The Third International after Lenin

Friday, January 9, 2015

Perry Anderson interview György Lukács

Perry Anderson interview Lukács (NLR)

of Perry Anderson

"New Left Review" n. 68 July to August in 1971.

trad. en. of


Recent events in Europe have placed once again the problem of the relationship between socialism and democracy. What are, in your opinion, the fundamental differences between bourgeois democracy and socialist revolutionary democracy?

Bourgeois democracy was established with the French Constitution of 1793, its highest expression and radical. Its active constituent is the division of man in thecitoyen of public life and in the bourgeoisprivate life, the first with universal political rights, according to the expression of particular and different economic interests. This division is fundamental to bourgeois democracy which historically determined phenomenon. His philosophical reflection is found in de Sade. It is interesting that writers like Adorno have dealt de Sade as a reflection of the Constitution of 1793. The key idea, in the one case as in the other, is that man is an object for man and selfishness rational is the essence of human society.Now, it is obvious that any attempt to recreate in socialism historically exceeded this form of democracy is a regression and an anachronism. This does not mean, however, that the aspirations to socialist democracy should be addressed in optical administrative. The problem of socialist democracy is a real problem that has not yet been resolved, as it must be materialistic and idealistic. Let me give an example. Guevara was a man as a heroic representative of the Jacobin ideals, his ideas impregnated her life and fully modeled. He was not the first case in the revolutionary movement. Levine in Germany or Ottó Korvin here in Hungary lived and acted the same way. We must have a deep respect for a human nobility of this type. But their idealism is not socialism of everyday life, which must have a material basis and based on the construction of a new economy. But I must hasten to add that economic development in itself will never produce socialism.Khrushchev's doctrine, according to which socialism would triumph worldwide when the living standards of the USSR had surpassed those of the US, was completely wrong. The problem should be placed in a radically opposite. You can formulate it thus: Socialism is the first training in economic history that does not spontaneously produces its corresponding "economic man". This is because it is a transition training, an interlude in the transition from capitalism to communism.Now, as the socialist economy does not produce and reproduce spontaneously man corresponding to it, as the capitalist society fathered her homo economicus , that is, the division citoyen / bourgeois of 1793 and de Sade, the main function of socialist democracy is the 'education of its members to socialism. This function has no precedent nor similar in bourgeois democracy. Clearly, what today would be required is the revival of the Soviets, the system of socialist democracy that rises every time you have a proletarian revolution: the Paris Commune in 1871, the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the same as the October Revolution. But this can happen overnight. The problem is that the workers here are indifferent: initially they do not believe in anything.

A problem in this respect concerns the historical emergence of the necessary changes. In recent philosophical debate here has been much discussion on the question of continuity and discontinuity in history. I have definitely expressed by the discontinuity. You already know the classic conservative thesis of De Tocqueville and Taine according to which the French Revolution was by no means a fundamental change in French history, because it continued the tradition of centralized French State, which was dominant under the ' ancien regime with Louis XIV, and was accentuated by Napoleon and then under the Second Empire. This view of history, within the revolutionary movement, was decisively rejected by Lenin. He never showed up no fundamental changes and new beginnings as a simple continuation of the trends and progress antecedents. For example, when he announced the new economic policy, never claimed that this was the development or the crowning of war communism. Lenin made ​​it clear that the war communism was a mistake, though understandable given the circumstances of the time, and that the NEP was a correction of that error and a new change of course. This Leninist method was abandoned by Stalinism, which always tried to present policy changes - even the most important - as the logical consequence of the improvements of the previous line. Stalinism is the whole story socialist as a continuous and orderly development; never admit discontinuity.Today, this issue is as vital as ever, especially to address the survival of Stalinism. The continuity with the past should be emphasized within a perspective of improvements or, on the contrary, the way of progress must consist of a deep rupture with Stalinism? I believe that the complete break is necessary. For the problem of discontinuity in the history seems to me important.

Apply this point of view also also to its philosophical development? How do you judge his writings of the twenties? They relate to his work today?

