A Marxist IQ for December by Norman Markowitz



In 1899, Eduard Bernstein, a leading figure in the Social Democratic Party of Germany wrote a work, translated into English as Evolutionary Socialism, which argued that changes within capitalilsm meant that Marx's  theory of revolutionary socialism  was no longer relevant to the coming 20th century and had to be revised.  Now there are some figures in Communist parties who are making similar arguments for the 21st century.  This month's Marxist IQ looks engages  some of these contentions past and present


1.Bernstein argued that Marx thinking in the Communist Manifesto and Capital was no longer accurate because

a. More and more members of the Proletariat(working class) were becoming small capitalists(middle class)

b.  Capital itself was not becoming more concentrated(monopoly) but more diffuse

c. Socialism could be best achieved through social reforms(pensions, wages and hours legislation) and popular reform movements

d. all of the above


2.  Many leading Marxists, including Rosa Luxembourg and Vladimir Lenin, subsequently challenged Bernstein's ideas, which came to be called revisionism  Lenin contended that

a Socialism could only be established by Communists dropping out of society and establishing Communes

b. Socialism could only be established by Communists establishing an all powerful party that would plot to overthrow the  state

c.Without a revolutionary party to both educate and organize workers in all areas of the class struggle, social movements would dissipate over time and all reforms would be ad hoc, which capitalists, organized as a class, would undermine and/or repeal when they could

d. Communists could best win support for socialism by organizing educational associations to win over the educated middle classes


3.Variations on Bernstein's ideas on the future of socialism have appeared over and over again in various Marxist Socialist and Communist Parties  more more than a century.  In the U.S., which of the following CPUSA leaders did not accept and militantly opposed such ideas when they took shape in the CPUSA

a. Jay Lovestone

b.Gus Hall

c. Earl Browder

d. John Gates


4. In the aftermath of the dismemberment of the Soviety Union, many capitalist thinkers proclaimed the death of  "totalitarian Communism" and the global triumph of "free market liberal democracy."  Some of these ideas are echoed today  in some Communist parties by those call for parties to remove words like Lenininism and Communist from their names, dissolve into political coalitions, social movements, community organizations.  These arguments would have merit perehaps if over the last 25 years

a. trade unions and peoples movements had seen a significant decline  global poverty and inequality

b. peace movements  had achieved a sharp decline in warfare and militarization globally

c. social movements had achieved  increases in civil rights and civil liberties globally

d.all of the above


5. A century ago, at the dawn of the Russian Empire Socialist Revolution, Vladimir Lenin challenged right wing revisionism, particularly socialists supporting their nations in WWI, with the contentions that

a.The concentration of capital  not only increased, but had given dominance to finance(bank/stock market) 

b. the creation of international syndicates of finance capital called cartels in Europe, trusts in the U.S., had

produced militarization  in lthe major industrialized countries fighting for raw materials, cheap labor, and captive markets globally

c. The advances in science and technology was producing less freedom, less rights, less security and opportunity for the working classes globally, this proving in real life the falsehood of rightwing revisionism

d. all of the above

Answers to last month's IQ







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  • 1. d
    2. c
    3. b
    4. d
    5. d

    In the middle of this I Q, Gus Hall, (3's best answer) stands out. Gus Hall, for all his contributions in rejecting Berstein's ideas, has now been roundly criticized, as the well respected by Leninists and Marxists everywhere, long time CPUSA member, for example, Erwin Marquit, put it, paraphrasing him here: "for driving a wedge between industrial workers and other kinds of workers". For decades now, after 1991, Hall has been roundly criticized for creating his own brand of the "cult of the individual"(reminiscent of Soviet Stalinism) in his long stand as General Secretary of the CPUSA.
    Gus Hall made other outstanding contributions as Communist-he helped bring many industrial workers to the CPUSA, helped organize the steel industry before the New Deal, helped develop industrial CP policy, and made many contributions to the theoretical understanding of varied forms of racism and national chauvinism. However, Hall's legacy is seriously questioned and marred, by the validity of the point made above by Marquit and many, many CPUSA leaders and members (the present writer included), for his brand(quantity and quality)of leadership, spanning a number of decades.

    Posted by E. E. W. Clay, 12/07/2015 3:15pm (2 years ago)

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