Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 7, 2013

The ISO’s multiple personalities

Filed under: revolutionary organizing,sectarianism — louisproyect @ 5:07 pm

In the 1950s pop culture was obsessed with multiple personality disorder, an illness that was often confused with schizophrenia. Someone who had multiple personalities was “schizoid”; in other words they were split into two or more identities (the term schizo is Greek for split). For example, the film “The Three Faces of Eve” starred Joanne Woodward as a woman with three personalities. You can see the specific amalgam between the two diseases in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” where Anthony Perkins was himself as well as his dead mom.

Ahmed Shawki

Now you might ask yourself what in the hell this has to do with Marxism. Okay, let me explain. I see the ISO as suffering from multiple personality disorder. I just finished listening to their long-time leader Ahmed Shawki address their recently held conference in Chicago on “Perspectives for the Left”. The talk went about as far as you can go in calling for a break with Zinovievism at the same time as Paul Le Blanc, their resident expert on “Leninism”, is going around giving speeches on why the 21 Conditions and Morris Lewitt’s rant to the American SWP’s 1945 convention about being “monopolists” in the sphere of politics made sense in their day. I would only say that even if these sectarian initiatives made sense in their day, it is a big mistake to bring them up now. It is like taking the skeletons out of your closet, putting them in formal wear, and making them the guests of honor at a dinner party. The best place for these skeletons right now is six feet under.

It strikes me that the American ISO and the people who departed the British SWP are on the same wavelength in terms of political analysis but obviously in an existentially different place when it comes to Zinovievism. In contrast to Callinicos’s group, Shawki and Richard Seymour see eye to eye on SYRIZA. That’s progress! After all, once you are outside of a group like the SWP and convinced that trying to recreate a “healthy” one is a task not worth undertaking, then you become driven by that logic to explore new opportunities such as Ken Loach’s Left Unity or whatever else comes your way. Clearly, the British left is much further ahead than the American left in shedding the dead skin of “Leninism”.

Most of Shawki’s talk was devoted to an examination of the “catastrophism” that the 1960s left operated under. Most of us assumed that the radicalization that had sunk deep roots into the student, Black, women’s, and gay movements would eventually reach the working class even as this outlook was less pronounced in the American SWP. Shawki describes a split in the IS group that led to the formation of the ISO that reflected this “revolution is just around the corner” urgency. His faction was skeptical of the “turn” toward the industrial working class that the American SWP would itself embark upon just a few years later. That, in my opinion, is the main reason the ISO has grown. Instead of sending its cadres into coalmines and meat-packing plants, it allowed them (or directed them—I have no way of knowing) to work as teachers or social workers. That is why the SWP, which had close to 2000 members in 1972, now numbers 100 while the ISO that started out with 100 is probably at least 1500 members strong.

Speaking of numbers, Shawki addressed the “glass ceiling” question that I have referred to on many occasions. In my view the “Zinovievist” model is very good at going from 100 to 1000 members (and vice versa of course.) What is not good at is getting to 10,000 or—better yet—100,000. Shawki does not use the term “glass ceiling” but refers to a “plateau”. He asks why the NYC local of the ISO cannot get past the 150 mark and move to 2-300.

He answers his own question by saying that the group has to find ways to accept people who do not agree with every dotted I and crossed T of the ISO. Of course, the main obstacle to turning this into a reality is the very culture that has been created in the ISO over the past 30 years or so. In the entire time I have interacted with ISO’ers on the Internet over the past 15 years or so, I have yet to run into a single member who departs from the groupthink that inevitably determines their interaction with other leftists—the kneejerk tendency to defend the party line on every single question. In the SWP we used to call this “loyalty”. It virtually makes independent thinking an impossible task. In groups such as these, there is a kind of division of labor. The full-timers who write for the magazine or those who serve on the national committee do the thinking while the “Jimmy Higgins” go out and sell the newspaper. In the American SWP, whenever we “recruited” a new member who had a long history of thinking and writing for themselves, we always felt better when they abandoned one of their “old” positions that we were uncomfortable with. It was like antibodies reacting to an infection.