In the twenties, Korsch, Gramsci and I tried, each in its own way, to deal with the problem of social necessity and its mechanistic interpretation, the legacy of the Second International. We inherited the problem, but no one of us - even Gramsci, who was perhaps the best among us - managed to solve it. We were wrong and it would be a mistake today groped to revive the works of that time as if they were valid today. In the West there is a tendency to erect as a "classic heresy", but we do not need today. The twenties are a bygone era;what concerns us are the problems of the sixties. I'm working on an ontology of social being that I hope will solve the problem that I faced the wrong way in my early work, especially in History and Class Consciousness . My new work focuses on the relationship between freedom and necessity, or, how I express myself, between causality and teleology.Traditionally, philosophers have always based their systems on one or the other of the two poles; or have denied the need or human freedom. My intent is to show the ontological interrelation of the two terms, and reject the ' either- which philosophers have recourse to represent the man. The concept of work is the cornerstone of my analysis, because the work is not biologically determined. If a lion attacking an antelope, its behavior is determined by a biological need and only by this. But if primitive man is in front of a pile of stones, he must choose between them, judging what will be the most suitable to be used as a tool; he chooses betweenalternatives. The term alternative is fundamental to the concept of human labor, which is therefore always teleological - he places a purpose, which is the result of a choice. By then it is expressed in human freedom. But this liberty exists only objective physical setting in motion forces that obey the laws of causality of the material universe. The teleology of the work is therefore always coordinated with the physical causality, and, in fact, the result of any other individual work is a time of physical causality for the position teleological (Setzung ) than any other individual. Faith in the teleology of nature is theology, and faith in a teleology in history is unfounded.But there is a teleology in every human work, inextricably inserted in the causality of the physical world. This position, which is the core from which develops my current job, exceeds the classical opposition between necessity and freedom. But I want to emphasize that I am not trying to build a comprehensive system. The title of my work - that is ready, although I am reviewing the first chapters - is for an ontology of social being , and not The ontology of social being . Will grasp the difference. The task in which they are involved will require a collective effort of many thinkers for its real development. But I hope it will show the ontological foundations of socialism of daily life that I mentioned before.

England is the only major European country without a philosophical tradition Marxist native. You've written extensively of one of the moments of its cultural history, the work of Walter Scott; but how do you see the wider development of the British political and intellectual history and its relations with the European culture since the Enlightenment?

The British history has been the victim of what Marx called uneven development.The radicalism of the revolution of Cromwell and then the revolution of 1688, and their successes in securing capitalist relations between town and country, became the cause of the delay back England. I think your magazine has stressed enough the historic importance of capitalist agriculture in England and its paradoxical consequences for the subsequent development of English. This can be seen very clearly in the cultural development English. The domain of empiricism as an ideology of the bourgeoisie was born after 1688, but reached an extraordinary power thereafter, changing the previous history of philosophy and English art. Take Bacon, for example. He was a great truck scale, much larger than Locke, who later gave the bourgeoisie really matter. But its importance was completely blurred English empiricism, and today if you want to study what Bacon was for empiricism, you must first study what empiricism included Bacon, which is quite different.Marx was a great admirer of Bacon, as it is known. The same thing happened with another great English thinker, Mandeville.He was the successor of Hobbes, but the English bourgeoisie overlooked it entirely.Discover instead Marx quote him inTheories of Surplus Value . This radical English culture of the past was obscured and ignored. In its place, Eliot and others preferred and exaggerated importance attributed to the metaphysical poets - Women, etc. - Which are much less important to the development of the history of human culture. Another episode detector is the fate of Scott. I wrote about the importance of Scott in my book The historical novel , you will notice that it is the first novelist who understood that men are changed by history. This was an extraordinary discovery and as such was immediately perceived by great European writers such as Pushkin in Russia, Manzoni in Italy and in France Balzac. All of them saw the importance of Scott and learned from him. The curious thing, however, is that in England Scott had no followers. Was very little understood and forgotten. There has therefore been a fracture in the whole development of the English culture, which is very visible in the subsequent radical writers like Shaw.Shaw had no roots in the English culture of the past, because the English culture of the nineteenth century was amputated his prehistory radical. This is the great weakness of Shaw.

Today British intellectuals not only have to import from abroad Marxism, but they have to build a new history of their culture: this is an essential task that only they can accomplish. I wrote to Scott, and Ágnes Heller on Shakespeare, but it's the British who essentially have to rediscover England. Even we in Hungary have circulated many hoaxes on our "national character", as you in England. A true story of your culture will destroy these misrepresentations. In what perhaps you will be helped by the depth of the political and economic crisis English, produced by the uneven development that I mentioned before. Wilson is undoubtedly one of the most astute political opportunists bourgeois, yet his government has been a total and disastrous failure. This too is a sign of the depth of the crisis and inextricability English.

