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Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution I

Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution I

Hal Draper
Copyright Date: 1977
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1647cr1
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  • Book Info
    Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution I
    Book Description:

    Description not available.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-515-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-10)
  3. BOOK I

    • FOREWORD
      (pp. 11-28)

      It should be useful to begin with a statement of what this book attempts to do.

      The goal has been a full and definitive treatment of Marx's political theory, policies, and practice. Needless to say, this goal is unattainable, but it has served to determine the form and contents, scope and limitations of the work.

      The wordpoliticalis one key. Its ambiguities are legion, even apart from its association with electoral activity in general and unscrupulous maneuvering (“dirty politics”) in particular. The question of a “scientific” definition is touched on in Chapter 11; here let us make do with...

    • PART I:: THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE YOUNG MARX

      • 1 THE DEMOCRATIC EXTREMIST
        (pp. 31-59)

        Marx entered active political life at the age of twenty-four as a liberal democratic journalist, the champion of political democracy. This period opens at the beginning of 1842, when he wrote his first published political article, and closes toward the latter part of the following year, when he became a communist. The development in between, which transformed him from a radical-democratic liberal into a revolutionary-democratic communist, is centered around his work for theRbeinische Zeitung(RZ) of Cologne, of which he became the editor in October 1842.

        At the beginning of this period Marx’s main interest lay in and around...

      • 2 THE POLITICAL APPRENTICE
        (pp. 60-76)

        During theRheinische Zeitungperiod, Marx’s constant concern with freedom of the press was not due only to the importance of this freedom. The censorship was not merely a topical issue; it was a daily threat. In January 1843 the authorities finally decreed the paper's suppression as of April 1. Some months before, Marx had written a friend:

        . . . from morn to night we now have to endure the most frightful harassment by the censorship, missives from the ministry, difficulties with the provincial governor, complaints by the Diet, screams from the shareholders, etc., and I remain at the...

      • 3 EMANCIPATION FROM HEGEL
        (pp. 77-95)

        When Marx withdrew “from the public stage into the study,” it was to settle accounts with the political philosophy of Hegel, which blanketed all of the Young Hegelians’ thinking even while they revolted against his political conclusions. “The first work which I undertook for a solution of the doubts which assailed me,” said Marx’s 1859 account, “was a critical review of the Hegelian philosophy of right. . . .”¹ This review was performed in a notebook into which Marx copied paragraphs from Hegel’sRechtsphilosophie* and then dissected each one more or less at length.

        The difficulty offered by these notes...

      • 4 THE NEW DIRECTION
        (pp. 96-108)

        During the same months that Marx was settling accounts with Hegel his private notebook, he was also trying to think out a political perspective for himself. Was he a socialist (communist), and if so, which the dozen socialisms or half-dozen communisms was he for? If he did like any of the existing isms, should he concoct one of his own? What elsecouldone do?

        This was one of the important issues that emerged from the work done by Marx for the next periodical of which he became an editor. It was a journal with the ambitious, and unrealized, aim...

      • 5 IMPLEMENTING THE NEW DIRECTION
        (pp. 109-128)

        Marx applied the new direction, or supplied a practical example of it, in the first article he wrote for publication after leaving theRheinische Zeitung.Published in theDeutsch-Französiscbe Jahrbücher,the article dealt with a currently controversial political issue of the hour, with a “real struggle” going on in the political field. It identified itself with the progressive side in the struggle in order to direct the question toward the solution of the basic “social question.”

        The issue was religious freedom, or rather, political freedom regardless of religion: the political emancipation of the Jews. Should Jews have the same civic,...

      • 6 ORIENTATION TOWARD THE PROLETARIAT
        (pp. 129-148)

        In the editorial exchange of letters in theDeutsch-Französische Jabrbücher,a good deal of space was taken up by a problem that need not detain us long: the perennial one of revolutionary confidence in the future (revolutionary optimism) versus despair and defeatism.

        The first letter, by Marx, makes clear that the editors are for a revolution of some kind; the second letter, a reply by Ruge, is a ululating elegy or funeral dirge (as Marx calls it) on the impossibility of revolution in the fast-frozen political wasteland of Germany. Ruge’s letter is a classic cry of hopelessness and despondency over...

      • 7 TOWARD A THEORY OF THE PROLETARIAT
        (pp. 149-167)

        The same double number of theDeutsch-Französische Jahrbücherthat carried Marx’s three contributions also included two articles by a young man with whom Marx was only slightly acquainted, Friedrich Engels. This is the point where Engels’ road first meets Marx’s, though without converging as yet.

        Engels’ contributions had a characteristic more important than anything they actually said: they brought England into the picture. All of Marx’s articles had been centered on Germany despite other allusions; that is what he knew about.* He was just discovering a second country, France, as it could not be got out of books; and the...

      • 8 TOWARD A CLASS THEORY OF THE STATE
        (pp. 168-193)

        TheEconomic and Philosophic Manuscriptsscarcely mentioned a basic aspect of political theory with which Marx had been previously much concerned: the nature of the state. One might conclude that Marx was uninterested in it at this time, were it not for an important article which he published in the midst of working on the Manuscripts. This article was provoked by an unexpected event.

