The Basis Of Revolutionary Proletarian Organization

Although the Marxian theories of value, wages, and surplus value can be proved to be basically unsound, they have nevertheless remained alive, and powerful in their impact on current thought, in all sorts of modified and interpreted forms. And although Marx's theory of history was too unbalanced to do effectively what he intended it to do, it has been accepted by many as the most adequate available explanation of history. In both of these spheres Marx, despite the defects and inade­quacies of his work, left influences that have substantially affected the thinking of hundreds of millions of people and the economic and political systems of much of the modern world. It is, however, in the realm where Marx appeared least effective while he lived that his most concrete con­tribution was made. He and his collaborator Engels unquestionably es­tablished the basis of all organized proletarian revolutionary activity that has occurred since they wrote.

A pre-Marxian brand of socialist thought—and even action—played its part in the world of its day and in the establishment of the modern movements of socialism and communism. It was, however, unfitted to cope with the realities of the modern world. It hoped to create a new order without dealing with the world that existed; men were to be transplanted from the world in which they lived into a new one without experiencing the difficult sacrifices necessary to accomplish a transition from the one to the other.

With Marx, this type of Utopian socialism lost its hold on the minds of men and was replaced by what has come to be called "scientific social­ism" or, perhaps better, "realistic socialism." Post-Marxian socialism thor­oughly absorbed the Marxian position that if socialism, and finally full communism, were to be achieved, the proletariat had to come to grips with the realities of the world. There was no easy road to the new so­ciety. Its internal contradictions would destroy capitalism as a form of economic organization, bourgeois democracy falling with it. The proletariat had to face these realities, organize itself, and otherwise prepare to take over the economic and political reins upon the collapse of capitalism. Only if this were done would chaos be avoided. Organization became the central necessity among the proletariat.

The history of the international socialistic and communistic organ­izations of workers during the past century is the history of action for which Marxian theory laid the foundations. Despite the disagreements among these organizations, their numerous internal factions, and their failures, they have continued to live and to act, finding their roots in Marxian theory. Despite the apparent failure of the revolutionary organ­izations with whom he personally was connected, Marx possibly achieved his supreme purpose in laying the basis for international proletarian or­ganization.