What is Mayism-Leninism?
Theresa May says there is no such thing as Mayism. Given the total vacuousness of her Tory Manifesto, and the fact that none of the vague aspirations it contains have even been costed, nor any attempt given to show how they would be paid for, I am led to agree. But, the political approach of May can be given a name. I call it Mayism-Leninism. In reality it is a pale version of National Bolshevism, which itself is derived from Strasserism.
Marxism-Leninism, in contrast to Mayism-Leninism is the combination of the Marxist method of scientific analysis of history and social phenomenon with the Leninist conception of the party, as a disciplined organisation based upon democratic centralism, as a means of applying that scientific analysis in practice. Marxism-Leninism is then distinguished from Mayism-Leninism precisely by the fact that its foundation is the scientific analysis of society, as the basis for action. Mayism, by contrast is purely a subjectivist, populist trend that makes it up as it goes along.
Marxism-Leninism disintegrated, because under Stalin, the Marxist scientific analysis was abandoned, similarly for a subjectivist approach, that simply made it up as it went along, leading to violent swings from opportunism to ultra-leftism. And in order to be able to make these wild swings without having to provide theoretical justification for them, the democratic element of the democratic-centralism was abandoned, so that it became simply bureaucratic centralism, that responded to any criticism or opposition with ruthless brutality. All opponents were labelled wreckers or saboteurs, just as the Tory gutter press today labels anyone who stands in the way of Theresa May and her hard Brexit agenda.
There is indeed no such thing as Mayism. It is characterised precisely by its emptiness. It cannot even be described as shallow, because even something shallow has substance to it. There is no substance to Theresa May’s agenda. The agenda itself is continually being made up as they go along. In the budget just a couple of months ago, they came unstuck with the proposal to increase National Insurance contributions, because it conflicted with the Manifesto Commitment set by Cameron in 2015, not to increase VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance. They had to abandon the National Insurance hike. The response has been to call this election, and thereby to ditch all of those plans and commitments that the 2015 Manifesto placed upon. What are those commitments replaced with? Nothing, emptiness, that enables May to make it up as she goes along.
In reality, such stumbling along with no road map as to where you are going is the very opposite of being a strong and stable leader. It implies the same kind of chaos that the USSR descended into under Stalin. The actual chaos, the stumbling along from one crisis to another is then made up for by the imposition of increasing levels of authoritarianism. The strong and stable leader, whether it is Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Duterte, Erdogan or whoever is not strong because they have their finger on the pulse, and know exactly where they are going, but because of the opposite. They are strong and stable in opposition to the rest of society, not on the back of the support of that society. They are strong and stable against the rest of society only on the basis of the kind of authoritarian regime they impose to keep themselves in place, despite the catastrophic nature of the policies they implement.
Another Strong and Stable Leader
It is no accident that the Mayist-Leninists of the Tory Party have been emphasising this aspect of strong and stable leadership, as well as their sharp swerve to the far-right nationalism that previously was occupied by UKIP and the BNP. It has been seen many times before. Cromwell insisted that only his strong and stable leadership under the leadership of the New Model Army could save the country. Mussolini said that Italy could only be saved and the trains made to run on time, under his strong and stable leadership and the discipline that his blackshirts were able to impose. Moseley offered a similar vision to Britain, and the Daily Mail, who today back the Mayist-Leninist agenda, were of course ardent supporters, in the 1930’s of Moseley, Mussolini and Hitler, and the strong and stable leadership they offered.
The fact that Mayism-Leninism comprises elements that confuse many of the subjectivist political pundits in the media is again not surprising. It has been seen before, and it is symptomatic of the phenomena. Mayism-Leninism is, in fact, a mild form (for now) of National Bolshevism, which itself derives from Strasserism.
In all of the recent furore over Ken Livingston and anti-Semitism, it is forgotten that the true nature of Nazism, as with the fascism of Mussolini, and of the Phalangists of Franco etc. was a right-wing regime designed to protect the existing ruling class from the possibility of its overthrow by a rising working-class, as the system went into a crisis that required serious measures to correct. The first victims of Mussolini and of Hitler were the communists, socialists and trades unionists. Utilisation of nationalist and xenophobic ideas fitted the ideology of these parties, but they were largely designed to create the kind of populist appeal that could mobilise behind them all of the plebeian layers of society, who felt left behind and abandoned, and whose atomised condition left them separated from the masses of the organised working-class.