        The relationship between the state and other elements of society had previously played an important part for Marx, as we have seen; naturally so, in view of its importance in Hegelianism. In previous chapters we have...

      • 9 CHARACTER AND REVOLUTION
        (pp. 194-212)

        With Marx’s arrival at the theoretical level represented byThe German Ideology,there remains for consideration one more aspect of the political development of the young Marx.

        We have kept the purely biographical side of Marx and Engels to a minimum, not because it is irrelevant to their political development after all, we are dealing with the thought of two individuals—but on the assumption that the reader will find this background elsewhere. However, there is one aspect that is not purely personal and not quite theoretical: it stands between these two categories in a fashion which is as unmistakable...

      • 10 TOWARD THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-EMANCIPATION
        (pp. 213-234)

        The Promethean rejection of injustice-by-power was only one side of the revolutionary character that Marx was developing. Aeschylus himself raised a pertinent question long before Lord Acton: “Who could endure you in prosperity?” It is the lackey Hermes who directs this sneer to Prometheus. Even in Olympus there were not a few who rebelled against Zeus in order to replace him as ruler. And even if Prometheus’ intentions were the best, who else could take the throne if the incumbent were ousted? The opponent of Zeus was merely a philanthropist, an early Owenite.

        If the primary question was the revolutionist's...

    • PART II:: THE THEORY OF THE STATE

      • 11 THE STATE AND SOCIETY
        (pp. 237-262)

        Society involves relationships among people and groups of people—social relationships—of various sorts. One sort is economic relationships: relations between men in the process of making a living—the kind of relationships that Marx analyzed inCapitalfor a particular socioeconomic system. But if a society is to fulfill its economic needs, it needs another complex of relationships too—relationships required to organize or integrate the operation of the society as a whole.

        These relationships include the political as distinct from the economic, but we run into a terminological problem at the outset. The wordpoliticalderives from the...

      • 12 THE STATE IN PRACTICE: METHODS AND FORMS
        (pp. 263-281)

        While the essence of the state is class domination based on means of forcible coercion, there is much more to the state than an essence.

        “The state presents itself to us as the first ideological power over man,” wrote Engels.¹ Ideological? Is a body of armed men an ideological power? But it must be understood that the state is notmerelya body of armed men; if it were, it would be a much simpler institution: simpler to understand and simpler to overthrow. Its complexities are due to the fact that, for its own sake, it has to keep the...

      • 13 THE STATE AND DEMOCRATIC FORMS
        (pp. 282-310)

        In Part I we saw how the development of Marx’s political views intertwined a number of key problems. Prominent among them was the problem of democracy in all its shifting meanings. This will continue to be true throughout the ensuing chapters, for democracy is not a single problem but a complex of problems that permeates many other subjects.

        Indeed, in a general way, Marx’s socialism (communism) as a political program may be most quickly defined, from the Marxist standpoint, as thecomplete democratization of society,not merely of political forms.* But the democratic movement of the nineteenth century began by...

      • 14 THE TENDENCY TOWARD STATE AUTONOMY
        (pp. 311-338)

        It follows from the preceding chapter that in Marx’s view democratic forms are both an instrument and a danger for the bourgeoisie. They shift from one to the other depending on the course of social struggles taking place under those state forms.

        Whenever democratic forms become inconvenient for ruling-class hegemony, making the state institutions of the status quo precarious, there is a tendency for the ruling class to sanction a shift to more authoritarian and despotic forms. The film of bourgeois development unwinds in a reverse direction: the freedoms that the liberal bourgeoisie once demanded are cut back; popular institutions...

  4. BOOK II

    • 15 THE BONAPARTE MODEL
      (pp. 385-409)

      The tendency of the bourgeois state under pressure to revert back to more authoritarian and despotic forms of government does not arise only from a working-class threat from below. Another factor imparting the same tendency is one of the characteristics making for the political inaptitude of the capitalist class (as summarized in the preceding chapter): namely, the “exuberance of internal hostilities”—the fact that “no other ruling class is so profusely criss-crossed internally with competing and conflicting interest groups—the dog-eat-dog pattern.”!

      It may be helpful to think of these two factors as being, respectively, the vertical and horizontal components...

    • 16 BONAPARTISM: THE BISMARCKIAN EXTENSION
      (pp. 410-427)

      InThe Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,Marx worked out the class analysis of a particular historical development taking place in one country. In contrast, consider the following passage by Engels written over thirty years later, in which he succinctly sums up much that both he and Marx had written in the meantime.

      Engels had just explained that the state is “as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class.” Onlyas a rule—not always? There are, then, exceptions to the rule that...

