Episode 34: Dunayevskaya on the “Vulgarization of Marxism” and Russian State-Capitalism

Brendan and Andrew take a new look at Raya Dunayevskaya’s 1944 polemic, “A Restatement of Some Fundamentals of Marxism Against Carter’s Vulgarization.” They explore its relevance to vulgarizations of Marxism that we confront today, which identify surface manifestations of capitalism as the system’s essence.

The discussion also situates Dunayevskaya’s contribution within its political-theoretical context—a debate over whether Stalinist Russia was a bureaucratic collectivist or a state-capitalist society. Joseph Carter, a leading Workers Party theorist and proponent of the former view, argued that Russia could not be capitalist because it was not dominated by the “drive for the capitalists for profits,” which he took to be the driving force of capitalist accumulation. It was this claim, especially, that Dunayevskaya regarded as a vulgarization of Marxism.

The episode’s current-events segment is on the Trumpites’ violent insurrection of January 6 to overturn the voters’ will and keep Trump in power, including the economic-populist spin on the coup put forward by David Sirota in Jacobin.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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January 9, 2021

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