Re: [OPE] fascism / opposing imperialist militaryinterventioninLibya

From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Date: Thu Mar 31 2011 - 21:07:02 EDT

Thanks for the comment Paula, but I already read those books (Bukharin, Lenin, Hilferding, Hobson etc.) thirty years ago. I also read much of the background and related literature.

These books were not primarily a "scientific" literature, but a political literature aiming to make an intervention in a specific political and historical context. These included growing militarism, the scramble for Africa and the colonial question, the Boer war and the Balkan wars, the betrayals and collapse of the Second International, and the first world war.

I am not saying that what Lenin and Bukharin wrote is ipso facto all "wrong". They provided quite a good description of some features of capitalist development in their time, and shrewdly diagnosed the "character of the epoch". That was also their main aim: to provide an orientation to the Left about the way the world was moving.

It is just that as a scholar I don't think that a couple of political pamphlets from 90 years ago, tailored to evade the censor, can be the basis or the model for a scientific understanding of imperialism now, just because they were written by some famous revolutionaries. To think along those lines substitutes belief for scientific research.

That aside, Lenin's and Bukharin's understanding of Marx's writings was in my view rather weak and doctrinaire. They may have been excellent revolutionaries, but their understanding of Marx was really rather weak. We can verify this in precise detail, especially with Lenin, because justabout every scrap he wrote was preserved. Lenin tried to be extremely orthodox, but as soon as he actually had to do something, he became extraordinarily unorthodox and innovative.

Everyone is entitled to their own perspective on imperialism, but as regards myself I prefer to base myself on the best historical evidence. And we do have a lot more evidence now, in part because since WW2 tertiary educational expanded very strongly and there have been lots more historians and social scientists concerned with these questions.


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Received on Thu Mar 31 21:08:05 2011

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