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The Cards of Confusion

The Cards of Confusion
Reflections on Historical Communism and
the ‘End of History’

Gregory Elliott
For Tom and Martha, divisibly

… it is well known that History is not a good bourgeois.

Roland Barthes (1957)
An anti-Communist is a cur. I couldn’t see any way out of
that one, and I never will.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1961)

The contemporary topos of the ‘End of History’ has a
distinguished pedigree, ancient and modem, rendering it a
virtual cliche of intellectual culture. * Eschatological and
soteriological doctrines of the Final End have been around
since the very beginning – Christianity, with its distinction
between calendrical and providential time, being only one
such. l Ends come and go; or, as they used to say in Eastern
Europe, ‘the future is certain; the past is unpredictable. ‘

In the twentieth century, the immediate precedent for
current sightings of a cessation or culmination of history is
to be found in Cold War liberalism – in particular, Daniel
Bell’s End of Ideology (1960). The latter, issue amidst the
Khrushchevite switch to ‘peaceful coexistence and competition’ in the USSR, revolved around the postulate of a
convergence between East and West: the tranquil conclusion of the contest between capitalism and socialism as a
result of the post -war’ democratic social revolution’ , which
had solved the riddle of modem history with the reconciliation of liberty and equality, efficiency and humanity, in
regulated capitalism. A less exultant – indeed, bleakly
pessimistic -left-wing version of the thesis was advanced
concurrently, in one of the classics of Western Marxism:

Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1964), which
counterposed an impotent ‘Great Refusal’ to the omnipotence of the ubiquitous ‘technocratic society’.2

* This is the full text of which versions were read at the
Radical Political Thought Conference, ‘Towards the Good
Life’, University of Sussex, and the Rethinking Marxism
Conference, ‘Marxism in the New World Order’, University of Amherst (both November 1992). I am grateful to all
those – Peter Osborne and Fred Halliday, in particular – who
commented on it, however critically, before or after the

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993


For To End Vet Again and Other Fizzles …

The intervening social, cultural and political turbulence of
the 1960s and 1970s having passed without undue perturbation of the OECD order, another variation upon the theme
has emerged in the 1980s. To characterize today’s cultural
climate as one in which’ endism’ is pandemic would doubtless be an exaggeration. And yet the efflorescence of what
might be called the P-word is surely an index of something:

postmodernism, post-structuralism, post-Fordism, post-industrialism … ; the prefix is neither fortuitous, nor innocent.

The final decade of the second millennium AD signals,
according to a certain apocalyptic litany, the death of
communism and socialism, the passing of the working
class, the termination of the Cold War, the waning of
industrial society, and – most portentously of all- the ‘end
of history’. Fin de siecle, aube de siecle – ex.cept that the
contours of the new dawn are only dimly discerned, the
future invariably being depicted as the eternal repetition of
the transitional, untranscendable present: a future of no
future, so to speak.

Considerations of time and tact prevent me saying anything very much about the cultural complex known as
postmodernism. But I do want to indicate two things. Firstly
– and, I imagine, uncontroversially – propositions to the
effect that the West is in passage to a post-industrial society,
a post-Fordist economy, a post-socialist politics, and a postideological culture, wherein post-metaphysical philosophy
comes into its own – these are half-truths, where not outright
falsehoods: symptoms of a late-twentieth-century reality
systematically misrecognized, not adequately conceptualized. Secondly, the class of ’68 which articulates (or recognizes itself in) them coincides, albeit inadvertently and in a
distinct idiom, with Cold War liberalism in its assessment
of the socialist legacy. ‘Post-Marxism’ may locate itself at
the intersection of Heideggerian, Wittgensteinian and poststructuralist trends in philosophy. A neglected feature of its
depreciation of historical materialism, however, is its
unpremeditated antecedent in the thought of Berlin, Popper
and co., who likewise contrasted the philosophico-political
‘pluralism’ of the liberal tradition with the ‘monism’ of
Marxism (even if in defence of the Open Society, rather than
the Democratic Revolution).3 What Richard Rorty calls
‘North Atlantic Postmodern Bourgeois Liberal Democ-


racy’ and North Atlantic Modern Bourgeois Liberal Democracy have more in common than the self-images of the
age, infused with the ‘narcissism of small differences’, care
to acknowledge.

As critics have demonstrated, postmodemist affirmations
of an ‘end of history , – in the shape of the ‘metanarrative of
emancipation’ targeted by Lyotard in The Postmodern
Condition (1979) – succumb to a series of crippling performative contradictions, which prevent them from grasping
their indicated object. 4 The reconfiguration of avant-garde
Anglophone theory leaves much of the Left intelligentsia
carolling the virtues of a meretricious miscellany which, as
has been remarked, would shake all metaphysics (Marxism
included) to the superflux, while leaving material structures
intact (therewith replicating metaphysics in the very gesture
of repudiating it). Today, to assign class an explanatory
status is to invite the charge of ‘classism’; to posit a social
totality (never mind a global system) with organizing principles, that of ‘essentialism’ (‘economism’, should – ultimate sin – one of them be economic); to assign causal
priority (misconstrued as exclusivity) to anything, that of
‘reductionism’; to invoke history (unless tendentiously
serviceable), that of ‘historicism’; to mention science without scare quotes – that of ‘scientism’; and as for
objective knowledge, well, it is known to be passe (undesirable, even were it attainable). Quite how any essay in social
explanation – of necessity, selective (reductive, but not eo
ipso reductionist) – can secure acquittal on the charge of
suppressing’ difference’ is one of the many imponderables,
given the infinite, facilely iconoclastic, spiral inherent in
these premises. A little difference goes a long way …. As
Francis Mulhern has remarked, ‘metaphysics is safe in the
keeping of the disenchanted. ‘5
The intrinsic problem with this sub-Maoism of the
signifier – combining, to quote Mulhern, ‘a fanciful belief
in subversion ordinaire with a knowing disdain for revolutionary ideas, in a mutant creed that might be called anarchoreformism’ – is that it flouts its own protocols. It employs
reason as an instrument of illumination to denounce reason
as an arm of oppression. It deploys a metanarrative – and
one of the tallest, if not greatest, stories ever told – to deliver
metanarrative its quietus. It constructs an expressive social
totality, the entirety of whose phenomena would be
exfoliations of the postmodern essence, therewith trampling pertinent differences underfoot. Disposing of history
historically, of theory theoretically, of ethics ethically, of
politics politically, this intellectual recidivism drafts its
own indictment: de te tabula magna narratur. 6
Viewed in the twilight ofthe idols, what is striking about
Francis Fukuyama’s essay, ‘The End of History?’,7 otherwise so consonant with the ideological Zeitgeist, is its
avoidance of such performative contradictions. Despite
following Derrida’ s lectures in Paris, Fukuyama reverts to
the French Hegelianism – metanarratives of speculation
and emancipation, par excellence – against which, so the
standard intellectual history runs, (post -) structuralism was
largely directed. Fukuyama, I want to argue, borrowing
Blake’s verdict on Milton,S is, in at least two senses, ‘of the
Devil’s party without knowing it’: a circumstance which
may account for the hostility or suspicion with which his


original article of 1989 was greeted on the Right.

