Category Archives: Literary Criticism

Maoism on Foreign Affairs vs. Pseudo-Marxist Geopolitical Pragmatism

This is an old book review by MIM (Maoist Internationalist Movement) of a work by Ludo Martens entitled, The Collapse of the Soviet Union: Causes and Lessons: For the Revolutionary Revival of the International Communist Movement. I am not a Third-Worldist or a Maoist, but this review has a principled theoretical stance regarding the International Communist Seminar and Brezhnevism as a whole.

I post it here despite misgivings about the defunct MIM, including their “defense” of Mao’s collaboration with U.S. imperialism and comparing a two-year non-aggression pact before killing Hitler to a decade of supporting Mobutu, Nixon and Pinochet.

Ludo Martens, while he has taken Marxist-Leninist stances in the past and has written some good works, since 1995 has chiefly worked in the service of “pan-socialism,” seeking to unity Marxist-Leninist and revisionist currents in a strategy that would make Ceaușescu blush.

This critique of Martens’ work and “pan-socialism” is a very important point to be made in the revolutionary struggle between revisionism and non-revisionist Marxism-Leninism and the teaching of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.

It should be noted that they toss around the old Maoist canard “Hoxhaite” and claim that “certain sections of international Hoxhaism fell” for Gorby, without providing any evidence of such claims (and even tries to say that the M-L / revisionist struggle was chiefly Mao’s doing), although MIM does laugh at Gossweiler’s attempt to say Albania had “nationalist” reasons for opposing the Soviet Union, which earns them more credit than most American Maoist organizations.

The Collapse of the Soviet Union: Causes and Lessons: For the
Revolutionary Revival of the International Communist Movement

by the International Communist Seminar

Brussels, BELGIUM: 1998, 313 pp. pb

reviewed by International Minister, December, 2000

This book represents a triumph of the work of Ludo Martens and his Belgian PTB, a party seeking to reconcile with Castroites, Brezhnevites and Hoxhaites. Doing so, Ludo Martens is very close to the numerical center of gravity amongst those calling themselves communist in the world, since there are still many revisionists hanging on to their world views.

To the Maoists, Ludo Martens encourages “constructive engagement” with revisionist parties. By befriending the revisionist parties, one could receive the impression that the revisionists are gaining someone to talk to other than their revisionist selves. Such would be a tactical justification for a a Maoist to do what Ludo Martens does.

On the other hand, such a tactic cannot be justified beyond a certain price. Seminar participants are supposed to all uphold Stalin, but in fact, some Trotskyists hang about and the Castroites are allowed in and welcomed despite Castro’s many statements of praise of Gorbachev and Deng Xiaoping. (See http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/5973/leftover.html )

Hence, it is one thing to have tactics of “constructive engagement,” but it is another thing to allow someone to call him or herself “Marxist-Leninist” when s/he does not truly defend Stalin. Yet, such is not surprising since Ludo Martens himself and a portion of international Hoxhaism fell for Gorbachev–that being another story about “Back to Leninism” for another time.

Thus the seminar supposedly unites to defend Stalin, but on page 10 we already learn that the vast majority of seminar participants welcomed the party representatives from Cuba and Korea and upheld “the defence of socialism in Cuba.” For MIM, that puts this conference of 136 organizations beyond the pale from a proletarian point of view.

Whenever MIM raises phony communist Cuba, we never hear about the mode of production in Cuba, but we always hear about the geopolitical necessity of defending Cuba against invasion. Such is the tell-tale sign that Marxism has taken the backseat to geopolitics.

There is nothing special about Cuba facing imperialist invasion. Panama saw Yankee troops. Somalia saw Yankees land and so did Iraq. None were “socialist” countries and still the Yankee invaded. Opposing Yankee invasion is not something we do only for countries like Cuba calling themselves “socialist.” Opposing Amerikan imperialism is an internationalist duty. Creating a “special deal” for Cuba and Korea despite their modes of production is an example of neo-colonialism, very typical of the kind of revisionism that would rather fight than switch to scientific Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It is the ideology of those hoping to restore a Soviet social-imperialism and a new neo-colonial orbit.

Thus, from these forces it is as if nothing in the world has changed, largely because they wish to restore the Soviet social-imperialist realm. These parties cannot admit their own failures with regard to defending Stalin and so now they continue defending the same old politics without missing a beat. The collapse of the Soviet Union might as well have not happened, because these people are essentially not interested in the mode of production. They are communists in sentiment in some cases and manipulators of geopolitics in others, but they are not Marxist-Leninist in any case.

The first interesting essay in the book with something new in it is from Dr. Kurt Gossweiler of the former East German revisionist party. Gossweiler seems to realize that there might be some criticism that he is in for given the ruinous collapse in East Germany.

His analysis is that China was a large and independent country which was why its communist party was able to resist Khruschev revisionism. His analysis of Albania is that it had selfish reasons of self-defense against Yugoslavian annexation to oppose Khruschevite revisionism. However, such material analyses of the respective parties would be more persuasive if Gossweiler did not end up excusing the German party leaders essentially because of their geopolitical situation, something we hear about Castro all the time too.

We are told that because of the Western troops on its border and because of the force of the USSR, the leadership of the East German communists wanted to side with Mao but did not. “It would be wrong to call the SED a revisionist party. Under the leadership of Walter Ulbricht it put up the maximum resistance possible at that time to the revisionism of the Khruschev clique, and it did so to such an extent that in October 1964 its activities were suppressed.”(p. 83) This statement by Gossweiler is indeed something new in the world.

Because of Honecker’s anti-fascist role, Gossweiler also excuses him when he replaced Ulbricht at the request of the USSR. “It was more a question of exchanging one of the most gifted leaders, and one of the most seasoned in the German and international class struggle, for a well-meaning party functionary who was too easily led astray owing to his poor leadership qualities.”(p. 84)

Gossweiler also gives Honecker credit for repressing Gorbachev’s statements in East Germany and states that a violent repression of the pro-Gorbachev demonstrators would have missed the real counter-revolutionaries. Thus, overall, we have some notion that the party in East Germany deserves criticism, but we are told that the true inside story is that all that could be done was done under Ulbricht while Honecker was simply incompetent when he implemented revisionism.

Whether Cuba’s Castro, China’s Hua Guofeng or East Germany’s Ulbricht and Honecker, we are told there are good reasons not to hoist the banner of communism. Had Ulbricht done it, invasion would have resulted. Had Cuba not gone along with Khruschev, we are told Cuba would have been done in.

