolsheviks knew Russia was a backwards country, but they thought they could use it to ignite a broader revolution in Germany and the rest of Europe. Were it not for their betrayal by European Social-Democracy, they might have been successful. That's what I see as the major difference, just personally.

I know it seems I'm sitting at a safe distance out on the sidelines when I'm making these criticisms, and that I'm just an idealist waiting for perfect conditions to arise. I'm well aware they never do. I just genuinely believe that the current global situation presents no revolutionary opportunities that are immediately available. A widespread anti-capitalist social consciousness has by and large faded in the most developed nations, even though they possess the greatest objective means of production to realize a post-capitalist society. I think that in order to reconstitute the Left it must seek to reawaken this anti-capitalist consciousness in the heart of capitalism itself.

These are just my opinions, though. I certainly respect IMT's project.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: We tell people, all of South America could be socialist, but without the US and Canada, it won't work.

Theoretically you are correct. Latin America is dialectically connected to North America. Mexico will soon have elections. If Felipe Calderón loses, that will open things. The protest against fraud the last election, was a good sign.

Later tonight I'll have to use Google translate on your post.

roman said...

This post was an unexpected pleasant surprise. It was heartwarming to read it.
It has a tendency of widening the "progressive" tent somewhat.
I am glad to see that some of my friends on the left are wise enough to realize that supporting fuedalism and barbarism will never improve the human condition.
Now all we have to do is to clear up what the term "progressive" actually means.

Gert said...

Hi Ren,

Thanks for the Facebook birthday wishes, much appreciated!

As regards the post itself, Larry G. took the words right out of my mouth. Unfortunately this piece will inadvertently reinforce the widely held notion on the Right (as expressed by Sonia) that the Left 'supports' Hezbollah and Hamas.

Most of us don't but I do support the South Lebanese's right to organise effective resistance to Israel's continuous aggressive stance against Lebanon and the Palestinian people's right to democratically elect whom they see fit...

Klaatu said...

I don´t agree with this post.

Would Israel allow the formation of a progressive Palestinian political tendency? The answer is NO. The historical record shows that Israel has sabotaged every move toward reaching a secular, nationalistic solution. That is why the Zionists invaded Lebanon to destroy the secular PLO, and helped to create Hezbollah. They brutally repressed the PLO in Gaza, and Hamas emerged as the leading political party.

In order to make no concessions and exploit the victim factor, the Zionists need crazy Islamic fanatics around. But there's only one little problem with crazy people, they can fight back really hard. Man, if it wasn't for them, the word “resistance” would have lost any meaning, the World would be one big US ranch.

Please, don´t get me wrong. I am an atheist. I hate irrational ideas. But that does not mean History doesn’t need a certain amount of irrationality from time to time. After all, European barbarians were needed in order for society to advance.

Slave Revolt said...

Ren, I reject the idea that imperialism and capitalism are "progressive". That is pathological thinking, a symptom of the disease.

Insofar as the Middle East is concerned, the discussion here is imbued in this pathology, associated with capitalism/imperialism.

I think the description of "backward" is suspect. Who has the credibility to label any group that organizes to resist US/Zionist agression in the Middle-East as "backward"? This is especially suspect, given the history of Western "thinkers/intellectuals".

Lastly, show me the liberatory movement that hasn't had a "messiah", or strong, charismatic leader.

Most all the "thinkers" that have such strong notions about the "correct" political ideology, when you dig deep, will be the first to bow down to illegitimate domination. Just my observations.

Lenin and the Marxist philosopher that have animated the far left have been historical losers. Your notions of "progress" are completely diseased. This is why your ideologies are such utter failures in history and in the contemporary reality.

And you will continue to fail if you don't change your assumptions, and learn to tell more compelling stories.

Slave Revolt said...

Kllatu, your impulse to see this line of thinking as suspect is healthy.

Here in the US, anyone that forms allliance with peoe resisting US imperialism and the Isreali occupation come under intense scrutiny and possible harassment by the government. This makes it tempting for the intellectual crowd to renounce any group struggling against Isreal/US agressionin the Middle-East as "backward".

The repression in the US is intense and real.

