Thomas Sowell, Marxism, Philosophy and Economics, William Morrow, New York, 1985, 281 pp. Thomas Sowell, who is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, develops his understanding of Marx's philosophy through Marx's economics. After an introductory chapter on philosophy and economics, Sowell's treatment falls into three roughly equal areas: philosophy (dialectic, materialism, theory of history), economics (capitalism, crises, value), conclusion (revolution, personality of Marx, critique). The author tells us that his work on Marx has gone through a long process, beginning with his 1958 undergraduate honor's thesis at Harvard. Indeed, the book is redolent of just such painstaking reelaboration. Careful to separate exposition and criticism, Sowell buttresses his analysis with appropriate references to the major primary sources, rather than following commentators or even the trenchant popular works of Marx and Engels, let alone developing a deductive Marxism of his own. His study is thus systematic, not historical, ignoring the various forms of neo-Marxism or revisonism. Where indispensable, Sowell has taken issue with what he calls 'Samuelson Marxism' and 'Sweezy Marxism', f'emarking that, "These modern concoctions have acquired a life of their own through sheer repetition, citation, and inertia". Some Marxists want to tell us what Marx would have done "had health permitted, notably how he would have developed an underconsumption explanation of crises. Hence, Sweezy, who can be considered representative of this tendency, is criticized for saying that Marx had not worked out the underconsumption theory. In fact, objects Sowell, Marx quite explicitly says in Capital III that crises do not "Break forth first in retail business which deals with direct consumption, but in the sphere of wholesale business and banking". Or again, Samuelson is wrong in taking Capital to say that wages fall to subsistence level, for though they tend to be at subStudies in Soviet Thought 38: 245--258, 1989.
sistence, the definition of 'subsistence' changes, so that it comes to include more. Among the possibly controversial interpretations made by Sowell are his stands on Engels, alienation, and the breakdown of capitalism. Sowell revindicates Engels as Marx's intimate, long-time collaborator. Though Sowell does not settle disputes about Marx by appeal to Engels, he notes that Engels is often much easier to understand than Marx, and in fact on occasion was the voice of common sense, warning Marx that his use of the dialectic made Capital liable to misunderstanding. In particular, Sowell maintains that Marx was sufficiently involved in the preparation of Anti-Diihring to guarantee that its views on ethics and dialectic do not distort his. Engels' work as editor of Capital is also defended. Sowell deems that "the evidence indicates that Capital was completed by Marx as a piece of analysis, though not as a piece of literature. Any speculation as to what his analysis would have contained had he lived is gratuitous". Sowell stresses the continuity of the concept of alienation in Marx between the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and the mature works. "This Hegelian language of 'alienation' tended to disappear from Marx's writings with the passing years, but the underlying concept remained." So the same problem of alienation, without the word, appears in the Grundrisse and, in substance, in Capital. Economic crises for Marx are not random occurrences, but an intrinsic and therefore presumably regular process. As Sowell notes, Marx and Engels were forced several times to revice their estimates of the exact periodicity of cyclical crises. Sowell suggests that there are even hints in Marx of corrective mechanisms so that a breakdown or even permanent stagnation are not part of the crisis theory. Sowell's criticisms of Marx are directed at his view of the primacy of the economic realm and his assumption about the creation of value. The weakness of Marx's theory of surplus value, according to Sowell, is that, "the original postulate on which it is all based was only the common and crude impression that goods are 'really' produced by those who physically handle production . . . . " Engels and Lenin make explicit what is already implicit in that view of Marx, namely, that anyone can perform management tasks. Yet, as is known well, the Soviets early had to introduce rewards for those who establish the
'routine' to be followed by the hands-on producers. The People's Republic of China seems to be coming around to the same view. The qualitatively distinct character of managers and entrepreneurs is not the only thing that escapes Marxism. Cultural habits -- punctuality, perseverence, attentiveness to detail, cooperation -- are far more difficult to teach than job skills and greatly affect industrial backwardness, Sowell notes. A basic Marxian distortion, for Sowell, is the concentration on the study of 'surviving', i.e. functioning firms. Attention to all enterprises, including the large number that fail, teaches -- according to Sowell -"that risk is inherent in anticipating consumer demand, and that profit derives from successfully assuming that risk, rather than from merely hiring people to perform the mechanical aspects of producing goods". This failure to appreciate the impact of attitudes in work is not accidental but a consequence of materialism. Similarly, Sowell complains, materialism also provides Marxists with a convenient way of "dismissing ideas according to their supposed origins . . . instead of confronting them on either factual or logical terms". If one had to venture a criticism of Sowell's work, it would be that he takes the risk of trying to be faithful to some of the ambiguities and tentativeness in Capital. This is, in a scholarly sense, a merit. Marx and Engels themselves, however, in their popular works preferred to talk about "iron laws" and lay down clear cut accounts. Sowell's scrupulousness will make a bit more difficult the use of his quite lucid account as a textbook.