Essentially we hear again and again that the geopolitical situation demanded compromise of the mode of production itself without an open fight, without an open call to the people to attack revisionism.

To take such a stand is to put geopolitics in its own right above Marxism. It is one of the root reasons for the continued division of the revisionists from the genuine international communist movement; even though the Soviet Union is dead. The mere death of the Soviet Union did not erase all the fallacious pseudo-Marxist methods of thought ingrained in the Soviet Union’s revisionist followers. As long as geopolitics is put above the mode of production’s advance, Marxist-Leninists have no chance of uniting. It is Marxism’s attention to the material world that makes unity possible, while making cardinal principles of geopolitical calculation means endless division.

Next in the book follow some essays from the Castro brothers and North Korea–as if nothing has changed in the world and as if Gorbachev and Yeltsin could have occurred without some major betrayal in the Soviet CP. These people just go on singing the same old revisionist song.

After the grossly reactionary documents from Cubans and Koreans, we received another even more reactionary contribution from a Syrian Ammar Bagdache, who seemed hell-bent on being social-fascism incarnate. In the split between Khruschev and Mao, Ammar Bagdache still cannot discern one side being more correct than the other. (p. 174) Instead, it is clear that this particular persyn seeks the restoration of the Soviet empire. Like the Nazis before, Ammar Bagdache focuses his hatred of parasitism on the Jews. This would be one thing on the West Bank, but according to A. Bagdache, the Jews a.k.a “Zionism” were mainly responsible for the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union.(p. 165) Most of Khruschev’s advisers and the “main” force behind revisionism is supposedly Zionism.(p. 168)

While MIM is all for having Marxism-Leninism-Maoism take national forms, what Ammar Bagdache is doing is a violation of the universal aspects of Marxism-Leninism and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It’s not surprising that this reactionary essay was also allowed in the book. Again, it is not focused on the mode of production, only how geopolitics–in this case Mideast geopolitics–intersects with capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union. This geopolitical focus goes to such an extent that it wipes out the parasitic nature of imperialism except for the Jews. From the proletarian view, this is the class essence of Hitler’s ideology too–an attack on parasitism of the Jews in essence to cover for the parasitism of imperialism generally. It’s a sacrifice of some parasites to let the much bigger bloodsuckers off the hook. Anybody who thinks Amerikan imperialism would miss an imperialist beat if the United $tates had no Jews has major illusions. Such illusions create a major escape hatch for imperialism when it gets into trouble like Germany in the 1930s.

The DKHP-C Turkish comrades also have an essay in the book. Once again, the focus is geopolitical. “It is a matter of fact that it is much easier to create the conditions for open interventions and to put them into practice since the USSR is not a factor of balance anymore, and since the USA is the sole ‘superpower.'”(p. 256) This is exactly the kind of reasoning that says, “because the USSR is powerful in a geopolitical sense, we will call it socialist.” However, Lenin did not call the Kaiser socialist when the Kaiser gave him a railroad car to ride back to Russia.

Furthermore, we heard the traditional Brezhnevite and Trotskyite complaints about Mao from the DKHP-C: “The CP of China, who regarded the USSR as the ‘main enemy’, went even so far as to confront progressive and revolutionary movements, if they were supported by the USSR. The support for the counter-revolutionary FNLA and Unita in Angola, and even for Pinochet in Chile were consequences of this policy.”(p. 259)

On this point, DKHP-C is one of many parties that has adopted the white man’s double standard toward the Soviet Union and China, a standard so white that even some Trotskyists uphold it though it means giving some credence to Stalin. Almost without exception, these organizations accepted and defended the Stalin-Hitler pact, which included real material aid such as the shipment of raw materials from the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany, but let Mao so much as recognize Pinochet or shake hands with Nixon, and these hypocrites attack Mao with no shame–even seeing the obvious today of capitalist restoration in the USSR. If there were all these progressive and revolutionary forces backed by the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union, these critics of Mao should show us one that has a socialist society to show for it. There aren’t any, because these forces were all revisionist. Furthermore, as MIM documents elsewhere, Mao supported all the anti-colonial forces in Angola. Perhaps the DKHP-C thought that exclusively supporting the Soviet side was more important than ejecting Portuguese colonialism! That’s how important neo-colonialism is for these people to make such a principle of it before colonialism is even done with!

[Please note the admin of this blog does not support Maoism, the “Three Worlds Theory,” the idea that the social-imperialist Soviet Union was the “greater threat,” or justify Mao’s support of reactionary forces in the name of China’s geo-political interests, and condemns MIM’s pathetic attempts to equate Mao’s support of U.S. imperialism with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.]

Entire parties have split around the world over the question of the Three Worlds Theory–that’s how much the pseudo-Marxists have managed to convince us that geopolitics is so cardinal instead of a matter of strategic calculation of the balance of forces, and not something that would come up in a conference first attempting to regroup around cardinal questions. In the realpolitik world of geopolitics-first thinking, it is not surprising that Great Russian nation interests come to the fore easily and without a second thought, while Mao has to justify himself several times over or entire parties will split. It’s exactly the kind of garbage that explains why the Soviet Union under Brezhnev was an equal superpower to the United $tates, but also an equally capitalist society. Pragmatist geopolitical considerations can in no way guide the revolutionary advance of society on a consistent basis. Doing that requires knowledge of the mode of production.

The essay by Harpal Brar does the most to discuss the actual economic conditions in the USSR, but on the whole, none of the essays in the book systematically cover the factual situation of the mode of production in the USSR. One last essay worth mentioning is so stuck in the past, it still has not theoretically admitted that the bourgeoisie in the party — not landlords or imperialists outside the party–restored capitalism in the USSR. The Iniziativa Comunista (Italy) would appear to be one of those organizations too far brain-dead to make sense of current events: “While acknowledging the non-antagonistic character of the contradictions amongst the internal classes, we have to be conscious of the antagonistic relationship that exists between the socialist countries and their capitalist counterparts.”(p. 302) Although Yelstin joined the Soviet CP in 1961, the Italian Stalinists have the nerve to tell us that there were no internal contradictions with the enemy in the Soviet Union!

Hello, hello, hello supposed Stalinists! It was not the landlord class or the imperialists or even the cultural intellectuals you mentioned who restored capitalism outright in the Soviet Union. It was Ramiz Alia, Hua Guofeng, Deng Xiaoping, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev and Yeltsin who restored capitalism–the bourgeoisie in the party. Not in a single case did the imperialists invade or the landlords rise up in armed struggle to restore capitalism.