Follow the money. Income steams, comparative priviledge, class and race interests. Always question these memes coming from so-called left progressives.

Ren, how's old Hitch getting along? :)

Just asking.

Slave Revolt said...

By the way, Ren, Calderon of Mexico is constitutionally barred from seeking election to a second consecutive term.

You probably meant to say "PAN" in that particular sentence, I am pretty sure you know this basic fact of Mexican politics.

Anonymous said...

[T]here's only one little problem with crazy people, they can fight back really hard. Man, if it wasn't for them, the word “resistance” would have lost any meaning, the World would be one big US ranch.

The word "resistance" has practically lost all meaning, and if in fact the crazies are the greatest threat to global capitalism, this doesn't speak well for the state of the Left.

Anyway, @SlaveRevolt, the Marxist conception of "progress" is much more sophisticated than the more vulgar notion that's usually thrown around. The idea of a unidirectional, gradual march of progress through evolutionary "stages" (where "every day, and in every way, things are getting better and better") isn't Marxism, it's Bernsteinianism. Strangely, this widely-held notion of unabated social progress is related to the rise of capitalism. The idea of the infinite perfectibility of mankind dates from the Enlightenment, but this notion reflected underlying changes that were occurring in society at that time. As capitalism began to revolutionize production and technological development on an ever more accelerated basis, vast transformations began to take place within the span of a single lifetime. This was an ideological misrecognition on their part, for thinkers like Condorcet and so on, but it reflected (as ideologies allways do) real shifts in the socioeconomic substructure.

Anyway, for Marxism, history isn't linear, it's dialectical. Contradictory forces within society propel it through a number of historical transformations, but never in a straightforwardly causal manner, as in natural science. Capitalism has unarguably been a vehicle for economic and technological progress, and has opened up unprecedented possibilities for human emancipation -- though it's come at a steep price (a price the entire world is still paying). But it's not a one-way street. Just as easily as society and political consciousness can be made subject to progressive change, so also can they undergo regression.

Anonymous said...

Islamic fundamentalism is a particularly disgusting and unfortunately widespread regressive tendency that exists today in one part of the world. It's extremely sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-intellectual. "Backwardness" is a perfectly legitimate category. It can mean a low level of economic development and primitive technologies, but it can also signify ideological regression. The two often go hand in hand, but not always. Leaving aside the question of socioeconomic development, one can safely say that Islamism constitutes such a regression. It's a putrid and abhorrent ideology. Religion may get thrown around a lot in American and even secular European politics, but it hasn't really been a basis for a war or a serious issue of foreign policy for a long time. Such things belong more to its feudal past, before capitalism disenchanted the world and killed God. (His stinking corpse has still been known to attract a few confused worshipers from time to time).

But Islamic fundamentalism isn't just backwards by Western standards; it's backwards in terms of its own cultural past. The Arab and Persian civilizations were for centuries far more tolerant and claimed a stronger intellectual tradition than early medieval Europe, to say nothing of the jihadists of today. Jihadism, entrapped as it is in superstition, ignorance, and barbarism, doesn't even approach its more civilized Islamic past, let alone bourgeois secular democracy.

I refuse to support organizations like Hamas or Hezbollah against imperialism. Israeli aggression and the idiotic overreactions of their military should not be tolerated either, but this is no ground for supporting an Islamicist ideology.

Frank Partisan said...

Klaatu: Thank you for your comment.

The Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, don't represent resistance as you would define it. You are correct that Zionism needs a boogeyman, as Islamism needs Zionism.

When Hamas shoots missiles at dark skinned Jews, near the Gaza border; it's not to make revolution, it's to cut a deal with Israel. They want a piece of the Palestinian state pie.

Slave Revolt: I outgrew Hitch long ago.

There is no basis for a Palestinian state. It is too late in history. Both Hamas and PA, will have a state providing cheap labor for Israel.

Zionism is no less, or no more insidious than any nationalism. Both sides have real fears.

I support the right to self determination for Arabic, Hebrew and Kurdish speaking people, in a socialist federation of the Middle East.