Joan Barth Urban, Moscow and the Italian Communist Party from Togliatti to Berlinguer, Tauris, London, 1986,370 pp. Joan Barth Urban, a member of the Department of Politics of Catholic University, has written a history of the italian Communist Party (PCI) and of its relationship with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Her work, thus, is at the opposite pole from that of Sowell. She shows that the PCI has had a distinctive personality from its earliest times. For instance, it has always had a tendency to independence, or perhaps one should say, the segments of the PCI embodying
that tendency have been successful. Similarly, while not always fired with enthusiasm for formal democracy, the PCI has tended to favor persuasion rather than force in dealing with class opponents. Finally, to a much greater degree than is true in other Eurpoean CPs, the party leadership has managed to retain the losing side in power struggles within the general leadership framework. A prime example of this would be the survival of the old rivals Palmiro Togliatti and Luigi Longo. This contributes to Party continuity. Urban makes a helpful distinction among four kinds of Communist Leadership: 1) radical sectarians, who, favoring coercion, reject any kind of alliance, an attitude typified by PCI founder Amadeo Bordiga, 2) moderate sectarians, who are doctrinally intransigent and enter alliances manipulatively, historically the pattern of the French Communist Party, 3) moderate innovators, who prefer persuasion and are capable of genuine cooperation, but ultimately seek the Soviet model of socialism, 4) radical innovators, who are committed to persuasion and expect political differences to continue, hence accepting both cooperation and competition. The PCI (or at least its leadership) passed into this attitude in the 1970s, and Urban's aim is to show how it arrived. The present work, therefore, is largely about Togliatti, and says very little about Antonio Gramsci. Professor Urban, quite correctly in my view, gives credit to "Ercoli" for the developments which came to flower after his death under Berlinguer. Togliatti was a remarkable man in many ways, not the least of which intellectually. "... the impetus Togliatti gave to scholarly reconstructions of PCI, Soviet, and Comintern history had a profound impact on his party's developing political orientation." In 1957 Togliatti stood with Wladyslaw Gomulka in criticism of the CPSU pretense to be leading party. Among his adversaries was Mao Tse Tung. In the 1960s Togliatti steadfastly advocated to the Soviets conciliation toward Mao. During the resistence, Togliatti adopted a policy of cooperation with other political parties on the basis of equality in the Consiglio Nationale di Liberazione (CNL), and went on record urging his comrades to "seriously react in the party against any tendency which might still exist to consider any policy of unity as a game". In this spirit, the PCI overcame the temptation to use their armed strength to start the socialist revolution then and there. Togliatti moderated several political
positions upon his return: he set aside for the duration of the war PCI republican prejudices; after the War as Minister of Justice he supported the acceptance of the Lateran Treaty, the concordat between Mussolini and the Vatican, and backed a policy of amnesty for Fascists not actually involved in crimes. Within the PCI organization, he helped give leadership roles to Ruggiero Grieco, Giuseppe Di Vittorio, and Giuseppe Dozza, who had been criticized by Stalin as recently as 1938, demoting their PCI adversaries. The PCI open admissions policy successfully aimed at creating a mass party, had the effect, Urban thinks, of putting PCI leaders in a position of strength and thus independence relative to Moscow.
