Rex Dunn: critical writing
As a defender of classical marxism, I am aware that nearly 170 years have passed since the publication of the Communist Manifesto (1848). Only half of what it predicted came to pass:
‘The bourgeoisie has played a highly revolutionary role in history....[It] has obliterated all relations that were feudal, patriarchal, idyllic [almost!] and has left intact no other bond between one man and another, [except for] naked self-interest, [the rule of] unfeeling ‘hard cash’....The bourgeoisie cannot exist without continually revolutionising the instruments of production....All that is holy is profaned. [But] the ‘nihilism of the bourgeois mode of production’ [does NOT necessarily lead to a situation, whereby] ‘man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind’; increasingly less so.
Beginning with the question: Why has the revolution failed? The following essays will explore these themes:
1. The main problem is consciousness. To paraphrase Marx’s 1859 Preface, whereas ‘the transformation of the conditions of production’ can be ‘established with the precision of natural science’, we cannot do the same, vis-a-vis the various ‘ideological forms’ through which men (and women) ‘must fight it out’ (i.e. the class struggle).
In his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844), Marx combines his humanism with a dialectical materialist view of history. It contains 3 big ideas: (i) Man as a ‘species being’ (‘unsocial inhuman’ man, who struggles to become ‘social human’ man, objectively as well as subjectively); (ii) the possibility of communist-mass-consciousness, which is a prerequisite for the establishment of a communist society (the appropriation of man’s human essence). (iii) But there are 4 impediments to this: private property relations, alienated labour, the bourgeois division of labour, commodity fetishism.
Of these 4, the division of labour is the greatest obstacle. It is the basis for the system’s ‘accumulation of capitals’ (stored up labour), whereby the worker is dehumanised; i.e. he is ‘depressed both intellectually and physically to the level of a machine, and from being a man becomes an abstract activity and a stomach’. As a worker, he is a mere commodity of exchange. ‘eating, drinking and procreating, etc. are…genuine human functions. However, when abstracted from other aspects of human activity and turned into final exclusive ends, they are animal. (Cf. Adorno’s theory of instrumental reason, below.) Thus, objectively, it is very difficult for man to ‘face with sober senses his real conditions of life’, etc; it is not easy for the working class, as the agency of the social revolution, to acquire communist-mass consciousness; unless we begin to dismantle the existing division of labour. This must be undertaken under capitalism (but how?) and carried over into the period of post-capitalism.
2. In this regard, the Paris Commune of 1871 revealed the ‘gaps’ in Marx. When the system was in a revolutionary crisis, officially he elides the issue by ascribing revolutionary consciousness to the Communards; even after they had suffered a bloody defeat.
3. The October Revolution of 1917, centred around the leading role of the Bolshevik Party, was an attempt to fill in those gaps. The masses were in revolt. Lenin’s strategy of the vanguard party and its programme , outlined in What Is To Be Done? (1903) was supposed to be a ‘blueprint’ for revolutionary consciousness; not just in Russia, but in the west as well.
The Bolshevik Revolution marked the first real break with capitalism. It was followed, inevitably, by a counter-revolution. This led directly to the isolation of the revolution, wherein the contradiction between the proletariat and the peasantry, between the socialised property relations and private property relations in the countryside, became an enormous problem. Paradoxically, in order to save the revolution, the Bolsheviks had to resort to a partial restoration of the market, which encouraged the rise of a bureaucracy, under the ‘iron dictatorship’ of the party. Thus the door was opened to Stalin’s conquest of power.
Dialectic of defeat: Given the betrayal of German Social Democracy in 1914, and again in 1918-19, the Russian Revolution found itself isolated and began to degenerate further as an 'iron dictatorship. This in turn had a profound effect on the fate of the German Revolution (1918-23). It played a part in the latter’s defeat at the hands of the Social Democrats (once again), which was a further setback for the October Revolution. (See below.)
