We are a group of academic researchers and university students, who cultivate Marx's thought with the purpose of understanding it and, on this basis, if possible, to develop it according to its specificity, as well as of clarifying a series of confusions about Marxism in view of comprehensively analyzing the contemporary world, the past history and the current historical course in what this course has of transcendent with respect to the bourgeois globalized society. Such is the cultural project KARL MARX TODAY.
We friends have gathered with the purpose of understanding the present, the today, and the thought of Karl Marx; each of these three in its specificity. First, we would like to answer the following questions: What did Karl Marx think about capitalism and its development? And what about the communist revolution, as well as the post-bourgeois societies that –as he points out– this revolution was to generate?
The need to answer these questions with accuracy has redoubled in the current days due to the increasing harms of all kinds –from genocides to environmental catastrophes, through the plundering of individuals and nations as well as the savage super-exploitation of workers– that worldwide capitalism has been inflicting on humanity since the emergence of neoliberalism as a world economic policy at the beginning of the eighties in the 20th century; and when, thus, everywhere, human beings strive to find an alternative to the current way of life; "an exit", they say; "a new society and not just an improvement of the current one", they insinuate.
The need to respond to these questions is also redoubled and widened because, if in the history of bourgeois society since 1843 discussions about Karl Marx’s ideas and more or less fortunate interpretations of them have been generated, after the dismemberment of the USSR and the collapse of the "Socialist Bloc" in 1991, interpretations sympathetic to Marx's thought alternate one after another in the world’s cultural scene, which nevertheless show an insufficient understanding of this thought, with furious and often fallacious pseudo-criticism; and it is not difficult to see that these pseudo-critiques take those exegeses as identical to Marx’s thought, creating a great confusion at a time when humanity requires clarity.
Indeed, as a result of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Volume I of Capital. Critique of political economy (2017), as well as of the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth (2018), occasion for the reappraisal of his thought, we observed so many deformations, disruptions, byzantine arguments and fragmentary interpretations of it, that we considered it necessary to combat all those misinterpretations.
And when we speak of Karl Marx’s true thinking we refer to the critique of political economy (CPE), historical materialism (HM), and scientific socialism (ScS), three major themes developed by him that are generally not respected as differentiated parts, in addition to misinterpreting each of them. When –succinctly said– it is worth emphasizing the importance of the CPE to understand our time; while HM is pertinent to the comprehension of all given historical formations up to the present; and, finally, the importance of ScS is that it reflects on the revolutionary process that could destroy bourgeois society, the communist revolution; as well as the societies that this revolution would allow to build in the future: the socialist and the communist; and before that, the transitional society between the bourgeois and the socialist one, the society that replaces the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with the full and direct democracy of the exploited and excluded population that in the 19th century was named as a dictatorship of the proletariat, as to have it settled that it is the working population the one which must not allow such a conquest in the form of government to get historically reverted. Recognizing the specificity of each of these parts of Karl Marx's thought and their interrelation is a condition without which it is impossible to develop such thought at present, that is, to cultivate Marx's thought.
To cultivate Marx's Thought
The understanding of today is impossible without this cultivation; moreover, it is identical with it. To update Marx, to develop his thinking beyond where he brought it forth, means to construct a new thinking, but one that knows that its enterprise will be successful only on the condition of not replacing or submitting Marx's thought by or to one’s own, which is the unfortunate operation that under various pretexts has prevailed since Lenin and even further back. And that’s not the point, but rather to continuously assume its specificity so that, on its basis, we become able to formulate the concepts that develop those of Marx with the concretion that the present requires, being that Marx only fixes them in general but without particularizing. However, what is general is always prior over what is particular and even singular of each moment, situation or time. So it is about new concepts, but ones which carry inside Marx's corresponding ones, not their revocation or presumed correction "for the new era", as it is said in good faith, without noticing that, in thinking thus, both the present time and Marx’s thought get distorted; which thought, at least, correctly established what is general and basic in the present; and we, by following it, achieve to establish such things. Thus, for example, the current world economic crises, never seen before, are comprehended by means of the law formulated by Marx in 1866, the law of the tendency of the profit rate to fall. But that involves that we live in the same age as Marx and not another one, superior or deviated. Which implies cultivating Marx's thought precisely in the above-mentioned way.