Fukuyama is of the Devil’ s party analytically, insofar as
he has resurrected totalizing (and globalizing) theory as an
indispensable mode of conceptualization of the’ One World’

impending on the threshold of the twenty-first century. His
work displays the arresting paradox of a (post -)Cold War
liberal political individualism whose historicist philosophical framework, with its holism and teleologism, was anathematized by his Anglo-American predecessors as the royal
‘road to serfdom’. For them moral-political individualism
entailed methodological individualism, while teleological
prospects dictated ‘totalitarian’ results. By the norms of
mainstream Anglophone philosophy Fukuyama is culpable
of the kind of dialectical metaphysics extirpated by the
inter-war ‘analytical’ (counter-)revolution. 9
Fukuyama is of the Devil’s party politically, insofar as
he has punctured some of the historical amnesia induced by
the Right during the 1980s. For, truth belying comfort,
Fukuyama reminds us what was at stake in the Second Cold
War: a comprehensive reversal of the consequences of the
Second World War in the First World (Keynesian welfare
capitalism); in the Second (the existence and performance
of Stalinism); in the Third (the defeat of colonialism). As
Fred Halliday has written, ‘The actions of the Reagan
Administration and its allies in Europe sought to reverse
these consequences, using the recession, anti -communism,
and historical amnesia to impose a new set of values and
policies on the world. ’10 They have largely succeeded; and
Fukuyama’s is one, especially ambitious endeavour to
prospect the ‘New World Order’ arising upon the ruins of
formerly existing socialism: the only actual socialism,
helas, that we have known.

After the Deluge
‘A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism.’ 11 Overly optimistic, historically, at the moment of its
composition, the opening line of the Communist Manifesto
was, by its centennial in 1948, unduly pessimistic geographically, as accomplished or imminent revolutions in
Asia compounded the post -war transplantation of Stalinism
from one country to a whole geographical zone, occasioning
the Cold War in concerted Western response. Some four
decades (and a second Cold War) further on, the ghost has
been exorcized. The spectre haunting the world today is not
the end of ‘prehistory’ envisaged by Marx, but the ‘end of
history’ envisioned by Fukuyama: the global apotheosis as opposed to the global abolition – of capitalism. 12 The main
premise of the Manifesto might be thought to have been
vindicated, close to a century and a half later, while its
consequent has been informed en route. The predicted
global expansion of capitalism has finally transpired, but in
such a way as to eliminate its principal twentieth-century
impediment: ‘historical Communism’, tributary to the Bolshevik Revolution – ‘the moment when’ (according to
Edmund Wilson) ‘for the first time in the human exploit the
key of a philosophy of history was to fit an historical lock ‘ . 13
For another right -Hegelian philosophy of history, capitalism has vanquished its secular antagonist – actually
existing socialism – ‘in the East, and dug the gra~e of its

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993


appointed gravedigger – the proletariat – in the West,
allegedly rendering socialism utopian (for lack of agency
and rationality as a goal), and Marxism redundant (for want
of explanatory or normative purchase). The knell of socialized public property has sounded: the expropriators are
expropriating. 14 Satirizing a ‘scientific socialism’ which
certified the inevitability of the classless future, the French
Communist Paul Nizan had written in 1938 of a ‘world
destined for great metamorphoses’: great metamorphoses
the reverse of those foreseen have supervened. 15 What, for
Fukuyama, do they consist in?

In sum, the ‘epic of transition’ heralded by Lenin amid
the ‘highest stage of capitalism’ has proved to be a mere
divertimento. Sundown having fallen on the Union,
Minerva’s owl spreads its wings and espies the materialization ofKant’s ‘Universal History’: ‘an unabashed victory of
economic and political liberalism ‘ over its ‘world-historical’ competitors, portending a ”’Common Marketization”
of world politics’, or ‘liberal democracy in the political
sphere combined with easy access to stereos and VCRs in
the economic’. Following Hegel, then, for Fukuyama ‘the
History of the World is none other than the progress of the
consciousness of Freedom’; 16 and that consciousness has
prevailed. The ‘triumph of the West’ – or of the ‘Western
idea’ , at any rate – has concluded history, not in the sense
of bringing empirical events to an abrupt halt (these will
continue); but in the sense of realizing a goal: ‘freedom’ as
the ‘end point ofmankind’s ideological evolution’. (Culmination, not cessation: to mobilize two Americanisms, ‘endtimes’ are ‘quality time’ .) The end of history is the end of
ideology, for the consummation of one universal ideology.

History with a capital ‘H’ – construed as a Kampfplatz
between competing universal ideologies, ’embodied’ (so
Fukuyama stipulates) ‘in important social or political forces
and movements … which are therefore part of world history’

– has arrived at its terminus. Contrary to Plekhanov’ s
classical Marxist assurance that ‘We, indeed, know our way
and are seated in the historical train which at full speed takes
us to our goal’ ,17 the train of history has terminated not at the
Finland Station, but at the nearest hypermarket. All roads
lead to Disney land… Sartre’ s projected dystopia in the
event of the defeat of Stalinism in post-war France has come
to pass: ‘the universe will be bourgeois.’ 18
Given Fukuyama’ s construction of’ History’ , the myriad
malcontents of post-historical civilization, whatever their
visibility or volubility, represent no challenge to his basic
thesis. As he himself argued in an article on the Gulf War
(baldly entitled ‘Forget Iraq – History is over’), apparent
discomfiture of his speculations in the event supplied substantiation of them; failing even to hegemonize Arab nationalism, Iraqi Ba’ athism was scarcely a world-historical
force. The ‘strange thoughts occur[ring] to people in Albania or Burkina Faso’ – we should now have to substitute the
former Yugoslavia or India – are impotent before the march
of history. The ‘past’ is unpredictable; the future is certain:

an Americanization of the planet – a ‘universal homogeneous state’ of liberal capitalist democracy – from which
system-threatening antagonisms (or contradictions) have
been eliminated. Contra Hegel, the Earth forms a sphere
and capitalist history is describing a circle around it.

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

Not that this triumph prompts a triumphalist tone. Indeed, Fukuyama’s article strikes an elegiac note in conclusion: ‘The end of history will be a very sad time’, bereft of
the ‘struggle for recognition’ and the audacity it elicited
from human beings, and reduced to consumerism and
technocracy. To conjugate the terms that provide the title of
Fukuyama’s book-length expansion of the prospectus, the
Hegelian End of History will be inhabited by Nietzschean
Last Men, wedded to their ‘pitiable comfort’ or (in De
Tocqueville’s fastidious phrase from Democracy in
America) ‘trivial and vulgar pleasures’ .19 A narcissistic
culture of conspicuous self-consumption – ‘Dionysus in
Disneyland’?20- is condemned to the spiritual vices of its
material benefits.