I should add that the only ISO’er who departed from the norm was Todd Chretien who emailed a few times about 10 years ago expressing some doubts about the ISO’s position on Nicaragua and asking me for some references. About a year later I stopped hearing from him. It was not clear to me whether his comrades had laid down the law about consorting with Satan or whether my own obnoxious personality had done the trick.

Shawki said that the ISO would be taking some new initiatives to facilitate this more open (or less Zinoviest) approach that in the future might help to incubate an American SYRIZA. First and foremost is the relaunching of the International Socialist Review, which is described as a “new web site and a new print format”. I don’t know. If it was up to me, the ISR should have gone whole hog and followed the format of Links, the publication of the Socialist Alliance in Australia. Links is truly diverse and begins to satisfy the needs addressed in Lenin’s “What is to be Done”—a journal that can unite socialists and facilitate debate. For example, there is a fawning interview in the ISR with Vivek Chibber by Jason Farbman but no place to offer a comment. I would have loved to give the so-and-so a piece of my mind. You would think that an earlier fawning interview conducted by ISO member and Chibber dissertation student Jonah Birch would have sufficed.

The truth is that the ISO probably shares to a significant degree Alex Callinicos’s aversion to the Internet, where all sorts of riffraff hang out. It is too bad that there is a lingering hostility (albeit veiled) to a means of communication as important to the 21st century as the Gutenberg press was to the epoch of the bourgeois revolution. One wonders if the ISO is capable of spawning a single member who had the smarts and the backbone to begin a blog as audacious as Richard Seymour’s Lenin’s Tomb. I think that would go a long way in helping to transform the ISO, even though it might risk letting the genie out of the bottle.

In any case, despite my obvious skepticism about whether the ISO can make such a turn, I offer them a probably unsought “good luck”. Nothing would make me happier than to see a 10,000 strong ISO and me eating my words. Such a group could really begin to make a difference politically in the USA and god knows we need that.

I want to conclude with an article I wrote about a decade ago. It was written as an ex post facto declaration of a new way of doing business for the SWP—obviously something that never would have happened in an outfit that allowed Morris Lewitt to rant about being “monopolists” in the sphere of politics. I invite Ahmed to plagiarize large portions of it. Nothing in fact would make me happier.

The Speech that Jack Barnes Should Have Given in 1974

Comrades, 1974 is a year which in some ways marks the end of an era. The recent victory of the Vietnamese people against imperialism and of women seeking the right to safe and legal abortion are culminations of a decade of struggle. That struggle has proved decisive in increasing both the size and influence of the Trotskyist movement as our cadre threw their energy into building the antiwar and feminist movements. Now that we are close to 2,000 in number and have branches in every major city in the US, it is necessary to take stock of our role within the left and our prospects for the future.

In this report I want to lay out some radical new departures for the party that take into account both our growing influence and the changing political framework. Since they represent such a change from the way we have seen ourselves historically, I am not asking that we take a vote at this convention but urge all branches to convene special discussions throughout the year until the next convention when a vote will be taken. I am also proposing in line with the spirit of this new orientation that non-party individuals and organizations be invited to participate in them.

A) THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

While our political work of the 1960s was a necessary “detour” from the historical main highway of the socialist movement, it is high time that we began to reorient ourselves. There are increasing signs that the labor movement is beginning to reject the class collaborationist practices of the Meany years. For example, just 4 short years ago in 1970, various Teamsters locals rejected a contract settlement agreed to by their president Frank Fitzsimmons and the trucking industry. They expected a $3.00 per hour raise but the contract settled for only $1.10. The rank and file went out on a wildcat strike that Fitzsimmons and the mainstream press denounced. Fitzsimmons probably had the student revolt on his mind, since he claimed that “Communists” were behind the teamster wild-cat strike. Nobody took this sort of red-baiting to heart anymore. The burly truck-drivers involved in the strike were the unlikeliest “Communists” one could imagine. The trucking industry prevailed upon President Richard Nixon to intercede in the strike at the beginning of May, but the student rebellion against the invasion of Cambodia intervened. The antiwar movement and the war itself had stretched the US military thin. National guardsmen who had been protecting scab truck- drivers occupied the Kent State campuses where they shot five students protesting the war. In clear defiance of the stereotype of American workers, wildcat strikers in Los Angeles regarded student antiwar protesters as allies and invited them to join teamster picket lines. The wildcat strikes eventually wound down, but angry rank and file teamsters started the first national reform organization called Teamsters United Rank and File (TURF).

It is very important for every branch to investigate opportunities such as these and to invite comrades to look into the possibility of taking jobs in those industries where such political opportunities exist. What will not happen, however, is a general turn toward industry that many small Marxist groups made in the 1960s in an effort to purify themselves. Our work in the trade unions is not an attempt to “cleanse” the party but rather to participate in the class struggle which takes many different forms. We are quite sure that when comrades who have begun to do this kind of exciting work and report back to the branches that we will see others anxious to join in.

B) THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT

We simply have to stop observing this movement from the sidelines. There is a tendency on the left to judge it by the traditional middle-class organizations such as the Audubon Club. There are already signs of a radicalization among many of the younger activists who believe that capitalism is at the root of air and water pollution, etc. Since the father of the modern environmental movement is an outspoken Marxist, there is no reason why we should feel like outsiders. Our cadre have to join the various groups that are springing up everywhere and pitch in to build them, just as we built the antiwar and feminist groups. If activists have problems with the record of socialism on the environment based on the mixed record of the USSR, we have to explain that there were alternatives. We should point to initiatives in the early Soviet Union when Lenin endorsed vast nature preserves on a scale never seen in industrialized societies before. In general we have to be the best builders of a new ecosocialist movement and not succumb to the sort of sectarian sneering that characterizes other left groups who regard green activists as the enemy.

C) THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST MOVEMENT

This will strike many comrades as controversial, but I want to propose that we probably were mistaken when stood apart from all the various pro-NLF committees that were doing material aid and educational work. We characterized them as ultraleft, whereas in reality those activists who decided to actually identify with the Vietnamese liberation movement were exactly the kind that we want to hook up with. In the United States today there are thousands of activists organized in committees around the country who are campaigning on a similar basis for freedom for the Portuguese colonies in Africa, against neo-colonialism in Latin America, etc. Nearly all of them are Marxist. Their goals and ours are identical. While we have had a tendency to look down our noses at them because many of the insurgencies they were supporting were not Trotskyist, we have to get over that. For us to continue to regard the revolutionary movement in a Manichean fashion where the Trotskyists are the good forces and everybody else is evil is an obstacle not only to our own growth, but the success of the revolutionary movement overall. This leads me to the next point.

D) RELATIONS WITH THE REST OF THE LEFT

One of the things I hope never to hear again in our ranks is the reference to other socialists as our “opponents”. Let’s reflect on what that kind of terminology means. It says two things, both of which are equally harmful. On one hand, it means that they are our enemies on a permanent basis. When you categorize another left group in this fashion, it eliminates the possibility that they can change. This obviously is not Marxist, since no political group–including ourselves–is immune from objective conditions. Groups can shift to the left or to the right, depending on the relationship of class forces. The SWP emerged out of a merger with other left-moving forces during the 1930s and we should be open to that possibility today.

The other thing that this reflects is that somehow the SWP is like a small business that competes for market share with other small businesses, except that we are selling revolution rather than air conditioners or aluminum siding. We have to get that idea out of our heads. We are all struggling for the same goal, which is to change American society. We only disagree on the best way to achieve that.

