Looks like it is the year of the state. I have written two articles, one on the nature of the socialist state, and another on the transition between bourgeois and socialist states. Currently, I am completing an article on the absolutist ‘Christian state’, which was the (Prussian) context in which Marx and Engels began their early work. I am taken with Marx’s argument that the secular, bourgeois state is the full (dialectical) realisation of the absolutist Christian state.

Meanwhile, a snippet of what life was like for an absolute monarch, with a focus on France:

The king of France was thoroughly, without residue, a “public” personage. His mother gave birth to him in public, and from that moment his existence, down to its most trivial moments, was acted out before the eyes of attendants who were holders of dignified offices. He ate in public, went to bed in public, woke up and was clothed and groomed in public, urinated and defecated in public. He did not much bathe in public; but then neither did he do so in private. I know of no evidence that he copulated in public; but he came near enough, considering the circumstances under which he was expected to deflower his august bride. When he died (in public), his body was promptly and messily chopped up in public, and its severed parts ceremoniously handed out to the more exalted among the personages who had been attending him throughout his mortal existence (Poggi, The Development of the Modern State, pp. 68-69).

I am finally working through the many photographs from the ‘red tour’ filming from last November (for the MOOC), and came across these from Ruijin, where the first soviet was established in the early 1930s. This is also where the absolutely crucial Ruijin ethos was developed: make sure that people have adequate food, clothing and shelter, give them security and they will become revolutionaries.

These photos were taken in Ruijin, Jiangxi province. Clearly, the Marxist tradition follows through:





My regular monthly piece on Culture Matters is now up, simply called ‘Jesus and Marx‘.

This is the material I really enjoy: the turning of Marx’s thought into Chinese idiom. In this case I mean the three twos: the ‘two inevitabilities’, the’two ruptures’ and the ‘two impossibilities’.

The ‘two inevitabilities’ refer to the inevitable fall of bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat and peasantry.

The ‘two ruptures’ concern the communist revolution’s radical rupture with traditional property relations and the rupture with traditional ideas.

And the ‘two impossibilities’ refer to the fact that no social order perishes before the full development of its productive forces, and that higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the midst of the old society.

Marx tattoo

(ht sb)

It is always a great pleasure to reread Geoffrey Ernest Maurice de Ste. Croix’s great but thus far understudied work, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (winner of the Deutscher Prize in 1982). I am working through the book again in the process of writing our Time of TroublesAnyway, Ste. Croix has a fascinating section on Marx as a European classicist, where he traces the rise of interest in Marx’s thought in the 1970s after a very long period of complete neglect.

To indicate Marx’s lifelong interest in the European classics, after his PhD thesis on Democritus and Epicurus, Ste. Croix mentions a letter to Engels in 1861. Marx writes: ‘As  relaxation in the evening, I have been reading Appian on the Roman civil wars, in the original Greek’.

I am working on an article that will eventually form part of the Stalin book, called ‘The Delay of Communism’. I came across yet another text from Stalin where the poet of old comes to the fore, now in terms of reinterpreting Marx’s 11th thesis on Feuerbach:

The adoption, as a starting point, of the repudiation of all doctrinairism (Right and Left) when changing strategy and tactics, when working out new strategic plans and tactical lines (Kautsky, Axelrod, Bogdanov, Bukharin), repudiation of the contemplative method and the method of quoting texts and drawing historical parallels, artificial plans and lifeless formulas (Axelrod, Plekhanov); recognition that it is necessary to stand by the point of view of Marxism, not to “lie down on it,” that it is necessary to “change” the world, not “merely to interpret” it, that it is necessary to lead the proletariat and be the conscious expression of the unconscious process, and not “contemplate the proletariat’s rear” and drag at the tail of events (Works, volume 5, p. 82).


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