Mystical Shell and Rational Kernel
When, in a Postface to the second edition of Volume One of
Capital, Marx sought to specify his relationship to the
Hegelian dialectic, he famously contended that via its
‘inversion’ he had ‘discovere[ed] the rational kernel within
the mystical shell’ .21 I want to attempt an analogous operation with the ersatz Hegelian dialectic of Fukuyama.

A first – and pervasive – objection to the thesis has been
its apparent irrefutability. What evidence, if any, could
refute it? Or is it, consequent upon the definition of ‘History’, a vacuity, immune to contradiction? This, to backtrack, is the gravamen of the critique of metanarratives
stricto sensu. Lest anyone think that I am now praising what
I had earlier damned, it should be noted that the single most
influential contemporary form of Marxism -Althusserianism
– was precisely based upon dissent from Orthodox Historical materialism, with its epic tale of the forward march of
the productive forces towards an ineluctable communism,
on the grounds that it was a ‘materialist’ inversion of
Hegel’s philosophy of history – starring the Ruse of Economic Reason – which secreted a mystical kernel within a
technological shell. 22 As Edward Thompson memorably
satirized this’ diabolical and hysterical mysterialism’ in his
verse on the Emperor of Ch’ in: ‘However many the Emperor
slewffhe scientific historian/(While taking note of contradiction)/Affirms productive forces grew.’

For Althusser the abiding sin of philosophies of history
reposed in their incorrigibly narrative structure, which
plotted a story with a hero and an appointed end. Literally
telling stories, even (or especially) under the guise of
Marxism, these ‘philosophical novels’ necessarily abstracted
from the complexities of the specific historical conjuncture
which it was the explanatory task of an authentically historical materialism to elucidate at any given time, so as to
furnish the objective knowledge of a ‘concrete situation’

indispensable to any responsible political practice aspiring
to transform it for the better. Philosophical novelists were
no more adequate a guide to action than the ‘alchemists of
revolution’ derided by Marx. Capital- the ‘Book in which
the Second International read the fatality of the advent of
socialism as if in a Bible ’23 – supplied, so Althusser maintained, the requisite corrective: the opening up of the
‘continent of History’ to scientific exploration.

Just as the founding gesture of Althusserianism was


rejection of the Stalinist-Marxist prolongation of the philosophy of history in a ‘right-Hegelian’ version – economism
as raison d’ etat – so too it refused the option of a ‘leftHegelian’ variant by way of anti-Stalinist response – humanism as raison de la revolution. Before Althusser was
Althusser, as long ago as 1950, he declined a central
postulate of the Hegelian Marxism nourished by Kojeve’ s
Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1947): the notion of
an end of history. Reproving Jean H yppolite’ s attribution
– reiterated by Fukuyama – of an Hegelian postulate to
Marx, the young Althusser insisted that the latter had
conceived communism as the end of ‘prehistory’ – historically determinate economic alienation/exploitation – and
not the end of history – some realm from which the dialectic
and contradictions would have vanished, ushering in universal harmony.24 A ‘process without a subject or goal(s)’,
to use the specifically Althusserian category, history was
not agonistic alienation – the descent from primitive communism into class society – or its irenic sublation – the
realization of the classless goal present in germ at the origin.

To the irreducible complexity of the historical process
corresponded the constitutive complexity of any communist society which might arise from it. Notoriously, communism would not be marked by the end of ideology.

Althusser’s critique of the philosophy of history tout court
as (bourgeois) historicism – an Enlightenment progressivism which has no place in historical materialism – is
scarcely unprecedented within the Marxist tradition. Repudiation of it is central to Walter Benjamin’s ‘Theses on
History’, which detected in Social-Democratic theory and
practice a ‘concept of the historical progress of mankind
[which] cannot be sundered from the concept of its progression through a homogeneous, empty time’. 25
The first dimension to Fukuyama’s mystical shell, then,
is what Althusser identified as the mystical kernel ofHegelian
Marxism (and which is preserved intact in this inversion of
the inversion): the very notion that History harbours goals
and progressively realizes them – be they the Soviet Communism indicated by Kojeve in the aftermath of Stalingrad
(Comrade History); or the Western liberalism identified by
Fukuyama after the deluge (Citizen – or is it Sovereign
Consumer? – History). As regards the latter, it is worth
remembering that Hegel, let alone Kojeve, was – dialectically – anti-liberal, rejecting the social contractarianism
and individualist pluralism of the classical liberal tradition.

Trotsky had claimed that the revolutionary-socialist movement ‘leads humanity from out the dark night of the circumscribed 1′; for Fukuyama its eradication heralds the radiant
dawn of the circumscribed 1. 26
A second area of contention concerns Fukuyama’ s quite
non-Hegelian understanding of ‘contradictions’. For him,
unlike Hegel and Marx, contradictions are exogenous to
systems, not endogenous to them. The relevant contradictions are inter-systemic (between systems), as opposed to
intra-systemic (within systems). Hence the transition from
a bi -polar world system, principally structured by the antagonism between capitalism and historical Communism,
to a multi-polar world system, comprising competing
capitalisms – a restoration, in other words, of the pre-war
primacy of intra-systemic contradictions – is read as an


elimination of significant contradictions. A certain historical myopia construes the exception – the post-Second
World War composition of capitalist differences for the
pursuit of the ‘great contest’ – as the norm. Yet historical
Communism was one product of – a response to – a
capitalist ascendancy riven by antagonisms so acute as to
plunge the world into two cataclysmic wars in the span of
a mere quarter-century. Communism was given its chance
in 1917 by liberalism (not to mention Social-Democracy).

It came into existence promising to resolve the chronic
problems generated by the’ combined and uneven development’ of capitalism. It manifestly bequeaths those problems
– social inequality, global inequity and ecological despoliation – to liberal capitalism which, if its immediate horizons
stretch no further than ‘ready access to stereos and VCRs’

on a planetary scale, is doomed to exacerbate them. One
competitive capitalist world, in which survival is strictly
reserved for the fittest, is an unpromising formula for

If Fukuyama is able to exclude systemic intra-capitalist
contradictions from his panorama, it is as a result of the
sleight of hand whereby Fascism is assimilated to Communism – a standard Cold War move, of course (the trope of
‘totalitarianism’) – and both are counterposed to capitalism.27 This conveniently dissimulates the historical reality
that, the parliamentary road to Fascism having proved
considerably more fecund than that to socialism, Fascism
was a general tendency ofpre-warcapitalism. Horkheimer’s
dictum assumes a new urgency: those who do not wish to
speak of capitalism should keep silent about Fascism – just
as, I would argue, anyone who has nothing to say on the
subject of imperialism is disqualified from pronouncing on
Stalinism. One would not guess it from Fukuyaina, but on
the fiftieth anniversary of Stalingrad there is less excuse for
neglecting an uncomfortable fact: namely, that Stalinismand not liberalism, which had collapsed in the ‘thirty years
civil war’ of 1914-45 – vanquished European Fascism,
therewith, paradoxically, laying the foundations for the
revivalofliberalismafter 1945. 28 ‘Progress,’ to quote Freud,
, … allied itself with barbarism’ on the Eastern Front, where
the Red Army eventually halted – and then broke – the
hitherto invincible Wehrmacht.

