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Is There a Future for Socialism?

Is There a Future for Socialism?

First entry in an exchange with Jacobin, by Asad Haider and Salar Mohan­desi: “We all won­dered, as we watched Back to the Future, how alter­na­tive futures could change the whole uni­verse while Marty McFly stayed the same. Those movies amounted to a Rea­gan­ite phi­los­o­phy of his­tory: the short-circuit between the Fifties and the Eight­ies which con­verts every con­tin­gent encounter into one reac­tionary loop, cen­tered on the white man who secretly invents rock n’ roll, seduces his mother, and con­quers the space-time continuum.”

Occupy the Russian Revolution

Occupy the Russian Revolution

Mohandesi’s pic­ture of a vac­il­lat­ing, con­ser­v­a­tive, con­fused Lenin strain­ing to hold together a divided Bol­she­vik lead­er­ship caught off guard by the mature rev­o­lu­tion­ary upsurge by St. Petersburg’s work­ers and sol­diers dur­ing what came to be known as “the July Days” in 1917 is incon­sis­tent with the his­tor­i­cal record. Based on his sketch, Mohan­desi con­cludes that Lenin had to catch up the­o­ret­i­cally with where the masses were mov­ing prac­ti­cally by “artic­u­lat­ing” the “actu­al­ity of rev­o­lu­tion,” that is, mak­ing explicit what was implicit in the angry mass protests that nearly top­pled the Pro­vi­sional Gov­ern­ment. Both he and Chre­tien lead us to believe that Lenin’s book, State and Rev­o­lu­tion, and the Bolshevik-led insur­rec­tion that over­threw the Pro­vi­sional Gov­ern­ment were the results of Lenin’s recon­sid­er­a­tion of the Marx­ist the­ory of the state.

Papers and Tigers: Was Lenin Really an Anarchist?

Papers and Tigers: Was Lenin Really an Anarchist?

Com­rade Lenin is just one in a long line of heroes I don’t know a lot about. He’s the kind of his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ter engi­neered to model, made for a time when rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies pinned up news­pa­per head­shots over their beds and went to bed vow­ing to wake up and be more like Che or Mao or Gaddafhi or Car­los or Ulrike or Huey or even masked Mar­cos. The 20th Cen­tury saw Com­mu­nist Par­ties and par­ty­ing com­mu­nists, but both had their icons. We are, how­ever, icon­o­clasts; some bold sans-serif lulz-text in place of a black line.

How Does Theory Guide Practice? A Response to Salar Mohandesi on State and Revolution

How Does Theory Guide Practice? A Response to Salar Mohandesi on State and Revolution

This exchange grew out of a panel that Salar and I took part in at the Left Forum in New York in March 2012 called “State and Rev­o­lu­tion: Is Lenin Still Rel­e­vant?” Salar hap­pened to speak first at the panel and put for­ward such a thought-provoking analy­sis of the rela­tion­ship between the­ory and prac­tice, using Lenin’s writ­ing of State and Rev­o­lu­tion as an exam­ple, that I largely set aside my pre­pared remarks and decided to address some of the points he raised. What fol­lows is a ver­sion of those responses. I will present brief sum­maries of Salar’s case and then offer some crit­i­cal responses in num­bered paragraphs.