4. Stalin sided with the emerging bureaucracy in Russia. On this basis, hetried to build 'socialism-in-one country’ at the expense of the international revolution. But the only way to do this was to build up a ‘terror state’, regardless of the human cost. This has left a poisonous legacy.
5. Another consequence of Stalin's rise was yet another defeat for the German revolution, 1929-33. With fascism in power, the world revolution which began with the events of October 1917 reached its nadir. Once again, for marxists, ’criticism of weapons’ had to make way for the ‘weapons of criticism’, i.e. the critical theory tradition. At the same time there was a shift from Marx’s rational optimism - derived from the Enlightenment - the idea of that a new social order based on reason could be established - to Adorno's rational pessimism, i.e. an ambivalent attitude to the Enlightenment. Now reason itself is seen as oppressive (means/end necessity or instrumental reason, which starts with man’s struggle against nature).
6. According to Adorno, this can be seen in the rise of Stalinism, fascism, culminating in late capitalism, post 1945. Apart from the coercion of the ‘callous cash-nexus’ , the bourgeoisie is able to co-opt the masses by means of wage differentials, cheap manufactured goods, advertising and the culture industry (‘industrially produced commodities for amusement, which leads to the elimination of critical thought’; cf. Marx’s point about ‘commercialised trash’). This constitutes the 5th impediment to communist-mass-consciousness.
7. Adorno is castigated for his Weberian methodology, leading to an abstract or ahistorical view of history; i.e. he elevates instrumental reason, exemplified by mass consumerism and the culture industry, as the primary cause of capitalist domination.
But the primary cause lies not in the realm of popular culture and the technologies which make this possible. Rather it is to be found in the political realm; the fact that Stalinism smashed the international revolution , which showed signs of revival at the end of the Second World War (e.g. in Greece and Italy). At the same time, in the interests of ‘peaceful co-existence’, Stalin opened the door to the rise of American imperialism and late capitalism, i.e. the mass consumerist/mass media society. It also ensured the revival of social democracy and reformism.
But if we take a snapshot of society today, it would appear to vindicate Adorno’s theory of a total system, i.e. an ‘increasingly closed organisation of the world into a seamless web of media technology, multinational corporations, and international bureaucratic control’. (Frederic Jameson)
8. Adorno’s only respite is to fall back on the power of authentic art, based on a defence of the German aesthetic tradition (cf. Marx); i.e. authentic art or art which refuses to be reconciled with reality. Whilst his defence of the aesthetic is to be applauded, the notion of art as some sort of antidote to alienation is clearly utopian; it is also elitist. Given the existing division of labour, it can only appeal to the educated classes; whilst the masses are in thrall to mass consumerism and the culture industry; increasingly so in the age of the internet.
9. The defeat of the 'Evenements' in France in 1968 exacerbated a crisis within the intelligentsia, which finds expression in post-structuralism (the ‘logics of disintegration’), and its offshoot, postmodernism. In opposition to Adorno, the postmodernists reject all grand narratives (marxism, etc.). They offer a zeitgeist based on irony and cynicism. Given the record of the last 100 years, the Enlightenment is rejected; somehow the irrational is considered to be ‘liberating’; once described by Lyotard as the ‘libidinal economy’. The postmodernists also claim that the ‘democratisation’ of art is now possible; albeit under capitalism. (On the one hand, they see the digital media as a conduit; on the other, they place an = sign between the products of popular culture and High art. In reality this means that exchange value replaces aesthetic value: the value of the art object is determined, not by quality (aesthetic labour/skill/form/content), but by quantity (the price which people are prepared to bid for it as a commodity for exchange.) Cf. Marx: ‘artistic decadence’ is inevitable, unless capitalism is overthrown. Whether intentional or not, the post-postmodernists have reconciled themselves with late capitalism; unlike the Russian avant garde, they do so, not under duress; but of their own volition.
