The Marxist-Humanist Initiative takes the works of Marx as the foundation of its perspective. It maintains that socialist revolutions have not been guided by Marx’s philosophy of revolution, and that so-called socialist societies in reality are forms of “state capitalism.” Based on the writings of philosopher, activist and feminist Raya Dunayevskaya (1910-1987), the Marxist-Humanist Initiative maintains that “past revolutions have changed forms of property and political rule, but have failed to go on to uproot capital, abolish alienated labor and hierarchical society, and establish a truly new, human socioeconomic system” (Statement of Principles of Marxist-Humanist Initiative).
In contrast, my perspective is based in the writings and speeches of Third World revolutionary leaders that have synthesized Marxism-Leninism with the Third World perspective. In my view, Marx correctly discerned that the most advanced understanding of social dynamics could be attained by taking the vantage point of a revolutionary class, and in Marx’s time, the Western European working class was at the vanguard of the revolution seeking to transform the expanding capitalist world-economy. However, the subsequent development of the capitalist world-economy and the modern world-system put the Russian proletariat at the vanguard of the world revolution from the period 1905 to 1924. Subsequently, with the failure of the Western European working-class revolution, evident to Lenin by the early 1920s, and with the fall of the Russian Revolution to a bureaucratic counterrevolution with Stalin at the head, the role of vanguard of the global revolution passed to the colonized of the world, as Lenin understood. From 1917 to the present, anti-colonial movements of national and social liberation in Asia, Latin America and Africa have reformulated Marxism-Leninism, in theory and practice, from the vantage point of the colonized. There emerged charismatic leaders, persons with exceptional understanding and leadership capacity, such as Mao, Ho, Fidel, Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Nasser; and Chávez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa in the neoliberal stage. Third World charismatic leaders have led the revolutionary political process, and they have played a central role in the formulation of an understanding of human history and the capitalist world-economy from below, continuing the project that Marx initiated. Third World Marxism-Leninism sees current socialist nations not as undemocratic forms of state capitalism but as characterized by popular democracy, as against representative democracy; and as making necessary economic adjustments to the changing conditions of the capitalist world-economy, seeking to defend the sovereignty of the nation and to defend the social and economic rights of the people, while reformulating the meaning of political and civil rights.
In spite of our different perspective, I and the editors of With Sober Senses have arrived to similar conclusions with respect to Trump. First, we agree that there is a significant difference between Trump and Clinton, because Trump represents a serious threat to civil liberties and freedoms of speech, press and organization. The editors maintain that “we are witnessing the beginnings of what could develop into a modern Americanized version of the Nazis’ Schutzstaffel (SS).” They assert that “to falsely equate Trump and Clinton is to ignore the grave threat to our civil liberties and lives that Trump represents. He and Clinton are not ‘basically the same.’” They further argue:
The upcoming election is fundamentally a referendum on civil liberties, freedom of the press, and separation of powers in the U.S. government. A Trump victory would be a decisive victory for those who regard these rights as expendable; and they will be expendable. The fact that the authoritarian strongman who rules over us came to power “democratically,” and the fact that a majority of voters effectively endorsed his plans, would be used to legitimize the abrogation of more than two centuries of bourgeois democratic rights.
In the long term, constant and diligent efforts should be maintained to develop an alternative party of the Left, whether it be in accordance with the vision of the Marxist-Humanist Initiative, or the Third World Marxism-Leninism to which I am committed. A strategic decision to vote for Clinton in the 2016 presidential elections in no sense precludes efforts on behalf of the development of an alternative political party of the Left.
A factor in our common strategic recommendation to vote for Clinton (and not the Green Party) in key Electoral College states is that the Marxist-Humanist Initiative and I share a similar view with respect to the limitations of the Green Party. It clearly is not a Marxist party, and this is a serious limitation, inasmuch as Marx’s work represents the breakthrough to a more advanced understanding forged from below. I view the Green Party has a popular party that seeks to develop a political force independent of the control of the corporate class, and it should be appreciated by the people for this effort. But it is lacking in philosophical and political understanding and historical consciousness, and therefore, at the present time it does not have the capacity to lead the people toward their emancipation from corporate domination. However, it could overcome these limitations in the long term, if it were to recognize them and to take decisive steps to overcome them, seeking to further develop its theory and practice (see “The Green Party Platform” 8/26/2016; “Can the Green Party evolve?” 8/29/2016).