Appendix 1: on Machiavellianism

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This quote was originally included in the report, but omitted because of its length. However, it does raise a few questions which are relevant to some of our recent discussions, in particular, our attempt to grasp not only how the bourgeoisie is compelled to intervene in and manipulate the ‘machine’ of the capitalist economy, but also why, above all in the epoch of decadence, it is compelled to do so. There are numerous reasons for going back to the discussions about the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie, not only in relation to the economic policies of the ruling class, but perhaps above all in order to help us to understand its attacks on the proletariat and its revolutionary minorities.

LLM also accuses us of making more and more use of our ‘machiavellian' analysis, of taking it as the starting-point for examining each and every action of the ruling class. Here we make no apology because we are merely recognizing a historic reality - that since we are moving towards the most momentous class confrontations in history, we are witnessing the bourgeoisie becoming more unified, more ‘intelligent', than at any time in the past.Certainly, this intelligence of the bourgeoisie is a total degeneration from the grand historical visions, the optimistic philosophies it elaborated in the heroic days of its youth. If, in the age of Goethe, Beethoven and Hegel, the bourgeoisie could be personified by Faust, high point in the restless upward strivings of humanity, in decadence the bourgeoisie's dark side has come into its own - and the dark side of Faust is Mephistopheles, whose vast intelligence and knowledge is a thin covering over a pit of despair, The Mephistophelean character of bourgeois consciousness in this epoch is determined by the underlying necessities of the age: this is the epoch in which the possibility and necessity for emancipating humanity from the historic division of society into antagonistic classes, from the exploitation of man by man, have at last come together; and yet all the bourgeoisie's science, all its technology, all the remnants of its own wisdom are directed towards the preservation of the same system of exploitation and oppression at the price of the most monstrous increase in human misery. Hence the fundamental cynicism and nihilism of the bourgeoisie in this epoch. But precisely because this is the period of history that demands "man's positive self-consciousness", the conscious mastery of productive activity and the productive forces, the bourgeoisie has only been able to survive within it by running its anarchic system as though it was under conscious human control. Thus capitalism in decadence, with its centralized planning, its international organization, and of course its ubiquitous ‘socialist' ideology, tends to present itself as a grotesque caricature of communism. No longer can the bourgeoisie allow the free play of ‘market forces' (ie the law of value), either within or between nation states: it has been forced to organize and centralize itself, first at the level of the nation state, then at the level of the imperialist blocs, merely to stave off capital's accelerating tendency towards economic collapse. But this national and international organization of the bourgeoisie reaches its highest point when the bourgeoisie is threatened with the proletarian menace - a fact that, as LLM himself notes, has been demonstrated in response to all the major proletarian upheavals in history (eg 1871, 1918)”.

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