10. Adorno’s ‘late capitalism’ corresponds to Tiktin’s theory of capitalism which has entered the stage of ‘decline and transition’. It is beset by deep systemic crises which the capitalist elites are unable to resolve. Rather than develop the productive forces, which strengthens the producers themselves, they choose to rely on finance capital, which is parasitic on those forces. At the same time, the expansion of capital is slowing down. Therefore trillions of dollars have to be pumped into the world’s leading economies, just to keep them going. As a result, the law of value is being undermined. Thus, whilst the system is showing signs of ‘decline and transition’, sans the social revolution, it is in transition to what?
Despite the financial crash of 2008, the aforementioned elites offer more of the same: There is ‘no alternative’ to neoliberalism; i.e. the free market, privatisation, low wages, short term contracts, cuts in welfare, in the interests of the capitalist 1%.
But there is no fightback by the masses. In the west, the class struggle continues, but the working class has ceased to exist as a collectivity, conscious of itself, even at a basic level. Already fragmented by division of labour/wage differentials, now its organisations and communities are weak or non-existent; life is now organised around things like the social media; in reality, thethe worker is atomised, physically and mentally; s/he sees himself as an individual consumer (‘each to his own cell’). On the other hand, this gives rise to a ‘crisis of individuality’.
As a result of new imperialist wars and destabilisation policies in the middle east/east Africa, whole societies are subjected to state collapse and civil wars fuelled by sectarian hatred. In places like Iraq/Syria, for example, either imperialism has lost control or it is using the chaos for its own ends. The outcome is the same: a living hell for millions of human beings. hence we have the biggest migration crisis since WW2; whilst at the same time the European Union is putting up immigration barriers. Climate change may or may not be man-made. But it will cause major problems for mankind in the future. Without doubt, capitalism is polluting the planet; destroying whole eco-systems.
Marx and Adorno? Can they be reconciled? The latter was/is anathema to classical marxism. But consider that snapshot of the present (give or take arguments about primary or secondary causes): The gaps in Marx remain unfilled. Whilst the system enters into crisis mode, the material basis for the re-emergence of communist-mass-consciousness has been undermined.
Despite his own omissions, surely Adorno was right to point out the dehumanising effects of the culture industry. Not only is it a conduit for administered capitalism. In addition to the fragmentation of man by division of labour, it reinforces the atomisation of man under the rule of the ‘callous cash-nexus’, physically and mentally. Marxist political economy is too narrow. Classical marxists must also address the phenomenon of Adorno’s ‘5th impediment’ (my term). Otherwise we will will end up with a one-sided view of the world as it really is.
ADDENDUM: THE SNAPSHOT OF HISTORY APPROACH AND THE ROLE OF ADORNO’S FIFTH IMPEDIMENT
Let us stick with the snapshot of the present idea (See above). Therefore for the time being, at least, let us suspend the argument over cause and effect; i.e. is the epicentre of mankind’s present malaise concentrated in the superstructure alone (a la Adorno, Althusser, etc.) or does it straddle both the economic base and the superstructure at one and the same time (a la classical marxism). That said, the facts are as follows:
The epoch of capitalist decline - which we now find ourselves in - is characterised by neoliberalism, aka the free market economy (cf. the mixed economy, with its emphasis on welfarism for the less well off; also Keynesian expansionism, which dominated the postwar period). Given the continuance of the dominant political economy within the ruling elite, i.e. neoliberalism, the bourgeoisie has decided that austerity is the only strategy available. Moreover, aided and abetted by the corporate mass media, it has been able to convince the masses that ‘there is no alternative’ as well. Hence, by and large, it has succeeded in its aim to re-privatise everything, including publicly-owned utilities, such as energy, water, communications and transport. (In Britain, privatisation has even penetrated parts of the National Health Service, despite the fact it is considered by all parties to be a ‘sacred cow’, i.e. non-negotiable. On the one hand, it is still ‘free at the point of entry’; but, on the other, it is increasingly dependent on the internal market; therefore it is becoming too expensive to run; it is unable to satisfy rising demand, and so on.)
