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What is Neo-Bolshevism?

I’m holed up in a hotel in St. Louis writing my book (still almost done!  I keep finishing exactly half of what I have left to do!) and visiting Nick, but I’ve learned that Alex at Color Me Impressed (a cool blog which, for all its lack of color, is really quite impressive) has been called a “Neo-Bolshevist” by You-Know-Who.  Those of you who’ve been faithfully reading the comments on this blog (see Saturday’s post) know that Alex has now promised to purge him some neo-Menscheviks, and even to defeat Alexander Kerensky sometime this afternoon.  The Sons of Lenin salute you, Alex!

But beyond all this purging and routing, fun as it is, there’s an important theoretical point at stake here.  What, precisely, is the meaning of Neo-Bolshevism today? The debate has begun on Alex’s blog, featuring some of the left’s leading Neo-Commenters.  Corndog asks how a Neo-Bolshevist differs from a Trotskyite, and Chris Clarke replies that “a Trotskyist rejects the ‘Socialism in one country’ strategy. By way of contrast, a Neo-Bolshevist recognizes that all so-called ‘countries’ are merely part of the Matrix, and rejects accomodationist elements in the Zion People’s Revolutionary Councils.”

Well, we know a thing or two about Left theoretical disputes and The Matrix at this leather-clad blog, so we chimed in to disagree with Chris:  “Don’t forget the lesson of Matrix Revolutions-- ‘Neo-Bolshevism’ rejects compromise with the Zion People’s Revolutionary Councils only to sell us out by making a separate peace with the machines in the end, preserving the Matrix on a ‘purely voluntary’ basis. Don’t go down that road, Neo-- you’ve been there before, you know where it ends.” But now I think this reply raises more questions than it answers.  Would a Neo-Stalinism involve signing a nonaggression pact with Agent Smith?  Would a Neo-Kerensky have been able to fly through the air in a long black coat at Pulkova, defeating the Bolsheviks in hand-to-hand martial-arts combat?  (We know that a Neo-Gramsci would still have cool glasses.) And what about Trinity-Bolshevism and Morpheus-Bolshevism?  Most important, where does Monica Bellucci fit into all this?

Deep, disturbing questions.  Ah, can’t answer them now-- that’s the phone ringing.

Posted by on 02/28 at 04:09 PM
  1. That will teach me to waste time commenting on blogs before I’ve seen every movie released in the last ten years.

    Speaking of movies, a friend asked me if I thought last night was “going to be Marty’s night” and I said I thought that was back in 1955. Ba dum-bump.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/28  at  06:23 PM
  2. Has anyone checked these questions with Cornel West? To my knowledge, he’s the only person both in Matrix AND on the “official” enemies list.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  02/28  at  06:41 PM
  3. I’ve actually seen three of the five “Best Pic” nominees this year.  I don’t know how that happened.  I do know, however, that in the Left Matrix the part of Horowitz will be played by Joe Pantoliano.

    Posted by Michael  on  02/28  at  06:42 PM
  4. Oh, and by the above comment I of course meant to say that I spent three minutes thinking about it and penned a devastating rebuttal over at Alex’s joint.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/28  at  06:43 PM
  5. Oh my God, Roxanne, you’re right.  And Cornel even says “comprehension is not a prerequisite for cooperation"-- the classic Leninist motto.  I thought I’d Discovered the Network, but only now do I see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    Posted by Michael  on  02/28  at  06:44 PM
  6. What is the meaning of Neo-Bolshevism? Sort of like the scene in Life of Brian: Where is the People’s Popular Front? He’s over there.

    Posted by  on  02/28  at  06:49 PM
  7. Yep, I’m pretty bright. For a girl.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  02/28  at  06:55 PM
  8. I do know, however, that in the Left Matrix the part of Horowitz will be played by Joe Pantoliano.

    On the nose!

    Geoffrey Rush, of course, will play the young Chomsky, and John Lithgow will make a brief appearance as Stanley Fish.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/28  at  07:20 PM
  9. I had a fun idea, so in keeping with the Horowitz thing from the previous posts, I fashioned this!

    http://www.discoveryourmommasnetwork.org

    Those against logical fallacies and those against Manichean dualism—unite!

    Posted by Eric Lee  on  02/28  at  07:45 PM
  10. Sheer brilliance, Eric.