[…]

Yes, we must uphold Stalin’s last great work, the “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR.” Without understanding this work, it is impossible to understand the material basis for capitalist restoration.

[…]

Why “social-fascism” and “social-imperialism”

In 1993, Ludo Martens of the Belgian PTB attended a conference to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, a meeting very important in attempting to regroup Maoist parties, some of whom met for the first time and challenged each other with scientific issues not found in their own countries. At such a meeting, and indeed, at all international conferences of the moment, cardinal questions should be the order of the day.

It is often stated that for Mao Zedong, political line was merely a matter of intention. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Mao analyzed the superstructure and its connection to the mode of production, he did so scientifically and giving full accord to the economic base’s active role in determining the superstructure.

Today’s neo-revisionist and Brezhnevite critics of Mao dovetail because of their underlying combination of Menshevik views. One component of Menshevism is anarchist idealism or nihilism when it comes to the state or leadership under socialism. When it suits them, these Mensheviks criticize power-holders for holding power! How remarkable! The Mensheviks have discovered that people hold power and have self-interests! Such infantilism underlies much of the criticism of Mao Zedong with regard to the Soviet Union and foreign affairs.

Since the Soviet Union called itself “socialist,” but its mode of production was capitalist, Mao had no choice but to refer to the USSR as “social-imperialist.” Even more problematically for the critics of Mao — who in many cases, such as Ludo Martens or the now defunct “Communist Workers Party” of the U$A and countless others, believed that the political leadership of the Soviet Union was degenerate under Khruschev and Brezhnev–the critics admit that the Soviet Union after 1956 was not a bourgeois democracy. So what was it? The Soviet Union was a dictatorship, but of what class and in what form? Once again, it is the mode of production that prevails in deciding the question. If the mode of production is capitalist, but the superstructure is not bourgeois democratic and in fact is openly dictatorial, then “social-fascist” is the right term. Not for nothing the Nazis also claimed to be “socialists,” as a matter of historical coincidence.

In his 1993 speech, ” Mao Zedong et Staline,” (See http://www.wpb.be/doc/doc.htm) Ludo Martens (like many others in the world before and since) raised this question in an opportunist way. He said that Mao opposed the Soviet Union and called it the main enemy for a spell, because of China’s self-interests. Yet, here we are talking about something purely superstructural. Ludo Martens accuses Mao of “bourgeois nationalism,” and connects that to what he considers the incorrect “social-imperialist” thesis, but what national bourgeoisie is he referring to? Certainly he is not referring to the bourgeoisie in the Chinese party which wanted to follow the path of Khruschev and Brezhnev. It was not their self-interests creating this “bourgeois nationalism.” Then what is Ludo Martens talking about? He is talking about an idea detached from the mode of production, a nitpick if even 100% correct would have no business being raised as a cardinal question at an important conference marking Mao’s 100th birthday. Mao Zedong did not own any means of production. China did not have a mode of production driving it toward incorrect foreign affairs positions. That is the cardinal issue at stake.

At most if we accept all of Ludo Martens’s observations, some of which are historically jumbled (another subject for another date), we will prove that Mao made errors. These errors might even reach to the level of “deviation,” but these errors would not change the fact that the Soviet Union was social-imperialist and social-fascist. Strategic and tactical calculations do not change the mode of production in the Soviet Union and Mao’s errors were unconnected to a capitalist mode of production in China. Errors are not of cardinal importance. All leaders will make errors: that is guaranteed.

To say Mao did something against the Soviet Union to protect his own power is the anarchist strain of Menshevism. Mature Marxist scientists become tired of learning that people hold power, a truism as true as the rising sun each morning until the day of communism established internationally. It’s not interesting to us anymore to hear that people hold power.

We want to know about the mode of production, and the superficial nature of pseudo-Marxism stands exposed when geopolitics takes the main theoretical role in discussion. Geopolitics can only be the expression of underlying modes of production. If there are no capitalist relations of production there will be no imperialism, and that is the real cardinal question at hand, but Ludo Martens, the Workers World Party (USA), the Trotskyists, the defunct CWP and countless contributors in Ludo Martens’s seminars held in Brussels with parties from around the world say that geopolitics is decisive. It’s not just that Ludo Martens is saying political line scientifically arrived at is decisive. No, he and the other anti-Mao troopers are saying that geopolitics is decisive, and doing so, they seek to take us into a “lesser evils” world of foreign policy. In one of the few great errors in his life, W.E.B. Du Bois advised the Chinese in 1936 to abide by Japanese occupation as a lesser evil than European occupation and Mao subsequently proved that more was possible than this seemingly lesser evil. Yet, in 1936, Du Bois did not claim to be a scientific Marxist-Leninist yet. The geopolitical pragmatists masquerading as Marxist-Leninists have systematized Du Bois’s error and have called it Marxism-Leninism.

Although Ludo Martens did catch onto the idea of the “new bourgeoisie in the party” from Mao Zedong, he never really confronted the mode of production in the USSR. In fact, he and his party in 1993 could be heard saying that there was no unemployment in revisionist China, when even the social-fascist regime there was admitting 8 digit unemployment. That is how far removed from economic realities these geopolitics-is-decisive-folks are. If geopolitics or other sentiment demands it, these people are fully prepared to say there is no unemployment even when the regime in question does not say so. For this sort of superficial reason of geopolitics, Ludo Martens objected to the term “social-fascism.” Since Stalin and Dimitrov had established that fascism is the rule of the most reactionary segments of the bourgeoisie and with no pretense of democracy or civil liberties, and since the USSR was capitalist, Mao had no choice within Marxism-Leninism other than to refer to the USSR as “social-fascist.” Certainly it was not a bourgeois democratic society.

Like many others including many Trotskyists, Ludo Martens says that the leaders of the USSR were parasites on a mainly socialist economic foundation mostly in order to justify a certain easily understood line on foreign policy. “The socialist basis of society was not yet destroyed,” he says in his essay called “Balance of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, April 2, 1992.” A thing is always a unity of opposites, but one of the opposites is always principal. Never is there complete purity, so that in a struggle in the worst situation–bourgeois prison for instance–even in such circumstances, the enemy does not obtain 100% of what it wants and the proletariat does not obtain 100% of what it wants.

Hence, Ludo Martens wants to say that the economic base under Khruschev and Brezhnev was at least 51% socialist and somehow the superstructure was more reactionary and out of synch, so it needed to wait till Gorbachev to implement total capitalism. In this way, Ludo Martens justifies his and others’ belief that Chinese foreign policy should have been pro-Brezhnev, if not in reasoning, then in substantial alliance. What it means is that Ludo Martens is willing to ape Trotsky on a disjunction between the Soviet mode of production and the state and hold to such an idealist analysis for a generation or two of the Soviet Union’s existence, all so that he can defend a certain geopolitical approach that was popular in the 1960s to the 1980s and still exerts its influence on the minds of older revisionists Ludo Martens is seeking to reconcile with.

