Notes Towards a Critique of Euro-Marxism

Or How Insurgent Notes Distorts History and Peddles Cold War Anti-Communism with a Left varnish

“This starting point uncovers an unacceptable mechanical position; for Marxism to appear on a world scale, the development of the working class to the level it had attained in Europe by the mid 19th century was needed, and on that material base Marx and Engels created Marxism, which from that point on develops vigorously and spreads itself through the five continents.

The revolutionaries of the backwards countries, where there are immense masses of peasants and proportionally a reduced industrial working class, found in Marxism an instrument to guide their actions and taking its principles they fused them with specific revolutionary conditions; in that way, Marxism-Leninism fused with the concrete conditions of the movements of national liberation and their democratic revolutions. This was consequently shown incontrovertibly by Mao Tse-tung Thought, as it developed Marxism.”


 “Maoism was part of a broader movement in the twentieth century of what might be called “bourgeois revolutions with red flags,” as in Vietnam or North Korea.”

What Goldner (following a long left communist tradition) characterizes as “bourgeois revolutions with red flags” was in fact the core of the real global confrontation between imperialist capital and the proletariat and semi-proletariat of the periphery over the course of the 20th century.

In the concrete circumstances of the global imperialist social formation (not in the fantastic abstracted mock up of “pure capitalism” which is so dearly beloved by left communists and Trotskyites) it was the wage dependent classes in the imperialist metropole who became integrated and coopted by capital and a world peasantry in the bloody course of proletarianization through super-exploitation to the point of genocide which became the vanguard of struggle against capital precisely because it was the focal point of the relations of exploitation and not a metropolitan proletariat increasingly bourgeoisieified by super-profits of exterminatory primitive accumulation.

“it is important to see that Maoism was one important result of the defeat of the world revolutionary wave in 30 countries (including China itself) which occurred in the years after World War I. The major defeat was in Germany (1918–1921), followed by the defeat of the Russian Revolution (1921 and thereafter), culminating in Stalinism.”

One is compelled to ask what was the cause of the defeat of the global revolutionary wave centered in the industrial working class of the metropole in the post ww1 era?

Realistically it was due to the successful stabilization of imperialism in the core and the relatively non-revolutionary nature of the metropolitan labor aristocracy in the first place.

If the majority of industrial workers in Germany even in the catastrophic aftermath of the defeat of German imperialism failed to support a revolutionary policy while the semi-proletarian masses in China, Indo-China and so on did in fact become the base of armed revolutionary movements at the same time as the core working class was integrated by fascism, consumerism and social democracy we must ask which social strata was in fact and not in abstraction the more revolutionary class?

The Maoist judgment of Asia, Africa and Latin America as the storm centers of world revolution has been confirmed by the real history of the class struggle in the 20th century.

“Trotsky’s policy (whatever its flaws, and there were many) was for world revolution as the only solution to the isolation of the Soviet Union. Stalin replied with the slogan “Socialism in One Country,” an aberration unheard of until that time in the internationalist Marxist tradition.”

This is the classic Trotskyite obfuscation. Stalin advocated the build up of the USSR as a base area of the world revolution in the real circumstances of retreat of the metropole centered post world war one revolutionary wave. This is throughly proven by Stalin’s private correspondence from the time which has now become available.

 “The Third Period, which lasted from 1928 to 1934, was a period of “ultra-left” adventurism around the world. In China as well as in a number of other colonial and semi-colonial countries, the Third Period involved the slogan of “soviets everywhere.”

So Stalin once having attained undisputed power displayed his right opportunist nature by imposing an “ultra left” policy on the ECCI? Logical.

“It was in the recovery from these defeats that Mao became the top leader of the CCP, and began the “Long March” to Yan’an (in remote northwestern China) which became a central Maoist myth, and reoriented the CCP to the Chinese peasantry, a much more numerous social class but not, in Marxist terms, a revolutionary class[4] (though it could be an ally of the working-class revolution, as in Russia during the 1917–1921 Civil War).”

Goldner here quite ironically attempts to defame Maoism by glamorizing the weaknesses of Bolshevism. The CCP oriented itself to the peasantry (and was concretely based precisely in the poorest sector of said peasantry) because that social strata was in process of proletarianization, super-exploited and dispossessed by imperialism and formed the numerical majority.

The Bolsheviks on the other hand despite having theorized the “democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants” in the bourgeois-democratic revolution failed to effectively develop a really durable alliance between the urban workers and the poor peasants in the circumstances of a country in which semi-proletarian poor peasants formed the majority.

