Marx's first full application of historical materialism to an ongoing event.
Marx’s The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850 consists of a series of articles written between January and October 1850 specially for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Politisch-ökonomische Revue and published in it under the general title “1848-1849.” This is a most important work summing up the results of the 1848-49 revolution.
Lots of people who start Karl Marx's Capital get stuck somewhere in the early chapters of volume 1. In this post, I make some suggestions about how to get unstuck and read the whole book.
In 1998 I started trying to read Karl Marx’s Capital, volume 1. I failed. I tried again, and failed. I tried again, and failed. This happened repeatedly over the next four or five years. I would get fifty or so pages in, get confused or bored, and give up.
In this 1953 article from the “Thread of Time” series, Amadeo Bordiga addresses the role of the great man or “man of destiny” in history, whose modern representatives he calls “Guignols” (grotesque puppets)—devoid of individuality, vacuous, two-dimensional receptacles for the cult of personality—from Napoleon to Eisenhower, and situates this phenomenon in the context of the historical materialist doctrine of Marx and Engels as expounded in the latter’s text, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.
The Guignol in History – Amadeo Bordiga
Following the Thread of Time
A 1953 text in which Amadeo Bordiga examines the lessons of counterrevolutions from the defeat of Spartacus to the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and from the Peasant War in Germany of 1525 to Stalinism (“State capitalism is not a semi-socialism, but just plain capitalism”) and recapitulates some “fundamental positions of Marxism”, which he describes as a “doctrine for the understanding of ... counterrevolutions”, since “everyone knows how to orient themselves at the moment of victory, but few are those who know what to do when defeat arrives” and “it is necessary to understand the counterrevolution in order to prepare the revolution of tomorrow”.
Lessons of the Counterrevolutions – Amadeo Bordiga
Introduction to the 1981 Spanish Translation
In this concise1953 programmatic text presented at the Genoa Meeting of the International Communist Party, Amadeo Bordiga sets forth a series of theses outlining the perspectives for revolution in the post-war world, and emphasizes that it will have to take place in the West, because of its more advanced capitalism, rather than in the less developed capitalism of Russia, based on Marx’s theory of the increasing productivity of labor and the falling rate of profit, and refers to the absence of a “communist party in the U.S. [with] an integral revolutionary program”, despite the maturity of the objective conditions there, as a “major historical problem”.
The Anti-capitalist Revolution in the West – Amadeo Bordiga
In these 26 theses presented at the Milan Meeting of the International Communist Party in 1952, Amadeo Bordiga sets forth his conception of the “invariance” of Marxism, utilizing colorful examples from the histories of religion, mythology, ideology and science as well as the class struggle, denouncing “modernizers” (he says they are worse than Stalinists) “weasel assumptions”, “foolish clichés”, “bourgeois prejudices”, “aberrations”, and “nonsense”, and everything that stands opposed to the “common doctrine of the party, uniform, monolithic, and invariable, to which we are all subordinated and bound, putting an end to all chattering and know-it-all discussions”.
The Historical “Invariance” of Marxism – International Communist Party (Amadeo Bordiga)
A critique of Roi Ferreiro’s critique of Andrés Devesa’s essay on the Spanish civil war and revolution, in which Guillamon derides Ferreiro for idealism and the use of elitist jargon, and for his failure to “perceive that the battle for revolutionary history is not just a bookish, theoretical and abstract question, but another battlefield in the class war between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat”.
The Theorization of Historical Experiences – Agustín Guillamón
History is one more battlefield among the many that exist in the class war. We must learn the lessons of the defeats of the proletariat, because they are the milestones of victory.
The revolutionary program of communist society eliminates all forms of ownership of land, the instruments of production and the products of labor - Partito Comunista Internazionale (Amadeo Bordiga)
In this 1957 text drafted for the Partito Comunista Internazionale, Amadeo Bordiga, with his usual acerbic wit, restates some of the “invariant” principles of Marxism, denounces the idea that communism means collective or individual “property” or “ownership”—terms he subjects to historical analysis as transitory juridical forms—argues in favor of social usufruct as the concept most adequate for the future classless society, ridicules the “metaphysical and idealist” error of the “immediatists” who hold that “socialism is a struggle for the individual liberation of the worker” and, just to rub it in, condemns drinkers and smokers as “usufructuary traitors” against the health of the species.
[b]The Revolutionary Program of Communist Society Eliminates All Forms of Ownership of Land, the Instruments of Production and the Products of Labor1
- 1. Turin Meeting, June 1-2, 1958.