The Two Souls of Socialism
 

 

The Two Souls of Socialism
Socialism from Above vs. Socialism from Below

Draper, Hal
http://www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Docs/CX5316-TwoSouls.htm
http://www.connexions.org/CxArchive/MIA/draper/1966/twosouls/index.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1966/twosouls/index.htm

Year Published:  1970   First Published:  1960
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX5316

It was Marx who finally brought the two ideas of socialism and democracy together, because he developed a theory which made the synthesis possible for the first time. The heart of the theory is this proposition: that there is a social majority which has the interest and motivation to change the system, and that the aim of socialism can be the education and mobilization of this mass-majority. This is the exploited class, the working class, from which comes the eventual motive-force of revolution. Hence, a socialism-from-below is possible, on the basis of a theory that sees the revolutionary potentialities in the broad masses, even if they seem backward at a given time and place. Marxism came into being in self-conscious struggle against the advocates of the Educational Dictatorship, the Savior-Dictators, the revolutionary elitists, the communist authoritarians, as well as the philanthropic dogooders and bourgeois liberals.

Abstract: 

Excerpt:
Utopianism was elitist and anti-democratic to the core because it was utopian -- that is, it looked to the prescription of a prefabricated model, the dreaming-up of a plan to be willed into existence. Above all, it was inherently hostile to the very idea of transforming society from below, by the upsetting intervention of freedom-seeking masses, even where it finally accepted recourse to the instrument of a mass movement for pressure upon the Tops. In the socialist movement as it developed before Marx, nowhere did the line of the Socialist Idea intersect the line of Democracy-from-Below.

This intersection, this synthesis, was the great contribution of Marx: in comparison, the whole content of his Capital is secondary. This is the heart of Marxism: "This is the Law; all the rest is commentary." The Communist Manifesto of 1848 marked the self-consciousness of the first movement (in Engels' words) "whose notion was from the very beginning that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself."

...

When, two years later and after the decline of the 1848 revolutions, the Communist League split, it was in conflict once again with the "crude communism" of putschism, which thought to substitute determined bands of revolutionaries for the real mass movement of an enlightened working class. Marx told them:

"The minority ... makes mere will the motive force of the revolution, instead of actual relations. Whereas we say to the workers: "You will have to go through fifteen or twenty or fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change extant conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and to render yourselves fit for political dominion, you, on the other hand, say to the workers: "We must attain to power at once, or else we may just as well go to sleep."

"In order to change yourselves and to render yourselves fit for political dominion": this is Marx's program for the working-class movement, as against both those who say the workers can take power any Sunday, and those who say never. Thus Marxism came into being, in self-conscious struggle against the advocates of the Educational Dictatorship, the Savior-Dictators, the revolutionary elitists, the communist authoritarians, as well as the philanthropic dogooders and bourgeois liberals. This was Marx's Marxism, not the caricatured monstrosity which is painted up with that label by both the Establishment's professoriat, who shudder at Marx's uncompromising spirit of revolutionary opposition to the capitalist status quo, and also by the Stalinists and neo-Stalinists, who must conceal the fact that Marx cut his eyeteeth by making war on their type.

"It was Marx who finally fettered the two ideas of Socialism and Democracy together" because he developed a theory which made the synthesis possible for the first time. The heart of the theory is this proposition: that there is a social majority which has the interest and motivation to change the system, and that the aim of socialism can be the education and mobilization of this mass-majority. This is the exploited class, the working class, from which comes the eventual motive-force of revolution. Hence a socialism-from-below is possible, on the basis of a theory which sees the revolutionary potentialities in the broad masses, even if they seem backward at a given time and place.

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