Wednesday, May 5, 2010

sort of book review: Lenin: State and Revolution

note: the caption reads "comrade Lenin sweeps the filth from the earth"

File:Tov lenin ochishchaet.jpg

I started reading this because I want to try and develop my thoughts on revolutionary violence. I had never just sat down and read Lenin prior to this, only bits and pieces, official statements, speeches, quotations and the like.

What troubles me the most about this book is the idea (so pervasive, and so damaging in the twentieth) century, that there is a correct, and an incorrect or somehow perverted reading of Marx.

Certainly it is valuable to examine Marx and Engels texts and to try to determine exactly how they would have responded to certain situations, or to try to decide exactly how they felt about certain ideas. But I have little interest in the notion that someone's understanding of the world is incorrect BECAUSE it diverges from what Marx was really trying to say. This sort of doctrinairism was the reason for (or at least the excuse behind), a massive number of deaths, and a massive amount of human suffering during the 20th century.

If somehow is ipso facto incorrect because they're interpretation of an event or phenomenon differs from Marx's, then the greatest social commentator of the 1900's is rendered an absurdity and his texts eventually (if not already) an anachronism, no different from other, more easily mock-able texts.

If Marx is viewed as having absolutely authority in the realm of political science, philosophy, or economics, then anyone who disproves one tenet of Marxism, has thrown doubt on the entire body of work, perhaps more dangerously, anyone who diverges in any way from Marx may feel that the rest of the system must be thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.

I have no interest in being right because I agree with someone, I am interested in being right because the facts dictate that I am right. Following Marx to the letter, ridiculing and exiling anyone who diverges in any respect, demotes his system to the level of religious faith.

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