Revisionism (Marxism)

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Eduard Bernstein, early revisionist Bernstein Eduard 1895.jpg
Eduard Bernstein, early revisionist

Within the Marxist movement, the word revisionism is used to refer to various ideas, principles and theories that are based on a significant revision of fundamental Marxist premises. [1]

Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Contents

The term is most often used by those Marxists who believe that such revisions are unwarranted and represent a "watering down" or abandonment of Marxism—one such common example is the negation of class struggle. [2] As such, revisionism often carries pejorative connotations and the term has been used by many different factions. It is typically applied to others and rarely as a self-description. By extension, people who view themselves as fighting against revisionism have often self-identified as anti-revisionists.

A pejorative is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative connotation or a low opinion of someone or something, showing a lack of respect for someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or ethnic groups but not in others. Sometimes, a term may begin as a pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense in some or all contexts.

Anti-revisionism position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev

Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation of Leninism that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist due largely to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States. The term "Stalinism" is also used to describe these positions, but it is often not used by its supporters who opine that Stalin simply synthesized and practiced Leninism.

History

The term "revisionism" has been used in a number of contexts to refer to different revisions (or claimed revisions) of Marxist theory.

Marxist philosophy Philosophy influenced by Marxist political thought

Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are works in philosophy that are strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory, or works written by Marxists. Marxist philosophy may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called dialectical materialism, in particular during the 1930s. Marxist philosophy is not a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.

19th century

In the late 19th century, revisionism was used to describe democratic socialist writers such as Eduard Bernstein, who sought to revise Karl Marx's ideas about the transition to socialism and claimed that a revolution through force was not necessary to achieve a socialist society. [3] The views of Bernstein gave rise to reformist theory, which asserts that socialism can be achieved through gradual peaceful reforms from within a capitalist system. [4]

Eduard Bernstein German politician

Eduard Bernstein was a German social-democratic Marxist theorist and politician. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Bernstein had held close association to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but he saw flaws in Marxist thinking and began to criticize views held by Marxism when he investigated and challenged the Marxist materialist theory of history. He rejected significant parts of Marxist theory that were based upon Hegelian metaphysics and rejected the Hegelian dialectical perspective.

Karl Marx Revolutionary socialist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eventually lead to fundamental changes in a society’s political and economic systems. Reformism as a political tendency and hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutionary upheaval is a necessary precondition for the structural changes necessary to transform a capitalist system to a qualitatively different socialist economic system.

1920s and 1930s

In the 1920s and 1930s, the International Left Opposition led by Leon Trotsky, which had been expelled from the Communist International, accused the leadership of the Comintern and Soviet Union of revising the internationalist principles of Marxism and Leninism in favor of the aspirations of an elite bureaucratic caste which had come to power in the Soviet Union. [5] The Trotskyists saw the nascent Stalinist bureaucracy as a roadblock on the proletariat's path to world socialist revolution and to the shifting policies of the Comintern, they counterposed the Marxist theory of permanent revolution. Meanwhile, the Soviet authorities labeled the Trotskyists as "revisionists" and eventually expelled them from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, whereupon the Trotskyists founded their Fourth International.

The Left Opposition was a faction within the Bolshevik Party from 1923 to 1927 headed de facto by Leon Trotsky. The Left Opposition formed as part of the power struggle within the party leadership that began with the Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin's illness and intensified with his death in January 1924. Originally, the battle lines were drawn between Trotsky and his supporters who signed The Declaration of 46 in October 1923 on the one hand and a triumvirate of Comintern chairman Grigory Zinoviev, Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Politburo chairman Lev Kamenev on the other hand.

Leon Trotsky Marxist revolutionary from Russia

Leon Trotsky was a Russian revolutionary, Marxist theorist, and Soviet politician whose particular strain of Marxist thought is known as Trotskyism.

Communist International political international

The Communist International (Comintern), known also as the Third International (1919–1943), was an international organization that advocated world communism. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to "struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state". The Comintern had been preceded by the 1916 dissolution of the Second International.

1940s and 1950s

In the 1940s and 1950s within the international communist movement, revisionism was a term used by Marxist-Leninists to describe communists who focused on consumer goods production instead of heavy industry; accepted national differences instead of promoting proletarian internationalism; and encouraged liberal reforms instead of remaining faithful to established doctrine. Revisionism was also one of the charges leveled at Titoists as punishment for their pursuit of a relatively independent communist ideology, amidst a series of post-World War II purges beginning in 1949 in Eastern Europe by the Soviet administration under Stalin. After Stalin's death, a more democratic form of socialism briefly became acceptable in Hungary during Imre Nagy's government (1953–1955) and in Poland during Władysław Gomułka's government, containing ideas that the rest of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union itself variously considered revisionist, although neither Nagy nor Gomułka described themselves as revisionists, since to do so would have been self-deprecating.