The problem with this understanding of having the superstructure out of synch with the mode of production for decades aside from its idealism and obvious Trotskyist origins–and this is true of his review of the USSR called “Balance of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, April 2, 1992” and his 1993 remarks at the Mao Centennial organized by Joma Sison–is that it presents the Stalin era as having no new bourgeois elements despite the victories of class struggle. Yes, Stalin won out against the bourgeois lines of Trotsky, Bukharin and Tito. Yes, collectivization went forward. Yes, World War II was won. It is our duty to defend all these gains under Stalin. Yet, at the same time, our current dialectical materialist understanding must be that the new bourgeoisie did not disappear. Quite the contrary, many of the necessities in fighting the war involved a material basis for the new bourgeoisie.

[…]

A word on the creation of the new bourgeoisie under Stalin is not to be found in Ludo Martens’s discussion of cardinal subjects, only reference to the usual exploiters–the rich peasants, imperialist spies and so on that Stalin tended to.

Although we talk about many things in regard to Soviet history — Khruschev’s “three peacefuls” and capitulation to imperialism for instance–there was only one factor needed to push the new bourgeoisie over the top from dominated to dominating, and that was Khruschev’s loosening of the atmosphere in the party, his creation of the “dictatorship of the whole people.” The moment when the bourgeoisie in the party knows it will no longer face a strong possibility of being violently repressed is the moment it takes charge, not because the superstructure is decisive mainly, but because the new bourgeoisie is already in a very good position and getting a good portion of what it wants even under socialism. Perhaps it is determining 35% of what is going on and goes to 51% or 70% with Khruschev’s attack on Stalin. It is not a case that the new bourgeoisie started from no where and instantly became 51% as the Trotskyists like to caricaturize our views. So the superstructure is only decisive at a certain moment of time, that being the time when the new bourgeoisie no longer faces violent repression in the case of the USSR and China.

The bourgeoisie is not entirely “gutless.” This view is a mistake. One only need witness various intra-bourgeois civil wars to know that the leaders of the capitalist class will take risks for their rule, (even though the oppressed classes do most of the fighting in civil wars) and such is even more true when fighting socialist rule on behalf of the whole capitalist class. Hence, it takes considerable violence to keep the capitalist class underfoot.

Anyone who has stopped to consider the careerists in the CPSU, anyone who has read any anecdotes or talked to any of the common people of the Soviet Union knows that the state and the means of production attract careerists like flies. Such people mouth communism at the proper moment, but everyone knows that they don’t really know how or desire to apply communism in practice. These people protect their own interests and careers, but damage the interests of the proletariat, if they even know what they are since many have not studied politics in any systematic way. The only counterweight to such people in a society where there is yet a contradiction between leaders and led, the only counterweight to these careerists is violent repression, for they will certainly chance being criticized for implementing capitalism.

When a Khruschev comes to power almost by inertia (and only almost because he still did have to stage a coup), the reason is that the material situation of the bourgeoisie is already good. Layers and layers of the bureaucracy with access to the means of production in that peculiar superstructure known as socialism in the 20th century already exist ready and willing to follow and support a leader who will only “relax a bit,” maybe focus on making some goulash and taking off his shoes in the UN.

As the bourgeoisie has centuries of training leaders behind it and propertied ruling classes more than centuries, and because there is a shortage of trained proletarian leaders, and also because it is not easy to discern those with genuine socialist conviction and those mouthing phrases at the appropriate moments, “democracy,” “relaxation” and “free speech” become the excuses and battering rams of the new bourgeoisie seeking to oppress the proletariat in this era of imperialism. Once Khruschev erased the fear of a leader like Stalin, the new bourgeoisie implemented the things it always wanted to implement, and partially did implement under Stalin. The revisionists emphasize that it took more than a generation to restore capitalism, because they deny the role of force in history in addition to the fact that the new bourgeoisie does not have to start from scratch. The revisionists deny the role of Khruschev’s coup and use of the military against Molotov and Stalin’s other allies, and more importantly, they deny the role that the leadership has to play in violently repressing the would-be ruling bourgeoisie in the party, a group of people who do after all have access to the means of production once the government plans production under socialism (but not in the stages leading up to the socialist revolution unless there are base areas where the party is running the economy).

Conclusion

Recently we had a discussion with a member of the PTB who asked us about the band “Rage against the Machine” which had just done benefit concerts for Tibet. Ironically after discussing with us how many still put geopolitics above the mode of production, the PTB comrade asked why “Rage” did what it did. MIM answered that probably with all the watering down done by revisionism, no one ever talked to them about the mode of production. Hence, the “Rage against the Machine” did not understand the advance over slavery that the communists including communist Tibetan slaves brought to Tibet. Instead “Rage” adopted simpler political ideas with regard to the national question. It’s not surprising that people focussed on geopolitics will have no real answer to the “human-rights” and “free speech” for slaveowners point of view and even bands like “Rage” will be unpersuaded. We do not defend Mao’s work in Tibet just because the United $tates opposes it. The pseudo-Marxists consciously and unconsciously seeing geopolitics as decisive have led us down a pragmatist road to endless division and revisionism.

[To see the “International Communist Seminar” speak for itself, go to http://www.wpb.be/icm.htm%5D

Abolitionist Poetry

The 1807 abolition of slave relations of production within the British Empire may have been very progressive for its time, but one wonders if these same authors would have been so jovial if they could see the way leading capitalists have lined up to contrast the modern marvel of “free trade and labor” with slavery.

The collection of essays I had the opportunity to read accurately reflects the trends of the British abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century (with all the trappings one would assume), particularly their eloquent use of parody to convey the sufferings of slaves to the public. William Cowper’s Sweet Meat has Sour Sauce is a prime example of this method, whereby a narrator talks to the reader in darkly sarcastic tones. The poem itself comes in a form similar to a bar song, though it graphically discusses torture, whippings and mutilation of “negroes,” each stanza ending with the unsettling refrain, “which nobody can deny,” a line that begins to take on the double meaning—the ‘undeniability’ of the agony of slavery. Meanwhile, Robert Southey’s epic The Sailor, Who Had Served in the Slave Trade keeps to the visceral and rapturous in terms of feeling, but ends up being more ironic than the author perhaps intended. At the end, the narrator (a preacher) tells him that God will forgive his sins if only he prays and asks, in the process giving the sailor a convenient vehicle with which to cope with the continuance of his trade.