    Posted by  on  02/28  at  10:35 PM
  11. Under ordinary circumstances, this humble blog frowns on attempts to stigmatize your momma, play the dozens with your momma jokes, or to associate your momma with far-right batshit-insane ideologues.  But as George Pataki so eloquently put it at the RNC, this is no ordinary time.  We hereby give it up to Eric Lee for establishing your momma’s network so that it can be discovered by one and all.

    Posted by Michael  on  02/28  at  10:48 PM
  12. a cool blog which, for all its lack of color, is really quite impressive

    Talk about your left-handed compliments.

    Look, I just tend to feel that, much like a chick on a submarine, something like, say, a row of saffron-colored curtains hovering around my blog would simply be a distraction. Much like what you take to be “reality” is merely a distraction from the fact that you’re all living batteries powering a dangerous alien race! Come, join me and my ragtag band of Bellucci-Maoists and fight the pop-cultural revolution!

    Posted by Alex  on  02/28  at  11:31 PM
  13. You know, The Matrix is on the HBO Network right now

    Posted by Alex  on  02/28  at  11:45 PM
  14. Also, upon further reflection, I should have used the term “Carrie-Anne Maoists.”

    Posted by Alex  on  02/28  at  11:59 PM
  15. Michael, you’re the funniest guy on the internet and I love your family and your hockey and I read you every day, you’re like a true friend and that’s why I feel I can say, Lose the coat.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  12:00 AM
  16. Lose the coat, you say-- listen, it was really bitter cold that day, and even the big leather coat and the thick Penn State fleece under it (I see no one’s mentioned that item) and the turtleneck underneath didn’t suffice.  Maybe I can lose the coat when Bush finally lets the blue states have some heat again.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/01  at  01:53 AM
  17. Set up a Flash animation tied to a donation button. Ten bucks takes the coat off. Twenty puts the coat back on, with Neo shades. Fifty replaces you with Larry Fishburne. A hundred: Larry Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  03/01  at  01:58 AM
  18. I know it is frowned upon to be sexy and a part of the Leftist intellectual elite since the new paradigm is that we need to show how common we all are, but I for one dig the look. 

    I say, Step up the sexy!

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  02:39 AM
  19. I guess we ought to be able to comment on a sweater we can’t see, given that There Is No Coat.

    I’m still sporfling over the idea of anyone associated with the GOP, calling anyone else out there Bolsheviks.

    Especially when Old Stalinists are involved, even tangentially.

    Posted by bellatrys  on  03/01  at  07:12 AM
  20. http://www.discoveryourmommasnetwork.org ... That reminds me, didn’t Horowitz’s (communist) parents lose their job as teachers during the McCarthy era? That adds a nice little Freudian touch to his new website, doesn’t it?

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  07:56 AM
  21. The black leather, the high rise in the background and the harsh grey light of Winter make the pic look more New YOrk than State College. BTW, do you ever cross paths with Ruben Eschemendia--he does research on athletic performance (including hockey) and is an old grad school classmate of mine.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  10:35 AM
  22. The leather jacket was very nearly a uniform for the early Bolsheviks, even though you usually see Lenin himself in coat, vest, and tie.

    Though not nearly so memorable as DiscoverYourMommasNetwork, my own complaint has been lodged at “Dissed by ‘Discover the Network,’” available here:

    http://www.mclemee.com/id138.html

    Posted by Scott McLemee  on  03/01  at  10:56 AM
  23. Anybody from the U of I is OK by me.
    But, being a Saluki, I have to say - Kiss my @ss.
    Quit stealing our coaches - and I DIG the Jayhawks every day for stealing yours.
    But that’s just a knee-jerk kinda thing…
    Keep up the good work - I wish I could say that I’m a blue-stater, but I now live in KS. GOD help me - it’s hard to be a Dem here. But at least we have a Dem Gov at least - bless her heart.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  11:03 AM
  24. Michael! I’m a St. Louis-based lurker to your humble blog and a WashU employee to boot. Stop by the CompLit office if you’re on campus - I’ve been raving about you to the chair (of my department, I mean - he has much more charisma than the furniture.)

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  11:35 AM
  25. You’ll need the Neo-Khruscheviks’ Iron Shoe of Law to purge and rout. Or would that be the Neo-Random Taskites?

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  12:26 PM
  26. Michael, I agree: I also frown upon attempts to stigmatize your momma, etc.  I have deep respect and love for my momma, and grattitude for the other mommas out there who bore children even though they knew it was going to hurt more than a little!