Unfortunately we have tended to exaggerate our differences with other small groups in such a way as to suggest we had a different product. This goes back for many years as indicated in this quote from a James P. Cannon speech to the SWP convention nearly 25 years ago. “We are monopolists in the field of politics. We can’t stand any competition. We can tolerate no rivals. The working class, to make the revolution can do it only through one party and one program. This is the lesson of the Russian Revolution. That is the lesson of all history since the October Revolution. Isn’t that a fact? This is why we are out to destroy every single party in the field that makes any pretense of being a working-class revolutionary party. Ours is the only correct program that can lead to revolution. Everything else is deception, treachery We are monopolists in politics and we operate like monopolists.”

Comrades, we have to conduct an open and sharp struggle against this kind of attitude. The differences between the SWP and many other left groups is not that great and we have to figure out ways to work with them on a much more cooperative basis. For example, La Raza Unida Party in Texas shares many of our assumptions about the 2-party system and they are open to socialist ideas, largely through the influence of the left-wing of the party which has been increasingly friendly to the Cuban Revolution. We should think about the possibilities of co-sponsoring meetings with them around the question of Chicano Liberation and socialism. The same thing would be true of the Puerto Rican Independence movement in the United States, which shares with us a positive attitude toward the Cuban revolution. In terms of the Marxist movement per se, we have to find ways to work more closely with the activists around the Guardian newspaper. While many of them continue to have Maoist prejudices, there are others who have been friendly to our work in the antiwar movement. The idea is to open discussion and a sure way to cut discussion off is to regard them as “opponents”. Our only true opponents are in Washington, DC.

This new sense of openness to other groups on the left has organizational consequences that I will now outline.

E) REDEFINING OUR ORGANIZATIONAL PRINCIPLES

Much of our understanding of “democratic centralism” has been shaped by James P. Cannon’s writings. Although the notion of 500 to 1500 people united ideologically around a homogenous program has a lot to recommend itself, it can only go so far in building a revolutionary party. This was Cannon’s contribution. He showed how a small band of cadre dedicated to Trotsky’s critique of Stalin could emerge as a serious force on the American left.

Although this will sound like heresy to most of you, I want to propose that Cannon’s writings are a roadblock to further growth, especially in a period when Stalinism is not a hegemonic force. In reality, Lenin’s goal was to unite Russian Marxism, which existed in scattered circles. Our goal should be identical. Despite our commitment to Trotsky’s theories, we are not interested in constructing a mass Trotskyist movement. That would be self-defeating. Many people who are committed to Marxism are not necessarily committed to Trotsky’s analysis of the Spanish Civil War, WWII, etc. We should take the same attitude that Lenin took toward the Russian left at the turn of the century. We should serve as a catalyst for uniting Marxists on a national basis.

Are we afraid to function in a common organization with Castroists, partisans of the Chinese Revolution, independent Marxists of one sort or another? Not at all. We should not put a barrier in the way of unity with the tens of thousands of Marxists in the United States, many who hold leading positions in the trade union and other mass movements. The only unity that interests us is the broad unity of the working people and their allies around class struggle principles. Our disagreements over historical and international questions can be worked out in a leisurely fashion in the party press. In fact we would encourage public debates over how to interpret such questions in our press, since they can make us even more attractive to people investigating which group to join. It is natural that you would want to join a group with a lively internal life.

This question of ‘democratic centralism’ has to be thoroughly reviewed. Although the Militant will be running a series of articles on “Lenin in Context” this year, which explores the ways in which this term was understood by the Bolsheviks and then transformed by his epigones, we can state with some assuredness right now that it was intended to govern the actions of party members and not their thoughts. The Bolshevik Party, once it voted on a strike, demonstration, etc., expected party members to function under the discipline of the party to build such actions. It never intended to discipline party members to defend the same political analysis in public. We know, for example, that there are different interpretations of Vietnamese Communism in our party. We should not expect party members to keep their views secret if they are in the minority. This is not only unnatural–it leads to cult thinking.