The poem hereby implies that the sailor’s religion will be used to encourage, not stop the sailor’s behavior, while at the same time it may be said that the narrator is showing the sailor a new (abolitionist) way free of the sin of slave trading. This odd duality certainly leaves the work open to debate, and shines a light on how traditional doctrines of morality, such as Christianity, can be used to justify both progressive and reactionary forces. Hannah More, on the other hand, throws subtlety to the wind with her work Slavery, a Poem, in which she seems to shout in thunderous language at the very heavens, crying for any force of justice to rain fire down upon this wicked world. Much of the same can be said about Cowper’s other major work in this section, On Slavery. Both simply state in powerful yet plain language the experiences of the abducted and colonized races. In my opinion, by far the most disturbing of the bunch is The Sailor, not only because of its abrupt twist ending but because of its outrageous uncertainty.

Ann Yearsley’s A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade not only far surpasses its simple title in rich content, but also manages to carve out effective imagery in the text in order to force the reader into the place of an individual slave, making it a personal favorite. Hardly anything is said about the character of Luco as an individual, but the scenes of the mourning of his family at his abduction and his heroism in the face of the horrendous tortures he endures develop his character far more than simple dialogue ever could. When Luco is enraged at being blinded by a whip and kills his master with his hoe—a symbol of his oppression—the reader is made to feel his wrath. When afterwards he faces the fate of burning alive rather than live as an animal or beast, the reader himself is filled with righteous anger. The poem shows above all the millions of individual dramas that lay behind hollow statistics such as tallies of slave figures.

Written in a different style but showcasing the same sort of detached and analytical cynicism, Anna Barbauld’s On the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade is written almost like a letter to William Wilberforce, shows how the ruling class lackeys and the clergy have given the black man false hope that he might be free through peaceful, parliamentary means. Without knowing it, the text reinforces the belief in the utter futility of ruling class politics and implies the only way an enslaved people will be, or has ever been, freed is through armed struggle, such as the slave uprisings that were happening in the British colonies at the time. It also exposes (perhaps meant in a mocking manner) the worship of Wilberforce as the “great man of history,” the white liberal at the head of the abolitionist movement. Throughout, her account of his exploits and ideological fights read like propaganda. One can only hope she meant to display the hypocrisy in placing a white reformist writer (who foolishly sought peaceful means to emancipation) on the grand pedestal of admiration instead of the black slave organizers of revolts themselves, who risked their lives to gain freedom.

Wordsworth’s sonnet To Toussaint Louverture does not have the same intention as Anna Barbauld’s poem—to criticize a figurehead of the abolitionist movement and to undermine his cult of personality or taking of excessive credit—but rather gives focus to a genuine revolutionary hero who was instrumental in a slave uprising. Wordsworth clearly had an admiration for the man, though the poem itself goes into no great detail about why Louverture should be so revered. This is most likely to avoid charges of sedition or treason by the British government, since Louverture was the leader of the Haitian slave uprisings that uprooted the colonialists. Ultimately Wordsworth says that his story will be heard around the globe to inspire other oppressed peoples, though he fails to mention if too much focus on reformism of the Wilberforce type will be promoted by the ruling classes.

The Little Black Boy seems to be one of William Blake’s more “innocent” poems in the Songs of Innocence, disturbingly so. The narrator, the little black boy in question, seems to unhesitatingly absorb what is told to him by the dark figures of authority in the poem, such as his mother or God. It demonstrates the role of the church in the creation of the slave trade by implying that the Jesus figure favors the little white boy. Even his mother seems complicit in the boy’s ultimate fate in becoming a slave, since he is completely dependent on her for information regarding the world. The last stanza is obviously meant to be sarcastic, showing the tendency in society for the lower classes to aspire to and imitate the habits of the higher ones, no matter how reprehensible.

Marxist Literary Criticism: Brief Guide

Along with psychoanalytical, feminist, and cultural criticism, Marxist literary criticism exemplifies what the French philosopher Paul Ricouer terms a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” These are approaches that concern themselves not with what the text says but what it hides. As Terry Eagleton, a leading Marxist critic, writes, the task of Marxist literary criticism “is to show the text as it cannot know itself, to manifest those conditions of its making (inscribed in its very letter) about which it is necessarily silent.”

By its very nature, ideology is silent. Like the water in the aquarium breathed by the fish, ideology is virtually invisible. Its invisibility gives it greater power. Ideology – defined in general as the shared beliefs and values held in an unquestioning manner by a culture – exerts a powerful influence upon a culture. Those who are marginalized in the culture are most aware of the ways in which an ideology supports the dominant class in the society. Those who enjoy the fruits of belonging to a dominant group of the society barely generally are filled with what Marx called “false consciousness.” Since it is not in their interest to notice the ways in which an economic structure marginalizes others, they tend to buy into an ideology that supports that structure.

Recurrent terms in Marxist literary criticism:

  • Base vs. Superstructure: Base in Marxism refers to economic base. Superstructure, according to Marx and Engels, emerges from this base and consists of law, politics, philosophy, religion, art.
  • Ideology: the shared beliefs and values held in an unquestioning manner by a culture. It governs what that culture deems to be normative and valuable. For Marxists, ideology is determined by economics. A rough approximation: “tell me how much money you have and I’ll tell you how you think.”
  • Hegemony: coined by the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci, this “refers to the pervasive system of assumptions, meanings, and values — the web of ideologies, in other words, that shapes the way things look, what they mean, and therefore what reality is for the majority of people within a given culture” (See glossary in case studies in contemporary criticism book).
  • Reification: often used to describe the way in which people are turned into commodities useful in market exchange. For example, some would argue that the media’s obsession with tragedy (e.g.the deaths of Jon Benet Ramsay, Diana, JFK Jr., the murders at Columbine High School in Colorado) make commodities out of grieving people. The media expresses sympathy but economically thrives on these events through ratings boost.

What do Marxist literary critics do with texts?

They explore ways in which the text reveals ideological oppression of a dominant economic class over subordinate classes. In order to do this a Marxist might ask the following questions:

  • Does the text reflect or resist a dominant ideology? Does it do both?
  • Does the main character in a narrative affirm or resist bourgeosie values?
  • Whose story gets told in the text? Are lower economic groups ignored or devalued?
  • Are values that support the dominant economic group given privilege?
  • This can happen tacitly, in the way in which values are taken to be self-evident.
  • They look at the conditions of production for the work of art. For example, they ask:
  • What were the economic conditions for publication of a work?
  • Who was the audience? What does the text suggest about the values of this audience?