Communism socialist political movement and ideology

In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.

Heavy industry collective term for mining, iron industry and steel industry

Heavy industry is industry that involves one or more characteristics such as large and heavy products; large and heavy equipment and facilities ; or complex or numerous processes. Because of those factors, heavy industry involves higher capital intensity than light industry does, and it is also often more heavily cyclical in investment and employment.

Proletarian internationalism Marxist social class concept

Proletarian internationalism, sometimes referred to as international socialism, is the perception of all communist revolutions as being part of a single global class struggle rather than separate localized events. It is based on the theory that capitalism is a world-system and therefore the working classes of all nations must act in concert if they are to replace it with communism. Proponents of proletarian internationalism often argued that the objectives of a given revolution should be global rather than local in scope—for example, triggering or perpetuating revolutions elsewhere.

After the 1956 Secret Speech that denounced Stalin, many communist activists, astounded and disheartened by what they saw as the betrayal of Marxist–Leninist principles by the very people who had founded them, resigned from western communist parties in protest.[ citation needed ] These quitters were sometimes accused of revisionism by those communists who remained in these parties, although some of these same loyalists also shortly thereafter split from the same communist parties in the 1960s to become the New Left [ citation needed ] indicating that they too were disillusioned by the actions of the Soviet Union by that point in time. Most of those who left in the 1960s started aligning themselves with Mao Zedong as opposed to the Soviet Union.[ citation needed ] An example was E. P. Thompson's New Reasoner .[ citation needed ]

1960s

In the early 1960s, Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China revived the term revisionism (Chinese :修正主义xiūzhèng zhǔyì, "doctrine correction") to attack Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union over various ideological and political issues, as part of the Sino-Soviet split. The Chinese routinely described the Soviets as "modern revisionists" through the 1960s. This usage was copied by the various Maoist groups that split off from communist parties around the world. In 1978, the Sino-Albanian split occurred, which caused Enver Hoxha, the General Secretary of Albania, to also condemn Maoism as revisionist. This caused a split in the Maoist movement, with some following the Albanian Party of Labour's line, most notably the Communist Party of New Zealand and the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist–Leninist).

See also

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Leninism political, social, and economic theory developed by Vladimir Lenin

Leninism is the political theory for the organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by and named for the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises socialist political and economic theories, developed from Marxism and Lenin's interpretations of Marxist theories, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the Russian Empire of the early 20th century.

Marxism–Leninism political ideology

In political science, Marxism–Leninism was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union (USSR), the political parties of the Communist International, and of contemporary Stalinist political parties. Combining Leninist political praxis and Marxist socio-economics, the purpose of Marxism–Leninism is the two-stage revolutionary development of a capitalist state into a socialist state, guided by the leadership of a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries from the working class and the proletariat. The socialist state is instituted and governed by way of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which determines policy with democratic centralism.

Maoism political theory

Maoism, known in China as Mao Zedong Thought, is a communist political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong, whose followers are known as Maoists. Developed from the 1950s until the Deng Xiaoping reforms in the 1970s, it was widely applied as the guiding political and military ideology of the Communist Party of China and as theory guiding revolutionary movements around the world. A key difference between Maoism and other forms of Marxism–Leninism is that peasants should be the bulwark of the revolutionary energy, led by the working class in China.

Sino-Albanian split

The Sino-Albanian split was the gradual worsening of relations between the People's Socialist Republic of Albania and the People's Republic of China in the period 1972–78. Both countries had supported each other in the Soviet–Albanian and Sino-Soviet splits, together declaring the necessity of defending Marxism–Leninism against what they regarded as Soviet revisionism within the international communist movement. By the early 1970s, however, Albanian disagreements with certain aspects of Chinese policy deepened as the visit of Nixon to China along with the Chinese announcement of the "Three Worlds Theory" produced strong apprehension in Albania's leadership under Enver Hoxha. Hoxha saw in these events an emerging Chinese alliance with American imperialism and abandonment of proletarian internationalism. In 1978, China broke off its trade relations with Albania, signalling an end to the informal alliance which existed between the two states.

Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany communist party in Germany

The Marxist–Leninist Party of Germany is an anti-revisionist Marxist–Leninist political party in Germany. It was founded in 1982 by members of the Communist Workers Union of Germany.