    • 17 BONAPARTISM THE “PROGRESSIVE DESPOT”
      (pp. 428-438)

      In the key passage (given at the beginning of the previous chapter) where Engels lists the types of states characterized by “a certain degree of independence” from the classes in equilibrium, we note that he includes the Bonapartism of the First Empire under Napoleon I as well as that of Louis Bonaparte. Whereas Bismarckism moved Marx and Engels to extend the Bonapartist pattern geographically, here we see them extending it back in time.

      The wordBonapartist or Bonapartism,of course, was common under Napoleon, referring to his partisans; but in the passage under discussion Engels obviously used it in the...

    • 18 BONAPARTISM IN EXTREMIS
      (pp. 439-463)

      We can now return to the figure of the model Bonapartist, Louis Bonaparte himself, in order to view him from the same angle as Napoleon I and Bolivar: namely Bonaparte as Progressive Despot. Marx paid little attention to this aspect in his best-known works; when he wroteThe Eighteenth Brumaireit had not yet emerged as strongly as it did later, and when he looked back inThe Civil War in Franceit seemed a finished episode. In the meantime he had written it up cogently; and from today’s perspective the subject has new interest.

      Even at the time of...

    • 19 STATE AUTONOMY IN PRECAPITALIST SOCIETY
      (pp. 464-483)

      The formula version of Marx’s theory of the state—“committee fo managing the common affairs” of the ruling class—is the formula fo relative normality, like most formulas that sum up experience. We have been testing the meaning of the theory by getting behind the formula investigating the conditions under which the state tends to asser autonomy from the ruling classes to a greater or lesser extent.

      To push this inquiry further, let us leave the boundaries of Bona part ism, as Engels did in the passage which inaugurated this discussiot at the beginning of Chapter 16. He had broached...

    • 20 STATE BUREAUCRACY AND CLASS
      (pp. 484-514)

      There has already been frequent occasion to refer to the role of the state officialdom or bureaucracy. Naturally: for the development of aspecialsocial stratum of state officials is already involved in the basic conception of Marx’s theory of the origin of the state, as we saw in Chapter 11.

      This is one of the distinctive features of Marx’s political theory: the bureaucracy is not a mere accretion or an adventitious element in society, not simply an unfortunate tumor on the otherwise sound body of the state, but rather inherent in and inseparable from the very existence of a...

    • 21 ORIENTAL DESPOTISM: THE SOCIAL BASIS
      (pp. 515-544)

      If bureaucracy was an enemy to be fought, it was also a mid-nineteenth-century commonplace that “the most stupendous bureaucracy in existence” was to be found in the Oriental empires, especially China.¹

      By this time, Europe was long past the cult of admiration for Chinese despotism which had reached its zenith in the Sinomania of the Enlightenment; state bureaucratization had become notorious on the Continent as a burgeoning evil; the imperialist aims of the European powers in China and India dictated derogation, not admiration, of Oriental society. The climate of thought was no longer as hospitable to the formerly widespread idealization...

    • 22 ORIENTAL DESPOTISM: STATE AND BUREAUCRACY
      (pp. 545-571)

      If the societal form represented by the Asiatic village community was based on a mode of production different from those familiar to Europeans from their own class history, that is, from classical slavery and medieval feudalism, then can it be considered an example of primitive communism?

      If so, does this mean it was classless and stateless like the earliest tribal communities? Indeed, in a passage we cited on page 536—from Marx’s notes for the fourth volume ofCapital—he does label the Asiatic community, in passing, as primitive [naturwüchsigen] communism, that is, a primitive communal form that has developed...

    • 23 RUSSIAN CZARISM: STATE AND BUREAUCRACY
      (pp. 572-588)

      It is now possible to take up Marx’s views on the nature of the Russian czarist political superstructure, and, finally, come to a statement of his general theory of the state.

      The case of the Russian state has already been mentioned in connection with Oriental despotism. What exactly was the connection? By its nature the connection was not exact at all. To Marx as to everyone else, Russia was the “semi” country: semi-Asiatic, semi-Occidental, semi-civilized, semi-Byzantine, semi-Mongolian. While every country has an admixture of influences, Russia was an extreme case for obvious historical reasons; and moreover the problem of what...

  5. APPENDICES

    • SPECIAL NOTE A. MARX AND THE ECONOMIC-JEW STEREOTYPE
      (pp. 591-608)
    • SPECIAL NOTE B. RHYME AND REASON: THE CONTENT OF MARX’S JUVENILE VERSE
      (pp. 609-618)
    • SPECIAL NOTE C. THE STATE AS POLITICAL SUPERSTRUCTURE: MARX ON MAZZINI
      (pp. 619-621)
    • SPECIAL NOTE D. THE “STATE PARASITE” AND THE “CAPITALIST VERMIN”
      (pp. 622-628)
    • SPECIAL NOTE E. ORIENTAL DESPOTISM BEFORE MARX: THE WITTFOGEL FABLE
      (pp. 629-656)
    • SPECIAL NOTE F. ORIENTAL DESPOTISM AND ENGELS
      (pp. 657-664)
  6. REFERENCE NOTES
    (pp. 665-708)
  7. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 709-731)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 732-748)