Saturday, October 8, 2011

Before October: The Unbearable Romanticism of Western Marxism

By Roland Boer
October 8, 2011

Most Western Marxists suffer from a deep resentment: they have never experienced a successful communist revolution. For some unaccountable reason, all of those successful revolutions have happened in the 'East': Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, China, Vietnam and so on. And none of the few revolutions in the 'West', from Finland to Germany, were successful. The only exception, Cuba, proves the rule, for the turning of the Cuban revolution to communism and Russian support happened after the revolution.

The resentment of Western Marxists against the successful Eastern revolutions manifests itself in a complex mix of dismissal and unbearable romanticism. As for the latter, it appears in the position that the perfect revolution is yet to come, that it will happen at an undefinable utopian moment in the future. The criteria for what constitutes such a romantic moment constantly shift, depending on which position one takes, but they all remain in the future, have not yet been realised, offer as yet unimaginable qualitative change and certainly don't need an army. Needless to say, all of the successful Eastern revolutions fail the test, for they inevitably came to grief, were betrayed, fell from grace, turned away from romantic revolutionary ideals. In short, they 'failed'. And the code word for such 'failure' is Stalin. As soon as a revolution becomes 'Stalinist' -- as they all did according to Western Marxists -- then it was not a true revolution after all. The seeds of that failure were already embodied in the moment of revolution itself.

I would like to address this revolutionary romanticism at three levels, one concerning a recent incident in relation to China, another dealing with a curious argument concerning Norway and a third by considering what may be termed 'fall' narratives in relation to the first successful communist revolution, namely, the Russian Revolution.

Read more HERE.

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