On the other hand, it is difficult to accept these moves as proof of the native genius of the PCI, because Stalin himself made ambiguous statements as Urban notes. "On the one hand, he [Stalin] spoke to Miiovan Djilas of each great power imposing its own system in the areas occupied by its army. But in conversations with English Labor leaders and others (including Djilas), he also contemplated a 'British' or electoral path to socialism ..." Again the Soviet Union had informed Marshall Badoglio's government on March 4, 1944 of its intent to establish dipomatic relations. This was before Togliatti's return to Italy and before the news was communicated to PCI leaders in the zone controlled by Badoglio. In discussing Togliatti's role in representing the International during the Spanish Civil War, Urban, I think, could have considered evidence which suggests that Stalin himself regarded the Civil war as a kind of February revolution and hence counseled against sectarian positons. Urban suggests that Togliatti "chose to escape the cutthroat machinations of the Comintern bureaucracy" by going to Spain and refraining from publishing. Apart from the fact that the Spanish assignment was quite important, Urban points out that Togliatti's exact whereabouts are unclear at a number of points during this period, which, of course coincided with the great purges. Unclear also, is what he did or thought as a member of the seven man Secretariat of the International about the astounding 1938 decision to dissolve the Polish Communist Party. Much of the PCI's past is ambiguous. Urban details the early struggle between Gramsci and Bordiga over transitional slogans. "At first he
[Gramsci] was more intent on legitimizing the use of transitional slogans as a maneuver to avoid or cut short an actual transitional stage than on probing and elaborating their political conduct". Referrring to a slightly later period, Urban notes, "The Party's call for democratic reforms during the mid-1920s was, in contrast, seen as a means of inciting a popular uprising against Fascism. And that uprising was expected to lead, if not directly to the proletarian revolution against capitalism; then to a democratic transitional stage of only limited duration prior to the historically ordained dictatorship of the proletariat." While Urban offers a profoundly nuanced analysis of the variations in PCI attitudes, it strikes me that it is inherent in the kind of evolutionary study she undertakes, to run the risk of seeing as precursors to a later position (in this case Eurocommunist pluralism) earlier positions that have rhetorical similarity. Furthermore, in presenting the history of the PCI on democratic freedom, there is the risk of seeing ambiguities in the minds of PCI leaders at times when their minds may have been quite clear about the manipulative use of ambiguous slogans. Hence the misgivings of Henry Kissinger during the Eurocommunist-Compromesso Storico epoc, while perhaps simplistic, were by no means absurd. Finally, it strikes me that those who study political rhetoric run the danger of believing it! Barth seems to regard (pp. 216-- 217, 240) the PCI's allignment with the Soviet Union as a consequence of U.S. support for the Christian Democrats. However, it seems quite unlikely that the Truman era stalwarts supported Alcide De Gasperi because they were convinced of the intrinsic merit of his principles. The plain fact is that De Gasperi was the best barrier to the PCI, which was already allied with the CPSU, indeed came into existence because of the October Revolution.
John Hoffmann, The Gramscian Challenge: Coercion and Consent in Marxist Political Theory, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1984, XIV and 230 PP. A theoretical complement to the historical study of the PCI is offered by John Hoffmann. Marxists, reports Hoffman, are troubled by three
defects in orthodox Marxist political theory: instrumentalism or the view that the state is merely a tool of the dominant class and hence devoid of autonomy; reductionism or dissolution of the epiphenomenal or superstructural state into its economic base; catastrophism or the expectation that total polarization of classes is inevitable without special guidance. Hoffman, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Leicester, points out that there has been some difficulty in understanding Marx's account of the state. Some scholars see two or even three concepts of the state in Marx: for instance, that the state is alternately regarded as organized coercion, as an instrument of class rule, but also as a parasite on society or as alienated power. Hoffmann