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saccarelli-ATG-AUG2016LUMPENPROLETARIAT—In the context of the collapse of the Bernie Or Bustpolitical revolution and its constituents flooding into the Green Party, free speech radio has taken a moment to turn to the question of revolutions throughout history as well as the concept of permanent revolution.

Dr. Emanuele Saccarelli joined Against the Grain to discuss an essay he contributed to The Cambridge Companion to The Communist ManifestoDr. Saccarelli teaches at San Diego State University in the Department of Political Science.  His courses include a course entitled Marxism, and another entitled Democracy and Mass Society.

In this Against the Grain interview, Dr. Saccarelli offered listeners an interesting survey of Marxian analysis orbiting around the concept of permanent revolution.  Listen (and/or download) here. [1]

Messina

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337px-Karl_Marx_001WikiUser

Dr. Karl Marx (1818-1883)

AGAINST THE GRAIN—[8 AUG 2016]  In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels laid out their understanding of how a socialist revolution would unfold. Emanuele Saccarelli shows how that notion changed and evolved, in the minds of Marx, Engels, and a number of subsequent socialist thinkers who took part in debates over the value of reformism versus revolution.

Carver and Farr, eds., The Cambridge Companion to The Communist Manifesto Cambridge University Press, 2015

Emanuele Saccarelli, Gramsci and Trotsky in the Shadow of Stalinism Routledge, 2009 (paper)

Learn more at AGAINST THE GRAIN.

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[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Against the Grain.]

Gramsci_colorized_photo

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

AGAINST THE GRAIN—[8 AUG 2016]  “Today on Against the GrainHow could, how should, a socialist revolution unfold?  Is it up to the working class only to topple the system?  Or should workers act as the left wing of a broader movement to change the status quo?

Marx, Engels, and a host of radical thinkers, that followed them, grappled with these questions.  I’m C.S. SoongEmanuele Saccarelli explores some of the debates around the concept of the permanent revolution and reflects on their relevance today, after these News Headlines with Aileen Alfandary.”  (c. 0:53)

[News Headlines omitted by scribe]

C.S. SOONG:  “From the studios of KPFA in Berkeley, California, this is Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio.  My name s is C.S. Soong.

“The French Revolution made a deep impression, understandably, on all sorts of political thinkers, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

“So, when Marx and Engels wrote their Communist Manifesto, they were guided, to a significant extent, by what had transpired in France beginning in 1789.  But what occurred in the revolutions, that shook Europe in 1848 and 1849, just after the Manifesto was published, was very different from how the French Revolution unfolded.  And that led Marx and Engels to change and adapt their understanding.  But it also led subsequent socialist thinkers to read and interpret their Manifesto in different ways.  (c. 6:30)

Emanuele Saccarelli has written about some of the debates, that arose around how a socialist revolution could, or should, be carried out, whether workers should first fight alongside the capitalist class against, you could say, the enemies of its enemies, or whether only the working class could be counted on to make the kind of revolution, that would fundamentally transform society.

Emanuele Saccarelli is an associate professor of political science at San Diego State University and the author of Gramsci and Trotsky in the Shadow of Stalinism.  He also contributed an essay entitled “The permanent revolution in and around the Manifesto” to The Cambridge Companion to The Communist Manifesto, edited by Terrell Carver and James Farr.

“When Manuele Saccarelli joined me from a studio in San Diego, I first asked him to discuss the importance of The Communist Manifesto as a historical, and a political, document.” (c. 7:30)

EMANUELE SACCARELLI:  “The Manifesto is an immensely important political document, not so much at the time of its writing and publication.  Although, even then, they had a definite, let’s say, prophetic quality, that anticipated many of the things, that actually happened, and that continued to happen, as a matter of fact, down to today.

