In the aftermath of the SWP-UK implosion over rape allegations comes the usual lengthy, tedious, rote apologia for Leninism and Socialism. Raise the banner high, mates, we shall triumph over the capitalists and their running dog apologists by consulting the dusty tomes to determine what Saint Karl of Marx might have done and recite yet again the deeply stirring (and mostly irrelevant) history of what happened during Marxism’s glory days almost 100 years ago. Then we will deem ourselves to be without error and carry on as before, careful to change nothing about how we do things.
It is crucial that such articles never have graphics or pictures because that would certainly detract from its Seriousness and would probably be boojie anyway. Humor is also forbidden as it is deeply frivolous and counter-revolutionary. Finally, such articles must be unending paragraphs of turgid prose.
Is Leninism Dead by Alex Callinicos in Socialist Review is a nigh-on perfect example of the muddled, archaic thinking too prevalent on the hard left. It’s preachy, dull, boring to read, looks continually to the past for ideas, resolutely doesn’t get the internet or social media, and includes this gem of confusion.
One thing the entire business has reminded us of is the dark side of the Internet. Enormously liberating though the net is, it has long been known that it allows salacious gossip to be spread and perpetuated – unless the victim has the money and the lawyers to stop it. Unlike celebrities, small revolutionary organisations don’t have these resources, and their principles stop them from trying to settle political arguments in the bourgeois courts.
This is, of course, rubbish. The Internet allows small players to publicize themselves and refute rumors quickly and easily. A few tweets to the right people on Twitter can lead to rumors being stopped fast. But doing this does require understanding how the net works, something Callinicos and Socialist Review clearly do not. In an almost comical example of this, the article doesn’t allow comments. You have to email the editor instead. How quaint. How backwards. This also clearly demonstrates one of the biggest problems of current Marxism and Leninism, especially when it comes to the little baby revolutionary party groupuscules. You are expected to listen as they enlighten you to the truth they received when Lenin spoke to them through the burning bush. They don’t want feedback. They aren’t interested in your thoughts. They preach, you absorb. Any questions? And then they wonder why fewer and fewer are listening to them.
Socialism still has lots of good ideas. But many of its zealots are so wedded to the past they can’t see, much less work towards change in the present.