A cultivation of Marx's thought, in view of developing it following the path just described, can be found in certain passages of the work of Lenin and Rosa Luxembourg, as well as in the works of the first Kautsky. Then, in certain reflections by Georg Lukács, Karl Korsch and Anton Pannekoek, as well as Henrik Grossmann and Paul Mattick. And remarkably, after the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, in which Nikita Khrushchev criticized Stalin and called all the revolutionaries of the world to "Return to the Sources" –that is, to Marx, Engels and Lenin–, the intention of some Marxist philosophers straightened, precisely, with more or less consequence, in the previous direction of recovering Marx. Ernst Fischer’s famous book’s title What Marx Really Said is revealing of a certain epochal mood; but, in fact, only some among many achieved a cultivation like the one referred. Isaak Illich Rubin, Henri Lefebvre, Karel Kosik, Ernest Mandel, Jindrich Zeleny and Helmut Reichelt are outstanding authors in this regard; but the precision of Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez in formulating Marx's philosophy as a philosophy of praxis offers a contribution as valuable as those mentioned. While Jean Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason not only inspires a methodical self-criticism to restore the dialectical character of Marx's thought and its specific stroke, not to be confused with other thinkers, however similar, but also features human beings’ character of practical subject and their inherent reciprocity as the premise dimensions of Marx's reflection on social relations, placing such relations in a field of scarcity that continuously enables their alienation and in which the possibilities of their disalienation are played out. For his part, the reading of Capital carried out by Bolívar Echeverría, as well as his theory of the fourfold ethos of capitalist modernity built on the basis of the value / use value contradiction constitutive of the commodity form, delivers to us a rigorous recovery procedure of Marx's ideas, on the one hand, while on the other, a model of a consistent development of Marx's theory after Marx. Based on these invaluable teachings, Jorge Veraza methodologically and thematically defined a program for cultivating Marx's work aiming at its intellection and its development, just as the one described above. Andrés Barreda, María de la Concepción Tonda and David Moreno –pupils of Bolívar Echeverría in the Seminar of Capital at the Economics School of the Autonomous National University of Mexico between 1972 and 1978 together with Jorge Veraza– coincided with the latter in such a program of cultivation of Marx’s work. And they have been developing it since then in various theoretical fields; above all, at the level of the critique of political economy and ecology, the critique of politics, of culture, of sociology, of anthropology, of social psychology, of philosophy, of geography, of geopolitics, the critical history of science and technology, as well as the critique of everyday life. It should be noted that, in developing Marx's concepts of formal and real subsumption of the labor process under capital, Jorge Veraza formulated (1978) those of formal subsumption and real subsumption of consumption under capital to characterize the specificity of contemporary capitalism; a horizon in which the various contributions just mentioned are framed.
It is for such a cultivation of Marx's work, for its intellection and its development, that Jorge Veraza convened a score of friends in recent days (2019), and together we have created a cultural alternative that aims to promote scientific and philosophical research and education from the Marxist perspective or around the work and life of Karl Marx, as well as the presentation and discussion of works that develop Marx's thought in its specificity at the service of critical analysis of today's society, history to this day and the possible future. And, needless to say, a cultural alternative, so specified, that allows to polemicize with the most diverse thinkers.
About the Communist Movement Today
The following clarification is not superfluous. It regards the mood of the historical moment in which we find ourselves in reference to the development of the communist movement. In the mid-nineteenth century (1848) the narrative of the authors of the Manifesto of the Communist Party was made understandable to its public by pointing out the existence of what they called "the ghost of communism." (Ghost, specter, wraith and, in German, Gespenst; motif of the aesthetic of the european romanticism that Jacques Derrida has commented abundantly on his Specters, with the intention of clarifying the entire meaning of the Manifesto.) However, just over 80 years after the "ghost of communism" was seen in Europe, it seemed to the Argentinian Marxist Aníbal Ponce that it had materialized and spread beyond Europe –wherein the referred spectrum appeared–, which is why he willed to describe the communist movement of the mid-thirties of the 20th century by his A wind in the world and thus titled his famous book that brought together essays in which their author saw the possibility of international communist revolution near, taking into account –he believed– that such a thing had already taken place triumphantly in Russia since 1917. So, from spirit to wind, expecting more solid achievements in the near future. But, unfortunately, after Aníbal Ponce died on May 18th, 1938, much of what he believed to be true has turned out to be false, and the collapse of the so-called socialist bloc, including the USSR, in 1991, forced to rethink the historical vision of the communist movement, including the critical distinction about its own authenticity or inauthenticity, as well as what was understood by Marxism. So nowadays we cannot say that after the specter of communism and the wind that travels the world we have great realizations before us or, in other words, resorting to Greek mythology, we do not have in our hands the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides’ tree, the apples of the Sun.
In fact, the historical progress of the communist movement did not take place in the way that Aníbal Ponce believed –and with him a large part of Marxists–, based on the contradictory picture outlined by the ideology of domination described above (on the one hand, with Stalin’s voice and, on the other hand, with those of his Western enemies). Whereas the progressive but increasingly decadent capitalist historical development, which spans the entire planet, has meant the general retreat of humanity and of the communist movement in particular. It happens then that the clarification of what has really been the history of capitalism in the 20th and 21st centuries is yet to be done. So ours is a situation that, if Miguel de Cervantes –so dear to Marx– described it, he would point it out analogous to the siege of Numantia and resort to the need of "undoing wrongs" and of fighting against "monsters and endriagos"; although he would not recommend fighting against windmills and ghost houses; and, if he knew about our contemporary sagas, he would deny that it is about "escaping from the Matrix" but, indeed, about discovering the truth of the world below its great and hallucinatory cover-up, to only thus achieve its authentic transformation. And this to the exact extent that it isn’t possible for it not to be already in progress, as a determined practical negation of all the chains that weigh over the exploited and oppressed of the Earth –let us add in the same realistic and critical spirit of the author of The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha. That is why our situation is presented, also in relation to the aforementioned historiographical task, as an urgent need to cultivate Marx's thought, that is, to recover/reconstruct Marx's thought so as to develop ours according to the specificity of his. Which is nothing else but a consistent development of Marxism as a condition of the development of the authentic communist movement. The cultural project KARL MARX TODAY wishes to advance in this way.