holds that Marx held one complex view: the state serves private interest in the name of universal principles. Lenin was conscious of a certain duality in bourgeois government, although Hoffman considers this duality to be no more than the distinction between the direct coercion by force and disguised coercion by deception. A more serious problem in Lenin is: what precisely would be the relative majority necessary to bring the revolution to victory? Although Lenin seems to want to apply force mainly on conscious class enemies, Hoffman believes that "as long as workers need to generalize their particular interests through the medium of a state, they will be subject, as part of the population as a whole, to their own collectivized free will." The appearance of Eurocommunists like Santiago Carrillo, who attempt to remedy the three defects mentioned above with a new emphasis on the value of democracy, prompted Hoffman to seek a definition of the problem in Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, namely in his treatment of the relation between coercion and consent. Gramsci separates analytically two elements somewhat confusedly synthesized in classical Marxism. It is not difficult to show that Gramsci is a Leninist. Lenin anticipated the use of the term "hegemony", precisely in regulating reformism. Although Lenin thinks of hegemony in terms of the vanguard party and Gramsci emphasizes cultural weight, there is no doubt of Lenin's belief that the proletariat must have ideological leadership. Hoffman seems to see a glimmer of a distinction in regard to the Party. Although Lenin
sees Party discipline in military derms, Gramsci's distinction between generals and rank and file organized by the generals, seems to Hoffman mechanistic and more centralized than Lenin's view, in which there is at least the ideal of decentralized responsibility and education of the leaders by the rank and file. Hoffman blames Croce's influence for Gramsci's separation of the moment of force or coercion and the ethico-political moment of active consent. Gramsci remains unable to synthesize the moments, not fully realizing that state discipline evokes consent. Hoffman's essential solution is quite orthodox. "Economic relations already involve a curious kind of coercion, a coercion which commands consent, and politics concentrates and condenses, organizes and universalizes this 'hypocritical servitude' so that individual, particularistic class interests can be 're-presented' in the generalized form of an illusory community. In this way we dissolve the dilemma that either politics is 'autonomous' or it is illicitly 'reducible' as an economic derivative. The truth is that it is both". Hoffman's rejection of Gramsci's separation of moments of coercion and consent in favor of embodied synthesis, ultimately lead him to some startling conclusions. He sympathetically entertains the notion (supported by remarks by R. Tucker, S. Cohen, and R. Medvedev) that Stalin's massive coercion was supported by popular consent. "Between Bukharin's abstract moralism and Trotsky's 'brute force' stands Stalin's organizational effectiveness". Not surprisingly, perhaps, Hoffman tends to the view that the USSR is a genuine transitional state, where there is more citizen participation than is realized in the West. A number of comments come to mind. Hoffman, who includes an eleven page bibliography, reflects a lively debate among Marxists. As a formal question, however, it is not always clear whether he is marshalling opinions to shed light on politics, on Marx, or on that exchange of opinions itself. In a more substantive vein, Hoffman is doubtless correct as an empirical matter, that consent accompanies coercion, indeed that coercion gains consent, although he might not put it quite that bluntly. Thus, Fascists and Nazis seem to have enjoyed a large measure of popular support. I can't see why this would be particularly encouraging to a Marxist, nor for that matter to a democrat.
Also, there is a much simpler way of reading Lenin that Hoffman's: namely, that when Lenin asks how big a relative majority is necessary for victory, his question means exactly what it says. It is a purely tactical matter. Finally, Gramsci is certainly interesting in his own right, but it would be helpful to lay to rest the issue of his connection with Eurocommunism. The Eurocommunists looked to Gramsci for a Western European way to socialism. However, if Eurocommunism is sincere in its acceptance of pluralism, then Gramsci is certainly not its inspiration. We can thus elminate at least one source of confusion in this rather crowded dialogue.
