The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1: State and Bureaucracy by Hal Draper

My reading notes on Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1: State and Bureaucracy by Hal Draper


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P16
FOREWORD

P. 18
....One must remember that most of the states that Marx had occasion to discuss were not capitalist states—as yet—even in Europe, let alone throughout the rest of the world.

....class dynamics is the foundation of all of Marx's politics. It is the "transmission belt" between his social-historical and political theory; or, to change the image, it constitutes the latter's drive shaft.

P 19
....in the context of Marx's theory a socioeconomic class is a class of people playing a common role as a structural component of a given society.

....class differentiation begins only with the appearance—due to development of the forces of production—of a surplus product

....This is the key to the meaning of class in Marx. Classes define themselves not simply in terms of the process of production 

....must be defined in relation to surplus production, and specifically in relation to control over the appropriation of the surplus product.*

....The two classes thus defined are the so-called polar classes of the society—"the extremes of a relation of production," as Marx put it speaking of the capitalist/worker relation in bourgeois
society.5 It is the polar-class antithesis that forms the skeleton around which a given mode of production is socially structured. Around this central relationship the rest of the class structure takes shape, including elements left over from obsolete social forms.
roster of classes in a particular society is determined by that society's mode of production, not vice versa.

....roster of classes in a particular society is determined by that society's mode of production, not vice versa

P20
....a question of how they relate to the mode of production
....settled not by a glossary but only by a concrete examination of the overall social relations of the society

P21
....to define bourgeois property is nothing else than to give an exposition of all the social relations of bourgeois production

....how to deal with classes in the process of being born , as well as (conversely) classes or social estates, etc., which are in the process of dying out or decaying into something else

P22
....penalty for the "success" of Marxism—that is, its widespread appeal—in spite of the periodic announcements of its death, which are almost as frequent as of yore. This parasitic disease—cooptation by alien elements—attacks all world outlooks that encompass a whole era. Sweeping reorientations of consciousness, such as those denoted by the terms democracy, science , and so on, have all been victims of the same complaint. Thus a distinguished Frenchman wrote of the catchword democracy: "It is the sovereign, universal word. All parties invoke it and want to appropriate it as a talisman..."

....meanings have become pawns in a social and ideological struggle. The interpretation of class struggle becomes a weapon of class struggle, just as the meaning of democracy becomes an arena for the struggle to determine what democracy shall mean.

"Our task is ruthless criticism, even more of alleged friends than of open foe."

P23

....the goal is nevertheless a faithful discovery of Marx's views—not as the end-all of a political inquiry but as a basis for it.

....objectivity (which is not the same as impartiality)

P24
....our prime task is to re-establish what Marx really taught on the subject
....so that the reader may form an independent opinion
....not pick quotations from Marx or from him, Engels, but would think as Marx would have thought in their place, and that it was only in that sense that the word Marxist had any raison d'ĂȘtre . …

....aim of theoretical understanding is
to get behind norm statements, which are always approximate rule-of-thumb formulas, however useful for limited purposes.

....a "normal" state (whatever that is thought to be) must be as hard to find in reality as an "average" person; and no planet actually follows Kepler's Laws even though they are "true."

P26

....social stresses, national factors, obsolete hangovers
....in the process of becoming, of change and interaction. In the life course of states—arising, flourishing, and dying

....reality is complex, but it is a complex of simplicities; and this makes it possible for people to understand and control their social destiny.

P26
....The bigger the vacuum that can be created in the Marx canon, the more easily can the empty spaces be filled in freehand and at will by anyone who cares to spin a fantasy of his own about Marxism.











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