At the same time, the bourgeoisie has introduced draconian anti-labour laws, which enable it to squeeze more surplus value from the workers; in order to pay for the structural crises of the system, whose overthrow is long overdue. The financial crisis which began in 2008 is symptomatic of this. It was the result of a growing disequalibrium, wherein late capitalism is dominated by parasitic finance capital; concretely investment banking, in the name of short-term profits; regardless of the risks; as opposed to investing in productive capital (Cf. the postwar period; e.g. research and development, the development of a more skilled workforce.) Vis-a-vis investment in the productive sector, profit-making is more long-term; at the same time, it establishes the conditions for a more combative working class; at least around economic demands for a ‘bigger slice of the cake’. Therefore, today a lot of the new jobs which are being created, belong to category of unskilled and low paid workers or the self-employed. Hence consumer demand is falling in the long term.
Even by its own terms, i.e. its need to expand the accumulation of capitals, capitalism is beginning to stagnate as a system, both in terms of economic growth and the growth of human culture. This in turn makes dependence on wasteful investment (e.g. the permanent arms economy) more likely, which in an age of growing nationalist and religious conflict, increases the danger off war, including nuclear armageddon!
Yet the masses - especially in the developed sectors of global capitalism, which has a secular tradition, higher levels of education, more leisure time, etc, - become more fragmented and atomised; they are unable to organise an effective fight back, even at the level of defending their living standards; let alone the achievement of communist-mass- consciousness.
To return to Adorno’s 5th impediment - aka the culture industry - and its negative effects, re the achievement of adequate consciousness: Today the latter is augmented further by corporate technology. First came the internet; but now we have the social media (Face Book, Twitter, etc.). This shifts the focus away from the economic base/superstructure (a la classical marxism) to the superstructure or the cultural sphere + the technologies of mass reproducibility, which make it all possible (cf. Adorno and the critical theorists). After 100 years of development, the mass produced images have replaced the written word, as a means of communication, which had prevailed for ove 600 years. (Cf. Debord’s theory: ‘the society of the spectacle’, which functions to ‘justify the aims and conditions of the system’.)
As has already been stated, the 5th impediment already augments Marx’s 4 impediments (in particular, the bourgeois social division of labour and commodity fetishism). Therefore the working class is, (i) ‘depressed,… intellectually and physically to the level of a machine’. In this sense, its consciousness is fragmented, which is reinforced, in turn, by rewards for ‘headwork’ as opposed to handwork’; i.e. wage differentials. (ii) Subsequently, the masses have been atomised socially, as well; they now find themselves reduced to a mere commodity, confronted by the callous cash-nexus; sans even the basic consciousness of the need to organise themselves independently of the bourgeois order (Cf. the first two thirds of the 20th century. At crucial moments, the masses were able to do precisely that; albeit this did not lead automatically to a higher level of consciousness and social revolution. Historically, whenever the masses entered into a pre-revolutionary situation, the struggle was derailed by Stalinism, as a counter-revolutionary force, within the workers movement. May 1968 is a good example.)
Under these conditions, the 5th impediment - i.e. the culture industry - augmented by the internet, in the hands of corporates such as Google, and now the social media, appears to play a leading role; i.e. it acts as a further restraint on mass consciousness. Both the internet and social media have extended the possibilities of the entertainment industry to hitherto undreamed of levels; albeit by means of individual consumption of false needs. As Adorno argues, the culture industry (both old and new) functions, (i) as a distraction from the drudgery of wage labour (which is ‘machine-like’ even for skilled workers); (ii) It is also responsible for ‘industrially produced…commodities [of a special type]; ‘calculated to fulfil the present needs of the masses’, which are ‘not genuine’. ‘[T]he audience is meant to amuse itself,…[but such amusement] is nothing more than the elimination of critical thought’. (Dialectic of Enlightenment.)
