In response to:
Marxmanship from the September 16, 1965 issue
To the Editors:
I do not know whether a production worker has a place in your journal, but I was sufficiently aroused by Mr. Lichtheim’s statement that Marxist humanism is “more suited to the academy than to the organization of a mass movement” (NYR, 9-16) to attempt entry. I take it Mr. Lichtheim himself is a Marxist of some kind or another; he certainly does a good job in exposing the lack of Marxism in Marxism in the Modern World. In contrast to his opposition to the Cold War context of this work, he praises Socialist Humanism, the other book under review from which I quoted the sentence, above, about the unsuitability of Marxist humanism for organizing a labor movement. Why, pray, the air of pessimism, raised to a philosophical level at that? It seems to me that, with the June 17, 1953 East German Revolt, the working people, in rebelling against the work norms set by their Communist bosses, have risked their very lives with slogans like “Bread and Freedom.” It is they, and not the intellectuals, who have established, in life, rather than just in the Bible, that men live not by bread alone. Naturally I’m glad to see that intellectuals, too, are concerned about a philosophy for the masses, but why must they always talk down to us below? May I also ask Mr. Lichtheim why he chose to disregard the one essayist (Raya Dunayevskaya) who does take the debate out of the academy? Finally, while I was glad to see that Mr. Lichtheim does look forward to “the heirs of Antonio Gramsci” making “a fresh start” to unite Eastern and Western socialists, it saddened me to think that his hopes are based on the fact that Marxism is “now out of date”!
Flushing, New York
October 28, 1965