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International Socialist Review, Winter 1963


Tim Wohlforth & Martha Curti

Periodicals in Review


From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.1, Winter 1963, pp.2, 29-31.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Tim Wohlforth

A Russian Expert

We sometimes feel that impressionism and superficial speculation are two sins committed more frequently by scholars who study the USSR and “Communism” than in perhaps any other academic field. It is as if our scrupulous academicians who worship the “facts” have marked off Russian Studies, saying “anything goes.” After all, the cold war is a serious business and this is the least scholars can do for the “war effort.”

A new, but highly prolific writer in this field is Robert V. Daniels. Within the last two years he has written two books, one on the early Russian opposition, has edited an excellent selection of documents related to the Communist and Marxist movement, and has written a number of magazine articles. He certainly is well acquainted with his subject matter but this acquaintance seems to have little affect on his theorizing.

This can be seen clearly in two of his recent magazine articles. In What the Russians Mean (October, 1962, Commentary), Daniels refers to the concept of Lenin and Trotsky “that a workers’ uprising in Russia would set off what Trotsky called the ‘permanent revolution,’ sweeping the whole of Europe into advanced proletarian socialism.” “This was not Marxism,” Daniels blandly informs us, “it was a revival of the peculiar faith in the Russian national mission which in the nineteenth century had gripped both revolutionaries and Czarists.” A pat theory and a useful one, for it fits in with current attempts of the US State Department to equate the spread of “Communism” with Russian imperialism.

The theory is of course absurd once one looks at the facts. Both Lenin and Trotsky, prior to the Russian Revolution, looked to the German working class and its party as the center of the working class movement, as the leading party of the international movement. Trotsky, following his exile from the USSR, lived in many countries and involved himself deeply in analyzing the progress of working class revolutionary struggles in many countries of the world – Germany, France, and Spain stand out particularly. At different times in this period Trotsky saw the greatest hope in sparking a world revolution in the victory of the working class in this or that particular country. Trotsky’s ideas were to take root among revolutionary workers in many lands, not the least important being the development of the Socialist Workers Party in this country.

Daniels covers similar ground in another article Toward a Definition of Soviet Socialism (Vol.1, No.4, New Politics). Commenting again on the Russian Revolution, Daniels asserts that: “The Marxist revolution” is in reality “the revolution of the Westernizing intelligentsia with a Marxist ‘ideology.’” Thus the Soviet system was, from origins, “non-proletarian.” Again we see the superficial impressionistic method at work. Many of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party were intellectuals. Compared to more advanced capitalist countries like Germany, pre-revolutionary Russia had a small proletariat. After the consolidation of political power by Stalin and the bureaucracy the working class lost direct political control of the state. The result in Daniels’ mind: a non-proletarian revolution led by the intelligentsia.

But what actually occurred? The Bolshevik party was at least 90% working class in composition and its members were intimately linked with the whole Russian working class. The actual revolution was carried out in the concrete by the workers themselves; it brought to power a Soviet government made up of workers; it was defended on 21 fronts by a Red Army made up of workers and peasants. These indisputable facts changed the course of history and led to the formation of a Communist International whose national sections were made up of workers from all the advanced countries of the world. In some cases like Italy and France these parties represented the majority of the workers in the country.

Thus Daniels, in many respects a diligent scholar we are sure, sees the essence of internationalism as spelled out in the concept of permanent revolution as Russian nationalism and the most profound workers’ uprising in history as a non-proletarian revolution of intellectuals. The problem we fear lies not with the failings of an individual but rather with a social system which finds it most difficult to look honestly at a world it long since ceased to play a progressive role in.

* * *

Pakistan’s Burden

One of the more lasting values of the new student radical magazines is when they publish extensive and serious studies of questions ignored or distorted by scholars committed to the status quo. One of the best recent examples of such articles is the special feature Pakistan: The Burden of US Aid which appeared in the Autumn, 1962 issue of New University Thought. Written by two Pakistani students presently residing in England, Hamza Alavi and Amir Khusro, the article presents a thorough, factual account of an “Alliance for Progress” in action – and it is devastating.

Over a nine-year period from 1951 to 1960 the US pumped one billion, two hundred and thirty thousand dollars into Pakistan in various types of foreign aid. Rather than producing at least some spurt in the industrialization of Pakistan, the authors conclude it has actually hindered the economic growth of the country. Aid is so tailored that it “discourages industrialization and exerts pressure for a plan which would develop our economy along lines complementary to and subordinate to the economy of the United States.” The US is able to accomplish this because “the allocation of resources to agriculture and industry is no longer decided freely by the Pakistanis but according to the wishes of the aid donors.” This has produced “a steady move away from a policy of industrialization.”