    But, as you so eloquently put it when invoking “far-right batshit-insane ideologues,” these ideologues and their ideologies elicited a very pre-teen, junior-high response from me when I first discovered that they had “discovered” the “network.” My non-sexual thrust (but perhaps very Freudian, as R.Mutt pointed out), which I hope doesn’t go unnoticed, is that their entire ideologies are based upon a kind of pre-cognitive kind of brain function, found around and before ages 13 or so.  Their very worshipping of this dangerous “Us vs. Them” model wedding to their misguided Manicheanism is something that junior-highers are very good at.  They’re also wonderful at invoking “your momma” jokes.

    It’s just that many, if not most people (yes, even on the right), grow out of this around ages 14 and later as brain functions and mappings developer a kind of higher cognition.

    In other words, most of us actually grow the hell up.

    By the way, thank you for your most humble, yet hilarious site, Michael.  Oh, and the new design is most rad.

    (P.S. I knew you mixed your humour thoroughly in a humble-size mixing bowl before saying or writing anything.  Claims about your humour being “clumpy” are just--just--a complete fantasy!)

    Posted by Eric Lee  on  03/01  at  01:41 PM
  27. Schuss, them’s fightin’ words. The Smitin’ Illini (heh - “Smitin’ Illni” - I just made that up. If any of you use it, quote me.) will crush the Jayhawks when/if they meet up in the NCAA.

    As for being a Democrat in Kansas, well, try being a Democrat in Wyoming.

    Michael, I’ve refrained from taking jabs at your outfit because like so many other comments on so many other topics, other folks are just plain funnier than me. Besides, I like the coat. It’s the pallor that concerns me.

    Posted by Paul  on  03/01  at  02:33 PM
  28. Let’s give Michael’s outfit a break for a coupla minutes.  It is (as is Michael-- thank god!) supremely off-topic.

    I propose a new generation of blogs-- those which make us forget this shitting administration, their shitting tactics (bad psychology everywhere) and get down to the essence of being human; the practise of enjoying bull-shit which is just that-- bull-shit.

    Posted by Ryan  on  03/01  at  03:33 PM
  29. Hey, Paul--we come by that pallor honestly, here in the great state of Pennsyl-tucky.

    Though down here in Pittsburgh, we don’t achieve those snappy windburned-cheekbone highlights so well as they do in JoePa-land…

    Neat blog, Michael.  Maybe if I manage to pry out a spot in academia (dissertation due this summer!), I’ll have the street cred to represent like yinz…

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  03:35 PM
  30. I am so totally late to the party, but I would just like to observe that Lenin was a poser.

    And yes, before anyone asks, I was a Russian/Soviet Studies major.

    Posted by NTodd  on  03/01  at  06:36 PM
  31. Lenin’s prophecies about the Russian workplace of (his) future are lot like the American workplace of today’s Mall*Wart--- except that we don’t have worker control and the means of production are on another continent altogether (in a communist country, China, ironically enough....) Nevertheless, Lenin did correctly predict that the increasing level of education amongst the proletariat and the increasing mechanization of management would lead to the obsolescence of the bourgeoisie....

    Posted by Tim Horrigan  on  03/01  at  06:42 PM
  32. I am so totally late to the party, but I would just like to observe that Lenin was a poser.

    No way, man!! Lenin was totally Punk Rock!!! You’re the poser, man!! Lenin was fuckin’ hardcore!

    Posted by Alex  on  03/01  at  06:46 PM
  33. Michael, if you’d draped a live sheep across your shoulders that cold day, why, you’d have been both warmer then and now less chagrined by these endless coat comments. This image is my attempt to deflect the Neo-Bullsheissism flying thickly across this country from the mouths of Red politicians and their batshit-crazy minions.(Let the record show that I said nothing about donkeys.)

    And not to pelt Schuss and Paul with hard rock candy--because gracious knows being a Dem in either Kansas or Wyoming cannot be easy--but around here parts, “Got Roy?” is a favorite T-shirt slogan. See y’all at the big dance.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  06:46 PM
  34. Look, if you’re wearing something you’d easily see on an 80-year-old Chinese grandmother, you need to dump it from your wardrobe. Even if you are clumpy.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  06:57 PM
  35. Damn, Roxanne. Are you saying I shouldn’t wear the clothes my mother-in-law gave me? Hmmm - I guess it’s a decade or so before she’s an 80-year-old Chinese grandmother. Never mind.