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

Fukuyama may be an unreliable guide to the past; most
criticisms of him centre on the present, however. And it is
here – in Fukuyama’s reading of contemporary history that the rational kernel of his thesis is to be found. Setting
aside the discursive alchemy whereby, capitalism supposedly no longer being capitalism, it cannot be said to have
triumphed, we may attend to the converse consolation:

namely, that formerly existing socialism not having been
socialism, the latter cannot be claimed to have suffered a
setback – indeed, can only benefit from a termination of a
travesty and tragedy in the East.

Regrettably, this line of critique seems to me seriously
misplaced. It is true that the Second World was not, nor had
ever been, socialist, and would have failed the most cursory
inspection of its credentials by Marx and Engels. Moreover,
contemporary capitalism might appear to furnish – in the
classical Marxist schema – the material and social preconditions for international socialism (thus permitting an
Hegelian-Marxist philosophy of history to construe it as
returning to the main line after a secular detour via peripheral tracks. It may be supposed also that, quite the reverse
of being utopian, the vision of a global socialist order is the
new realism dictated by the immense challenges besetting
humanity, so that the alternative lies between a renovated
socialism or a resurgent barbarism. If, in all these respects,
the collapse of historical Communism removes the Stalinist
incubus – the calamitous descent of socialism into barbarism in the twentieth century – which has functioned as one
of the main impediments to the struggle for human emancipation; nevertheless, notwithstanding all this, in the current
conjuncture that collapse constitutes a decisive defeat for
socialism, which may be the abstract order of the day, but
which is nowhere on the concrete agenda. Why?

First we may note the efficacious propagation of the
Cold War equation: Socialism = Stalinism = (optimally)
Penury + Tyranny – an imposture sufficiently credible, in
the foreseeable future, to inoculate not only those recently
liberated from the ‘prison of peoples’, but many more
besides, against the socialist plague. Its prosperity derives
not solely from the depradations of Stalinism, but from the
palpable absence of any feasible and desirable alternative to
it as a non-capitalist societal future. For the disappearance
of the international Communist movement has not redounded to the benefit of Social-Democracy, whose own
crisis has rather been accentuated by it. Having long ago
renounced its vocation – the’ democratic-socialist’ resolution
of the problems that induced the birth of Communism Social-Democracy has defaulted on its pledge of a humanization of capitalism: good for little more than winning
elections, it is no longer good at that. Thus, what has
occurred in the 1980s is the extinction or exhaustion of the
two central traditions of socialist politics in the twentieth
century – without anything plausible emerging to fill the
vacuum. 29 And capitalist nature abhors a vacuum.

Alternatives to Communism and Social-Democracy futures for socialism that could clear its name, rehabilitate
its reputation – have come and gone with alarming regularity. Restricting the focus to contemporary history, the
spectacular promise of ‘1968’ – the global return of the
revolutionary repressed in punctual refutation of Marcuse ‘s

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

prognosis – was flagrantly breached. A conjuncture marked
by the triple crisis of imperialism in the Third World (the
Vietnamese Tet), of Stalinism in the Second (the Prague
Spring), and of capitalism in the First (the Parisian May),
seemingly resynchronized dialectical theory and the historical dialectic. The harvest of May dissevered them once
more. In the East the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia
brutally arrested de-Stalinization, irremediably disfiguring
‘socialism with a human face’. In the West an unexpectedly
resilient liberal capitalism surmounted yet another ‘terminal’ crisis, condemning the Fourth International(s), renascent in these years, to a protracted death-agony, once the
Spanish transition and Portuguese Revolution had incorporated the Iberian Peninsula into Western Europe. Among
the bitterest fruits for the revolutionary class of ’68 was the
failure of elective Third-W orldist alternatives to the Soviet
model: the exposure of the Chinese Cultural Revolution as
a virulent Oriental compound of Zhdanovschina and
Yezhovschina, prior to its replacement by Dengist market
Stalinism; the involution of the Cuban regime in the aftermath of Guevara’s ill-fated Bolivian expedition and the
failure of the ’10 million tons’ campaign in 1970; the
murderous dispensation of the Khmers Rouges in
Kampuchea Year Zero; Vietnam’s embroilment, courtesy
of Cambodian incursions and Chinese invasion, in wars
with two ‘fraternal countries’ within years of the liberation
of Saigon.

The imitation, rather than the supersession, of the Soviet
experience – amounting, in some cases, to the repetition of
history as worse tragedy – could, in every instance, only
discredit (as well as demoralize) those who had hitched
their socialism to the red star over Peking, Havana, or
Hanoi. With the passing of such reveries, the Soviet experience appeared exemplary, not aberrant – the ‘totalitarian’

corollary of’ totalizing’ politics: in E. M. Forster’ s cheering
liberal rendition, ‘programmes mean pogroms’ . At all events,
what cannot be gainsaid is the record of failure of socialism,
West and East, North and South, in the twentieth century,
prompting perception of it as utopian (unviable) or dystopian
(undesirable). Writing in Le Monde in October 1991, the
Spanish ex-Communist Jorge Semprun suggested that ‘today we are confronted with this reality: the society in which
we live is an untranscendable horizon. ‘ Wittingly or not, his
terms echoed a slogan with which the 1960s had opened Sartre’s celebrated characterization of Marxism as ‘the
untranscendable philosophy of our time’ – while reversing
its verdict: the adventures of the dialectic vindicate’ dialectical’ theory a la Fukuyama, not a la Sartre. 30
What, however, of the post-Marxist intelligentsia who
would point to the ‘new social movements’, rather than the
old socialist movement, as the bearer(s) of an emancipatory
politics? Granted, it might be said, that socialism as traditionally conceived is dead, but what of its recasting, for
example, as one moment of a more capacious project for a
‘radical and plural democracy’ – a goal involving the
extension of the liberty and equality borne by the ‘democratic revolution’ of 1789 to other sets of social relations
(economic, sexual, ethnic, etc.), and a concomitant
pluralization of political agency, beyond the (diminishing)
ranks of the industrial working class, to other social forces?31


The answer is simple: lacking the requisite agency, organization and strategy, these are not – and are not set to become
– (counter-)hegemonic forces of the kind required to refute
the Fukuyama thesis. In the absence of articulation and
mobilization of the anti -capitalist’ general interest’ to which
their concerns ultimately point, hegemony will be endured,
not forged. 32 Moreover, those on the Left who detect a silver
lining in acid-rain clouds, drawing solace from the putative
fatality inscribed in capitalist accumulation (viz., its destruction of the ecological preconditions for its own reproduction), overlook the fact that ‘environmentalism’ precisely possesses no necessary class belonging. In and through
its very ‘universalism’, it is socially indeterminate compatible, in the medium term at any rate, with a grotesquely
inegalitarian and authoritarian global capitalist order.