Dialectic of retreat: Thus, in the light of the historically developed 5 impediments to class consciousness, the working class finds itself more and more fragmented and atomised. Therefore its ability to acquire communist-mass-consciousness is setback even further. Yet the latter is indispensable for the social revolution, which - in the epoch of capitalist decline - humanity so desperately needs; i.e. the material basis for ‘the development of human power which is its own end, the true realm of freedom’. (Capital III) Whither humanity?
The Lost Revolution: Russia and Germany, 1918 - 33:
According to Marx, 'the bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production....but at the same time the productive forces growing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the resolution of this antagonism... (1859 Preface). This presupposes that once the the class of direct producers of surplus value (the proletariat) is fully developed, the material conditions for the resolution of this antagonism are ready. Given the contradictions of its own existence, the proletariat is now in a position to successfully ‘fight it out’ within all the existing ‘ideological forms’; i.e. move from its existing (actual) consciousness to adequate consciousness (communist-mass-consciousness), which is necessary for the revolution. But given the fact that capitalism is a global system, the latter must be achieved on an international scale. Hence, in the mid 19th century Marx and Engels played a leading role in setting up the Communist League, followed by the first International.
Marx and Engels arrived at this position on the basis of rational optimism, i.e. a historical materialist version of the Enlightenment idealism (which dates back to the 18th century).
Be that as it may, what happened between 1917-1923, was an important test for the above prognosis: With the benefit of hindsight, this could be described as the working out of a ‘negative dialectic’; i.e. First came the betrayal of German Social Democracy in 1814; then the Russian Revolution of 1917; followed by the failed German Revolution of 1918-23. All interacted with each other in a negative way. The October Revolution could not succeed in building socialism on its own. But if the German Revolution failed to get off the ground, this would have an adverse effect on the outcome of October; just as setbacks to October would have an adverse effect on outcome of the German Revolution.
According to the essentialist view of marxism, change, especially social change, occurs, not just as a result of accidents; but as a result of both accident and necessity. ‘An organic entity, whether it is a cat or society, undergoes changes of both kinds. [To use the kitten paradigm] If a kitten is run over before it reaches maturity, then it meets with an accident;… But a kitten that develops into a mature cat does not thereby meet with an accident. That is another kind of change; not an accidental one; but one that is necessary.’ (Scott Meikle, Esentialism in the Thought of Karl Marx, 1985.)
On this basis, one could argue that, the accident in this case, was the fact that the revolution broke out in the wrong place, if not the wrong time, which frustrated its necessary development (I.e. Russia, not Germany! Russia was a backward society, based on an agrarian/peasant economy. (On the other hand, it had a small 'state-of-the-art' industrial base. Therefore, although tiny, the proletariat developed its political consciousness to an advanced level (Cf. Trotsky’s ‘law of unequal and combined development’). In this regard, the Russian workers were able to 'punch well above their social weight'. But then there was the peasantry, who were the overwhelming majority of society; also a much heavier weight in class terms. Their interest was focused, not on the socialist organisation of society, but on the maintenance of private property; i.e. ownership of land. This would enable them to produce agricultural products, which they could sell in the market place and make a profit for themselves.
But what about German Revolution? Firstly point, one in its favour: the German proletariat was the largest in Europe; secondly, 5 million of them had been needlessly sacrificed in the recent imperialist war; in germany, thirdly, the whole bourgeois order collapsed in 1918. So the Bolsheviks assumed that a revolution would soon break out in Germany. (Hence, at Brest Litovsk, they were prepared to give up a vast swathe of Russian territory to Germany, in anticipation of its imminent collapse.) Thus, as Trotsky put it, the ‘epoch of wars and revolutions’ could now begin in earnest. On the other hand, the German Revolution was held back by the reformist Social Democratic Party. It was not only the biggest party supported by the workers in Germany; until 1914, it had been the leading party in the Second International as well. But in 1914, it sided with its own ruling class by voting for war credits, which brought about the collapse of the Second International.
