Democracy mystified: a critical review of the book, Against Democracy by Miriam Qarmat (ICG) - Roi Ferreiro
Roi Ferreiro reviews Against Democracy, and subjects its attack on “democracy as a ‘thing in itself’” (“a fantasy of Bordiguist idealism”) and “liberty, equality and fraternity”—an attack that he depicts as abstract, ahistorical, reductionist, and reactionary “sophistry”—to a withering critique, asserting that such all-or-nothing verbal radicalism (“demagogy”) encourages “political indifferentism and passivity”, and he asks the rhetorical question, “is it possible for the ‘affirmation of the collective existence of men’ to be realized in any other than a ‘democratic’ way, and more concretely, in any other form besides that of ‘proletarian, direct and revolutionary democracy’?”.
A book-length essay illustrating the principles of historical materialism with respect to the role of race and nation in the “cycles” that were preconditions for the communist revolution, tracing the human saga from pithecanthropus and Adam and Eve to the Trieste Crisis, with sections on Greece, Rome, the German barbarians, feudalism, the rise of the bourgeoisie, the European wars and national liberation struggles of the 19th century, and the Paris Commune, interspersed with incisive comments on the individual (a “puppet”), the family (it “will be destroyed after the victory of communism”), national languages (they “will perish with” capitalism), etc.
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.
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”.
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”.