In fact, Mussolini had a great deal of financing from Jewish bankers, who like Ettore Ovazza, were also prominent members of the party. It was only from around 1938, as Mussolini became increasingly dependent on Hitler that laws against Jews in Italy began to be introduced. Meanwhile, connections between both Italy and Germany and Zionist groups such as the Stern Gang continued. Mussolini in particular believed that by supporting Zionist organisations he could gain an advantage in the Middle East, against Britain. The Stern Gang itself adopted the ideology of National Bolshevism, which derived from Strasserism, declaring,
“that it would establish a Jewish state based upon “nationalist and totalitarian principles””
The superficial political pundits are confused when they come to deal with such phenomenon, as a right-wing populist party like that of May, which promises to implement statist policies, because their superficial, subjectivist analysis only associates an interventionist role for the state with being a left-wing phenomenon, just as it can only associate fascism with anti-Semitism, and only associates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. The idea of right-wing state intervention, does not compute for them any more than fascist Zionists computes.
Yet, the reality is that the capitalist state was created to defend and extend the rule of the capitalist class. And that role includes, and has always included large-scale intervention in the economy. As Marx describes in Capital I, a large part of the primary capital accumulation that occurred in Britain was down to the role of the state, and the running up of a huge National Debt. In the US, the Civil War was fought to establish a strong centralised state, which was itself used to impose a strong wall of economic protection behind which the country was able to industrialise, free from foreign competition. And one of the most important aspects of its industrialisation, the creation of the transcontinental railway, was only made possible by the intervention of the Federal Army, which cleared away hostile Native Americans, under the guidance of General Sherman.
And, the state ownership and state intervention was a central aspect of the economic policies of both Mussolini and Hitler, and pretty much every other dictator of that ilk. The difference with Strasser was only that he took the anti-capitalist rhetoric of Hitler literally. May is following in those footsteps, and for her, and for now, the anti-capitalist rhetoric takes the form of attacking the large corporations, because what she seeks to achieve is the maintenance of her support amongst all of those small capitalists that comprise the core of the membership and electoral base of the Tories.
In essence, what Mussolini and the Nazis reflected was the fact that capitalism faced a contradiction.
It is that the economy is characterised not by those small capitals, although numerically they overwhelmingly prevail (there are around 5 million small capitalist businesses in Britain even today, though they typically go bust within five years) but by large scale socialised capital. This socialised capital does require greater regulation and planning of the economy, and it really also thereby needs to operate on a larger scale than the national economy. Even the huge US economy, with its vast market, and extensive geographical spread is led to create larger economic zones, for example, via NAFTA, and China is doing the same. In the absence of a socialist or internationally based social-democracy to bring about such conditions, history moves forward by other means. The US did it via a Civil War, Europe tried during several wars in the 19th century, and two major wars in the twentieth century to bring it about, before it resolved to do it peacefully via the establishment of the EU.
In Italy in the 1920’s, in Spain and Germany in the 1930’s, the ruling class feared that the means by which the regulation and planning of the economy would be achieved was by the working-class, under the influence of multi-million strong Communist and Socialist Parties, going beyond the normal bounds of social-democracy. It slapped down the working-class, but the only means of achieving the kind of reorganisation of the economy required, was by handing over the political regime, and control of the state to the fascists. It did not do so lightly, and the experience is likely to make them even more reluctant to use that option in future.
Far more effective for them was the achievement of those aims by Roosevelt with the New Deal, and the implementation of these measures of international social-democracy after the war, under the guidance of the Keynesians, with the introduction of the IMF, World Bank, and so on.
The Mayist-Leninists know that exit from the EU is not at all going to be like the story they have told themselves and the public until now. Its clear that the EU are going to give May nothing, and can give May nothing. Its clear that May has positioned herself for the hardest of hard Brexits, and the negotiating stance is now designed to ensure the rapid collapse of any talks with the EU. They know that outside the EU, with no deal, the UK economy is headed sharply downhill. The start of stagflation is already more than clear, with the RPI, which is a better measure than CPI, already standing at 3.5%, and with wages once more stagnant.
An international of strong and stable nationalist authoritarians
The Mayist-Leninists are, therefore, preparing to batten down the hatches on their political regime for the shit storm to come, as the people realise they have been seriously conned, and they once again face the economic consequences. The Mayist-Leninists know that the path of the last thirty years, of blowing up asset price bubbles, and encouraging further private household debt is closed off to them. They know that, as with Trump in the US, the state will have to play a more active role, via its fiscal stance, to reorganise British capital, as it gets increasingly separated from European capital. That fiscal stance will cause borrowing to rise, which in turn will cause interest rates to rise, in a world where global market rates of interest are already rising. That means that the asset price bubbles, and all of the illusion of wealth that people had in the paper prices of their houses, and their ISA’s etc. will burst overnight. Mayism-Leninism is about creating a centralised, disciplined authoritarian regime to beat down the hostility of civil society that will ensue.
Originally published at boffyblog.blogspot.com on May 19, 2017.