Yet without the help of Germany, the Bolshevik leadership in Russia would be faced with an enormous contradiction: the contradiction between the proletariat the peasantry. The longer the international revolution was delayed, it's resolution would become more difficult to resolve. The collectivisation of agriculture was vital to the revolution; otherwise there would not be enough food to support the socialised industries, which had to be built up. Without outside help, the Bolshevik leaders would have to resort to coercion; especially the violent repression of the rich peasants (who would surely fight back to protect their land).
So what did happen in Germany? Although it was the industrial power-house of Europe, home to the largest working class in the world, the political consciousness of the latter would prove to be hamstrung by its own party, the German Social Democrats (SPD). After all, it was the SPD who voted for war credits in 1914, which led to the carnage of the First World war. It was only in 1918, as a result of the political crisis which emerged from Germany's defeat, that a communist party (KPD) emerged. Despite its small size in relation to the SPD, the KPD realised that its historic task was to organise the German Revolution.
At the same time, back in Soviet Russia, the Bolshevik party was confronted by the inevitable counter-revolution (both from inside and out). The civil war which ensued, not only led to the economic ruin of the country, as well as hunger, disease and famine, it also destroyed the most class conscious elements among the Russian workers. As a result, the Bolsheviks found themselves isolated from their own social base. But, because they anticipated a successful revolution in Germany, and in order to hold the line, they resorted to a dictatorship of the party over the rest of society. They did this in defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasants; albeit Lenin and Trotsky saw this as a temporary expediency.
However, by 1921, the much awaited revolution in Germany had still not materialised. The Bolsheviks were now forced to introduce an interim policy - Lenin’s 'two steps forwards and one step backwards' - concretely, the New Economic policy (N.E.P.), which involved the partial restoration of the market. This had to be undertaken in order to keep the rich peasants (the Kulaks) on-side, who were the only group capable of producing a food surplus; as well as to revive the economy, which was in ruins. Of course, these measures were seen as a betrayal of the revolution by the ultra-lefts in the workers movement (Workers Opposition). The latter were impatient to move towards workers control over production; even before the revolution had been successfully defended from its enemies. Whereas the Bolshevik leaders realised that the first priority was to defend the gains of October, even if this meant that the party should substitute itself for the working class as a whole, (N.B. which was now exhausted and demoralised). Therefore the Workers Opposition had to be suppressed, This was soon followed by the Kronstadt uprising. But the sailors who manned this strategically important fortress (the gateway to Leningrad, now included many anarchists; even social revolutionaries in their ranks. Thus they attacked the Bolsheviks ‘as the enemies of the revolution’. Trotsky, as leader of the Red Army, had no option to crush it. The revolution appeared to have turned on itself.
How did this impact on the German revolution? The answer to that question was crucial to the future of the Russian Revolution as well: Objectively speaking, at the war’s end (1918), the German proletariat was not ready to seize power, The majority still accepted the line of the SPD leaders that a peaceful transition to socialism was still possible; but it would take awhile. This was despite the fact that millions had died in the trenches or from starvation at home, as a result of the allied blockade. Thus, once again, the SPD chose to betray the German workers and the revolution.
When the German monarchy, collapsed, the SPD stepped in. But instead of overthrowing the state and instituting a workers government, it acted as the loyal defender of capitalist state and imperialism. So the leadership of the German revolution fell to the KPD, which was tiny; albeit it had the support of the most politically advanced workers; thgough they were not strong enough to mobilise the majority. To make matters worse, the KPD adopted an ultra-left and sectarian strategy, which did not help their cause. They tried to instigate an armed insurrection throughout the country; even before they had won the support of the majority of workers. It might have been better if they had started out by calling for the establishment of workers councils, backed by a workers militia, based on a programme, which ranged from minimum to maximum demands; then they might have been more successful. But they failed to unite the working class around a revolutionary programme. Thus they found themselves isolated.
