1840's and 1850's. "The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like anightmare on the brain of the living," he wrong in
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
"And when they seem to be engaged in revolutionizingthemselves and things, in creating something entirely new, precisely in suchepochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the pastto their service and borrow from them names, battle slogans and costumes inorder to present the new scene of world history in this time-honored disguiseand borrowed language. Thus Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, therevolution of 1789 to 1814 draped itself alternately as the Roman Republic andthe Roman Empire, and the revolution of 1848 knew nothing better than to parody, in turn, 1789 and the tradition of 1793 to 1795....The social revolutionof the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only fromthe future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped off all superstition inregard to the past....In order to arrive at its content, the revolution of thenineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead. There the phrase went beyond the content, here the content goes beyond the phrase."Is the problem any different today, as we approach the twenty-first century?Once again the dead are walking in our midst--ironically, draped in the name of Marx, the man who tried to bury the dead of the nineteenth century. So therevolution of our own day can do nothing better than parody, in turn, theOctober Revolution of 1917 and the civil war of 1918-1920, with its "classline," its Bolshevik Party, its "proletarian dictatorship," its puritanical morality,and even its slogan, "soviet power." The complete, all-sided revolution of our own day that can finally resolve the historic "social question," born of scarcity,domination and hierarchy, follows the tradition of the partial, the incomplete,the one-sided revolutions of the past, which merely changed the form of the"social question," replacing one system of domination and hierarchy byanother. At a time when bourgeois society itself is in the process of disintegrating all the social classes that once gave it stability, we hear thehollow demands for a "class line." At a time when all the political institutionsof hierarchical society are entering a period of profound decay, we hear thehollow demands for a "political party" and a "worker's state." At a time whenhierarchy as such is being brought into question, we hear the hollow demandsfor "cadres," "vanguards" and "leaders." At a time when centralization and thestate have been brought to the most explosive point of historical negativity, wehear the hollow demands for a "centralized movement" and a "proletariandictatorship."This pursuit of security in the past, this attempt to find a haven in a fixeddogma and an organizational hierarchy as substitutes for creative thought and praxis is bitter evidence of how little many revolutionaries are capable of