Shachtman, Marcuse and Bakunin Reply

It is a great irony that the two principal factions of the present day American ruling class, the Republicans and Democrats, are currently under the intellectual leadership of ideological tendencies derived from neo-Marxism. The neoconservatives who currently lead the Republican Party and therefore the present administration are only a few decades removed from the right-wing Trotskyism of Max Shachtman. The career of Irving Kristol, who made the journey from orthodox Trotskyism in his youth to Shachtmanism to becoming the godfather of neoconservatism, illustrates and personifies this evolutionary process perfectly. Likewise, the abandonment of its traditional working class constituency by the Democratic Party in favor of identity politics, victimology and cultural leftism illustrates the coming to power of the New Left of the 1960s, whose intellectual guru Herbert Marcuse sought to revise Marxism by transfering the basis of the class struggle from labor within the context of political economy to officially designated victim groups within the context of cultural criticism.

That both neoconservatism and cultural Marxism in practice closely resemble traditional fascism should come as no surprise given that most of the founding fathers of classical fascism were former Marxists. Indeed, it has long been recognized by astute observers that Marxism in power bears striking similarities to fascism or “national socialism”. Even the New Left icon Susan Sontag once referred to Soviet Marxism as “red fascism”. Throughout the twentieth century, a variety of thinkers, so-called “elite theorists” or “new class theorists” or “neo-Machiavellians”, argued that the contending systems of Soviet Marxism, German or Italian fascism and American or British corporate-welfarism were really just variations of the same basic system, what James Burnham called “managerialism”. That the formerly Trotskyite neoconservatives should incorporate Straussian fascism into their ideological framework should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Mussolini’s abandonment of Marxism in favor of proponents of the “conservative revolution”. That a Democratic administration led by former New Leftists like the Clintons should adopted overtly fascistic tendencies (such as Mrs. Clinton’s plans for reorganizing the US health care industry on the model of Mussolini’s corporatism, police state-oriented “anti-terrorism” legistlation and the overt police state massacre at Waco) should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the careers of Juan and Eva Peron, who camoflauged their fascistic tendencies under the veneer of a leftist-populist cover ideology.

The prediction made a century ago by the classical liberal economist William Graham Sumner that men would one day be divided into only two political camps, Socialists and Anarchists, is now on the verge of realization. Marxism and its derivatives, principally neoconservatism and cultural Marxism, are now the dominant ideological perspectives in all of the modern countries. The early anarchist thinker and rival of Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, noted that if state-socialism ever came to power, it would produce the bloodiest tyrannies in history, which it eventually did in the forms of the “managerial” states of the last century. But now things are coming full circle. Gabriel Kolhko recently noted that, since the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a restraining force, global resistance to American hegemony has become more and more widespread, more effective and more decentralized in the form of what William Lind calls “fourth generation warfare”, the essence of which pits conventional states against non-state entities. Along the same lines, Martin Van Crevald predicts that the era of large national states of the type traditionally glorified by Jacobins and Marxists is on its way out, with decentralized, heterogenous, smaller scale polities being the wave of the future. Indeed, it might be argued that the overthrow of the New World Order and the nation-state system by the fourth generation forces signifies the ultimate and perfect vengeance against the Marxists by the Anarchists for the events of the First International, Kronstadt and Barcelona. Could it be that the Marxists did indeed conquer the “world to be won” only to have it pulled out from underneath them by their pesky Anarchist enemies who, as Rothbard noted, “shall repeal the twentieth century”?

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