F) CONCLUSION

As many of these proposals seem radically different from the principles we’ve operated on in the past, I want to make sure that all disagreements–especially from older cadre who worked side by side with James P. Cannon–are given proper consideration. The last thing we want is to railroad the party into accepting this new orientation. Since a revolution can only be made by the conscious intervention of the exploited and oppressed masses into the historical process, its party must encourage the greatest expression of conscious political decision-making. There are no shortcuts to a revolution. And there are no shortcuts to building a revolutionary party.

22 Comments »

  1. This talk of openness is just that — talk — and it’s happening because ignoring and denigrating what’s going on elsewhere on the left won’t wash with the members any longer. There’s no mental illness parallel here.

    Comment by Pham Binh — July 7, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

  2. They should have called themselves the “Society for Women in Plastics”, they would have had more success. http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/critiques/sullivan/fourth1.html

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — July 7, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

  3. For someone who fancies himself as having a knowledge of films substituting Anthony Newman for Anthony Perkins is tantamount to substituting Chico Marx for Karl Marx. I will give you a little mitigation as you are dealing with the virus of Shachtmanism and its many permutations and trying to make sense of it is more difficult than finding the Maguffin in a Hitchcock film.

    Comment by Mike Tormey — July 7, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

  4. Anthony Newman is of course the great harpsichord player. And completely normal as far as I know.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 7, 2013 @ 11:53 pm

  5. Lou: In this article you said Anthony Newman was in Psycho when I think you meant Anthony Perkins?

    Karl

    Comment by iskraagent — July 8, 2013 @ 12:30 am

  6. Yes. I fixed.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 8, 2013 @ 12:38 am

  7. A lot of Leftists are basically assholes in their relations with the outside world and its swirl of disagreeable positions. This goes a long way to understanding why the Left is in such a dismal state.

    Comment by purple — July 8, 2013 @ 6:01 am

  8. Thanx for the article, Louis.

    As a long-time subscriber to your blog, & an International Socialist Network member from the start, I have to point out that your hammer is a little off the mark when saying at the beginning of your piece, “It strikes me that the American ISO and the people who departed the British SWP are on the same wavelength in terms of political analysis”.

    The two posts I made last night in our ISN Public Forum deal directly with the matter of “political analysis” within our organisation:

    http://forum.internationalsocialistnetwork.com/thread/253/swp-takes-new-turn-learn?page=1#scrollTo=2591

    I hope my post will spark a frank, productive discussion about our ISN, & be a small part of the call made last month by the new SWP opposition blog: “We welcome the emerging bottom-up culture of debate on the left – and we want this site to reflect and encourage that process”. (I link to this site in my first ISN post.)

    I also use Joaquín Bustelo’s argument made on ‘The North Star’ about Lenin never writing in an internal discussion bulletin, & Russian social democracy never having such a thing until autumn 1920 (‘Lenin Was Not a Leninist’, 13 March 2013).

    Comment by Jara Handala — July 8, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  9. This idea that the British left are far ahead on Leninism is just so much bunk. Defeat, after defeat, after defeat. This silly idea that the mass org’s of the class (the vacuum) can be filled by various reformist, neo-“Old Labour” schemes concocted have gone down in flames time and time again. Not a single “anti-Zinovievist” lash up has yet to produce. Only the use of coalitions in struggle alongside the best socialists will produce solid agreements in struggle. At least this is the opinion of those still immersed in the living fight! Otherwise, blah, blah, blah…

    Comment by David Walsh (not wsws.org) — July 8, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

  10. “The truth is that the ISO probably shares to a significant degree Alex Callinicos’s aversion to the Internet, where all sorts of riffraff hang out. It is too bad that there is a lingering hostility (albeit veiled) to a means of communication as important to the 21st century as the Gutenberg press was to the epoch of the bourgeois revolution.”