    (M-I-L Joan does have a pretty good fashion sense. Of course that’s me saying that.)

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  03/01  at  07:15 PM
  36. There’s s difference between giving and wearing. And with that, everybody do the “thread-jack.”

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  07:20 PM
  37. There’s a difference between giving and wearing.

    Not when the clothes involved are hand-me-downs. You know, like “Chris, do you want this flannel shirt? It’s too itchy for me.”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  03/01  at  07:40 PM
  38. Neo-Bolshevism?  Whoa, I know I’m out of the loop, but…

    maybe that explains my sudden renewed interest in Russian Constructivism? 

    (Hats off to R.Mutt for the Duchamp reference in his/her handle!)

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  07:52 PM
  39. Hey that cold blue state stuff wont wash.  WA and OR have been having Spring all Winter.  Quit rationalizing .. the coat is ugly.  And no, it doent make you look like James Dean; Jimmy Dean, maybe.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  08:51 PM
  40. You know, there’s a t-shirt idea in here somewhere kind of along the Charlie Don’t Surf thing. How about Lenin Don’t Pose or Trotsky Over Ice or something.

    I’ll be quiet now.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  09:48 PM
  41. Charlie don’t surf.

    That’s so William Gibson.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  09:55 PM
  42. Just got in from St. Louis, and I’ve gotta say this is great stuff, folks.  I haven’t heard this wide-ranging a conversation on leftist theory and winter clothing since the Twentieth Party Congress, when Khrushchev revealed that Stalin’s famed “leather” jacket was really vinyl.  But I’m surprised that no one has addressed the elephant in the room, namely, why are there so few women neo-Bolshevists?

    Except for Roxanne, I mean.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/01  at  09:57 PM
  43. Charlie Don’t Surf.  I gotta remember that.  Thanks, Colonel.

    Oh, and in case you forgot: Haji Don’t Dance.

    Posted by NTodd  on  03/01  at  10:25 PM
  44. Berube - heck with XX Party Congress Fashion.  What of the Kitchen Debate?  What’s your position on that, you anti-something poser?!?!?!

    Posted by NTodd  on  03/01  at  10:29 PM
  45. I’m thinking of getting one those “I’m a Neo-Bolshevist and I VOTE” bumper stickers you see everywhere these days.

    And Michael—we all know that women are not biologically adapted to sneering, a fundamental tenant of neo-Bolshevism.

    Posted by Alex  on  03/01  at  10:30 PM
  46. And I thought I was your fav femme to slackass Kevin’s Laura Rozen

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  10:35 PM
  47. Well, Michael, I’m a woman, and though not a card-carrying Neo-Bolshevik, I imagine I could be persuaded. 

    And my winter coat of choice is a kick-ass down quilted number I bought in Rome, belted and with a large puffy collar.  You boys can wear your leather.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  10:38 PM
  48. Ever been married, Alex?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  03/01  at  11:50 PM
  49. Mr. Clarke! Are you coming on to me?

    You’re working for AARP, aren’t you! Spit on any soldiers lately?

    Posted by Alex  on  03/02  at  12:36 AM
  50. OMG! IT’S THE RETURN OF THE BLOG. HOORAY!

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/03  at  05:49 PM
  51. Comrades: clearly, this blog has been infected by the scurrilent dogmas of the running-dog Third Way neo-WalMartian-Capitalist pigs.  Discussion of proper revolutionary garments has been underway extensively AND NO ONE HAS YET SUNG THE BALLAD OF THE RED BERET!  A truely stunning lack of devotion to the Neo-Bolshevist revolutionary spirit!

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  10:34 PM
  52. Thanks for the input, I will definitely have to take a look and dissect the article a bit more!
    http://www.shadesofsplendor.com

    Posted by Rita  on  03/14  at  01:43 PM
  53. calm down guys. no need to lose the cool

    Posted by black leather chair  on  11/22  at  11:56 AM
  54. Charlie Don’t Surf.  I gotta remember that.  Thanks, Colonel.

    Posted by Fleece vest  on  01/12  at  03:36 AM
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  58. I think the difference between the Neo-Bolshevist and Trotskyite is that a Trotskyite does not allow ‘Socialism in a single country’ strategy. The Neo-Bolshevist on the other hand does not recognize the so called ‘Countries’ instead he sees them as part of matrix as he rejects accommodation elements in Zion Councils.

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