How do you see today his early work and literary critic, especially Theory of the novel ? What was its historical significance?

Theory of the Novel was the expression of my despair during the First World War.When the war broke out, I said that Germany and Austro-Hungary would probably have defeated Russia and destroyed tsarism, which was good.France and England would probably have defeated Germany and Austro-Hungary and destroyed the Hohenzollerns and the Habsburgs, which was good. But who would defend the culture English and French? My despair found no answer to this question, and this is the background of the theory of the novel . Naturally the October gave the answer. The Russian revolution was the world-historic solution to my dilemma: prevented the triumph of the French bourgeoisie and English so that I feared. But I must say that the Theory of the novel , with all his faults, he foresaw the collapse of that culture which analyzed. He understood the need for a revolutionary change.

At that time she was a friend of Max Weber. How to judge him now? His colleague Sombart eventually became a Nazi; Weber believes that, had he lived, would have reconciled with National Socialism?

No, never. Must understand that Weber was absolutely an honest person. He was in great contempt the Emperor, for example. We often said in private that the great misfortune of Germany was that, unlike Stuart or the Bourbons, none of Hohenzollern had been beheaded. Can imagine how unusual that a German professor said similar things in 1912. Weber was very different from Sombart; he made no concession to anti-Semitism, for example. Let me tell you a story, typical of Weber. He was once asked by a German university to send its recommendations to assign a professorship in that university - were on the verge of a new appointment.Weber said, giving three names in order of merit. Then he added, each of the three directions would be an excellent choice - are all excellent; but you do not choose any of them, because they are all Jews. So I add a list of three names, none of which is as good as the others I have mentioned, and no doubt you will choose one of them, because they are not Jews.

But despite that, you must remember that Weber was a staunch imperialist, whose liberalism was based solely on his belief according to which an efficient imperialism was necessary and that only liberalism could ensure such efficiency. He was a sworn enemy of the revolution of October and November. Was as an extraordinary scholar as a deep reactionary. The irrationalism that begins with the late Schelling and Schopenhauer has in him one of its highest expressions.

How did you react to his conversion to the October Revolution?

Think he said that for Lukács the change should have been a profound transformation of beliefs and ideas, while Toller only confusion of feelings. But I've had no contact with him since then.

After the war, she took part in the Hungarian Municipality as commissioner of education. What is a possible assessment of the experience of the City today, fifty years later?

The essential cause of the Commune was the "Note Vyx" and the policy of the Entente towards Hungary. In this regard, the Hungarian Municipality is comparable to the Russian Revolution, where the issue of the war had a decisive weight in the outbreak of the October Revolution. Once delivered the Note Vyx, its consequence was the Municipality. The Social Democrats later attacked us for the creation of the municipality, but at that time, after the war, there was no chance of staying within the confines of the scheme of bourgeois politics; it was necessary that exploded.

After the defeat of the Commune, she was a delegate to the Third Congress of the Comintern in Moscow. We met Bolshevik leaders? What impression did?

Look, you have to remember that I was a small member of a small delegation; I was not in any way an important figure at the time, and so of course he had long conversations with the leaders of the Russian party. Nevertheless, I was introduced to Lenin by Lunacharsky.Fascinated me completely. I could also watch him at work in the commission of the Congress, of course. I must say that I found obnoxious other Bolshevik leaders.Trotsky I did not like right now: I thought it was a poseur . There is a passage in the memoirs of Gorky on Lenin, knows where Lenin after the revolution, recognized organizational results during the Civil War, says that Trotsky has something Lassalle.Zinoviev, whose role in the Comintern I got to know better later on, it was only a political manipulator. My opinion of Bukharin can be read in my article of 1925, where his critical Marxism - at that time was, after Stalin, the Russian authorities in theoretical questions. Not even Stalin can not remember - as many other foreign Communists I had no idea of its importance in the Russian party. I talked to Radek for a while '. He told me that what I had written on the action of March was the best thing that had ever been written about it and approved it completely. After, of course, changed his mind when the party condemned the action of March, and he then condemned him publicly.

Contrary to all the others, Lenin made me a huge impression.

What was your reaction when Lenin attacked his article on the question of parliamentarism?