The rightwing of the SDP, led by Ebert and Noske, seized its opportunity. They unleashed the Freikorps (armed bands of soldiers led by proto-fascist officers), which led to the killing and imprisonment of thousands of workers; notably the murders of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, leaders of the newly formed communist party Thus by the beginning of 1919, the first German revolution ended in bloody defeat.
But another problem for the KPD was the changing situation in the Soviet Union: The rise of the Bolshevik dictatorship had a negative impact on the majority of the German workers, most of whom still looked to the SPD for leadership. This included even advanced workers, who were looking for an alternative to Social Democracy; albeit a party which was democratically accountable to the workers. Unfortunately the estalishment of a Bolshevik dictatorship played into the hands of the SPD’s rightwing. They were quick to condemn the communists as a violent minority; i.e. their only aim was introduce a dictatorship of the KPD, just as the Bolsheviks had done.
On the one hand, the communists failed to counter such propaganda; on the other, they allowed a sectarian attitude towards the Social Democrats to develop, which exacerbated the growing split within the working class as a whole. Instead of appealing to the rank and file of the SPD to break with their leaders, as class traitors, the communists chose to demonise ordinary SPD workers, along with their leaders. Thus the German working class was left deeplydivided. This also proved to be a serious mistake, as later events showed.
During the 1920s and early 1930s, the KPD leaders allowed this sectarian division to fester. The situation was not helped by the zig-zag strategy of the comintern, now under the control of the Stalinist regime. In the late 1920s Stalin made his left turn. This had the effect of deepening the KPD's own ultra-left stance towards the SPD during the crucial period prior to the Nazi victory. Whereas - as Trotsky argued - it should have tried to organise a united front from below, in order to heal the rift between the SPD masses and communists. As a result, the working class was fatally divided, which allowed the Nazis to drive a coach-and-horses through the middle. Hitler was able to take power by constitutional means (more or less) without a shot being fired. Thus the German revolution was finally defeated.
At a more general level, after 1933, the Stalinist comintern now lurched to the right, i.e. the policy of the Popular Front. Henceforth all communist parties were instructed to form alliances with left reformist, even radical parties, in defence of bourgeois democracy. Stalin's strategic mistakes, combined with outright betrayal of the international working class, did not end with Nazi victory in 1933. By the end of the 1930s, the disastrous strategy of the Popular Front also led to the defeat of the Spanish revolution, as well as a lost opportunity for the proletariat to take power in France. Meanwhile in Britain, an all-party coalition relied on a strategy of austerity to save British capitalism from the Great Depression.
Meanwhile in the Soviet Union, the Stalinist bureaucracy retreated into the barbarism of socialism-in-one country, forced collectivisation and rapid industrialisation, characterised by genocide against millions of peasants and national minorities; finally there was the obscenity of the Show Trials, as a result of which the entire Bolshevik old guard was liquidated. The rise of the terror state not only meant the setting up of slave labour camps or the gulag; man-made famine, torture mass executions; it also marked the defeat of the Russian avant garde and the degradation of Soviet art. This was replaced by socialist realism, which was neither socialist or realist.
Above all, as we have seen, the world revolution was subordinated to the interests of the soviet bureaucracy (This would continue until the collapse of communism in the 1990s). The betrayal of the May Events in France, along with the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, were the last straws; not just for the proletariat, but also for the intelligentsia. Stalinism's poisonous legacy was a major factor in the rise of post-structuralism or the 'logics of disintegration', which provides an intellectual figleaf for the 'society of the spectacle'.
When all my works have been added to the website (some of which are still work in progress), they will include:
Essays on Marxism and philosophy, Marxism and art; a thesis on Walter Benjamin; a critique of Adorno and Dialectic of Enlightenment.
A Select Appreciation of Art films/ Serious Entertainment, 1925-1990.
My manuscript for Violent Entertainment in a Violent World.
Screenplay for Betrayal (based on Andrew Smith’s autobiography, I Was a Soviet Worker).
Max, a novella.
Reviews (film, novels, etc.).
A photographic Archive.
Anthology of Poetry, etc.