Re: The Late Marx

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 09:53:14 EDT

Marx´s reply to Vera Sassoulitch dates from March of 1881. Jenny Marx died this
very year although I do not know whether it was before or after. At any rate the
death of Jenny must have affected him personally. MacLellan  also reports that
Marx´s health deteriorated from 1873 on. He says that Marx tried to recover in
Spas and even in Algiers. Despite all of this it is in this period that Marx
writes the Critique of the Gotha Program among other things. Maybe under ailing
conditions he was more prone to accept other forms for the development of
socialism, forms that would have critisized fiercely before. Although I have to
confess these are conjectures of mine, conjectures based on the fact that time
and age bends almost everyone´s will.

gerald_a_levy wrote:

> Re a section of Rakesh's post "Gulf oil--How important is it, anyway":
> > I should mention here Mark Jones who articulated the oilism thesis on
> > which I challenged him (as well as Michael Klare) in private
> > correspondence  (Fred however seem to have been convinced by Mark's
> > argument). We disagreed strongly on almost everything...from oilism to
> > Stalinism. Yet I should like to mention one of his many memorable posts,
> > beautifully written though eminently controversial as was almost
> > anything which he posted; here he told the story of Marx, of how through
> > the sheer force of his personality he could lead even those born the
> > luckiest into the private hell of poverty for the sake of revolutionary
> > aspiration and how this same man became so disillusioned that his last
> > years were spent in anthropological reflection on societies far away
> > from that which he had sacrificed his life to overthrow.
> I don't think that Marx near the end of his life became "so disillusioned."
> Indeed, what you refer to as (paraphrasing Mark Jones, I guess)
> "anthopological
> reflection" was an attempt to engage the Russian revolutionary movement.
> Marx's interest in the "anthropology" of  peasant communes concerned
> *praxis*: thus he and Engels wrote on January 12, 1882 in the "Preface" to
> the Second Russian Edition of the _Communist Manifesto_:  "If the
> Russian revolution becomes the signal for proletarian revolution in the
> West,
> so that the two complement each other, then Russia's peasant communal
> land-ownership may serve as a point of departure for communist development."
> (_Late Marx and the Russian Road_, p. 139).
> Furthermore, in his reply to Vera Zasulich, dated March 8, 1881,  Marx
> wrote:  "The analysis in _Capital_ therefore provides no reasons either for
> or
> against the vitality of the Russian commune.  *But the special study I have
> made
> of  it, including a search for original source-material, has convinced me
> that
> the commune is the fulcrum for social regeneration in Russia*.  But in order
> that
> it might function as such, the harmful influences assailing it on all sides
> must first be
> eliminated, and it must be assured the normal conditions for spontaneous
> development" (Ibid, pp. 123-124, emphasis added, JL).  Some indication of
> how
> serious Marx considered this correspondence with Russian revolutionaries is
> given
> by the fact that he wrote *4 drafts* of his reply to Zasulich.  The context,
> in part, is that
> _Capital_ had been widely read by Russian revolutionary socialists and some
> of those revolutionaries had questions about the relevance of Marx's theory
> to Russian conditions (discussed in part in Marx's letter to the Editorial
> Board
> of "Otechestvennye Zapiski" -- Ibid, pp. 134-137).
> I have no doubt that the defeat of the Paris Commune of 1871 -- and the
> ending of the First International -- led to a change in the amount of time
> that he
> allocated to theoretical projects vs. more direct forms of political
> activism,
> but he was a revolutionary to the end and his theoretical and historical
> studies
> have to be placed within the context of his larger revolutionary project in
> order
> to be properly comprehended.   He might have been in despair personally,
> given
> his poor health and the poverty of his family, but I think he died with
> confidence
> (overconfidence, perhaps) in the future success of the communist movement.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> PS: As for Mark Jones: it is true that he often wrote memorable and
> controversial
> and sometimes knowledgeable posts on the Net.   None of that can be an
> excuse
> for cop-baiting (recall his claim that the _NLR_ was controlled by M16?),
> or libel
> (e.g.  referring to other revolutionaries as "counter-revolutionaries",
> "agent-
> provocateurs", "agents of imperialism", etc.), or  death threats [!], or
> outrageous prejudice (most memorably, homophobic remarks -- also directed
> against the _NLR_).

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed May 07 2003 - 00:00:00 EDT