Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Needed: A Marxist-Style Analysis to Understand and Combat the Extreme Left's Hegemony

By Barry Rubin

Ironically, those opposing the current hegemonic ideas and political forces in the United States and Europe must develop a Marxist-style analysis of what has happened.  To call the current dominant ideas and political currents socialist, Marxist, Communist, leftist, progressive, or liberal is not meaningful and conceals a great deal. The movement must be understood on its own terms and on how it differs from its predecessors.

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The problem of revolutionary movements has been to find a group to be the motive force in fundamentally transforming society. Next, they must analyze which groups can be made into allies and those that must be defeated.

The Marxist Analysis of the Social Battle
Marx and his followers identified the industrial working class as that revolutionary force. Here’s how the idea appears in the 1848 "Communist Manifesto":

“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other—Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.”

Marxists posited that the workers' condition would worsen and that no reform could improve their situation, forcing them to become revolutionaries. Their main ally would be the lower middle class, wiped out by big business and new technology :

“The lower strata of the middle class—the small tradespeople, shopkeepers and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants—all these sink gradually into the proletariat....“

In contrast, who are the revolution's enemies? Capitalists, clergy, and those elements that benefit from capitalism. And along with them:

“The `dangerous class,’ [lumpenproletariat] the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”

Note that in many ways the post-Marxist left reverses this analysis. The lumpenproletariat becomes its ally along with those--many of them prosperous--who benefit from the government's management of capitalism. In contrast, Marx's description of the revolutionary forces sounds more like a description of  Tea Party members.

Why Marxism Failed....

The Post-Marxist Left’s New Analysis....

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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