Spider and Fly: The Leninist Philosophy of Georg Lukács

Spider and Fly: The Leninist Philosophy of Georg Lukács

Paul Le Blanc

Language: English

Pages: 29

ISBN: 2:00195921

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From 1919 to 1929, the great Hungarian Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács was one of the leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party, immersed not simply in theorising but also in significant practical-political work. Along with labour leader Jenö Landler, he led a faction opposing an ultra-left sectarian orientation represented by Béla Kun (at that time also associated with Comintern chairman Zinoviev, later aligning himself with Stalin). If seen in connection with this factional struggle, key works of Lukács in this period – History and Class Consciousness (1923), Lenin: A Study in the Unity of His Thought (1924), Tailism and the Dialectic (1926) and ‘The Blum Theses’ (1929) – can be seen as forming a consistent, coherent, sophisticated variant of Leninism. Influential readings of these works interpret them as being ultra-leftist or proto-Stalinist (or, in the case of ‘The Blum Theses’, an anticipation of the Popular Front perspectives adopted by the Communist International in 1935). Such readings distort the reality. Lukács’s orientation and outlook of 1923–9 are, rather, more consistent with the orientation advanced by Lenin and Trotsky in the Third and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International. After his decisive political defeat, Lukács concluded that it was necessary to renounce his distinctive political orientation, and completely abandon the terrain of practical revolutionary politics, if he hoped to remain inside the Communist movement. This he did, adapting to Stalinism and shifting his efforts to literary criticism and philosophy. But the theorisations connected to his revolutionary politics of the 1920s continue to have relevance for revolutionary activists of the twenty-first century.

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force. In Tailism and the Dialectic there is no discussion of the internal structure and functioning of this vitally important organisation. In other works from this period, Lukács offers only very general and sometimes ambiguous formulations. There is reference to party leaders and party members, the need for centralisation and discipline, and also the necessity of self-criticism. We have noted that Lukács, in his book on Lenin, indicates the need for members to engage in ‘a process of fruitful

1920s writings of Georg Lukács – from the charge that it finds its realisation in Stalinist totalitarianism. To be true to itself, it would have to push 50. This is discussed and documented in a number of works, including: Le Blanc 1993; Rabinowitch 1976; Cohen 1975; Trotsky 1970; Souvarine 1939; Mandel 1978; Medvedev 1989. 51. Carr 1982, pp. vii, 427. 72 P. Le Blanc / Historical Materialism 21.2 (2013) 47–75 beyond the deadly limitations of Stalinism, and also beyond Lukács’s post-1929

1920s writings of Georg Lukács – from the charge that it finds its realisation in Stalinist totalitarianism. To be true to itself, it would have to push 50. This is discussed and documented in a number of works, including: Le Blanc 1993; Rabinowitch 1976; Cohen 1975; Trotsky 1970; Souvarine 1939; Mandel 1978; Medvedev 1989. 51. Carr 1982, pp. vii, 427. 72 P. Le Blanc / Historical Materialism 21.2 (2013) 47–75 beyond the deadly limitations of Stalinism, and also beyond Lukács’s post-1929

seriously distorts the reality of both the Landler faction and the ‘Blum Theses’. The Seventh Congress of the Communist International of 1935 marked, as E.H. Carr commented, ‘the twilight of the Comintern’.20 The organisation lingered on until 1943, but it never had another congress after this one. The original purpose of the Comintern had been to organise and mobilise men and women throughout the world for the purpose of bringing about revolutions in various countries of workers and the

direction. A consequence might involve an underestimation of the revolutionary potential of the working class, and might cause such ‘vulgar Marxists’ to tail-end behind so-called ‘objective conditions’. In addition to Kun and Zinoviev, full-scale attacks were launched by a Marxist philosopher in the Soviet Union named Abram Deborin, and by Lazslo Rudas, who had become Kun’s ideological hatchet-man in the Hungarian party. They accused Lukács of ‘subjectivism’ and of a philosophical ‘idealism’ that

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