    On July 4th, I participated in the “Restore the Fourth” march in San Francisco, a protest called, along with others around the country, in response to Snowden’s disclosures. Leaving my ideological disagreements with the organizers aside, I noticed that there were about 300-400 people who responded to the call, which I thought was pretty good for a holiday. Interestingly, I did not hear about it from any of the people and groups that I follow in Twitter (mostly lefties and people who were involved in Occupy), nor was it posted on the indymedia site for the Bay Area, indybay. Someone told me that it was posted on reddit. However, it was done, the organizers reached the social media and techies that they wanted to reach.

    Comment by Richard Estes — July 8, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  11. David Walsh is correct to point out the indifferent track record of the various attempts by the British left to organise outside the framework of the grouplets. However, I think he underestimates the impact of the grouplets on these projects.

    First of all, the weight and influence of outfits like the SWP and SP can have a massively distorting impact on such projects, even if what they are trying to do is correct.

    Second, the grouplets themselves are part of the reason why these projects are restricted to being ‘reformist, neo-”Old Labour” schemes’. To move towards something more programatically interesting would undermine their pretensions of being the revolutionary party.

    That said, I don’t have much confidence in Louis’ assessment of the ISO. The ISO will find their own way at their own pace, regardless of the kibitzers. And that’s the way it should be.

    Comment by Alan B — July 8, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

  12. You say you want an open, inclusive organization that doesn’t have “line” positions. You present evidence that there are differences of opinion within the ISO on the question of party-building, I.e. that it doesn’t have a “line” position on this. But in the ISO’s case you say this is akin to mental illness. I guess there’s just no satisfying some people.

    Comment by David Altman — July 9, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

  13. Altman, you are totally clueless. I advocate CLARITY. When the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the Russian Social Democratic Party developed differences over questions of support for the Cadets, they defended their views in public. Go to the Marxist Internet Archives and do some searches on Lenin and Plekhanov to get up to speed. What this has to do with the ISO’s split personality is anybody’s guess. Your problem is that you lack the intellectual curiosity to study these matters. If you devoted 1/100th of your time and energy to exploring them as you do to 1970s Afropop, you’d understand better what the debate is about. But then again, you’d probably find a way to obfuscate in the same fashion as you are doing now.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 9, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  14. 1970s Afropop is the shit. Well worth the time and energy.

    Comment by godoggo — July 10, 2013 @ 2:17 am

  15. I mean seriously.

    Comment by godoggo — July 10, 2013 @ 2:26 am

  16. A few hours ago I posted in our International Socialist Network Public Forum part 2 of my detailed analysis of how our Network needs to change in the context of the intensifying crisis in the British SWP:

    http://forum.internationalsocialistnetwork.com/thread/254/swp-crisis-isn-learn-2

    At least 5 of our notables went to last month’s ISO Socialism in Chicago.

    Comment by Jara Handala — July 10, 2013 @ 7:25 am

  17. Richard Estes I wish I could switch places with you and not go to rightist “Restore the Fourth” rallies and not have internet forums and Occupy people who are rightists who would support such a thing to hear about it from…maybe it’s my zip code

    Comment by Robert Allen — July 10, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  18. Robert: I went because I do oppose the extensive government surveillance exposed by Snowden. Such surveillance is threatening to everyone, especially the left. While I can see why you would describe the rallies and marches as “rightist”, I would more accurately characterize them as politically schizophrenic. The speakers invoke Franklin and Orwell without recognizing the contradiction. They call for the judicial enforcement of the 4th amendment without understanding that the 4th amendment, as understood in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, was a temporary creation of the Warren Court and that cops conducted warrantless searches all the time prior to the Warren Court’s 4th amendment decisions. They tend to sound like 19th Century constitutionalists of the Gore Vidal kind. They naively encouraged people to contact their congressional representatives as if this is a plausible political strategy. They were oblivious to the abusive “stop and frisk” practices directed toward young males of color in the real, as opposed to the virtual, world that is a ongoing police, 4th amendment issue. They seemingly had no idea that this ravenous information gathering leviathan is part of a larger, imperialistic military-industrial complex.