“But, eventually, with the rise of Marxism as a movement, not simply as a series of ideas, as a political movement.  The Manifesto very quickly emerged as a founding text for that particular tradition, due in large part to its remarkable intrinsic quality as a text.  It’s an incredibly moving work, that has an energy and a power, that’s really rare to, sort of, find.  And I think it also speaks very powerfully to contemporary conditions as well.” (c. 8:35)

C.S. SOONG:  “The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848.  What prompted Marx and Engels to write it?”

EMANUELE SACCARELLI:  “This is, itself, an interesting story because Marx and Engels are often, sort of, taken as part of the history of Western political thought—you know?—from Plato through various characters.  And they’re certainly part of that.  But they also represent, let’s say, a new type of intellectual, which is not Plato.  And it’s not Machiavelli or Locke.  They were people, who were very directly and militantly involved in political struggle in ways, that the philosophers of the old period were not, typically, with some exceptions.

“And, so, what prompted to write this text was a political series of events and, namely, the appearance of an organisation of workers called the Communist League, which formed.  It used to be called the League of the Just.  And, in 1847, the Communist League came about, consisting largely of workers.  And they required a political programme and a series of conceptions of what it is, that they would fight for.  And enter Marx and Engels, as, at some level, ordinary intellectuals, who went through the usual circuits of university and dissertation, etcetera.  But, by this time, they had decisively cast their lot with ordinary working people.  And, then, really oriented their own talents and skills and sacrifices and efforts to this new cause, which was represented by ordinary working people.

“So, they were, essentially, commissioned to write this text to give principles and guidance to the Communist League.”  (c. 10:37)

C.S. SOONG:  “Now, as you write in this essay in The Cambridge Companion, you write:  The Manifesto does two things.  It offers a historical development of the unfolding of history.  And it addresses how to act, how to take action politically.  Elaborate on those two facets of the document.”

EMANUELE SACCARELLI:  “Those two somewhat correspond to what I just discussed, in terms of, sort of, it operates as a somewhat conventional big idea type of text in the history of Western political thought.

“So, it has a very definite explanation of the historical process and politics and political struggle and the composition of society, the nature of the state, the increasingly international character of all of these processes and questions.  In other words, it seeks to explain how the world and society, in particular, functions.

“And, then, side by side with that, as a manifesto, it also very much encourages and sets itself up as a political intervention in the present.  And, therefore, he has definite has programmatic demands.  It is a manifesto in the ordinary sense of political parties today, which fight for definite things, as opposed to other parties and rival programmes and rival conceptions.

“So, that kind of dual nature is, itself, very interesting.  The programmatic demands are not purely pragmatic.  It’s not just—they don’t emerge arbitrarily.  They emerge, rather, out of the explanation of how society functions and where history is headed.

“Or, flipping that around, the theory of historical development is not purely contemplative or passive.  But it identified very precisely a link in the chain of history, at which, actually, human pressure can be exerted and political action can take place.”  (c. 12:49)

[SNIP]  (c. 40:23)

C.S. SOONG:  “And this is Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio.  My name is C.S. Soong.  Emanuele Saccarelli joins us.  He teachers political science at San Diego State University.  He is the author of Gramsci and Trotsky in the Shadow of Stalinism.  And he is co-author, with x, of the volume, Imperialism: Past and Present.  And we are talking about an essay he contributed about “The permanent revolution in and around the Manifesto” to The Cambridge Companion to The Communist Manifesto.

“Another set of debates you address, that you bring up in this article have to do with how capitalism would expand around the globe.  And it certainly has, of course.

“What did The Manifesto say about whether, and how, the capitalist system would expand beyond the places and nations, in which it existed in 1847?”

EMANUELE SACCARELLI:  “I think those are some of the most moving and, in a certain sense, correct passages of The Manifesto.  There are some really great, striking phrases there.

“Their basic idea is a version of what, today, we could call globalisation, that capitalism would not remain an insular mode of production, but would, very systematically and very powerfully, expand into every nook and cranny of the globe, which is, of course, precisely what happened.

