“A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism.” — Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), opening sentence
I bring good news. Marxism is really, truly dead.
I figured that out in late 1991. The drunken stupor of the would-be counter-coup, anti-Yeltsin Communists in mid-August was the sign of the impotence of the movement. Then the suicide of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on December 31 confirmed it. The murderous experiment was over. Kaput. The party members looted the party’s funds, sent them to their Swiss bank accounts, and departed from the historical scene.
The cash nexus had won. Long live the cash nexus!
A subscriber sent me a link to a Web page. It is an article posted on the website of the Young Democratic Socialists. That such an organization even exists is a testimony to the power of hope over experience.
The article was a reprint from another website.
The author describes a meeting he attended: a high-level meeting. There was a video of this high-level meeting. The video offers proof: it’s over for Communist, socialism, and the hope-filled youths who still carry the invisible red flag.
The video is of some poor 30-something in a tiny hotel room. There is no lighting for the video. You cannot see his face. The reflected light from the whiteboard forced the smart phone’s aperture too small.
You can tell from the sound of the audience response that the room was not full. But the room is visibly small.
He starts off with a quotation from a letter that Marx wrote in 1843. When someone starts off with a letter from Marx written in 1843, when he was not yet a Marxist, the movement is dead. In 1843, Marx had not yet met Engels. Only in the late summer of 1844 did he and Engels first collaborate. That was when Marx became a Marxist.
You don’t jump-start a dead movement. You bury it.
In 2013, the corpse stinketh.
These people remind me of the scene in Frankenstein when Frankenstein and Igor are in the lab, waiting for lightning to strike.
It’s a sunny day. No clouds in the sky. “It’s not alive! It’s not alive!”
The author had it right.
Around 6 p.m., as the first arrivals filter through the registration line, shaking off the cold and collecting their workshop schedules and socialist swag, they seem to exude a certain relief in each other’s presence, reminding me somewhat of a group of trauma survivors reunited.
It gets better.
Heidi Chua and Claudia Horn, two Brooklynites attending the conference in support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation—a German organization dedicated to Leftist political education in Germany and abroad—were arranging the informational materials on their table, near the main registration area.
There is still a Rosa Luxemburg Foundation! Incredible! The hope will never die, as Teddy Kennedy once said, but it is surely in the intensive care unit, with tubes down its nose.
One of them had a banner. Yes, a banner. For display in a tiny New York City hotel room. Why, it’s still 1848 in the hearts of these people.
I brought up the reelection of President Obama, expecting accusations of war crimes and corporate acquiescence, along with some kind of argument that Democrats are really no different from Republicans. Instead, I was surprised to find both women readily agree that Obama’s victory was something to celebrate, even as they remain highly critical of certain aspects of his policies.
“With Obama, we at least have a chance,” remarks Horn.
This is the moment I get the first inkling that I’ve stumbled onto something different. These women weren’t just fighting some noble symbolic struggle, or carping about the evils of the system from the sidelines. They were trying to make the world a better place—in reality, not in theory—and a world with President Obama is a better place than one with President Romney, despite the former’s shortcomings.
Their hope is in Obama. And maybe Michelle. Mrs. Obama’s garden. Mrs. Obama’s shopping sprees in foreign capitals. Yes, there is hope. Hope springs eternal.
In the end, they both make it clear that they don’t necessarily see electoral politics as the engine to make effective change.
“We are the solution. We change the world,” states Chua.
He added: “This wasn’t just idealism talking.” No, it was the illusion. Deep illusion. Illusion on a scale that deserves respect for its magnificence, its persistence in the face of over two decades of cold, hard reality.
We learn this: Bédard-Wien says he’s “very encouraged. Things are shitty right now, but from that springs struggle.”
Struggle! Banner held high! In a New York City hotel room!
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)