From the May-June 2018 issue of News & Letters
Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2018-2019:
Fighting Trump and his fascist allies in practice and theory
I. Donald Trump’s war show
II. Spreading revolt opens new doors
III. The reality and the myth of contemporary capitalism
IV. Marx, Lenin, Marxist-Humanism and the philosophy of revolution in permanence
V. Organizational tasks
V. Organizational Tasks
To Marxists of the generation of Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky, the relation between the proletarian movement and Marxism was mediated by the party. That is still the easy nostrum, which does nothing to answer what happens after the revolution, how to combat the counter-revolution that emerges from within.
The Marxist-Humanist concept is that philosophy is the mediation; that the movement from practice is itself a form of theory, and at the same time that it cannot replace the labor of the negative, the hard labor of working out philosophy. Those two movements cannot merge if they are isolated from each other, hence the need for projection and for organization. It is a question of working out how to actualize for this moment that relationship of philosophy, spontaneity, organization.
Dunayevskaya took up Marx’s and Lenin’s contributions not as an intellectual history of the past but as a revolutionary intervention from the vantage point of the post-World War II era, where she singled out a new stage of production with automation, a new movement from practice, and a new stage of cognition. From that vantage point it was necessary to conceptualize Lenin’s philosophic ambivalence and ambivalence on organization, and to grasp revolution in permanence as a movement of double negation and translate it for our age into absolute negativity as new beginning.
She also singled out a new kind of organization. That is spelled out in the Constitution of News and Letters Committees, which made a category of workers, women, Blacks, and youth as forces of revolution in the U.S., established a newspaper where “the voices of revolt from below could be heard not separated from the articulation of a philosophy of liberation,” and specified the need for integrality of dialectics and organization and “Marx’s ‘revolution in permanence’ not alone as the determinant for theory and practice, but as ground for organization in place of ‘the party to lead.’” That is still what is needed, although we cannot say our organization is fully manifesting the new relationship of theory and practice. That includes being a home for practicing dialecticians, concretizing philosophy and developing theory, and the new unity of worker and intellectual that the new French edition of Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal reminds us of.
All of our new publications are vital in helping us intervene in today’s struggles and concretely project Marxist-Humanist philosophy as a polarizing force. Along with the two new books, we will publish pamphlets on Syria and on women’s liberation. In addition, new French editions of Marxism and Freedom, from 1776 until Today and Indignant Heart have been published. Turkish and Greek translations of Dunayevskaya’s books are coming.
At the same time the inreach to us reinforces the objectivity of the need for Marxist-Humanist organization today. That includes the French, Greek and Turkish publications and other international relationships we will work to deepen. It also includes all the inreach from prisoners.
In a very different way, it includes the approach to us by those on the Left looking for a new orientation with regard to Syria. We are working to show them that any such new orientation, if it is not to be a stillbirth, necessarily means a dive into dialectical philosophy. It includes as well intellectuals writing about Dunayevskaya’s concept of the movement from practice that is itself a form of theory. In each case we should be discussing with each other how to approach the inreach and turn it into organizational relations.
One can be a practicing Marxist-Humanist only through Marxist-Humanist organization, acting in concrete relationship to history-in-the-making unseparated from philosophy. In this period, that includes, but is not limited to, a functioning newspaper and website.
The urgent need for organizational growth is clear. Its objectivity is shown in the rise of a new generation of potential revolutionaries. In order to avoid leaving philosophy as well as organization as abstractions, our local and national discussions need to take up the need for such growth, and concretely address what we are going to do about it.
All our locals need growth, and for the functioning of the center and the organization as a whole, growth in the Chicago Local is a key perspective.
Every moment, every event, is different, and demands that we work out how to project the whole body of Marxist-Humanist ideas as a totality, through the concretization of one or more of the new publications, the newspaper—which is “new” every two months—the trilogy of revolution, the Archives, which are now online complete with the Guide, and all the other publications and our own individual intervention. Let us make sure this potential turning point does not fail to turn in the direction of full human emancipation.
—The Resident Editorial Board, April 17, 2018