My article was completely wrong and gave up his thesis without hesitation. But I must add that I read Extremism: childhood disease of communism Lenin before his critique of my article, and I became convinced of its positions on the issue of parliamentary participation even then: so that his critique of my article did not change much in me. I knew it was wrong.May recall what Lenin said in that work, namely that the bourgeois parliaments were completely scrapped in the sense of world history with the birth of the revolutionary organs of proletarian power, Soviets, but that did not mean at all that there had been in the immediate political sense, because the masses of the West still not trusted in the Soviets. So the Communists had to work both inside and outside of parliaments.

In 1928-29 she proposed the concept of a democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants as a strategic goal of the Hungarian Communist Party of the time, the famous "Blum Theses" for the third congress of the PCU. The theses were rejected as opportunistic and she was expelled from the Central Committee. As the judges now?

The thesis Blum were my rearguard action against sectarianism of the "Third Period", who claimed to be twins fascism and democracy. This line was accompanied disastrous, as you know, the slogan "class against class" and the expectation of the immediate establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Restoring and adapting the slogan of Lenin in 1905 - democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants - I tried to find a foothold in the line of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern, through which I could bring the Hungarian party on a more realistic policy.I had no success. The thesis Blum were condemned by the party, and Béla Kun and his faction me expelled from the Central Committee. I was completely alone in the party; must imagine that not convinced even those within the party shared my positions in the battle against sectarianism Kun. So I did a self-critique of the thesis. This was absolutely cynical: I was forced by the circumstances of the time. I have not changed my mind and in truth I still think I was right then. The period of 1945-48 in Hungary was the concrete realization of the democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants who had supported in 1929. After 1948, of course, Stalinism created something very different, but that's another story.

What were your relations with Brecht in the thirties, and after the war? How would you rate her figure?

Brecht was a truly great poet, and his last plays - Mother Courage , The Good Person of Szechwan and others - are excellent. Of course, his aesthetic theories and dramatic were very confusing and wrong. I got to explain it The current meaning of critical realism . But they do not change the quality of his later works. In 1931-33 I was in Berlin and worked the Union of Writers. At that time - mid-thirties, to be precise - Brecht wrote an article against me, in defense of expressionism. But later, when I was in Moscow, Brecht came to visit me in his journey from Scandinavia to the United States - traveled through the Soviet Union on that trip - and he said: There are some people who are trying to turn me against you, and some trying to turn you against me. Let's make a deal, not immischiamoci in quarrels of others. For this reason we have always had good relations, and after the war every time I went to Berlin - very often - I always went to find Brecht, we had long discussions together. Eventually our positions were very close. You know, I was invited by his wife to speak at his funeral. One thing I regret is that he never wrote an essay on Brecht in the forties. I have always had great respect for Brecht. He was very intelligent and had a great sense of reality.In what was really different from Korsch, who knew well, of course. When Korsch left the German party, severed all ties with socialism. I know because it was never possible to collaborate in the work of the Union of Writers in the anti-fascist struggle in the Berlin of the time - the party would not permit it. Brecht was quite different. He knew that nothing could be done against the Soviet Union, to which he remained loyal for life.

He met Walter Benjamin? Believes that, had he lived, would have tended to a revolutionary commitment to Marxism?

No, for one reason or another I never met Benjamin, Adorno although I had met in Frankfurt in 1930 when I went to go to the Soviet Union. Benjamin was extremely gifted, and he penetrated deeply into many new problems. Li explored in different ways, but it was never headed. I believe that its development, had he lived, would have been very uncertain, despite his friendship with Brecht. You have to remember what those times were difficult - the purges of the thirties and then the Cold War. Adorno in that climate became the exponent of "conformism non-conformist."

After the victory of fascism in Germany, she worked at the Institute Marx-Lenin in Russia with Ryazanov. What did he do there?

When I was in Moscow in 1930, Ryazanov showed me the manuscripts that Marx wrote in Paris in 1844. You can imagine my excitement: read those manuscripts changed my whole relationship with Marxism and transformed my philosophical perspectives. A German scholar from the Soviet Union was working on the manuscripts, by arranging for their publication. The mice had assaulted the manuscripts and there were many parts where letters or even words were missing.Thanks to my philosophical knowledge, worked with him, establishing what were the letters or words missing: often they were words that start with, say, "g" and ending with "s" and no one knew what I was in the middle. I think the issue that eventually came out was pretty good - I can say this because I have collaborated with the edition. Ryazanov was responsible for this work and it was a great philologist, not a theoretical, but a great philologist. After its removal, the work at the Institute faded altogether. I remember he told me that there were ten volumes of manuscripts of Marx for capitalthat had never been published; Engels, of course, in his introduction to the second and third volumes were told that only a selection of manuscripts upon which Marx was working. Ryazanov organized the publication of this material. But until now has never appeared anything.