Not least among the reasons for a certain scepticism
about the’ new social movements’ as a contestant of the new
order is their own manifest crisis (invariably neglected by
those who harp on the crisis of the labour movement) and
eclipse by some very old social movements: the furies of
communalism, fundamentalism, nationalism, etc., their
militantly particularist dystopias stamped with the mark of
exclusion. And yet, if the prominence of regressive social
movements on the current world scene contributes to the
disconsolation of socialists, does it not simultaneously
discountenance Fukuyama’ s prospectus – the beneficent
global diffusion of liberal commerce? Yes and no. Yes: the
‘Common Marketization’ of global politics is a fanciful
projection (we need look no further than the present
Maastricht imbroglio of the Common Market itself). No:

for almost by definition, they are not of the requisite
‘universal’ character. Furthermore, the occasional rhetorical declamation notwithstanding, they are scarcely anticapitalist, offering no alternative to the economic’ modernization’ – le dur commerce – of whose contradictions and
dislocations they are a symptom, rather than a solvent. The
dialectic of Enlightenment qualifies, but does not contradict, the Fukuyama thesis.

bourgeois-democratic state (the parties ofthe Second International), or a bureaucratic-centralist machine (those of the
Third). In the advanced capitalist states it has not hit upon
a strategy for a transition beyond welfare capitalism (and
could not prevent a regression behind it); the reformist route
has proved ineffectual, the revolutionary road chimerical.

Where it has gained power (or office), its programmes have
not realised the goal envisaged by Marx: the economic,
political and cultural supersession of liberal capitalism. In
the West, Social-Democracy humanised capitalism, but did
not abolish it; and utilized the liberal-representative state,
but did not fundamentally transform it. In the East, where
(as Trotsky would have it) history took the line of least
resistance, Communism abolished capitalism, but substituted
the command economy; and uprooted despotic states, but
established authoritarian regimes. The social agent identified by socialists as possessing the requisite combination of
a material interest in, and a structural capacity for, the
achievement of socialism – the industrial working class has not performed the role allotted it in the classical scripts.

Notwithstanding recurrent economic militancy, and intermittent political radicalism, it has largely ceded composition of the ‘poetry of the future’ to the institutions of
formerly existing socialism and actually existing SocialDemocracy.

The results of socialism to date, then, might be tersely
summarised as ‘the painful failure of revolution in the West
and the almost equally painful success of revolution in the
East’ .34 And yet there is more to be said about what must
now be characterized as the even more painful failure of
revolution in the East. For if much of the Left consistently
underestimated the durability and vitality of capitalism, as
a result of its disastrous record from 1914 to 1945, it
similarly discounted the significance of historical Communism. Not to the extent that it constituted an obstacle to
socialism in the West, given its dire record in numerous
respects; but insofar as it possessed, in addition to much that
was simply deplorable and unforgiveable, what Lucio Magri
has called ‘another side’:

Results and Prospects

A historical experience is now ending in painful
defeat – an experience which, both materially and in
terms of ideas, served sometimes as a model and in
any case as a reference point for broad movements of
liberation. It is now fashionable in the West, even on
the Left, to treat that connection as a thoroughly
harmful product of manipulation or folly – that is, to
consider the October Revolution and its sequel not as
a process which degenerated in stages but as a regression ab origine, or a pile of rubble. But the historical
reality is rather different. First Stalinism, then the
authoritarian power of a bureaucratic, imperial caste,
were one side of that historical process …. But for
decades another side also continued to operate: the
side of national independence; the spread of literacy,
modernization and social protection across whole
continents; the resistance to fascism and victory over
it as a general tendency of capitalism; support for and
actual involvement in the liberation of three-quarters
of humanity from colonialism; containment of the
power of the mightiest imperial state. 35

With the destruction of actually existing socialism – the
eradication of the Second World and its ongoing integration
into the First – we are witnessing the elimination, possibly
only temporary, of socialism as a world-historical movement. ‘Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht: world history is the final arbiter of right,’ Fukuyama, invoking
Kojeve, proclaims in his book. 33 We need not accept that
economic might is political right. But it would be paradoxical,
to say the least, were professed historical materialists to
evade the reality that world history is the final arbiter of
might – or the conclusion that, relative to the projections of
classical Marxism, socialism is utopian once again: a desirable future confronting an unamenable present.

By any realistic calculation, the ‘intelligence enough to
conceive, courage enough to will, power enough to compel’

adduced as prerequisites of socialism by William Morris are
wanting today. In none of its significant embodiments has
socialism succeeded in inventing a mass political organization that did not degenerate into either a simulacrum of the


Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

To speak thus, controverting a certain anti-Communist
commonsense on the Left, is to court the charge of ‘closet
Stalinism’. For is it not to identify a socialism deserving of
the name with formerly existing socialism? To accept the
sometime Soviet Union and its satellites at their own
mendacious (and now definitively repudiated) self-valuation? To deny the reality of an odious system whose crimes
have besmirched the reputation of socialism the world
over? One might as well come out of the closet: the
unequivocal response is ‘no’. It is to insist that, whereas
Social-Democracy had already sold the pass at the outbreak
of the First World War and again at its conclusion, its
derelictions marked by the social patriotism of August 1914
and – arguably the most significant date in twentiethcentury socialist history – the German October manque of
November 1918; had proved unequal to the test of the
Second World War, when it effectively disintegrated; was
restricted to the advanced capitalist world (Europe and
Australasia); and matched its accommodations to capitalism at home by collusion with imperialism abroad, enthusiasticall y prosecuting the Cold War against the Second and
Third Worlds – by contrast, the record of Communism was
significantly different, offering some support for Shaw’s
contention that’ a Bolshevik … is nothing but a socialist who
wants to do something about it. ’36
Crudely inventoried, the existence and performance of
historical Communism were positive in three crucial respects.37 First and foremost – as has already been indicated
– in the resistance to, and defeat of, European fascism: a fact
incontrovertible by any amount of Cold War mythology and
accounting for the prestige in which the Soviet model was
held after 1945, Stalingrad constituting an even more potent
symbol than Petrograd. Had the Swastika been run up over
Moscow or Leningrad, it might still be flying over Paris or
Prague. 38 Second, in the subsequent emergence of the Third
World and its protection thereafter. As N oam Chomsky has
argued, the rational kernel of ‘deterrence theory’ is to be
found here: i.e., in the Soviet deterrent to imperialist designs
on the South. 39 Where that deterrence failed to avert US
intervention, the forces confronting it prevailed only when
sustained by the Second World: the tanks that entered
Saigon in April 1975 were made – and where else? – in the
USSR. A third – and final- merit of historical Communism
was its role in precipitating the post-war compromise in the
First World itself; the presence, within and without, of the
‘red menace’ weighed decisively in the meliorist reconstruction of Europe – counter-cyclical economic regulation,
full employment, welfare services, universal suffrage, etc.

