Download Dissident Marxism: Past Voices for Present Times by David Renton PDF

By David Renton

David Renton argues that the roots of today's anti-capitalist move are available within the existence and paintings of an past iteration of socialist revolutionaries, together with such inspiring figures because the Soviet poet Mayakovsky, the Marxist thinker Karl Korsch, Communist historians Edward Thompson and Dona Torr, the Egyptian surrealist Georges Henein, American New Left economists Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, and lots of others.

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He became a leading figure in a party, the Socialist Workers Party, which based its practice on the idea that 1917 was the greatest moment in the entire history of the working-class movement. According to James P. Cannon, leader of the American SWP, writing in 1955: The Russian way is the way to our American future, to the future of the whole world. The greatest thinkers of the international movement since Marx and Engels, and the greatest men of action, were the Russian Bolsheviks. The Russian Revolution is still there to prove it, ruling out all argument.

Meanwhile in Russia, a bureaucracy emerged. By the last years of the 1920s, Stalin had taken power. Within Russia, he was seen as the champion of the new state order. Finally, his ascendancy was marked by the collectivisation of the farms. The peasants were driven off the land, supposedly into collective farms, but most migrated to the cities, to endure starvation wages. In the sub­sequent famines millions died. In the towns and in the ­ factories, the revolutionary workers of 1917 were finally displaced by a new generation who knew only rumours of the memory of struggle.

In this book, the chapter on Dona Torr and Edward Thompson relates the early history of this movement. In France and Britain the dominant figures were Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) and Edward Thompson (1924–93). Both were aware of the history of earlier left traditions, and attempted to defend the most important kernel of their insights. Sartre’s dissidence dates from the period after 1956. He was already 35 years old when he committed himself to socialism, and over 50 by the time that he broke decisively from Stalinism, following the use of Soviet tanks to crush the Hungarian revolution.

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