What other approaches resemble Marxist literary criticism?

  • Marxist literary criticism often shares with feminist criticism a desire to challenge the power structures in contemporary society. For feminist, the issue is a marginalized gender; for Marxists, the issue is not gender but economic power, leading to political power.
  • Marxist literary criticism can also be viewed as a type of cultural criticism, in that it seeks to analyze a discourse (of power) that makes up one of the discourses that determine a text’s historical meaning.

Source

Two Things About Harry Potter

For the most part, I stopped reading the Harry Potter series at the sixth book. I should’ve stopped at the fifth. The middle and the last part of the “Half-Blood Prince” was utter garbage (except the chapter where he takes the good luck potion) and the ending was just an excuse to kill off a main character (and a lame death too, amirite?). I started reading “Deathly Hallows” but sadly never finished it. Thankfully, I stopped watching the films at the fourth one, since I knew it could only go downhill. “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire” tops both lists. I saw the movie version of the “Prisoner of Azkaban” and it was atrociously bad indeed. They even cut out the famous scene where Sirius Black gives a speech to Peter Pettigrew, telling him he should’ve died for a cause rather than betray his friends. That scene is the main reason that “Prisoner” is one of the most consistently high-rated books of the series.

They also managed to make the revelation that Ron’s pet rat was a man in disguise all along dreadfully ho-hum, and I don’t think I was the only person in the theater who was disappointed they both castrated the grit out of Harry’s “Snape’s abnormally large nose” line and made the final revelation a noisy, incoherent scene of chaos rather than the medium-paced, deliberately plot-heavy conversation it originally was.

After that experience, I almost couldn’t bear to go back to see the other movies, but I dragged myself to “Goblet of Fire” because it was also my favorite book. Again, they completely ruined the slow drama of the final scenes in exchange for loud noises and flashes that made it almost incomprehensible, but overall it got my stamp of approval, and upon giving it, I decided barring insanely convenient circumstances where it would be easy to do so (which rarely come, I’ve noticed) I wouldn’t see the other films. I am certainly not going to tolerate Dumbledore not being Richard Harris.

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Ultra-Leftism & Right-Opportunism

The most common mistake among Marxists in our cultural review work is right-opportunism, which means that they fall into liberalism and subjectivism, tolerating artistic works which promote reactionary politics. Right-opportunism can be summed up as the liberal outlook of denying a particular judgement of a work due to relativism, such as the old line, “You can attach any political reading to any book, movie, music or what have you, that you wish. It all depends on the reader.”

This is reactionary capitalist thought that insists that art remain “neutral,” magically standing above society as something pure and detached from classes and modes of production. In a word, they sell out to Hollywood and cling to a nonexistant “indepedance” of art as though art could, or even should be, seperated from the class struggle. As Marx said, the fact that “the ruling ideas of any society are the ideas of its ruling class” is a structural fact of society and cannot be denied because the liberal artist wishes it so.

Right-opportunist deviationists fail to recognize how much a peoples’ ideology may change at any given moment. As such, they allow the existence and wide spreading of all works, essentially offering the masses’ minds as a sacrifice to the alter of “open debate” and “freedom of speech.” This amounts to taking weapons out of the hands of the people and enables the blackest reaction and the most backward politics to spread.

Another form of this, besides run-of-the-mill liberalism, is the “ignore it” approach. This encourages leftist people to simply “ignore” reactionary works in the hopes that they will go away. History has proven this approach idealistic. It also does not allow the proletariat to teach themselves how to analyze works, which means communists then fail at leadership.

Another deviation within ourselves is ultra-leftism. Though it is not the larger danger of the two, it is still clear and present within our ranks. In this camp, Marxist reviewers will tear apart a work with progressive tendancies because of small traces of bourgeois ideology. Ultra-lefts fail to see the slightest progress even under the most radical bourgeois-made films, since they have departed from materialism and expect a capitalist film to essentially be socialist.

The sad reality is that most culture is controlled by the bourgeosie. To have any popular culture and be cut off from the masses, we will have to accept some flaws. The vast majority of films will be “submerged” with the dominant idealogy in one way or another, but it is not deterministic. Base does not determine superstructure 100% of the time, just as proletarians do not always take a bourgeois line and sometimes bourgeois may even take a correct stance. A minority of any class may be advanced, as shown by Lenin’s petty-bourgeois position as a lawyer who nonetheless took the proletarian line and put it into action for the first time in history.

Ultra-leftism and right-opportunism are both threats to be combated within the political situation at the time. Marxist criticism is especially important today when there is a definite risk that the audience will identify with and glorify the reactionary characters of a work, no matter how crudely depicted they are.

y of any class may be advanced, as shown by Lenin’s petty-bourgeois position as a lawyer who nonetheless took the proletarian line and put it into action for the first time in history.

Ultra-leftism and right-opportunism are both threats to be combated within the political situation at the time. There is the definite risk that the audience will identify with and glorify the reactionary characters, no matter how bluntly depicted.

Slice-of-Life, “Self-Indulgence” & Reaction

Amateur chauvinist critics nowadays label entertainment without plot to be “self-indulgent.” What they are referring to here is the “slice of life” story, universally met with knee-jerk attacks from our young, impatient reviewers. It is hardly ever analyzed by these people whether or not the lack of plot is due to a lack of talent on behalf of the writer, or a tremendous swelling of talent in his or her endeavors to make the story as mundane and everyday as possible. They are too busy foaming at the mouth with hatred.

Instead, there is merely a smug assumption that no plot equals incompetence or metaphysical forgetfulness, as if the author merely “forgot” to include one in his/her eternally befuddled manner, the silly and stupid befuddled manner which critics frequently assume writers must all posses by nature of seeking the approval of magazines which advertise for phone sex lines.

If these critics had not had their eyes cursed by the sight of such a “boring” and “plotless” work, or better yet been gifted with a better writer to formulate said work, surely then, a plot would have manifested, since as we all know, a lack of plot can by no means be included as part of the overall experience of the work—such a thing is not humanly possible or imaginable.

In between advocating the abortion known as modern art and taking a defibrillator to reactionary art movements such as Surrealism and Cubism (both of which plotted a decades-long coup d’état against Realism for being too proletarian), our young critics managed to skip a generation and “no plot” became a synonym for “bad” in precisely 100% of known cases of the phrase appearing.

