Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Vanguards and Vanguardism

I highly recommend reading almost anything by Victor Serge, a forgotten communist hero. His novel, The Case of Comrade Tulayev, is in my opinion perhaps the greatest novel of the twentieth century and his autobiography, Memoirs of a Revolutionary also essential reading if you want to understand the history of that century.

I am also very happy to recommend a couple of excellent posts on the subject of the relationship between a revolutionary socialist organisation, the movement and the working class by his name sake on And your little dog too... here and here. In short, the idea of a 'vanguard' is worth defending - even though it sounds a bit outdated as a term, the whole history of revolutionary struggle from Cromwell's New Model Army to Robespierre's Jacobins to Lenin's Bolsheviks demonstrates the needs for the most far sighted and militant people to form collective democratic organisations in order to smash the political power of the old order - but there are quite a few problems with 'vanguardism'. That's where dialectical thinking gets you...

Anyway, Victor Serge II quotes Duncan Hallas on 'bourgeois ideology'.

'The assumptions convenient to the ruling class are the daily diet of all of us. Individuals, whether bus drivers or lecturers in aesthetics, can resist the conditioning process to a point. Only a collective can develop a systematic alternative world-view, can overcome to some degree the alienation of manual and mental work that imposes on everyone, on workers and intellectuals alike, a partial and fragmented view of reality.'

Which I think is worth bearing in mind when it comes to evaluating blogs and blogging. All of us are just individuals - no blogger can single handedly develop a systematic alternative world view - all bloggers have strengths and weaknesses. In my case - rather more weaknesses than strengths - as is apparent. However, discussion between Marxist bloggers can 'overcome to some degree the alienation of manual and mental work' and help us all to better understand the world.

The point, however, is to change it - and that is why I am going to act like a vanguard for a bit and mention September 24th.

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At 4:12 am, Blogger HV said...

You're too kind, Snowball! I like your point about bloggers. Perhaps we need a vanguard of bloggers, because we can't figure it out on our own? (Not that a whole group of Marxists could, we need organic connections to class struggle etc. etc.) Do talk more about the New Model Army and the Jacobins when you get a chance - that's history I'm less familiar with.


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