– after Liberation.

Considerations such as these explain why it was rational,
given the dilemma of les mains sales, to opt for Communism or, in the manner of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, for
‘anti-anti-Communism’ .40 To wash one’s hands of the
Communist movement was to risk dirtying them with
something else – the implacable domination of capital- or
to elect for political innocence at the cost of historical
impotence. To the predictably adverse impact upon the
reputation of socialism of any collapse of historical Communism must be added, then, a second fundamental reason
for looking to a regeneration of the revolution where it had

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

degenerated: the contradictory character, internally and
externally, of Communism as a historical phenomenon.

Today, of course, it is fashionable to sneer that the USSR
amounted to little more than an ‘Upper Volta with rockets’.

But we should remember that the rate of extensive, quantitative economic growth achieved by it -levels of ‘stagnation’ which M. S. Gorbachev would have done better to
emulate at home, than impugn abroad – rendered it a potent
force in the late 1950s and 1960s, when Khrushchevite deStalinization was underway, provoking some saturnine
reflections from Harold Macmillan on the prospects for the
Free World. In retrospect, the Soviet Union was clearly
losing in the ‘peaceful competition’ with the West. And yet
it imploded when apparently quite strong – in the aftermath
of a wave of anti -imperialist revolutions in the Third World,
in the 1970s. The USA had anxiously anticipated a domino
effect in the South; the subsequent domino effect in the East
was not expected by friends or foes. Sputnik ultimately gave
way to Chernobyl; the latter was as much of a surprise as the

The last rites and ceremonies of the Cold War disclosed
its systemic character: a great, but unequal, contest between
opposed socio-economic and political systems, initiated by
the Bolshevik Revolution. That contest has concluded, as
predicted by Fukuyama, in the unqualified victory of capitalism, bringing an era – the era opened by 1917 – to a close.

Sundown on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on
Christmas Day, 1991 – coda to a tragi-comic coup which
hastened the denouement it vainly sought to deflect means, for the time being at any rate, goodbye to all that,
North and South. In his ‘Theses on History’, completed in
the unrelieved gloom of spring 1940, Benjamin wrote:

‘Even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins;
and this enemy has not ceased to be victorious. ’41 In the
intervening half-century, the enemy ceased to be victorious: but only when and where the forces contesting capitalism and imperialism mustered under, or subsequently rallied to, the banners of the international Communist movement. In winding up the Cold War journal Problems of
Communism last year, the US State Department filed an
affidavit for the counter-hegemonic role of historical
Communism. It would be paradoxical, to say the least, were
the post-Communist Left, by traducing its memory, to
sacrifice some of the dead to the enemy.


To the Watchtower
At the height of the first Cold War, in 1950, Isaac Deutscher
wrote a review of The God That Failed which, mutatis
mutandis, contains some salutary advice for those of us for
whom the Communist movement has figured among the
ties that bind:

It seems that the only dignified attitude the intellectual ex-Communist can take is to rise au-dessus de la
melee. He cannot join the Stalinist camp or the antiStalinist Holy Alliance without doing violence to his
better self. So let him stay outside any camp. Let him
try to regain critical sense and intellectual detachment. Let him overcome the cheap ambition to have
a finger in the political pie. Let him be at peace with
his own self at least, if the price he has to pay for
phony peace with the world is self-renunciation and
self-denunciation. This is not to say that the exCommunist … should retire into the ivory tower ….

But he may withdraw into a watchtower instead. To
watch with detachment and alertness this heaving
chaos of a world, to be on a sharp lookout for what is
going to emerge from it, and to interpret it sine ira et
studio …. 42
In the spirit, but without the equanimity or eloquence, of
Deutscher, I want to conclude by briefly identifying some
‘ironies of history , – ironies which ‘post-history’ is unlikely
to be spared – that dictate an ultimate reservation of judgement about the prospects for Fukuyama’ s thesis.

Firstly, then, if it is the case that Stalinism rescued
liberalism at the mid-point of the century, this is sufficient
to indicate that, whilst a week in British party politics may
be a long time, fifty years in geo-politics is shorter than we
think – though not for the human beings fated to live and die
in unredeemed historical time. Half a century hence, socialism might – just might – have staged as dramatic a comeback as its antagonist. 43 But one precondition of any future
peripeteia is an adequate explanation of its current effacement from the global scene: the coolly realistic message
conveyed by Fukuyama.

Secondly, the scope of the ongoing reversal of the
verdicts of World War Two arguably far exceeds the humbling of Communism. In 1945 the ‘Big Three’ defeated the
Axis Powers. But if Britain’s political and economic declension was sealed in the very act of ‘winning’ the war,
courtesy of American dollars and Soviet arms; and if the
USSR, having been promoted to global ‘superpower’ status
by its role in the conflict, has been erased, these do not entail
that a Pax Americana has succeeded Cold War and Pax
Britannica alike. One verdict of 1945 has been reversed
with the erasure of the Eastern bloc, leaving capitalism in
possession of the field. The end of that history does not,
however, betoken a New World Order in which the New
World, untrammelled, gives the orders. As was demonstrated to sanguinary and deterrent effect in the Gulf, the
USA is the world’s only military superpower. Yet its
military prepotency was already implicit in the outcome of
the First World War – prompting those endists avant la lettre,
the authors of 1066 and All That, to conclude (in a chapter
entitled ‘A Bad Thing’): ‘America was thus clearly top

nation, and History cane to a . ’44 Militarily uni-polar, so to
speak, the contemporary world is multi -polar economic all y.

Within the inter-imperialist system that always persisted
alongside the inter-systemic competition between historical Communism and capitalism, the USA is arguably no
longer hegemon (as its search for subventions to finance the
Gulf War attests).45 With an impeccable sense of occasion,
George Bush was laid low in Japan, as if in psychosomatic
display of the anxiety that the US is set to repeat the postwar trajectory of the UK. For at its political meridian – the
very moment of its ‘unabashed victory’ over the Evil
Empire – America’s economic descent – derivative, in part
at least, from the’ over-extension’ attendant upon prosecution
of the Cold War – has been cruelly exposed to the light of
day. The Soviet challenge has been met and routed; yet the
means required for that end may portend the eclipse of the
USA. Like Great Britain, the US may have won a war only
at the cost of losing the ensuing peace – to the vanquished
of 1945, with Germany at the centre of the EC trading bloc
and Japan the nodal point of the Pacific Rim. There is no
success like failure …

Thirdly, and finally, if this (or anything approximating
to it) is the case, it throws into relief a possibility left
unexplored by Fukuyama: that at the end of the twentieth
century, the world – and not just Europe – may be reverting
to something like the pre-1914 situation, when the
antagonisms and rivalries mining the Belle epoque issued in
the’ war to end all wars’. The’ landmines laid by the past ’46
have been detonated in the East; those being laid the world
over by the present may turn out to be no less explosive.

