Saturday, February 26, 2005

Aronson On Deutscher

There's a long, brilliant and contentious essay by Ronald Aronson here on Issac Deutscher's Trotksy triology, one of the seminal books of the twentieth century. Deutscher famously concluded his study with the hope that Marxism could shed itself of the "contradiction in terms" that was the one-party state. Here's Deutscher:

... a Marxism cleansed of barbarous accretions [would encourage] struggle against bureaucratic privilege, the inertia of Stalinism, and the dead-weight of monolithic dogma.
Aronson is much less sure. He points to the fundamental failings of all forms of vanguardism and his tone is rather too pessimistic for my taste. At the same time – and with a good deal of perspicacity – he bemoans the weakness of the socialist Left today and its evacuation from a principled, egalitarian politics:

The twenty-first-century world is still driven by the capitalist system's revolutionary dynamism; its main problem is the absence of any significant counterweight. While there is resistance to "globalization" and American hegemony today, it no longer comes principally from the socialist left but – violently, hellishly and uncomprehendingly – from radical Islamists and other fanatics fired by dreams of an imaginary past rather than visions of an egalitarian future.
Some of the so-called Left want to make common cause with these fanatics. Shedding illusions is surely the beginning of understanding. Read the rest.


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