In political ideology, a deviationist is a person who expresses a deviation: an abnormality or departure. In Stalinist ideology and practice, deviationism is an expressed belief which does not accord with official party doctrine for the time and area. Accusations of deviationism often led to purges. Forms of deviationism included revisionism, dogmatism, bourgeois nationalism, and rootless cosmopolitanism.

Three Worlds Theory

In the field of international relations, the Three Worlds Theory, by Deng Xiaoping, proposes three politico-economic worlds: the First world consisting of superpowers, the Second world of developing powers, and the Third world of exploited nations.

Italian Marxist–Leninist Party

The Italian Marxist–Leninist Party is a communist party in Italy. Founded in Florence in 1977, the leading core of the PMLI began their political activity as they joined the Communist Party of Italy (Marxist–Leninist) in 1967. The group broke away from the PCd'I(ml) in 1969 and formed the Italian Bolshevik Communist Organization Marxist–Leninist. In 1977, the OCBIml was transformed into the PMLI. The current General Secretary is Giovanni Scuderi.

Marxist schools of thought

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation, analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. While it originates from the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Marxism has had several different schools of thought.

Hardial Bains was a microbiology student and teacher, primarily known as the founder of a series of left-wing movements and parties foremost of which was the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist–Leninist). Presenting himself as staunchly anti-revisionist and pro-Stalinist, until his death, Bains acted the spokesperson and ideological leader of the CPC (ML) -- known in elections as the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. During span of his life, Bains' outlook swung from supporting the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, to Mao Zedong's China, then later to Enver Hoxha's Albania. Shortly before he died, and abandoning his previous sharp criticisms of the country, Bains turned to Fidel Castro's Cuba for inspiration. Spending most of his life in Canada, Bains was also politically active in England, Ireland and India.

Hoxhaism variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement

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Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.

Marxism–Leninism–Maoism is a political philosophy that builds upon Marxism–Leninism and some aspects of Mao Zedong Thought which was first formalised in 1993 by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.

Orthodox Marxism body of Marxist thought that emerged following the death of Karl Marx which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement

Orthodox Marxism is the body of Marxist thought that emerged after the death of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement as represented in the Second International until the First World War in 1914. Orthodox Marxism aims to simplify, codify and systematize Marxist method and theory by clarifying the perceived ambiguities and contradictions of classical Marxism.

Far-left politics in the United Kingdom

Far-left politics in the United Kingdom have existed since at least the late 19th century, with the formation of various organisations following ideologies such as revolutionary socialism, anarchism and syndicalism. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution and developments in international Marxism, new organisations advocated ideologies such as Marxist-Leninism, Left Communism and Trotskyism. Following the 1949 Chinese Revolution, further international developments from the 1960s led to the emergence of Maoist groups. Political schisms within these tendencies created a large number of new political organisations, particularly from the 1960s to the 1990s.

<i>Continuity and Rupture</i> 2016 book by J. Moufawad-Paul

Continuity and Rupture: Philosophy in the Maoist Terrain is a 2016 book written by faculty member of York University, J. Moufawad-Paul, Phd. The book provides a philosophical analysis of the theoretical foundation of the Marxist school of thought developed by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, Maoism. J. Moufawad-Paul establishes his thesis that Maoism, as a philosophical ideology was not a formulated during the 1960's, but only achieved full theoretical maturity until 1988.

References

  1. Oxford English Dictionary Revisionism 1. "A policy first put forward in the 1890s by Edward Bernstein (1850–1932) advocating the introduction of socialism through evolution rather than revolution, in opposition to the orthodox view of Marxists; hence a term of abuse used within the communist world for an interpretation of Marxism which is felt to threaten the canonical policy." with the first use in English "1903 Social-Democrat VII. 84 (heading) Revisionism in Germany."
  2. [https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/1964/phnycom.htm |MAO TSE-TUNG July 1964 On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World: ... the revisionist Khrushchov clique base themselves mainly on the argument that .. class struggle no longer exists.
  3. Vgl. Wolfgang Eichhorn: Über Eduard Bernstein. Gegensatz und Berührungspunkte zu Rosa Luxemburg und W. I. Lenin, in: Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, No. I/2002.
  4. Philip P. Wiener (ed). Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, in 1973–74. R. K. Kindersley Marxist revisionism: From Bernstein to modern forms, website of the University of Virginia Library. Accessed 28 April 2008
  5. Leon Trotsky. The Third International After Lenin, The Militant, 1929. Accessed 14 March 2010