chapter  2
84 Pages

Marxism and Reformism

ByAxel van den Berg

This chapter describes how the rise of Leninism as the sole orthodoxy decisively set the terms for all subsequent Marxist theorizing about politics and the state. The question of "reformism" seems to lie at the heart of any Marxist theory of politics. In fact, the recent Marxist literature on the state takes antireformism as its self-evident starting point. Eduard Bernstein took the orthodox claim that Marxism was "scientific" quite literally, that is, he took Marxism to be a body of knowledge based exclusively on empirically verifiable evidence and hence in need of revision whenever contradicted by such evidence. After Vladimir Lenin, Marxist thinking about politics and the bourgeois state remained at a standstill until the late 1960s. Leon Trotsky, like Lenin, had an incredible confidence in the strength of "scientific" Marxist analysis which, he firmly believed, allowed him to foretell the future with great precision.