Cuban and North American Marxism, edited by Edward D'Angelo, B. R., Griiner, Amsterdam, 1984 (Distributed Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, N. J.), 214pp. One may ask whether the kind of vigorous national Marxism studied by Urban and by Hoffman (and although Hoffman studies Gramsci, he seems to be part of an active group in Great Britain) exists in the Western Hemisphere. Ten Cubans and six Americans gathered in May, 1982, in Havana as the Cuban-North American Marxist Philosophers Conference. The Cubans were mostly associated with Party Schools or the Philosophy Institute of the Academy of Science, whereas the Americans all teach philosophy at different colleges and universities in the Eastern U.S.. This volume offers the papers presented at the conference. The best paper by far is "Reflexions on Marxist Ethics" by Robert V. Stone, which takes up a set of problems never systematically addressed by Marx: is morality simply superstructural as The German Ideology maintains, or are there genuine moral obligations, e.g. to revolt, as the Manifesto demands? A related question is that of facts and values: whether one should simply understand the contradictions of capitalism or try to remedy them. Stone, an associate professor at C. W. Post College, sketches an answer affirming that, while Marx's attack on moralistic rhetoric ("moralism" is Stone's term) does entail relativism, it is not self-referential or self-canceling relativism. The keys to Marx's
own view are deemed to be, first, freedom, which is made possible by a socialist regime, and, second and more important, human power, which is its own end. These values of human power and freedom together expose the root evil of exploitation, which is not simply that the worker does not get back the full value created by him. Stone notes as a key problem for Marxian ethics the means-end question, on which, he points out, Marx was silent. Although I do not find a solution in Stone, the fact that he speaks of freedom and power as "virtues" suggests a direction in which he might move. Somewhat less philosophical and more sociological is Clifford DuRand's "Labor Process and Class Formation". DuRand, of Morgan State University, is particularly concerned with the present and future role of brain workers, the intelligentsia, which controls but does not own, which at present mainly supports the capitalist, and which some envisage as the dominant class under a socialist society. Du Rand has no startling insights on how to integrate brain power and brawn power in the same individuals, nor has he considered much Soviet concerns with the Industrial and Scientific Revolution, but he recognizes the existence of the intelligence class in a technologically advanced society as a serious theoretical problem for Marxism. Also somewhat less philosophical with greater attention to international politics is George Hampsch of Holy Cross, who writes on "Detente and Ideological Struggle". Hampsch, who warns that ideological struggle is likely to be intensified as other types of confrontation are relaxed, urges (urges the Cubans presumably) that ideological criticism of Marxism not be stifled, for this would be a failure of nerve on the part of the Marxists. Dale Riepe's "The Soc.io-Economic Marxism of Paul Crosser" would seem to respond better than any other paper to the objective set forth in the volume's title. Crosser (1896--1975), born in Windau near Riga, was Director of the Publishing Section of the Central Cooperative Society in Moscow from May to October 1920. He spent the 1920's studying in Berlin, where one of his dissertation directors was Werner Sombart. Crosser arrived in New York in 1934 and was associated with City College of New York, Adelphi College, and the University of Bridgeport. He published in Voprosy Filosofii and Filosofskie Nauki. Unfortunately, Riepe, who teaches at SUNY Buffalo, limits himself to a rambling list of Crosser's interests and polemics.
As for the remaining twelve pieces, including all those by the Cubans, the most obvious thing to be said is that the book does not deal with Cuban and North American Marxism but with the Marxist view of Cuba and the U.S. Less important, but equally glaring, is the fact that part of the title is badly translated from Spanish. "Norteamrrica" is indeed used as a synonym for "Estados Unidos", but "North America" includes Mexico and Canada (and Central America usually) and is not an equivalent of "United States". Editor Edward D'Angelo thanks a colleague for helping him to translate one of the Cuban articles. It is not clear who translated the others. There are a number of rather amateurish mistakes. For instance, "native or juridical (sic) person" (p. 74) presumably translates "persona natural o juridica" and ought to be "real or legal person" or "person or legal entity". Again, it is said that before 1959, "the number of middle schools was insufficient", while several of the Cuban participants are described as teaching at Party "high schools". These expressions probably translate respectively 'c~ntros de ensefianza media" (which are secondary or high schools) and "escuela superior" (which would doubtless be post-secondary, i.e., a college). These things are minor. More objectionably, the book is full of statements that run the gamut from unsubstantiated to bizarre, passing through hackneyed. For instance, one of the three important elements in the 1960 literacy campaign was "the training of teachers, most of them twelve years of age, who in that undertaking acquired an extraordinary ideological maturity for their years when directly confronting the enemy in acute class struggle" (Fung, p. 17). "The so-called Cubanalogy and the Cubanologists that emerged from academic institutions in the United States constitute the modality of Communismology for anti-Cuban strategy" (Yafies, p. 70, emphasis in original). Yafies, by the way, gives four references: from the Cuban Communist Party's First Congress, from Capital Vol. I, and two from V. Mezhuviev's Culture and History, none of which would seem to be direct sources of Cubanology. Again, we read, "For the intelligentsia, who are responsible for raising the cultural level of the working class, peasants, and other workers' strata of the people, it is necessary to know more every day about proletarian ideology, and to try to find full identification with it through a deep knowledge of Marxist-Leninist theory" (Garcia Tr~ipaga,
p. 98). "In books where you have working-class and middle-class characters, there is an absence of class conflict", complains Edward D'Angelo (p. 200) about textbooks in U.S. schools. And so it goes. The introduction complains that one of the mysteries in contemporary world philosophy has been the relatively unknown nature of Cuban philosophy. The good news after this book is that it is no longer a mystery why Cuban philosophy is unknown. The bad news is that by contrast with old anti-Communists who preached that Marxists were fiendishly clever and ought to be studied, the present volume makes Marxism look silly.