    Sound familiar? It should. The emphasis upon constitutionalism and reformism is very similar to what the earlier participants in Occupy said. Many occupiers were ignorant that poor people and people of color had been subject to the same predations that they had recently experienced for decades. Occupiers decried exclusion from the political process and the corruption of money while Restore the Fourthers complained about the secret NSA court. As with Occupy initially, it is, in my view, unfortunate that the left did not participate more strongly in these recent protests. The issue of governmental surveillance, as with Occupy, cuts across social and political lines, with the exception, of course, of the 1%. As such, it provides an opportunity for the left to be on the right side of an issue with the opportunity to reach people that are otherwise inaccessible.

    Oddly, the organizers also seem unaware that they are associating themselves with a phenomenon that the elites consider extremely dangerous, the public disclosure of sensitive governmental information by some of the people that gain access to it. Assange, Manning and now Snowden. For a certain population of predominately young white males, they are heroes, much in the way that Huey Newton and Che Guevara were heroes for radicals in the 1960s. In both instances, dangerous heroes. Accordingly, their supporters are probably much more likely to find themselves under government surveillance and subjected to incarceration, like Aaron Swartz and Barrett Brown, than any leftists like us. At least 60s radicals understood that the state was after them, I doubt that these people do.

    By the way, the Occupy people and leftists that I follow had nothing to do with Restore the Fourth. They didn’t say anything about it, except for a criticism in an after the fact tweet that I got from Occupy Oakland.

    Comment by Richard Estes — July 11, 2013 @ 1:04 am

  19. You’re right in your characterisation of these sorts of arguments -but we shouldn’t let it blind us to the fact that the 1970s were a period of crisis for capitalism that resulted in a structural shift (towards a dominant neo-liberal “mode of regulation” to borrow a phrase); 2008has ushered in another such period, whose outcome is still up for graps. “Crisis” understood in this sense (and I think its the most useful one) is a process that is likely to occupy a decade, and is not incompatible with various cyclical movements- positive and negative – in the economy in the course of it.

    Comment by Rosario Gamble — July 12, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

  20. We do not know if the women wanted to go to the police; what we know is that they took their charges to their party. They may have chosen not to go to the police for reasons that have to do with police attitudes toward rape victims, and/or out of a belief that the party was the better forum for their charges, especially given the long history of police repression and sabotage of organizations and movements challenging the status quo. While all victims of sexual abuse have the right to take their cases to the police, it is quite understandable that some would prefer to go to their party first.

    Comment by Laurel L. Avery — July 13, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

  21. That is, a break from the programme or tradition and an ineluctable collapse into “centrism”. The use of terms like centrist or liquidationism, ‘a collapse away from Leninism and Trotskyism’, etc, in a manner out of proportion to the real differences, will exacerbate this tendency, and, as categorical statements of revolutionary de-legitimation, substitute for genuinely rational discussion. A similar phenomenon that accompanies this is ad hominem accusations that people are police spies, agents of other groups, ‘degenerate’ or any other slur under the sun. Ironic really because historically speaking, Trotskyists in particular should to be aware of how Left Opposition activists were shut down in the Soviet Union by being labelled as “fascists”, “pro imperialists”, “saboteurs”, and so on. Consider how the abusive term “Trotskyist” is used by union leaders of managers to isolate and smoke out working place militants. It stems from a similar approach. Sadly the personalist attacks on party members during bitter faction fights are often only a reflection of the way they refer to other socialists most of the time anyway. An example of this is the number of times I have heard other socialists dismissed as “crazy” or “mad” for expressing a different political view.

    Comment by Sammy Castillo — July 15, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  22. Sammy that’s why I oppose the the derogatory use of “ite” when leftists describe currents they disagree with. We should use terms like tendency or again current (even ‘ist’) if they must.

    Comment by David Walsh (not wsws.org) — July 15, 2013 @ 11:47 pm


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