The mechanics of the way the US accomplishes this task are really quite amazing. Investment is largely funnelled into two types of operations: raw material production and assembly or packaging facilities for products produced abroad but sold within Pakistan. While both operations are necessary to the US neither leads to any serious industrial growth within the country (and thus potential competition with American industry). To make matters worse, foreign firms move in to precisely those enterprises that offer the most profit and drain this profit out of the country thus preventing its reinvestment within Pakistan. To do this, they utilize Pakistani capital in large part! “In most cases the bulk of working capital of foreign concerns is raised from local borrowing. Thus it is profits earned by utilizing Pakistani resources which are remitted out and which constitute a drain on our foreign exchange resources.”

These Pakistani students make it clear that the alliance of the US with Pakistan is designed for the progress – of the US. The massive foreign aid dispensed by the US government is not a matter of Uncle Sam’s philanthropy but rather economically necessary for the exploitation of the bulk of the world’s resources in the interests of US capital. The political price in Pakistan is military dictatorship. So works the free world. The editors of New University Thought are to be commended for exposing its true inner nature.

* * *

Nation and Class

We are not at all surprised that Harold W. Cruse’s article Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American (Studies on the Left, Vol.II, No.3) should have brought forth the controversy printed in the current issue of Studies on the Left (vol.III, No.1). As we commented in our last column, Cruse’s article presented in a very thought-provoking way some of the very real theoretical problems coming out of the Negro movement today.

The current discussion in Studies is as important as the original article in that Cruse’s real views are brought out in relief by the polemical character of the exchanges. Cruse’s own thought is of some importance whether or not he may personally have a large following. This is because he both expresses a prevalent mood among radical Negro intellectuals and also attempts to present the views of this trend in a Marxist theoretical fashion.

Richard Greenleaf begins the polemic with an attack on the nationalist aspect of Cruse’s thinking. He states the “main theory of American Marxism” as follows: “The exploitation of the American Negro is but a refinement and extension of capitalism’s exploitation of the American worker. The best way to end the first is to end the second.” Seeing the American Negro simply as a part of the American working class and not recognizing the fact that there does exist a strong national element – a strong desire for identity and representation as Negroes – within the American Negro community, Greenleaf is easily attacked by Cruse for being “dogmatic,” “doctrinaire,” etc.

Cruse, however, goes further than this. He faces a world in which the American working class remains relatively quiescent while the Negro people leap ahead in the most significant and potentially revolutionary mass struggle in the United States today. Reacting impressionistically to this state of affairs, he then projects this as the pattern for the forseeable future. Thus, in the style of C. Wright Mills, he proclaims: “The belief in the revolutionary potentialities of white workers is a carry-over from the 19th century classic Marxism. In my opinion the changes that have taken place both in the structures and relationships of Western capitalism and the underdeveloped world have rendered 19th century Marxian concepts obsolete.” Or as he puts it bluntly a little later on in his reply to Greenleaf, “the class struggle is no longer a reality between capitalist and proletariat within Western nations.”

Writing off as he does the white American workers (not to mention the European workers) he considers the concept of “Negro-Labor unity” as simply a “hackneyed, sing-song recitative.” How, then, does Cruse hope to achieve the liberation of the Negro people? After reading both his past and his current contributions we feel that Cruse himself is not too clear on this. He clearly and correctly attacks the Negro bourgeoisie as being incapable of effectively leading the struggle of the Negro people. At times he seems to place his faith in the Negro working class which has so decisively rejected the leadership of the Negro bourgeoisie. But he seems to have only ephemeral faith in even the Negro workers. He tells us in his reply to Clark Foreman’s, In Defense of Robert F. Williams: “The Negro working class must either follow the Negro bourgeoisie when it leads on civil rights, or swing to the (bourgeois) Nationalist wing.” Why, one is forced to ask Cruse, can’t the Negro worker lead the Negro struggle? Why must it rely on a bourgeois leadership whose inadaquacy he so persuasively illustrates?

The problem is posed before Cruse in another way. He is quite contemptuous of Robert Williams whom he accuses of having “no program.” He insists that the Negro struggle must go beyond mere demands for “civil rights” to a fundamental struggle on the economic front – that is a socialist struggle (though Cruse shies away from using this term). But what program do the Nationalists, Cruse so warmly embraces, have for the Negro struggle? So far as we can see, the Nationalists have refrained from participating in any of the real battles of the Negro people in the past few years with one exception – the struggle to turn white businesses over to Negroes in Harlem. Certainly the Negro people have the right to expect more leadership than that from the Nationalists.