Hence they became a defacto alien force in the countryside which contributed to the deformation of the proletarian dictatorship.

Incidentally it was the German and Russian left communists (including those famed for their “democracy”) who were at the forefront of advocating wholesale repression against the peasants which whatever its other flaws was quite simply untenable as a practical line and reflective of their mechanical and idealist interpretation of Marxism.

It was precisely Mao who brilliantly applying Marxism to the complexities of a real class structure (not the class binary found in the reproduction schema of Capital’s algebra) united a scientific political line derived from the class experience of the proletariat with the revolutionary energy of peasant and declassed masses experiencing proletarianization thorough the corrosion of the world market.

Such application of Marxism to reality is precisely what pedants like Goldner studiously avoid.

“Japan had invaded Manchuria (northeast China) in 1931 and the CCP from then until the Japanese defeat at the end of World War II was involved in a three-way struggle with the KMT and the Japanese.”

Here Goldner admits that the CCP was always during every period of the United Front at the same time waging a struggle against the KMT. Later he contradicts his admission here in order to peddle the standard Trotskyist commentary about “class collaboration” ignoring the CCP maintaining its own armed power, its own state structures and its own liberated areas throughout this whole period of supposedly craven capitulation.

Its not entirely remiss to point out here that Trotskyites and left communists have rarely if ever built independent and armed proletarian power-they are much more adept at stringent critique of the tactical compromises of the “Stalinists” who have done so in fact.

“After the Third Period policy led to the triumph of Hitler in Germany (where the Communist Party had attacked the “social fascist” Social Democrats, not the Nazis, as the “main enemy,” and even worked with the Nazis against the Social Democrats in strikes)..”

So it was the Third Period stance of consistent “class against class” tactics which led to Nazi victory not the integration of the German working class with German imperialism by the counter-revolutionary machinery of social democracy-a working class in which a reactionary chauvinism prevailed? Here we have a “left communist” aligning with pro-imperialist social democracy against a principled communist line. Quite instructive.

Regardless after denouncing the Third Period Goldner proceeds to fulminate with even greater vehemence against the Popular Front without stooping to provide even the slightest shred of historical context. The ECCI’s attempts to carry out a principled class against class policy of revolutionary offensive had failed. Reaction was triumphant throughout the imperialist centers and the USSR faced the possibility of a global anti-Soviet front and the outbreak of a two front war at any time.

Such concrete strategic concerns are of course irrelevant to “pure Marxists” who would rather have counter revolution then any actual revolution which fails to met their dogmatic standards of cleanliness.

“The first phase of Mao’s rule was from 1949 to 1957. He made no secret of the fact that the new regime was based on the “bloc of four classes” and was carrying out a bourgeois nationalist revolution.”

No it was carrying out a New Democratic revolution as part of the world proletarian revolution. This is not a merely rhetorical distinction. All Marxists (from Marx in 1848 onwards) have understood the importance of proletarian leadership in the democratic revolution-of the pushing forward of the practical measures of the bourgeois revolution not independently but as a necessary first stage of the process of socialist revolution in zones in which semi-feudalism is hegemonic. It is in fact a common Maoist formulation that the New Democratic stage of the revolution is basically completed with countrywide seizure of power.

“But it is important to remember that “land to the peasants” and the expropriation of the pre-capitalist landholders are the bourgeois revolution, as they have been since the French Revolution of 1789.”

This is eminently obvious and was just as obvious to Mao and Stalin as it is to our worthy librarian.

“World Stalinism was rocked in 1956 by a series of events: the Hungarian Revolution, in which the working class again established workers’ councils before it was crushed by Russian intervention;”

And we might add “working class” Hungarian students went hunting for Jews.

 “These uprisings were preceded by Khruschev’s speech to the twentieth Congress of world Communist Parties, in which he revealed many of Stalin’s crimes, including the massacre of between five to ten million peasants during the collectivizations of the early 1930s.”

So apparently allowing petty commodity production to develop into private capitalism in agriculture is “bourgeois” but suppressing said production in the absence of a functional worker peasant alliance (the formation of which would of course be a “deviation” from Marxism) is a “crime”.

“The word “revisionism” is itself ideology run amok, since the main thing that was being “revised” was Stalinist terror, which the Maoists and Marxist-Leninists by implication consider to be the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Only if one considers the increasing freedom provided to the operation of the law of value and the resultant change in production relations as irrelevant and focuses on the political superstructure while employing dubious anti-communist statistics to back up your hatchet job. And in fact terror as applied against the technical intelligentsia and bureaucratic petty bourgeois represented an application of the proletarian dictatorship (albeit limited and inadequate) which lead to an increase of rank and file democracy and a shift in the balance of power in favor of production workers during certain periods.