Martin A. Schain, French Communism and Local Power: Urban Political Change, St. Martin's Press, N.Y., 1985, 147pp. An excellent test of how Communists will behave in western Europe might seem to be their administration of municipal government. The results gleaned by Martin Schain, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the New York University Political Science Department, indicate that such hoped-for insights are difficult to obtain through the study of municipalities dominated by the French Communist Party (PCF). Blurring the character of PCF rule is the French tradition of centralized government. PCF mayors have benefited from the French tradition that municipal government is administrative rather than political. While decentralization under both Giscard and Mitterand has somewhat lessened national supervision, it has created regional and departmental organisms that are closer and may be more bothersome for mayors. Also, the traditional PCF working class bastions of Paris's red belt have been augmented by communities of far more diversified social composition and location. Hence, PCF propaganda has recently stressed (with considerable success) honesty and efficiency in municipal affairs. The mildly paradoxical effect of having to deal with Center or Right governments has been that Communist municipalities often have a higher level of municipal investment as opposed to State investment in Center-Right municipalities. Similarly, the PCF conducts its own urbanistic studies to diminish dependence on the State.
The PCF plays a stronger role in selecting candidates than do other parties. The road to municipal posts runs through PCF leadership, which often, in practice, amounts to local Party heads nominating themselves as candidates. Accumulation of posts at different levels of government is a French tradition that offers access and a short cut around the civil service, e.g. to a mayor who is also a regional councillor or a deputy or both. PCF differs from other parties in the tendency to encourage militants who accumulate multiple posts to eventually choose between them. This also heightens the dependency of mayors on Party rather than personal contacts. Some Communist moves like the designation of free textbooks for both public and Catholic school students, continue to have a strong ideological tinge. Others reflect the creation of a kind of Communist sub-culture with housing developers and computer firms, which are a source of income and, again, a means of independence from State. In earlier days (the PCF won its first municipalities in 1925) the approach was more ideological and indeed confrontational. Communists regarded their municipalities as sanctuaries to protect oppressed workers from bourgeois legalitiy, e.g. in facilitating strikes, and as platforms, e.g. where women could be included in electoral lists even though they were ineligible. In those days, the PCF had a philosophy of aiding the socially disadvantaged rather than the naturally disadvantaged like the old and sick. Conventional wisdom proclaims that a PCF vote is an expression of alienation and opposition. The emphasis o.n broad services do not support this. Communists are accused of using public housing as a tool to concentrate support and create voting blocks. While the PCF seems to use public housing.as a source of patronage and recruitment, Schain indicates that public housing developments can usually be found in poorer areas that have an obvious need. Furthermore, the advent of North African immigrants (often not voters) has created a new problem in public housing for PCF municipalities. The PCF response has been specifically to help immigrants, including legal aid against the State, but under guise of combatting segregation, to limit their concentration in public housing or to reject subsidies for immigrant cultural organizations (which to the PCF might mean athletic clubs), and on the national level to restrict immigration. Clear differentiation of PCF behavior is difficult because the PCF
(and union de gauche) has been flattered by imitation. Center and Right parties have moved away from the tradtion of local apoliticism, organizing joint lists. Jacques Chirac's RPR has promoted a network of its mayors and named a national delegate for cultural affairs, with the proclaimed intent to outdo Communists and Socialists.
Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA 01420, U.S.A.
J A M E S G. C O L B E R T