Of course Williams has not elaborated a full program for the Negro struggle nor developed his own clear socialist convictions in this regard. However, he has played an important role in leading the actual struggle in the South in a militant way. He has done this by relying in the concrete struggle itself upon the working class Negroes and breaking with the bourgeois leadership of the NAACP. Certainly, if we are not to be “dogmatic” or “doctrinaire,” we must expect that the revolutionary program of the Negro people will be developed through precisely the type of struggle that Williams and others have been engaged in – that it will not be developed by those who remain isolated from this struggle be they white radicals or black nationalists.

It is very understandable why Negro intellectuals should take such a pessimistic attitude towards the American working class. It is also understandable that many Negroes, burned by the misleadership of the Negro movement by the Communist Party wherever it has had influence, should resist collaboration with radicals and seek to work out their ideas on their own.

However the facts of life itself in the United States, not any radical “dogma,” will force upon the Negro intellectuals and workers a realization of the necessity of common struggle of the Negro and white working class. The Negro trade unionist in the North, and he numbers now in the millions, must of necessity struggle in common with his fellow white workers, and vice versa. Does this mean that the Negro worker must simply sit around and await the action of the white working class? Certainly not. In fact the Negro workers, organized in the NALC and other formations already are having a militant impact within the trade union movement – not to mention the role Negro workers can play within the Negro movement itself.

We hope that Harold Cruse and others continue to write their views in the radical press. A discussion of these key issues has long been overdue and can produce nothing but good.

Martha Curti

The American Female

We doubt if there is a more fertile source for humor (or what passes for it), for speculation, conjecture, bitter polemics, outraged protestations, or pure fantasy, than the American woman. Somehow women in other countries have managed to get off easier. As one might expect, the vast amount of attention devoted to this subject in the popular press has contributed very little, if any, solid understanding. A welcome exception is a special supplement in the October, 1962 issue of Harper’s, called The American Female. The cover blurb promises, “An inquiry into the emotions ... work ... marriages ... divorces ... education ... politics ... and other dilemmas of contemporary American women.” This is a big order; and though the articles are far from being of equal interest, and do not even treat some vitally important questions, several deserve serious attention. It is a relief to find that none of the articles are geared primarily to an exposition of the unequal position of women in our society: apparently the assumption is that readers of Harper’s do not need to be convinced of this fact, which is an encouraging sign in itself, and enables the whole discussion to start on a somewhat higher level.

The most important article is Growing Up Female, by noted psychoanalyst, Bruno Bettelheim. It is an unusual experience to find such a sensible treatment of the subject of women by a man, and a psychoanalyst at that. Most analysts, basing themselves on one side of Freud’s contradictory views of women, maintain quite a Victorian view: the biologically determined, and therefore innate and unchangeable, Role of Woman is to serve man: to be a wife and mother, period. Any woman who does not accept this Feminine Role is fighting a battle that is guaranteed to be lost; in struggling to change the unchangeable she is, naturally, going to be quite unhappy.

Lest we create a mistaken impression, let me make it clear that, at the same time as he held this Victorian view, Freud also maintained a more radical view, as the following quote from the biography of Freud by Ernest Jones indicates:

“Women suffer more than men from the prevailing morality. Only a mentally healthy woman can successfully endure marriage. And any intellectual inferiority shown by women as a whole ... [Freud] would explain not ... by any biological difference, but by the stricter morality imposed on women which leads to general inhibition of the thinking powers as surely as religious beliefs do.”

Freud recognized, and emphasized over and over again, the role of society in warping and stunting the emotional and intellectual lives of people. He felt that piecemeal reforms could not eradicate this problem, but that a basic social change was necessary. As in certain other fields, the originator of a school of thought towers above the epigones.

Bettelheim, while recognizing that men and women are different, says that they have far more in common than people generally care to admit. The main emphasis of the article is in tracing the conflicting expectations that girls are brought up with, the “irrational demands” that society makes of them, and what this does to a woman. “She must shape herself to please a complex male image of what she should be like – but alas it is often an image having little to do with her own real desires or potentialities.” The problem is, as the author sees it, the “social self-realization” of women, the necessity for them to be involved and committed to something outside the home. He rejects completely the traditional middle-class solutions: ceaseless activity in Parent-Teachers Associations, League of Women Voters, and other civic groups (could not most of the so-called “political” activity of women be included here?), gardening, and using the children as a total outlet for one’s intellectual and emotional needs. The civic groups and the hobbies “are often used to cover up a void of really serious and interesting involvement”; the “cult of the child” is not at all what the child himself needs, but rather reeks devastating and often irreparable damage to him. So what is to be done?