‘The future lasts a long time,’ de Gaulle once remarked. If
so, it may be ‘a very sad time’ – prehistory all over again;
or, alternatively, one in which, it having pro”Vedo necessary
to reinvent communism, an answer to barbarism may be
discovered. ‘In my end is by beginning’?47 Perhaps.

Meanwhile, Spinoza’s injunction obtains: the point is neither to rejoice nor to deplore, but to understand. Understanding achieved, there will be all the time in the world for
celebration – or lamentation.


See, for example, Frank Kermode, The Sense of An Ending,
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1967.

‘The critical theory of society possesses no concepts which
could bridge the gap between the present and its future; holding
no promise and showing no success, it remains negative. Thus
it wants to remain loyal to those who, without hope, have given
and give their life to the Great Refusal ‘: One-Dimensional Man,
Beacon Press, Boston, 1964, p. 257.


Compare Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies (two
volumes, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1945) and The
Poverty of Historicism (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London,
1957) with Emesto Laclau, New Reflections on the Revolution
of Our Time (Verso, London, 1990). There is an excellent discussion of Cold War liberalism in Anthony Arblaster, The Rise
and Decline of Western Liberalism, Basil Blackwell, Oxford,
1984, chapter 18.


Cf., inter alia, Alex Callinicos, Against Postmodernism, Polity
Press, Cambridge, 1990.

Francis Mulhem Introduction to idem., ed., Contemporary
Marxist Literary Criticism, Longman, London, 1992, p. 36. Cf.

Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, Verso,
London, 1992.


Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993



Mulhern, op. cit., p. 17. The comments above should not be
construed as a wholesale rejection of French philosophical
modernism. There is a world of difference (for once) between
the original meditations on anti-method of FoucauIt or Derrida,
and the kind of deliquescent Derridadaism or illegible Lacanglais
spawned by their eclectic assimilation into the cultural studies
departments of the Anglo-American academy. Nevertheless,
some of the aporias of the former are reproduced, in exasperated
form, in the latter. They might be summarized as follows: a
discursive idealism, tributary to the linguistics of de Saussure,
which, eliding epistemological and ontological categories,
conflates the theory-dependence of knowledge ofthe world with
the theory-dependence ofthe world; an epistemological relativism impaled on the traditional fork – viz., that if relativism in
general is true, then no particular statement of it can claim to be;
but if the particular statement of it is true, then that suffices to
refute the generalization – and an ethical relativism subversive
of the normative claims to which post-structuralism, despite
itself, is prone; a perspectivism, of Nietzschean provenance,
which fallaciously deduces the incommensurability of theories
from their historical, social and cultural specificity; a hyperbolic
anti-naturalism, which trades in biological essentialism for a
nominalist cuIturalism. Of the many critiques of post-structuralism, see especially Peter Dews,Logics ofDisintegration, Verso,
London, 1987.

Originally published in The National Interest 16, Summer 1989;
reprinted in Kenneth M. Jensen, ed., A Look at the End of History, Washington, D.e, 1990. Among the critical literature it
has provoked, I have learned most from Joseph McCarney,
‘History under the Hammer’, Times Higher Education Supplement, 1 December 1989, and ‘Endgame’, Radical Philosophy
62, Autumn 1992; Perry Anderson, ‘The Ends of History’, in A
Zone of Engagement, Verso, London, 1992; and Fred Halliday,
‘An Encounter with Fukuyama’ ,New Left Review 193, May/June
1992. For (some of) Fukuyama’s antecedents, see Lutz
Niethammer, Posthistoire: Has History Come to an End?, trans.

Patrick Camiller, Verso, London, 1992.


The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, ‘The Voice of the Devil’, in
William Blake, The Complete Poems, Penguin edition,
Harmondsworth, 1977, p. 182.


Vices other than Communism could, of course, be deduced from
the ‘German ideology’. Thus in 1918 we find the ‘New Liberal’

philosopher, L. T. Hobhouse, having heard German aeroplanes
overhead en route to their target, stating in the dedication to his
Metaphysical Theory of the State that he had ‘just witnessed the
visible and tangible outcome of a false and wicked doctrine’

pioneered by Hegel (quoted in Peter Clarke, Liberals and Social
Democrats, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1978, p.

193). The salience of ‘English Hegelianism’ at Oxford in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prompted the Fabian
Graham Wallas to remark that’ All bad German philosophies,
when they die, go to Oxford’ (quoted in ibid., p. 12). As Clarke
points out, ‘it is not a gibe that would have been current in
Balliol’, given the presence there ofT. H. Green. By the 1950s,
courtesy of the innoculations of’ Ordinary Language’ philosophy,
it is not a gibe that would have been current anywhere.


The Making of the Second Cold War, second edition, Verso,
London, 1986, p. 243. For the vicissitudes of the ‘great contest’

in the 1980s, see also idem., Cold War, Third World, Radius,
London, 1989.


Manifesto ofthe Communist Party, in Marx and Engels, Selected
Works, Volume 1, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969, p. 108.


‘This social formation [capitalism] brings … the prehistory of
human society to aclose’: Marx, Preface toA Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy (1859), in Selected Works, Volume 1, p. 504.


Edmund Wilson To the Finland Station (1940), Penguin,
Harmondsworth, 1991, p. 546. The category ‘historical Communism’ derives from Norberto Bobbio’s obituary, ‘The Upturned Utopia’ (1989), reprinted in Robin Blackburn, ed., After

Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

the Fall, Verso, London, 1991.


Cf. Marx, Capital, Volume I, chapter 32 (,The Historical
Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation’), Pelican edition,
Harmondsworth, 1976, pp. 927-30.


‘Thank God, in November [1929], the Wall Street crash was to
reassure them: they welcomed it like news of a victory. Since
they tended to confuse capitalism with important people, when
they saw their fathers’ faces they convinced themselves that they
had been quite right to stake their lives on the cards of confusion,
and that they could indubitably count upon a world destined for
great metamorphoses. ‘(Paul Nizan, The Conspiracy (1938), trans.

Quintin Hoare, Verso, London, 1988, p. 49.)


The Philosophy of History, Dover edition, New York, 1956,


Socialism and the Political Struggle (1883), quoted in Adam
Westoby, The Evolution of Communism, Polity, Cambridge,
1989, p. ii.