In the early thirties, there were of course the philosophical debates in the USSR, but I attended there. There was a debate where the work of Deborin was criticized, then I thought, rightly, but the purpose of that criticism was only to impose the pre-eminence of Stalin as a philosopher.

However, she has participated in literary debates of the thirties in the Soviet Union.

I collaborated with the magazineLiteraturnyj Kritik for six or seven years, and brought forth a consistent battle against dogmatism of those years.Fadeyev and others have fought and won the RAPP in Russia, but only because Averbakh and others in RAPP were Trotskyites. After their victory, they began to develop their own form of "rappismo".Literaturnyj Kritik has always resisted this trend. I wrote many articles for the magazine, each of which had two or three quotes Stalin - which was an insurmountable necessity in Russia at that time - and each of which was directed against the Stalinist conception of literature. Their content was always aimed against dogmatism of Stalin.

For ten years she has been very active politically, from 1919 to 1929, then abandoned all political activity directed.This is a huge change for each convinced Marxist. There was limited (or perhaps freed) from the sudden change of his career in 1930? How binds this stage of his life with his teenage and youth? What were your influences then?

I have no regrets about the end of my political career. You see, I was deeply convinced of being right in the quarrels of the party in 1928-29, nothing made me change my mind about; yet I had failed to convince the party of the goodness of my ideas. So I thought, if despite having reason, I have been totally defeated, this means that I have no political skill. So I gave up easily to political practice, I decided that I was not absolutely equipped. My expulsion from the Central Committee of the Hungarian party in no way altered my belief that even with the disastrous and sectarian politics of the Third Period, you could actually fight against fascism within the ranks of the communist movement. I never changed my mind on this point. I always thought that the worst form of socialism was better than life in the best form of capitalism.

Later, my participation in the Nagy government in 1956 did not contradict my resignation to political activity. Not shared the general policy approach of Nagy, and when young people tried to reconcile us as in the days before October, I replied: "The distance between me and Imre Nagy is not greater than that between Imre Nagy and me. " When I was asked to be culture minister in October 1956, was a moral issue for me, not a political one, and I could not refuse. When we were arrested and locked up in Romania, the companions of the Hungarian and Romanian parties came to me and asked me to express my opinion on the policies of Nagy, already knowing my disagreement with them. I told them: "When I am a free man on the streets of Budapest and he will be as well, then I will be happy to give you my opinion on him in a frank and relaxed. But as long as he remains imprisoned, my only relationship with him is solidarity. "

She asked me what were my feelings when I abandoned his political career. I must say that perhaps are not a true contemporary man. I can say that I've never experienced any type of complex or frustration in my life. So what does this mean, I know the literature of the twentieth century, and I read Freud. But I've never personally experienced. Whenever I used to make mistakes or take false directions, I have always been willing to recognize it, do not cost me a lot, so take other roads. When I was 15 or 16 years I wrote the modern dramas in the manner of Ibsen and Hauptmann. When I was 18 I read them and I found them hopelessly ugly. I decided then that I would never become a writer and I burned those plays. I have no regrets. Those early experiences were useful for me later, as a critic; every time I said a text that I wanted to write it, then I realized that this was conclusive proof of his ugliness was a very reliable criterion.This was my first literary experience. My first political influences were reading Marx as a student, and then, most important of all, the reading of the great Hungarian poet Ady. I was a boy very isolated among my contemporaries, and reading Ady had a great impact on me. He was a revolutionary excited to Hegel, although he had never accepted that aspect of Hegel that I, too, from the beginning, I always refused: his his Versöhnung mit der Wirklichkeit - that is, its reconciliation with the given reality. It is a great weakness of English culture the fact that there has been no familiarity with Hegel. Until now I have kept my admiration for him, and I think the work that Marx began - the "materialization" of Hegel's philosophy - should be pursued even beyond Marx. I tried to do it in some passages of my imminent ontology. When all is said and done, there will be only three truly great thinkers in the West, incomparable with all other: Aristotle, Hegel and Marx.

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