The Japanese mastered the “slice of life” story, so did the Irish, but we Americans refused because of these chattering parrots of the free press who were too busy labeling art that the masses do not care for as “abstract” and abducting it for the urban students and petty-bourgeoisie. Realism is too “dirty,” too “low class and depressing” and too “everyday” for the petty-bourgeoisie, after all. So is the “slice of life,” albeit in the opposite form, being described as “too boring” and (irony of all ironies coming from students and petty-bourgeoisie) “self-indulgent!”

Apparently, this is meant to be a criticism of writers.

J.D. Salinger comes to mind as the “original” man who wrote a book with no plot—“Catcher in the Rye”—although that book still has too far much plot for your author’s tastes. For once, the critical reception was good for the work, although his later works such as “Franny and Zooey” were met with public outrage.

An example of this American disdain for story-less stories is The Wall Street Journal’s article by Adam Kirsch, which claims that Salinger’s later work seemed “to become not a way of exploring reality, but a substitute for it” and even worse “more like the gratuitous, self-delighting detail children use when inventing fantasy worlds.”

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703389004575033192658885922.html?mod=WSJ_Books_LS_Books_5

This is an odd accusation. If Kirsch finds the less-than-heavily-plotted works of Salinger so objectionable, wouldn’t it be a positive turn in his opinion to have him “invent fantasy worlds?” The natural conclusion of this statement is that invention of a world, otherwise known as writing [!] is shallow imitation.

In other words, Kirsch finds imagination to be intolerable and more than that, impossible, and therefore declares war on those on daring to create it—quite a sad and stuffy conclusion. I can only guess that Kirsch’s own life is not filled with imagination or “self-indulgence” and has a definite scope and shape (plot), so he doesn’t desire to be bothered by directionless stories, else I risk accusing Kirsch of having a postmodern existential crisis in the process of his reading (dear lord, would I do that?!).

Since that surely cannot be the case, on the flip side maybe his life is filled with universe-destroying adventures that make his life less “self-indulgent.” He is more than free to write an autobiography that might not be as “gratuitous” as Salinger’s work, although in reality he would be hard-pressed to finish a product not identical to Salinger’s, at least if he is honest.

The real source of this is that “slice of life” is fresh and enchanting with no sense of duty, and views life the way a child might, for lack of a better phrase; precisely what they actually find objectionable. Randomness and rambling musings—the sheer effrontery boggles the mind. The idea of the everyday as marvelous is threatening to reactionaries. Unable to shake off some onion layers, I reckon.

Aspiration

 

Step #1: Come up with an awesome idea for a story that’s decently original.
Step #2: Work on it for a month or so, trying to get it right.
Step #3: Stumble upon another book out there that’s already published and has almost the exact same plot.
Step #4: Despair.
Step #5: Remember that nothing is original and keep trying to improve writing anyway.
Does this ever happen to anyone else?

Guess what? I aspire to become an author, however I cannot seem to finish projects once I start them. I can put my ideas to writing, no problem. I can put them to paper – again, no problem. Most people cannot reach beyond those beginning steps, especially with fiction and poetry. When the time comes to start writing, I am somehow unable to organize the random lines and paragraphs I write into a single flowing unit. How do I overcome writers’ block when it comes to not writing and composing chapters, but combining them into a single work?

I suppose doing recreational drugs works for musicians. For me, there are notes, notes and more notes. To this day, I spend so much time worrying about how to precisely put down what I want to say that only panicked scraps emerge. Worse, well-structured paragraphs become dense, clunky and overwritten. I suppose there is no solution except to write rants like this in an attempt to get the juices flowing. “Just write,” I say. “C’mon, you don’t need a floating plastic bag or tantric yoga. Just write the damn shit even if it feels all wrong.” Yeah, easier said than done. I don’t mind telling my readers that I often write exactly what I don’t want to write, such as this present pile of garbage. Just cranking out a few pages of “hurr action and boobs” can make the brain move forward. There is no writer’s block for me, technically. I just don’t write how and what I wish to. What I need is a habit – the habit of getting ideas down at the very least. They can be organized later, I have done it before. Hopefully they can become coherent upon revision.

“Kubla Khan”

It is far too easy to dismiss S.T. Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” as a simple opium-induced pipe dream, though it certainly was. He imagines a fairy tale world of rulers and pleasure-domes, which even then is haunted by shrieking maidens and ice caves where no man may tread. In it, the author explores his own alienation from his body by flamboyantly demanding liberation from reality and claustrophobic imperialism.

Meanwhile, Coleridge’s highly experimental masterpiece “Rhyme of the Mariner” is rife with the same sort of alienation as “Kubla Khan,” though not nearly in such a Utopian setting. The burning question of the poem, addressed by so many scholars and academics since it was written, must be stated—why did the narrator shoot the albatross? It is an action that is given no explanation, that seems completely unnecessary and arbitrary. The shooting has more significance than it seems at first, being born out of the “modernism” of 19th century England—a world where people were first beginning to question established religious institutions, a world where pure chance creates reality, where meanings become pointless. This story gravitates towards a radically pessimistic vision of nihilistic subjectivity, and uses the albatross around the neck of our dear mariner as a metaphor for the crushing weight of man’s own alienation from himself and the works he produces, just as “Kubla Khan” uses it’s entire existence as a fantasy as an example of that same estrangement.

“Resolution and Independence”

“Resolution and Independence” is certainly one of Wordsworth’s stranger poems, one in which he sees an old leech-gathering man as an unlikely oracle. For a “gentleman” such as Wordsworth it must indeed be a rare thing to see a working class man reduced to such drudgery, but is his poem merely an aristocratic fantasy, a comfort that conceals real conditions of exploitation? It is not as simple and vulgar as that, though one would certainly be tempted to say so, due to Wordsworth’s tribute to the hard and “noble” life of the old gatherer. The question that haunts the text is whether it is a product of a man whose social views are outraged by the hardships of such working class men or promoting a conservative ideology based on the supposed moral “value” of hard work.

Unfortunately, I am tempted to say the latter, since though Wordsworth was not necessarily born into privilege, his silver-tongued language betrays the silver spoon in his mouth. He views personal and individual “resolution” as the solution to a lack of “independence” in choice of profession. There is certainly nothing wrong with the old man’s role as a producer being upheld as greater than any holy oracle, but to uphold the conditions of his exploitation as either “resolution” or “independence” is highly questionable. We may be witnessing a sign of the transition from the younger, more radical Wordsworth into the older, more conservative version.