The Communists and Peace (1952), trans. Irene Clephane,
Hamish Hamilton, London, 1969, p. 118.


Such incipient ‘cultural pessimism’ is by no means restricted to
Fukuyama, of course: for a brief but incisive communitarian
diagnosis of the ‘malaise of modernity’, indicating its prevalence under left- and right-wing guises, see Charles Taylor, The
Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, 1992.


Anderson, op. cit., p. 49.


Marx, op. cit., pp. 102-3.


See Louis Althusser, For Marx, Allen Lane, London, 1969 and
(with Etienne Balibar) Reading Capital, New Left Books, London, 1970. Cf. the retrospective in Althusser’s ‘autobiography’,
L’ avenir dure longtemps, Stock/lMEC, Paris, 1992.


AIthusser and Balibar, op. cit., p. 120.


See Yann Moulier Boutang, Louis Althusser: Une hiographie.

Tome I – La formation du my the (191R-1956), Grasset, Paris,
1992, pp. 314ff., for an account of Althusser’s extraordinary 72page letter of 25 December 1949 – 22 January 1950 to Jean
Lacroix, explaining his adhesion to Marxism and the French
Communist Party. Apropos of the ‘end of history’ ,it concludes
(p. 33): ‘And I believe that we can close this chapter on the end
of history, while celebrating the fact that history continues, that
Marx was not Hegel, that Stalin and Thorez are not Hyppolite.’

For Fukuyama, by contrast, ‘The notion of the end of history is
not an original one. Its best known propagator was Karl Marx,
who believed that the direction of historical development was a
purposeful one determined by the interplay of material·forces
and would come to an end only with the achievement of a
communist utopia that would finally resolve all prior contradictions. But the concept of history as a dialectical process with a
beginning, a middle, and an end was borrowed by Marx from his
great German predecessor, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.’

Althusser’s relevance to the contemporary debate is further
explored in my review article, ‘Analysis Terminated, Analysis
Interminable’, Economy and Society, vol. 21, no. 2, May 1993.


See the ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in WaIter
Benjamin, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, Fontana/Collins,
London, 1982, especially pp. 262-63. ‘Nothing,’ Benjamin
wrote, ‘has corrupted the German working class so much as the
notion that it was moving with the current’ (p. 260). And not just
the German working class: compare the desperate optimism of
Jean Jaures on the eve of his assassination and the outbreak of the
First World War – ‘Les choses ne peuvent pas ne pas s’ arranger’

(‘Things are bound to turn out all right’) (quoted in James Joll,
The Second I nternationaI1889-1914, Routledge and Kegan Paul,
London, 1974, p. 169).


Quoted in Wilson, op. cit., p. 506.


Hayek’s unfashionable anticipation of this, as of so many other,
trends is noteworthy: see especially his 1944 Philippic, The


Road to Seljdom, dedicated ‘To the Socialists of All Parties’.



For the requisite historical contextualization of the exterminism
of Operation Barbarossa, see Arno Mayer, Why Did the Heavens
Not Darken?, Verso, London, 1990, chapter 1.

As Willie Thompson has written: ‘The communist parties have
constituted the first (and to date only) world movement which
has treated with deadly seriousness the project of transforming
social relations on a planetary scale for the benefit of the world’s
masses – as well as appearing to achieve stunning success in
terms of that objective’ (The Good Old Cause: British Communism 1920-1991, Pluto Press, London, 1992, p. 212).


Semprun is quoted from Le Monde, 15 October 1991, by
Emmanuel Terray in Le troisieme jour du communisme, Actes
Sud, Arles, 1992, p. 92, where the echo of Sartre’ s Preface to the
Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960) (New Left Books, London, 1976, p. 822) is noted.


Cf. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Verso, London, 1985.


See, for example, Francis Mulhern, ‘Towards 2000, or News
from You-Know-Where’, New Left Review, 148, November/
December 1984, and the book of which it is a review: Raymond
Williams, Towards 2000, Chatto and Windus/The Hogarth Press,
London, 1983.


The End of History and the Last Man, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1992, p. 137.


Alan Carling, ‘Rational Choice Marxism’, New Left Review
160, November/December 1986, p. 26.


‘The European Left Between Crisis and Refoundation’, New Left
Review 189, September/October 1991, pp. 6-7.


Quoted in David Caute, The Fellow-Travellers, London, 1977,
pp. 113-14.


The following quasi-Deutscherite (and crypto-Pabloite?) line of
analysis variously draws upon Isaac Deutscher, The Great
Contest, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1960; Perry Anderson,
‘Trotsky’s Interpretation of Stalinism’, in Tariq Ali, ed., The
Stalinist Legacy, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1984; and Fred

Halliday, ‘The Ends of Cold War’, in Blackburn, ed., op. cit. See
also Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Goodbye to All That’, in ibid.


Moreover, had the Hammer and Sickle not flown over the
Reichstag, it is unlikely that the Red Flag would – metaphorically speaking – have been accorded a subaltern station, alongside the Union Jack, over the Royal Palace of Westminster. On
1 December 1942, when the Beveridge Report was being published in London, the Red Army was otherwise engaged at


Deterring Democracy, Verso, London, 1991, p. 60.


In addition to Sartre, op. cit., see idem, ‘Merleau-Ponty’ (1961),
in Situations lV, Gallimard, Paris, 1980, and Maurice MerleauPonty, Humanism and Terror (1947), Beacon Press, Boston,
1969. For Merleau-Ponty’s subsequent (auto-)critique, see Adventures ofthe Dialectic (1955), Northwestern University Press,
Evanston, 1979 (especially chapter 5).


Benjamin, op. cit., p. 257.


‘The Ex-Communist’s Conscience’, in idem, Russia in Transition, revised edition, Grove Press, New York, 1960, p. 234.


For some intriguing (if semi-detached) reflections on the future
prospects for socialism, see the concluding pages of Anderson’ s
essay, op. cit., pp. 357-75.


Sellar and Yeatman, 1066 and All That, Macmillan, London,


American eclipse as a consequence of geo-political ‘overextension’ is the concluding scenario of Paul Kennedy’s influential The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Fontana, London,
1989. The British precedent is memorably analysed in Correlli
Barnett, The Collapse of British Power, Allan Sutton,
Gloucester, 1987 and The Audit of War, Macmillan, London,


Quoted fromPravda in Patrick Cockburn, Getting Russia Wrong,
Verso, London, 1989, p. 42.


T. S. Eliot, ‘East Coker’, in Collected Poems 1909-1962, Faber
and Faber, London, 1985, p. 204.

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Decelllraiizeci World-Wide NetworJcer Congress,elc.

A Radical View of Life Around Us
144 pp.


PO Box 472
Oakland, Ca, 94604

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Radical Philosophy 64, Summer 1993

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