File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-04-03.022, message 29

Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 19:35:19 +0100
Subject: Re: M-G: Re: M-I: LOV and state capitalism

In article <Pine.SOL.3.94.970331174132.18362B->, Andrew Wayne Austin
<> writes
>Marx did allow for a worker's state with bourgeois forms, if you are
>prepared to accept the early writings of Marx. In the initial stage of
>communism, "primitive communism," later characterized as the socialist
>stage, Marx sees a world where "the category of laborer is not done away
>with, but extended to all men," and "the relationship of private property
>persists as the relationship of the community to the world of things." "In
>negating the *personality* of man in every sphere," Marx writes, "this
>type of communism is really nothing but the logical expression of private
>property, which is this negation. General *envy* constituting itself as a
>power is the disguise in which *avarice* re-establishes itself and
>satisfies itself, only in *another* way. The thoughts of every piece of
>private property--inherent in each piece as such--are *at least* turned
>against all *wealthier* private property in the form of envy and the urge
>to reduce to a common level, so that this envy and urge even constitute
>the essence of competition." He goes on to discuss the labor structure
>writing that, "The community is only a community of *labor*, and an
>equality of *wages* paid out by the communal capital--the *community* as
>the universal capitalist. Both sides of the relationship are raised to an
>*imagined* universality--*labor* as a state in which every person is put,
>and *capital* as the acknowledged universality and power of the community."
>[All emphasis Marx]

Lew wrote:
This is an example of the "crude communism" that Marx was in fact

Anrew Austin wrote:
You are incorrect. This is what Marx understood as the first stage of
communism *in contrast* to rival theories of utopia. This early two
stage theory is repeated again in Marx's writings albeit in more
sophisticated form. You are unfamiliar with the text. This is what Marx
said *will* happen, not what he rejects. The transformation of society
has an ugly but necessary side, according to Marx. 

Lew wrote:
Please supply references for your claim.

Andrew Austin wrote:
>Marx, Karl, 1987. *Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844*,
>translated by Martin Milligan (Buffalo: Prometheus). The section discusses
>"crude, equalitarian communism and communism as socialism coinciding with
>humaneness." The latter, Marx's view (contrasted with Proudhon, Fourier,
>and Saint-Simon on pps 99-100) is the one contained in the passages
>cited (pps. 100-101).

To which Lew replies: The passages you cited were not Marx's view, but
rather his review of communism. But don't take my word for it:

David McLellan, *Marx Before Marxism* (Macmillan, 1980), pp. 181-183:

"The first form - 'crude communism' - was merely the universalisation of
private property... Here the only community was a community of
(alienated) labour and the only equality was one of wages paid out by
the community as universal capitalist.

"Marx seems to be referring to two groups, the *Travailleurs
Egalitaires* and the *Humanitaires*, mentioned by Engels in his article
'The Progress of Social Reform on the Continent', published in the
Owenite paper *New Moral World* in November 1843. According to Engels,
the former 'were just like the Babouvists of the great revolution,
rather 'rough hewn'; they proposed to turn the world into a community of
workers and thus to abolish every refinement of culture, science and art
as useless, dangerous and aristocratic luxury.' The *Humanitaires* were
'particularly known for their attacks on marriage, the family and
similar institutions.' The *Travailleurs Egalitaires* and their
newspaper, *L'Humanitaire*, came into being about 1840, after the
dissolution of the *Societe de Saisons* in 1839, following its abortive
attempt to organise a coup. *L'Humanitaire* took its main inspiration
>from Silvain Marechal, author of the Babouviste *Manifeste des Egaux*,
and from Blanqui.

"The second form of communism that Marx wishes to brand as inadequate is
of two sorts: the first he describes as 'still of political nature,
democratic or despotic', and the second as achieving 'the overcoming of
the state but still incomplete and influenced by private property, that
is, by the alienation of man'... The second type of communism, involving
the abolition of the state, was represented by Dezamy, author of the
famous phrase about an accountant and a register being all that was
necessary to ensure the perfect functioning of the future communist

"Thirdly, Marx describes his own idea of communism - the culmination of
previous inadequate conceptions: 'Communism as positive overcoming of
private property, as human self-alienation, and thus as the actual
appropriation of the human essence through and for man..."

Lucio Coletti in the introductory note to the "Economic and
Philosophical Manuscripts" in *Early Writings* (Penguin, 1975), p.279: 

"Communism is the abolition of private property. But communism is not
the levelling down or universalisation of private property, as the
'crude communists' believe. 'Crude communism' is the product of envy and
therefore mirrors the system of private property. The 'crude communists'
want to bring everyone down to the situation the worker finds himself in
under capitalism; 'true communism' aims rather at the 'positive
transcendence' of private property by a 'fully developed humanism'."

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