“Thus the regime launched a new phase, called the “Hundred Flowers” campaign, in which the “bourgeois intellectuals” who had rallied to the regime, recoiling from the brutality of the KMT, were invited to “let a hundred flowers bloom” and openly voice their criticisms.”

So the intellectuals from privileged backgrounds who critiqued the leadership of the CCP were not in fact “bourgeois” but “proletarian”? Perhaps Goldner should look at the statistics on the Chinese student body at the time or maybe bourgeois liberal critique of a “Stalinist” party is in fact revolutionary? Will Insurgent Notes make common cause with Vaclav Havel?

 “In China itself, the regime needed to shift gears after the disaster of the Hundred Flowers period. There was growing tension at the top levels of the CCP between Mao and the more Soviet-influenced technocratic bureaucrats, who were focused on building up heavy industry.”

So Goldner admits the existence of an ideologically driven struggle between “two headquarters” within the CCP. If the faction around Mao despite being “Stalinist” were in fact not “technocratic bureaucrats” who were they and what class did they represent? Perhaps they were Narodniks? We can only await further clarification from Goldner on this knotty question.

“Therefore Mao launched the country in 1958 on the so-called “Great Leap Forward,” in which Soviet-style heavy industry was to be replaced by enlisting peasants in small industrial “backyard” production everywhere. The peasants were forced into the “People’s Communes” and set to work to catch up with the economic level of the capitalist West in 10–15 years.”

Here the attempts during the GLF to abolish the wage system and bourgeois right in general and even to break up the division between between productive and reproductive labor are completely ignored. The reactionary neo-liberal line asserted by free marketers, the contemporary CCP and right wing Chinese dissidents is reproduced exactly and the objective circumstances contributing to famine are left unmentioned while the exaggeration of its extent by anti-communist sources is accepted uncritically.

“The “Cultural Revolution” was Mao’s attempt at a comeback. It was a factional struggle at the top level of the CCP in which millions of university and high school students were mobilized everywhere to attack “revisionism” and return Mao to real power. But this factional struggle, and the previous marginalization of Mao that lay behind it, was hardly advertised as the real reason for this process in which tens of thousands of people were killed and millions of lives were wrecked.”

Every single statement in the above paragraph is factually inaccurate starting with the assertion that only students and not the broad masses were mobilized and continuing with the statement that it was not public knowledge to the Chinese that the GPCR reflected a struggle within the CCP between Mao and his opponents.

“Millions of educated people suspected of “revisionism” (or merely the victims of some personal feud), including technicians and scientists, were sent off to the countryside (“rustification”) to “learn from the peasants,” which in reality involved them in crushing forced labor in which many were worked to death.”

Here Goldner shows his “revolutionary” credentials by objecting to the participation of bureaucratic petty bourgeois elements (the same elements he rants against as a breeding ground of “Stalinism”) in manual labor! The reactionary narrative on the most far reaching struggle to uproot the capitalist division between mental and manual labor is reproduced wholesale .For Goldner just as for arch-reactionary Chinese liberals forcing the “talented tenth” to live on the same level as the masses is in and of itself a vicious crime.

 ““Politics was in command,” with party ideologues and not surgeons, in charge of medical operations in Chinese hospitals—with predictable consequences.”

Goldner portrays the democratization of medical knowledge and the extension of medical care to the rural areas as some sort of irrationality just like every other bourgeois hack (and even more ironically much like actually Stalinist dogmato-revisionists).

“while young people from universities and high schools ran around the country humiliating and sometimes killing people designated by the Maoist faction as a “revisionist” and a “Liu Shaoqi capitalist roader” (Liu Shaoqi himself died of illness in prison). The economy was wrecked.”

Clearly young people carrying out the physical correction of bourgeois bureaucrats is a tragedy to be mourned by every authentic revolutionary! And the poor “economy” it was wrecked! The fact that according to the Dengists themselves the economy was wrecked precisely because of the power of working people in their production units is of no importance to this rather inconsistent workerist. Neither are the millions of Chinese industrial workers who today have a favorable appraisal of the Mao era. These are the words of the Wall Street Journal from the pen of a “communist”.

Really we could produce an encyclopedia of the clumsy factual errors and tellingly reactionary statements and citations in this text but Goldner’s contempt for the action of the masses against the bourgeois strata during the GPCR-a contempt which even down to its rhetorical turns of phrase exactly mirrors that of the elitist liberals and their self-pitying scar literature exposes the real class line of him and his tendency quite sufficiently.



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