“One of the striking phrases of The Manifesto is that it would break down Chinese walls, that any kind of national resistance, even on the part of very remarkable civilisations of a precapitalist character would be systematically undermined.  And, if we look at China today, of course, in my view, one of the most important capitalist countries in the world.  It’s certainly crucial to the world capitalist economy.  That’s precisely what happened.

“Another interesting phrase in The Manifesto—and this is very telling, perhaps, of the limitations or problems with the general prognosis, where they basically say that the bourgeoisie will create a world after its own image, which I take to mean, that a version of this, that the original template of social and political transformation of England would be reproduced in all the countries of the world, which would also imply that the political history of England would be reproduced throughout all the countries of the world, meaning a Parliament and, if not the abolition of a monarchy, certainly its substantial curtailing.  (c. 43:08)

“And this is what I think—the reality, as it unfolded, proved to be somewhat more complicated.  Leon Trotsky, whom we talked about earlier has this concept of uneven and combined development. [2]

[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at AGAINST THE GRAIN.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]

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[1]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) (also broadcast simultaneously across the national Pacifica Radio Network) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Against the Grain, this one-hour broadcast hosted by C.S. Soong, Monday, 8 AUG 2016, 12:00 PDT.

This broadcast was re-broadcast by host C.S. Soong on Wednesday, 18 JAN 2017.  The introduction given by C.S. Soong on 18 JAN 2017 is virtually identical to the one given on 8 AUG 2016, with the exception that the 2017 introduction notes that this interview with Emanuele Saccarelli was previously broadcast.  After Aileen Alfandary read the KPFA News Headlines, Against the Grain resumed (c. 5:35).  The opening remarks given by C.S. Soong, following the News, on 18 JAN 2017 also differed slightly:

C.S. SOONG:  “From the studios of KPFA in Berkeley, California, this is Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio.  My name s is C.S. Soong.

“The French Revolution made a deep impression, understandably, on all sorts of political thinkers, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

“So, when Marx and Engels wrote their Communist Manifesto, they were guided, to a significant extent, by what had transpired in France beginning in 1789.  But what occurred in the revolutions, that shook Europe in 1848 and 1849, just after the Manifesto was published, was very different than how the French Revolution unfolded.  And that led Marx and Engels to change and adapt their understanding.  But it also led subsequent socialist thinkers to read and interpret their Manifesto in different ways.  (c. 6:35)

Emanuele Saccarelli has written about some of the debates, that arose around how a socialist revolution could, or should, be carried out, whether workers should first fight alongside the capitalist class against, you could say, the enemies of its enemies, or whether the working class should shun any alliance with the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie.

Emanuele Saccarelli is an associate professor of political science at San Diego State University and the author of Gramsci and Trotsky in the Shadow of Stalinism.  He also contributed an essay entitled “The permanent revolution in and around the Manifesto” to The Cambridge Companion to The Communist Manifesto, edited by Terrell Carver and James Farr.

“When Manuele Saccarelli joined me from a studio in San Diego, I first asked him to discuss the importance of The Communist Manifesto as an historical, and a political, document.” (c. 7:37)

EMANUELE SACCARELLI:  “The Manifesto is an immensely important political document, not so much at the time of its writing and publication.  Although, even then, it had a definite, let’s say, prophetic quality, that anticipated many of the things, that actually happened, and that continued to happen, as a matter of fact, down to today.

“But, eventually, with the rise of Marxism as a movement, not simply as a series of ideas, as a political movement.  The Manifesto very quickly emerged as a founding text for that particular tradition, due in large part to its remarkable intrinsic quality as a text.  It’s an incredibly moving work, that has an energy and a power, that’s really rare to, sort of, find.  And I think it also speaks very powerfully to contemporary conditions as well.” (c. 8:42)

[From this point onward, presumably, this 2017 broadcast should be identical to the 2016 broadcast, with the exception of minor edits for continuity, as with the penultimate sentence, which now omits the words “sort of”.]

[2]  Also see permanent revolution.

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[12 AUG 2016]

[Last modified at 11:12 PST on 19 JAN 2017]

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