The Future of the Left.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Left envisioned itself as having reached an extraordinary degree of conceptual sophistication and organizational maturity. Generally, what was called leftism at that time was socialist, influenced to varying degrees by the works of Karl Marx. This was especially the case in Central Europe, but socialism was also intermixed with populist ideas in Eastern Europe and with syndicalism in France, Spain, and Latin America. In the United-States, all of these ideas were melded together, for example, in Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party and in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
On the eve of World War I, leftist ideas and movements had become so advanced that they seemed positioned to seriously challenge the existence of capitalism, indeed, of class society as such. The words from the “Internationale,”“Tis the final conflict,” acquired a new concreteness and immediacy. Capitalism seemed faced with an insurgency by the world’s exploited classes, particularly the industrial proletariat. Indeed, given the scope of the Second International and the growth of revolutionary movements in the West, capitalism appeared to be facing an unprecedented, international social upheaval. Many revolutionaries were convinced that a politically mature and well-organized proletariat could finally take conscious control over social life and evolution to satisfy, not the particularized elitist interests of a propertied minority class, but the general interests of the majority.
The “Great War,” as it was called, actually did end amid socialistic revolutions. Russia established a “proletarian dictatorship,” premised ostensibly on revolutionary Marxist principles. Germany, with the largest and most ideologically advanced industrial proletariat in Europe, went through three years of Marxist-influenced revolutionary upheaval, while Bavaria, Hungary, and other places experienced short-lived insurgencies.
In Italy and Spain, the end of the war saw the emergence of great strike movements and near-insurrections, although they never reached a decisive revolutionary level. Even France seemed to be teetering on revolution in 1917, when entire regiments at the Western Front raised red flags and tried to make their way to Paris. Such upheavals, which recurred into the 1930s, appeared to support Lenin’s view that a “moribund” capitalism had finally entered into a period of war and revolution, one that in the foreseeable future could end only with the establishment of a socialist or communist society.
Edited last time by krates on 08/20/2019 (Tue) 21:32:09.
48 posts and 2 images omitted.