Convention Discussion: On Gramsci, Trotsky, Carrillo & Bernstein

BY: Alvaro Rodriguez| April 23, 2014

Submitted by By Alvaro Rodriguez, Houston, TX

Many of our leaders in the Party are now pushing the writings of Antonio Gramsci.  The ideological confusion started by some leading comrades has led to significant ideological confusion in the ranks.  Those who would have us ignore Lenin are urging us to follow Gramsci, and Carrillo, and even Trotsky and Bernstein.

There is significant questioning on the wider left on whether Antonio Gramsci was even a Marxist.  Gramsci was not a materialist.  He was a philosophical idealist.  He did not have a Marxist or Leninist concept of the State.   Gramsci did not agree with Karl Marx’s theory on the inevitable demise of capitalism.  He came up with the idea that revolution is not possible without changing the culture of a society.  Marx was correct, when he stated in the German Ideology, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.”  

Other examples of the ideological confusion:

A leading member of the party states in the preconvention discussion that, in addition to Gramsci, we should also study Trotsky.  

Trotsky believed that socialism is not safe in one country, that it requires an international revolution or what came to be known as Permanent Revolution.  

One comrade in Texas recommended, on a discussion paper published in the preconvention discussion, that we study Santiago Carrillo, former leader of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and considered by many, as the ideological leader of Eurocommunism.  He wrote an ideological book titled, “Eurocommunism and the State” that was heavily criticized by Gus Hall and other international communist leaders.  The main theoretical foundation of Eurocommunism was Antonio Gramsci’s writing about Marxist theory.  Eventually, Eurocommunism was a failure and collapsed.  Santiago Carrillo was one of the main leaders in the Eurocommunist movement.  He led to the eventual split of the PCE.  He was expelled from the PCE and eventually renounced communism.  

Some of the current musings espouse social-democratic ideas.  Eduard Bernstein is considered the main theoretician of social-democracy.  Social-democracy is socialist in name only and bourgeois democracy in reality.  This trend in the socialist movement originated in the late 1800’s.  Edward Bernstein stated in his “Evolutionary Socialism”, that “the movement means everything for me and that what is usually called “the final aim of socialism” is nothing”.  By this he was stating that a socialist revolution was not necessary because evolutionary reforms alone suffice to change Capitalism.  Below is what Lenin said about Bernstein and social-democracy:

  • Denied was the possibility of putting socialism on a scientific basis and of demonstrating its necessity and inevitability from the point of view of the materialist conception of history.

  • Denied was the fact of the growing impoverishment, the process of proletarianization and the intensification of capitalist contradictions the very concept, “ultimate aim,” was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat was completely rejected.

  • Denied was the antithesis in principle between liberalism and socialism.

  • Denied was the theory of the class struggle on the grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society, governed according to the will of the majority, etc.

What Have All These Misguided Theoretical Leaders Have in Common?  In one way or another, they all renounced or socialist revolution.

Bernstein – A socialist revolution is not necessary because the evolutionary struggle for reforms under capitalism, alone, will bring about a socialist society.  How is that working out for leading social democratic parties like the French Socialist Party or the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) or the Labor Party in the UK?  They alternate electoral wins just like the US Republican Party and Democratic Party.  All are parties of capitalism.  The US and NATO do not worry about an election win by any of these social-democratic parties because capitalism is safe in their hands.

Trotsky – Since revolution is not safe in one country, let’s wait for an international spontaneous revolution.

Gramsci – A socialist revolution is not possible until communist have won the war of ideas – cultural change.  Socialist revolution will have to wait for the capitalist ruling class with its huge ideological tools, such as the corporate mass media, its control of schools and University and  corporate sponsored think tanks to lose the ideological struggle.  Good luck with that.

Santiago Carrillo and Eurocommunism – His main thoughts: If we try a third way between capitalism and existing socialism (Soviet Union in its day), we will be more popular and win more hearts and minds.  The result was the liquidation or reduced influence of the largest Communist Parties in the capitalist countries of Europe – the Italian Communist Party, the French Communist Party and the Spanish Communist Party.  The Mexican Communist Party self-liquidated due to the influence of Eurocommunism in 1981.  This is a party that is sorely missed in Mexico today and it will take some time to bring it back to its former influence.

Comrades, let’s learn from the past and derive truth from facts.  We need scientific socialism even more today than in the past.  We need the science of Marxism-Leninism.   

Lenin – “Without revolutionary theory, there is no revolutionary movement”.

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014


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