[OPE-L:3752] RE: Operationalization of Marxian theory

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 21:46:33 -0800 (PST)

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A reply to one point in Jerry's ope-l 3674 (I don't have time for more at the

Jerry wrote:

"_State and Revolution_ had a lot of quotes from M&E (primarily because it
was, in part, a polemic against the Mensheviks, the SR's, and anarchists and
Lenin wanted, I think, to highlight the "revisionism" of his political
opponents), but it was not, IMO, a primarily detailed textual analysis of M&E.
It was a political work along the lines of _What is to be Done?_ in the sense
that it attempted to give theoretical expression for the key political tasks
of the day."

The subtitle of S&R is "The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the
Proletariat in the Revolution." In the Aug. 1917 Preface, Lenin writes "First
of all we examine the theory of Marx and Engels of the state, and dwell in
particular detail on those aspects of this theory which are ignored or have
been distorted by the opportunists. Then we deal specifically with the one
who is chiefly responsible for these distortions, Karl Kautsky .... Lastly, we
sum up the main results of the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1905
and particularly of 1917."

In the edition I'm quoting from, the next 72 pages deals with the first topic.
The second topic takes up about 12.8 pages. The third topic consists of a
chapter heading and 2 sentences, taking up 0.2 pages, whereupon the manuscript
breaks off. Hence the three topics take up 84.7%, 15.1%, and 0.20f what we
know as S&R.

Moreover, on the first page of Ch. 1, Lenin writes, "our prime task is to
*re-establish* what Marx really taught on the subject of the state. ... All,
or at any rate all the most essential passages in the works of Marx and Engels
on the subject of the state must by all means be quoted as fully as possible
so that the reader may form an independent opinion of the totality of the
views of the founders of scientific socialism .... [his emphasis]"

It is interesting that Lenin presupposes that there *is* a Marxist theory of
the state, that it is synonymous with the views stated by Marx and Engels, and
that the meaning of this theory can be ascertained by examining the *totality*
of their writings on the subject. He presupposes that there is a difference
between what is authentically Marx's and what is the distortion of some

Jerry's understanding of what S&R is about seems very different from what
Lenin was trying to do, and what I think he did.

Andrew Kliman