[Pnews] Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses – by political prisoner David Gilbert

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 16 17:27:02 EST 2017



  Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses – by David Gilbert,
  political prisoner

January 16, 2017 

by *David Gilbert*


/“Imperialism is piracy […] reorganized, consolidated and adapted to the 
aim of exploiting the natural and human resources of our peoples.”
“[N]obody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary 

– Amilcar Cabral[1] 

One of my biggest joys and most valued activities is corresponding with 
younger-generation—by now it’s generations—white anti-racist activists. 
Most of them identify as anarchist or anti-authoritarian, but knowing my 
history, often ask what I think about Marxism. These activists have been 
mightily turned off by the examples of Marxist-Leninist (M-L) 
organizations in the U.S. which all too often have been characterized by 
dogmatism, sectarianism, and heavily top-down internal power dynamics. 
Political “debate” frequently devolved into each side plucking competing 
quotes from Marx or Lenin or Mao—as though that proved anything. Perhaps 
worst of all, many predominantly white and male “Marxists” used the 
powerful terminology to insist that fighting white and male supremacy 
was “secondary” to the class struggle and that opposing homo- and 
transphobia was irrelevant.

Those examples are rightly rejected by radicals rooted in love for and 
commitment to oppressed and exploited humanity. But what led many of my 
generation to embrace Marxism, in sharp contrast to the above 
misdirections, was the reality that most of the exciting revolutions 
that were sweeping the third world (what’s now called the Global South) 
were led by M-L parties—not Marxism as some musty catechism from 19th 
century Europe but rather as a living tradition being applied and 
developed by modern third world revolutionaries.

A blanket dismissal of Marxism runs the risk of losing some important 
building blocks for analyzing the nature and vulnerabilities of 
capitalism. In addition, my experience during more than 50 years in the 
struggle has shown that those who were able to sustain activism over the 
long and difficult haul often had some foundation in theory and in a 
sense of history.

What follows is not an argument for or against Marxism as the defining 
framework, and it certainly isn’t an attempt to provide an overall or 
in-depth explanation.[ii] 
Instead I want to talk about a few broad concepts which I found very 
useful and still seem very relevant today. Often these ideas are 
markedly different from the more visible versions put forward by various 
predominantly white and male Marxists. (For brevity’s sake I’ll refer to 
those whom I feel distort the analysis in this way with quotes: 
“Marxists.”) Before getting into the heart of this paper, I’ll briefly 
review the path that led me to study and then try to apply Marxism.

*Continue Reading* 

David Gilbert 83-A-6158 Wende Correctional Facility 3040 Wende Road 
Alden, New York 14004-1187

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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