Shaping "The Antileftist Marx"
NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, allow me to offer more insight into the trajectory of The Antileftist Marx.
The two installments you have by now received are the first entries in a projected six-part series designed to launch this endeavor. Although Marx himself will not necessarily be the exclusive focus of the antileftist Marxism developed beyond these initial articles, it is necessary to ground this project in an exploration of Marx’s antileftism, for this is both its theoretical foundation and the source of its controversy. Before I apply this perspective to a range of contemporary concerns, I must first establish what it is. And by severing the left’s attachment to Marx at the root, these early writings hit the left where it hurts, revealing that the supposed father of leftism is in fact the specter haunting it.
So while I may eventually turn my focus to other Marxists such as Lukács or to Marxist analysis of concepts like ideology, everything that follows will rest on the magic formula uncovered by this initial series: MARXISM = ANTILEFTISM.
In my announcement post, “Theses on Leftism,” I introduced the basic claims of antileftist Marxism on which I set out to elaborate, and I am now in a position to share how the installments you are reading fit into my scheme.
“The Anti-Marxist Arrangement” set the scene by confronting the illusion of Marx’s leftism exploited by both sides of bourgeois politics, introducing, in the process, the theses: “leftism defangs Marxism” and “Marxism demystifies the left’s habitual idealism, moralism, and utopianism.”
“Left/Right in Context” undermined the mythology of the left’s origins by exposing how the historical rise of the left/right dichotomy merely reflected the gradual naturalization of bourgeois parliament. In doing so, it embodied the claims: “the left is the left wing of the bourgeoisie” and “the left exists to naturalize the left/right organization of bourgeois democracy.”
The forthcoming “Leftism Old and New” will trace the genealogy of the left from the revolutionary bourgeois to the present in order to emphasize that “the left has not been co-opted, compromised, or corrupted.” As I will argue, this is because it has always been bourgeois and its interests have never been identical with those of the proletariat.
Together, these three pieces introducing the argument and contextualizing its terms will prepare us for the final three installments of this series, which will read the political writings of Marx and Engels as antileftism.
Although I released the initial posts in quick succession to capture your attention and prove the intellectual rigor of this project, the final pieces I’m preparing will be paced closer to the tempo that will make this undertaking sustainable in the long run, which is a couple of posts per month. As you may be recognizing, these writings are researched examinations of major theoretical problems that won’t soon expire, not extemporaneous reactions to the news of the day. As such, they require some time to construct, and if they achieve their intended effect, it will take readers some time to absorb them.
Lastly, I must express my gratitude for the engaged and growing audience that has surpassed my expectations. That readers are purchasing subscriptions without being enticed by a paywall speaks to a craving for antileftist theory, something I mean to satisfy. As I mentioned in my original announcement, my ideal reader will subscribe to The Antileftist Marx when they become convinced of its quality and necessity, not based on hype and empty promises. That quite a few of you are first signing up for free and then purchasing a subscription after evaluating an article or two makes me confident there is a future for The Antileftist Marx.
Just finished above list after being sent link to unherd "Twilight of the American Left" on Sunday 2022-07-24T1309 Melbourne Australia time and not reading it till T2251.
Looking forward to careful study of the lot after getting some sleep.
1. About 2 decades ago comrades here put forward concept of the "pseudo-left" in opposition to prevailing acceptance of rabidly reactionary politics as having some connection with the left. It didn't take off but I still prefer to not surrender the banner, while having very similar view about what you call "the left". But somewhat stronger - it isn't just antithetical to Marxism but to the much broader working class and other progressive social movements because it is so rabidly reactionary. Will leave debate on terminology and other aspects of your specific analysis till later.
2. I appreciate that you are launching a project for theoretical breakthrough and intend to follow through with concrete analysis of current concrete conditions subsequently (and may have already started doing so in material I will read tomorrow. But it's worth stressing that Marx did not in fact establish any sort of "Marxist" sect outside of the actual struggles of the day, and certainly not in an academic milieu but founded and led the First International and developed all his theoretical work in connection with the concrete struggles of the day (both theoretical and practical). There's a preface to the "Communist Manifesto" which explains that it was called that because the authors were opposed to "Socialism" which was bourgeois by 1847.
3. I look forward to extensive exchange of views after completing study of your material but will not be able to do much more than catch up with the reading for a while because of the urgency of other priorities.
4. In my case the immediate priority is the fascist invasion of Ukraine and the need for a Global People's War Against Fascism. That interrupted work on covid and the need to organize against the situation we are now in. That in turn interrupted an intention to popularize and hopefully continue Maksakovsky's work on "The Capitalist Cycle" which is the only theoretical work I am aware of explaining and developing Marx's uncompleted 19th century economic analysis that shows a real gras. I strongly recommend it to you and your readers.
5. But I probably won't be able to resist throwing in further comments as I read on.
So this is just to extend congratulations before polemics.