Bettelheim proposes a two-pronged approach: one, a serious examination, especially among those who deal with young people, of our attitudes, prejudices, and assumptions about the role of women; and adopting methods used in some other countries for taking some of the child-rearing functions out of the hands of isolated mothers and providing competent professional care.

The problem and the solution as Bettelheim approaches them, however, is not even relevant to the problems of the majority of women in this country – working-class women. His outlook, as indeed that of nearly all the contributors to this supplement, is limited to a rather small section of American womanhood – the articulate, well-educated, more or less well-off middle-class woman. Not that working-class women are exempted from the conflicts that Bettelheim deals with. But before they can face these, they have to deal with much more pressing ones: stretching a husband’s pay check to take care of the never-ending needs of the family; fighting the daily and often futile battle with the landlord to get heat, repairs, hot water; often being forced, to make ends meet, to get a job. In this case, added to all the other problems is the worry about how the children are going to get taken care of. For it is a fact, which some lament and others try to ignore, that in this society children need mothers; and that mothers, whatever help they get from husbands and from others, are ultimately responsible for the welfare of their children. A mother of young children, who has to get a job, is doing at least two full-time jobs. She seldom, if ever, gets the credit or the respect she deserves for this. And on the job, she faces, along with all women workers, a new set of problems: the fact that a man doing the identical work she is doing may get $20 a week more than she; the fact that many men on the job regard her very presence as a threat to their own job security; the fact that in the many industries, such as garment, where the vast majority of the workers are women, the unions that are supposed to represent them do not have a single woman in their leadership, to say nothing of an adequate representation of women; and the fact that industry makes no effort to accommodate itself to the special needs of women – it could do this to some extent by offering part-time jobs, extra days of paid sick leave for mothers to take care of their children when they are sick, providing help to take care of household chores when mothers are sick, automatic days off with full pay whenever school is closed – to mention a few possibilities.

Other articles in the supplement include an article by Esther Raushenbush called, Second Chance; New Education for Women, which describes various programs recently instituted by several colleges and universities to enable women to continue and complete their education after several years’ interruption by marriage and babies, taking into account their special needs and abilities. The Swedes Do It Better, by Richard F. Tomasson tells how, and one looks with some envy upon what even a thoroughly capitalist country can do to make woman’s lot af bit happier. Speaking for the Working-Class Wife, by Patricia Cayo Sexton is sort of a personalized description of what the author considers to be working-class attitudes, values, and mores. Though she teaches educational sociology at New York University, the author comes from a working-class family in Detroit, worked in an auto plant, then for the UAW, and passionately identifies herself with the working class. A very sensitive and well-written story by Paule Marshal, Reena, gives us a picture of the life and attitudes of a brilliant young Negro woman from Brooklyn who, among other things, has “gone through” the radical movement.

Considering the limitations of a liberal popular magazine, Harper’s has done a commendable job.

Before leaving the subject of women, we would like to give hearty recommendation to an article which appeared in the September issue of Mademoiselle and appears now in condensed form in the December Reader’s Digest: Et Tu, Brute! by Elaine Kendall. For any woman whose morale is low (perhaps because some man has gotten her goat for some reason or other), this article is sure to lift her spirits, restore lost energy and verve, and, in short, accomplish more than any pill could. Miss Kendall simply turns the tables and puts a few questions to men. For instance,

“What have men done with the vote?”


“How successful have men been at combining marriage with a career?”

“What have men been doing with their new sexual freedom?”

Her answer on this is:

“Heaven only knows. I suspect that they’re doing just what they did with their old sexual freedom – exploiting it.”


“Is a college education really necessary for men, or is it a waste of money?”


“For most men I know, doing the things they’re doing, a college education is about as necessary as a Karmann Ghia.”

“Are men’s morals deteriorating? Men are always asking each other, hopefully, if the morals of women have changed for the worse. We count ourselves lucky if the questioning stays general. None of us ever speaks up and says that women’s morals could hardly have declined unless men’s morals went right along with them, at breakneck speed and with a head start at that. It takes two to be immoral.”

And so on. If possible, get the Mademoiselle version – it’s much funnier, being longer; and keep it for bad days. As with all good humor, this article contains more than a grain of truth.

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