I have previously offered a new vision of Marxist historiography that tries to distance this line of thinking from what Roland Boer describes as a ‘fall’ narrative, the archetype of Paradise Lost or that of the history of Christianity’s schisms. Now I want to combine that logic with both what Mark Lewis Taylor has recently said ), what the late Alexander Cockburn saw as a potential new united front between Greens and Libertarians, and especially what Eric Draitser and others have been talking about as a potential Green Panthers Party.
I would cite what Lars T. Lih pointed out, that What Is To Be Done as a volume was trying to build a broad-based, big-tent party. The late Peter Camejo furthermore indicated that, in the period before the 1917 Revolution, only one person was ever expelled from the Bolsheviks, Bogdanov, who was an active Soviet citizen up until his death in 1924 from a medical accident. This prism fundamentally readjusts the light that is shone upon the historical record. I would not totally negate the anarchist critique of Bolshevism here because it is correct, the Bolsheviks stopped trying to build a genuine socialist system after the death of Rosa Luxemburg. Instead, going off what was said in a recent episode of the podcast Symptomatic Redness, it is essential to understand that they said “Okay, Germany will not save us, ergo this idea of building socialism is impossible. Instead, let’s build a welfare state roughly akin to what was developed under Bismarck and see what we can do to lift the people out of an existence roughly akin to the beginning of the 18th century”. That entailed within its coordinates all the repression and state violence that Bismarck had shown towards the German Social Democrats and other political opponents, which is also what ended up happening thirty years later when the post-World War II Red Scare began.
The reason for this preliminary setup is so to reorient how one looks to the past so to create a future. If we know that Marxism-Leninism of today in Korea, Cuba, or China is in reality not a fallen angel or schismatic heretical sect but actually a landmass containing millions of people that is on the defensive against imperial neoliberal capital, just as is the case in Iran and other countries in the Axis of Resistance, what amounts to a load of leftist shibboleths masking what William Pietz identified as an Orientalist discourse suddenly are negated. You don’t like how these countries don’t conform to Lenin’s libertarian utopia in State and Revolution? Neither do they, now how about shutting up and trying to make it so they don’t have to be so repressive by creating an anti-imperialist movement!
That anti-racism is vital because we face an immense task. The Green Panthers Party would have to fuse the programs of the Black Panthers with the Green Party principles so to build a community center movement across this country. This must be a broad-base that allows for people of faith and helps politically educate many of them about chauvinism.
But let’s return to the historiography. Now there is a strange chicken-and-egg game at play when we try to discuss the history of Marxism. For these purposes, let’s just accept for a moment the proposition that Marx was essentially a well-educated guy who was unable to get a job and, as a result, ended up as a 19th century muckraking journalist. He teamed up with Engels and ended up writing a few books here and there to try to make cash. Perhaps you know one or two million people in America who do this with their blogs? After skipping town when it got tight in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions, he ended up in London trying to eke out an existence writing articles for Horace St. Clair Greeley and his managing editor Charles Joshua Frank Dana (it’s like deja vu all over again).
That’s basically what ended up happening fifty years later when Vladimir Cockburn Lenin joined the editorial board of a newsletter called Novaya Punch. (My apologies to Ken Silverstein, who certainly is not the Trotsky of this story and would therefore be described by Lukacs as a poseur. Now go check out his new muckraker outfit Washington Babylon!
My point here is just for a moment to suggest that “the vanguard” would really be best defined, for our purposes, as those who read a radical alternative news source as opposed to those who are educated and groomed at a Lenin Worker’s School. That whole model of boring people to tears with multi-hour lectures about theory turned our grandparents off from radical politics in the Depression and my parents’ generation in the Vietnam period. One person who remembers those days told me “hey, we wanted to stop the war and see if we could get laid, those college boy revolutionaries were just getting themselves worked up before lunch and we ignored them as such”. Indeed, the real successful movements, such as the American Indian Movement and the Panthers, were not coming out of the middle class as much as the sites that could be called a premonition of what has happened to the wider American society. As fossil fuels and the welfare state began to diminish, the size of sacrifice zones expanded outwards from impoverished communities of color into white middle class enclaves that once were protected from the ravages that were loosed on the Indian reservations and urban centers of poverty. The most successful moments of the Old and New Left were when their presses were running movie and music reviews, the Daily Worker during its zenith of circulation was featuring columns about jazz and baseball integration and the Panther periodical devoted an entire issue to Huey Newton’s He Won’t Bleed Me: A Revolutionary Analysis of ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’!
I’m bringing these strands together because we need to recognize the means of production as what we have now at our disposal and not as a project to create something new. Black Lives Matter, the Bernie or Bust-ers, and the Green Party are at a point right now, this week, where all they need to do is get together in the same spot and have a meet-and-greet. There’s an action called for nationally by the first group on July 21 that is a perfect opportunity for this and there are going to be dozens that occur throughout the next few months.
Simultaneously, we need to recognize the left wing of the Libertarians, folks like the Center for a Stateless Society, who are outright anarchists in my analysis and make more serious practical policy suggestions than anyone else, are the allies we need in a new united front. They can help the center element of that movement to better understand key issues that alienate them from their natural class allies. They can bring the Trump people into line and help them begin to shed their chauvinism, the book Markets Not Capitalism is a great place to start.
This is the intermediate step to building this post-electoral movement. It will require a lot of work on our part but the results could be revolutionary. Just be sure to be a subscriber, the rest will follow.