Follow the $$. Political Islam goes back to the US supporting the Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser. During the 80s, the US brought in mullahs to lead Iran. They supported Ayub Khan in Pakistan and Islamists in Afghanistan. The idea was for Muslim states to surround the USSR. In the end the US will put the Taliban back in power, in Afghanistan.

Iran benefits from the Afghan and Iraq War.

If revolution was solely based on poverty and oppression, India would have revolution daily.


Frank Partisan said...

Ross: Like I told Slave Revolt, Islamism was created to combat secular left governments. In the 80s, the US consciously tried to circle the Soviet Union with Islamic governments.

Slave Revolt: History shows peasant movements, because of their relationship to production, can only follow workers or capitalists. Societies they lead are always Bonapartist dictatorships. The economy may be nationalized, but the government is always generals, intellectuals, etc. Fascism never occurred in a working class majority country.

In poor countries, the capitalist class, is not strong enough to carry through even national liberation.

Capitalism is more progressive than trading a coat for a bottle of wine.

Gert said...

What Klaatu said. Spot on.

Glad to see some interesting discussion returning to this blog...

Klaatu said...

“…Religion may get thrown around a lot in American and even secular European politics, but it hasn't really been a basis for a war or a serious issue of foreign policy for a long time. Such things belong more to its feudal past, before capitalism disenchanted the world and killed God…” (Rosswolfe)

I don’t agree. God is in good health in the illegal jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, where some lunatic jews expose their children to the predictable violence (predictable, not justifiable) of the oppressed, humiliated Palestinians. Who is the backward people here? And what about the lunatic Christians who finance jewish settlements?

You seem to be demanding too much of third world people. Too much rationality and too much marxism. Besides, the form resistance can take will depend on the kind of repression carried out by the oppresor.

Here in the Andean Region, for example, the class struggle of the masses is adopting racist tones. Racism is irrational and despicable, but maybe the racism of the oppressed is a necessary phase towards liberation. The world is not perfect.

Saludos desde Latinoamerica.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ren, I finally sent you that e-mail.

SecondComingOfBast said...

"What Klaatu said. Spot on.

"Glad to see some interesting discussion returning to this blog..."

Oh, don't worry Gert, you'll figure out a way to fuck that up the second somebody says something you don't like.

Slave Revolt said...

Well, I understand the logic of the Marxist theory--but I strongly disagree with the assignations bandied about with respect to 'backward' people.

Inasmuch as capitalism is undermining the basis of life, and that it's core logic is based on unending growth, I view it as a diseased ideology. It's binary, Marxism, is still dependent on the diseased ideology of which it represents an 'antithesis'.

The contradictions will continue to spiral out of the control of the much vaunted 'experts', whether they call themselves capitalists or marxists.

Destruction is all but assured. And it will be left to some humans, if this specie is lucky, to pick up the pieces. If humans do survive over the long-term, it non-pathological ideologies that can escape the virus that is capitalism/marxism will be somehow transcended.

As far as Israel is concerned, I don't think that this will end well, given the insanity of zio-imperialism. Mushroom clouds--then Jesus will come down from said clouds and take the 'saved' into his blessed bosom. (But they will be fucked, because Jesus will be contaminated with high levels of radiation.)

Anonymous said...

Inasmuch as capitalism is undermining the basis of life, and that it's core logic is based on unending growth, I view it as a diseased ideology.

I think I know what you're getting at, and I don't want to quibble over words, but capitalism isn't an ideology -- it's a reality. It's a vast and incredibly flexible global system, which expands to incorporate older social forms into itself. It gives rise to any number of ideologies, but it can't really be pinned down to a mode of thought. It's not reducible to simply "greed" or "consumerism" or "individualism" or "selfishness," although these ideologies can all be associated with it.

The strength of Marxism is that it's neither conservatism nor blind utopianism. Unlike conservatism, whether as Hegelian idealism or one of its latter-day forms, it does not ratify everything that presently exists as rational and therefore justified. Unlike blind utopianism, it doesn't just look to abstractly negate everything all at once, to either leap out of history into some brilliant future or retreat back into the pre-capitalist past. (Whether to the bucolic splendor of the family farm, small village, or some other romanticized vision of a life without alienation). Marxism understands the necessity of the present while being able to see the emancipatory possibilities it generates. It comprehends the logic of capitalism through dialectic, which is the only truly revolutionary way of approaching it.

