Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Friday, August 11, 2006

RIP Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin, (1921-2006) perhaps one of the most well-known anarchists of the post-Second World War world, who made a quite effective attack on Maoism in the late 1960s ('Listen Marxist!') and who abandoned anarchism for ecological 'communalism' at the end of his life, died at the end of last month. RIP.

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At 9:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Listen Maoist! (Not you leninists, you're fine).

Outstanding accuracy snowie. reading it might have helped.

At 9:54 am, Blogger Snowball said...

I did read it (a few years back) and its critique of 'Marxism' seemed to me to be an essentially valid critique of Stalinist, Maoist and 'orthodox Trotskyist' forms of 'Leninist' political organisation each of which claim to be 'the Vanguard Party' and substitute themselves for the self-activity of the working class. These ideas were rather popular among the American New Left of the late 1960s - the audience Bookchin was addressing. However, as an anarchist, it is not surprising that Bookchin labelled this 'Marxism' and counterposed anarchism as the alternative.

However, the Leninist tradition of revolutionary organisation as it was formed by Lenin himself (read perhaps 'Leninism under Lenin' by Marcel Liebman) was an outstanding development of Marx's ideas on the question of party and class. The classical Marxist tradition - as developed in the twentieth century by the likes of Lenin, Trotsky and Gramsci - is the real Marxist tradition that needs to be recovered - and one that Bookchin's politics and his pamphlet 'Listen Marxist!' (despite its title) did not need to critique - because tragically by the time of the American New Left in the 1960s that tradition had been essentially lost and forgotten about.

There were only a few Marxists in America by the 1960s with some idea of the real tradition of classical Marxism - Hal Draper springs to mind. Indeed if you want to know about Marx and anarchism, Draper's many volumes on 'Karl Marx's theory of revolution' are essential reading.


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