The Quest for “Authenticity” in Art

“Authenticity” as preached by today’s critics is an idealist concept. The concept of “art” is an era of mechanical, industrial production frequently comes under fire by critics, who insist that the “passion” and “talent” of the art of old is all but lost on today’s youth culture, that Shakespeare is somehow more worthy of praise than modern writers, that the Rolling Stones had more “depth” and “character” than modern bands. While this notion may in some ways be right, it is wrong about quite a few of its major accounts.

The critics’ reactions to changes in the production of art-such as the fact that Van Gogh’s starry night piece now adorns many bedrooms throughout the US-are quite typical of intellectuals seeking the “real” in all things art-related. It makes me wonder how these same intellectuals feel about their books and essays being continuously reproduced, cited and read the world over due to the means of production-the publishing company-upon which they are dependant. Does that fact undermine their work’s “realness?” Does the mechanically reproduced plethora of copies diminish the “aura” of an original work of art, or do they increase it? Familiarity with copies of a painting will enhance response to the original when it is finally encountered. The work’s uniqueness is emphasized by reproduction. The only way this does not happen is if some of the original work’s revolutionary fervor is watered down by the other, copying works, in which case it is not the original work at all.

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Modernism

The word “modernism” is intentionally ambiguous, and perhaps without realizing it is a fitting term for such a literary movement. In the most common usage it refers to the twentieth-century movement that began with the concept of the “modern” (obviously, since without this word how could one have modern-ism?) and ended up being a collection of authors and works characterized by efforts by the individual character and author to remold and reshape reality while reflecting its social ills. This is quite a simplistic analysis of an entire movement, but I will go into greater detail below.

Modernism took elements from realist literature in that it sought to realistically portray the growing social isolation and alienation of individuals caused by industrial capitalism. Characters are almost always withdrawn, and the entirety of the work contains a bitter cynicism bordering on absolute nihilistic despair. The main geographic sites for this movement were England and America post-Industrial Revolution, blooming during the periods between World War I and World War II, the main places where this system had taken hold. These first few decades of the new century begin with writers such as Joyce, Eliot, Pound D.H. Lawrence, who all stepped forward onto the literary scene by creating texts that were called highly experimental on content rather than merely form. This is the movement we now call “modernism,” though I don’t mean to use it in a reductive sense to imply that outside of these few head writers there exist no modernist movement.

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Crisis & Capital In Wuthering Heights

The majority of Victorian literature is the product of the petty-bourgeois class, and Wuthering Heights is no different. The tumultuous ideological storms contained within demonstrate a crisis in the ideology of the 19th century Victorian petty-bourgeois class to which Emily Bronte was born. Frequently, novelists and intellectuals have a reflective role to play at a point of history where a crisis has impacted the prevailing base and has thereby begun the upward quake to the very spires of the ideological superstructure. The crises in the areas of estate, racial tensions and the family unit are all explored, but more than anything else, Wuthering Heights marks the crisis of individuality versus custom, since the contradiction between the social expectations of class privilege and the selfhood advocated by the rising neo-liberal capitalist system is the very essence of Victorian bourgeois consciousness.

From the start, Bronte seems more interested in showing the reader a world that is beset by the same conflicts as her own rather than an escapist daydream. Terry Eagleton says that “Wuthering Heights is […] an apparently timeless, highly integrated, mysteriously autonomous symbolic universe” (1), which utterly defies the prevailing methodology of fiction literature to remove the reader from the discord of his existence. Most fiction novels come close to portraying what we would call “myths,” that is, the illusory resolutions of real contradictions within society for the purpose of the story in such a way as to validate ideology and the societal status quo. Although it is inherent to fairy tales and children’s stories that the hermetically-sealed bubble of this world never be burst, oftentimes with adult novels this purpose is stricken by strains in achieving its “proper” ideological closure. Indeed, the novel itself loyally reproduces the various disasters assaulting Europe, manifested in individual characters.

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Content is Chief, Form is Chaff?

The form of a poem or story (as opposed to its content) is not merely ornamental or window-dressing, nor is it merely “fleshing out” the content. It has its own life within the text, and forms as simple as the note arrangements of classical music or the rhyming pattern (or lack thereof) of a piece of poetry can better expose the need that the production of the work fills. Take-for a ready example-the lines of the Devil in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. When Satan speaks, the parameters of the rhyming schemes seem to melt away, replaced by whatever the character seems to want to say instead of what the syllable count allows. The flow of the poem is thus disrupted greatly by his presence. He ends every line with a violent or intense word, appropriately as he speaks of “dripping poison” into other’s lives to make up for his own bitterness at his inability to experience “sweet interchange.” In this way, the formlessness of those verses showcase the character’s desire for chaos and destruction, in this case of the poem structure, and his intense hatred for all things orderly and peaceful with the enjambment of each line.

The Concept of the “Other” in Kim

Kipling seems to fancy himself as the first Eric Schlosser. In his story Kim, the presence of the concept of the “other” is scarce, even nonexistent, to the point of a noticeable, glaring omission. British, Indian and Tibetan cultures have minor contradictions with each other, but none is presented as particularly “domineering” over one another even within the context of colonial relations. No one is demonized; no one is more advanced or nobler than the other. Whatever ideologies might justify it, there is no particularly sharp mention of the destruction of previous forms of social organization (symbolized by characters such as the Lama), which seem merely dizzied rather than lost. Without realizing it himself, since this is the nature of ideology to fill the gaps and to consist on what the text hides, Kipling has constructed here a highly differentiated examination of pre-globalization before such a term existed. One cannot separate the full explanation of imperialism from late nineteenth-century colonialism and the necessary spread of capitalist production that comes from those particular stages. Such a spread, such as that from Britain to India, is globalizing, and imperialism has the ability to hide cultural and ethnic conflicts as much as it has the power to aggravate them for monetary and political gain. This is what we see a slice of in Kim.

Scott’s Denied Bourgeois Mentality

Sir Walter Scott may have denied traditionalism and the ruling class culture of his time personally, but his novels provide no alternative to those bourgeois doctrines and rather in the values of that system find their own comfortable justifications for existence. To illuminate the question of class ideology and how it is reflected in Sir Walter Scott’s works, one only needs to examine aspects of the author’s life and how the prevailing culture influenced him. Following the path of cultural analysis, one can then investigate Scott’s works and see that his main characters follow the dominant bourgeois ideology. Whether or not this was intentional and the secondary, more passionate characters are meant to be the “true heroes” of the novels, the existence of the heroes themselves demonstrate Scott’s capitulation to established bourgeois perceptions of idealism and heroism.

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