Or, as Marx himself puts it in the postface to the second edition of Capital, "In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary."

Frank Partisan said...

It's been quite awhile since this blog, had such a good discussion.

Klaatu: If you have a blog, plug it.

It's agreed Israel prefers an Islamist government for Palestine. It is bigger than a religious problem. Read the comments on some of the posts at my friend's blog in my blogroll Marxist from Lebanon. In Lebanon Palestinians still are not integrated. The Arab world presents them rhetoric.

I do believe Zionism is the main danger to Jews. After the Gaza incursions, the giant demonstrations in Arab countries threaten the whole Middle East. Israel is playing with fire.

Pagan: No comment.

Slave Revolt: As you know Marxism is based on abundance. Marx wrote mostly about Britain, France, etc. The working class inherited their role because of their discipline and relationship to production. Real Marxism is also influenced by the principles of the 1871 Paris Commune. Our difference is how to cause the withering away of the state. We should all agree to the concepts of the Paris Commune.

Ross: I know you don't support Zionism, or any nationalism per se. You write insightfully about the left, what is missing is the knockout punch against the right.

Arrogantly I say the right and left are drunks, and I'm temperance.

Slave Revolt said...

Ross, it is a fact that ideology is like air, one doesn't think about it, one just breaths it. Capitalism IS ideology, and we see ourselves in an inverted relationship, camera obscura, as a function of being in this ideology. Ideolgy forms the ground from which we name "reality". I make no claim to knowledge of "reality"--but I am not relativist either.

As far as Palestinians and the "extremists" that guide their resistance to imperialism: what resistance movements have ever been backed by privileged intellectuals that benefit from colonial parasitism? There are some, but they become targets for repression and elimination, so it is in keeping with the "progressive" nature of imperialism, that privileged intellectuals despise resistance fighters more then their intellectual rivals.

The unease that so many left-progressives from imperialist nations have with Chavez seems logical and consistent with what one would expect from parasitical powers.

In the "real world", anyone from imperialist aligned nations that develops solidarity with resistance forces in the periphery becomes a target. Indeed, you can point to acceptions, but the generalization is cogent.

Indeed, as far as ideology is concerned, there exist a multiplicity of permutations, reflecting operational and functional differences with various hierarchies and privilege.

Much of the differences are exaggerated, nuances of tone and "style" come to bear when analyzing these differences.

Ideologies other than capitalism are so fundamentally foriegn, that they are akin to songs that the modern "realists" cannot begin to recognize.

Truly different ideologies, are deemed by most all of the intellectual class to be a specie of contaminant. This is apparent with Westerner's experience with "backward" indigenous peoples. And this is where there is a dearth of wisdom and too much ignorant fury--packaged as staid, circumspect judgement.

While the comparison is a bit off, fucking over Palestinians on the part of Westerners has it's historical anteceedents with how indigenous peoples have been maligned and abused.

Liberals here in the US despised the indigenous population--just as they do today with Hamas, Hezbollah, Chavez, Iran, Taliban, etc. Again, this is in keeping with historical precedent.

It matters not that the West are the most ferocious purveyors of terrorism on the world stage--if the concept of terrorism is to have any rational meaning, as opposed to propagandistic group-think.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think we're just speaking in different terms. Marx, who effectively coined the modern notion of ideology and popularized its political usage, understood "ideologies" as the dominant forms of thought corresponding to the underlying social mode of production. His most famous analogy for this is that of ideologies being a superstructure for which the socioeconomic substructure is the base. Ideologies can often outlive fundamental changes in the mode of production (in which case they become "anachronistic"), or they can inhibit the further development of production. In any case, the socioeconomic base is conceived of as "real," whereas ideological configurations are conceived of as "ideal." Capitalism, as our mode of production, is our reality -- no matter what we might think of it.

This may seem a trivial distinction, but it's not. It's not just that other societies think so differently from us that we cannot understand them. Rather, it's that their entire way of life is shaped by a different set of objective factors.

Frank Partisan said...

A good place to finish.

On to the next post. Overall good discussion.