Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 10, 2012

Black bloc attack on massive trade union demo in October 2011

Filed under: black bloc idiots,Greece — louisproyect @ 1:13 am

5 Comments »

  1. oh man, if it wasn’t for those anarchists, the unions totally would have stopped austerity lol

    Comment by lulz — February 10, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  2. For most of the public, it is difficult to tell the black bloc from neo-nazi skins, and that is one of its problems.

    Comment by ceti — February 10, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  3. Classic police-organized attack. They pull their snitches and lumpens in for the ride. Maybe some fascist wannabes. The purpose is probably two-fold. 1. Show a broader strata that the communist party can be attacked in the streets, and 2. Propagandize that the communist party cooperation with liberalism is one of the reasons that the “Greek people” are at the mercy of the bankers (posing in this capitulation to the bankers in fact while maintaining a so-called independence much like other fascist propaganda). Some people may have forgotten that the fascists movements have always picked up disenchanted workers and used the rhetoric of “socialism” and “worker’s pride”, etc., etc. The flip side of this coin is the utter capitulation of the Greek Party to the role of bourgeois liberalism and their capitalist system for creating value. Nowhere in the depicted speech of the Greek Party “analyzing” the events is there any attack on capitalism as such. In place of that is a vague “workers will resist” but not through mass demonstrations. In other words, “We’ll keep it off of the streets because we know it frightens you.”

    One of Trotsky’s signal contributions to Marxism and thus to the workers was his analysis of Fascism and how the Stalinist parties set the workers up for the catastrophes. We know that these defeats by fascism and liberalism became WWII, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc., with the loss of millions and the un-winding of the clock, eventually to the collapse of the Soviets and the co-option of the Chinese state to imperialism. Here the Greek so-called communists are performing the same mission for the capitalists and their thugs waiting in the wings. Once the economic crisis deepens even more, the Greek workers and any middle-class allies they have will tire of the platitudes. They will get tired of spinning their tires. Then the Brown-shirts, some of whom will be these so-called anarchists “activists without theories or leaders”, will take to their streets for more definitive action that will clothed in the rhetoric of the fatherland, mom, and apple pie, perhaps Greek pastries. In the United States, it is difficult for the rulers to launch a full-fledged fascism precisely because the workers’ political representatives have been those shared with the capitalists themselves. It is difficult to maneuver the electorate to attack the bourgeois themselves, so the billionaires settle for attacking “the liberal, the leftist” press, which is of course, themselves. This is just part of the shell game they play with the clueless workers in the United States along with the equally clueless “activists” who believe that throwing mud pies is the equivalent to challenging the most power capitalist system and state that has ever existed.

    The Greeks do not have a dual power situation at this point. They need to move to that point. The Greek Communist Party is the major obstacle of that move since it has the conceptual grip on the mass consciousness and believes that conjugal visits with capitalist ministers makes for great entertainment. The Transitional program would help break that conceptual grip. But the problem of course is that a leadership actually interested in ending the capitalist crisis by ending capitalism has to move that agenda. That is not going to happen with the Greek Communist Party and it is certainly not going to happen with brain-dead so-called anarchists. Possibly there is the opportunity for factions in the Greek Party. If not, a new party moving this agenda can do it, but it will never be by some rump group of so-called Trotskyists debating the flotsam and jetsam of missed opportunities to sell newspapers or trust accounts. All of that is irrelevant to the issues at hand and the comrades need to get off of it.

    There has been dual power emerge in the Arab Spring and a powerful movement exist in the region. It is largely co-opted by bourgeois clerics promoted by the imperialist press and embassies intent on preserving the capitalist states. But they have only a tentative hold. Every opportunity exist to link that dual power with the Greek and Spanish struggles and that would rapidly spread to China and India, possibly further. Who knows, maybe the Russians would wake up. All of it has to be based on the dual power and a leadership that realizes the implications of power that challenges the bourgeois state at its roots. The program has to move the dual power to ultimate power and has to involve the co-opting of the army ranks into the dual power and the isolation of the generals, ministers, clergy, etc. Without this, the dual power will collapse into the new repression as the Egyptians generals are attempting with their friends at State and in NATO. The billionaires met recently to map out how they are going to move on this as well as their foisting of their economic restructuring upon the backs of workers, farmers, shopkeepers, etc.

    I think that is where a challenge is, not on whether one or the other bottle thrower, mask wearer is right or wrong. They are totally irrelevant to the big picture of what is occurring. They are a mere bourgeois distraction to what needs to be done. One issue that might be of relevance is how to tackle the legacy of Stalinism and how to create checks and balances to bureaucracies of the state and party. This involves the super-ceding of the national state and bourgeois political conceptions. To a large extent it would involve the demilitarization of the state. Trotsky hinted in one piece that the workers in the factories and councils needed to be armed to the teeth. No one has really thought this through, and it is a glaring deficiency in our theories. Of course, the capitalists and slavers had no problem moving ahead with their revolutions without a blueprint. They did have the issue of “representation”. Mostly people want equity. There can be no equity under capitalism or under a bureaucratic state of paper-shuffling bumpkins too lazy to work. I have not read the Transitional Program recently, so that is something to do soon. Cheers. Here is to the MIA, one really useful resource!

    Comment by Eustacius — February 10, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  4. Thanks, Eustacius, and welcome. I generally agree with the drift of your argument. While establishment of dual power in immediately on the agenda in Greece, on the world scale it is the end and reversal of the great tide of reaction and counterrevolution that began (I’d say) in South America in the mid 1970’s (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia), got into the driver’s seat in Anglo-America (U.K., U.S,A.) after 1980 together with the strangling of the Iranian Revolution, and of course broadened and deepened after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the First Persian Gulf war, and the entry of China into the world market.

    With the outbreak of the (still unresolved) capitalist crisis of 2008, we have entered an indeterminate period where the masses, and the working class in particular, have sought to act to bring an end and reverse this period of reaction. They haven’t succeed yet, partly because many don’t understand that that is the immediate purpose of their actions, and meanwhile the capitalists and their allies are redoubling their efforts to keep the era of reaction in force. They are “doubling down” on privatization, austerity, destruction of the social wage, imperialist war, racism. This of course will only intensify the crisis.

    Your mention of the U.S. is very astute. With a few exceptions, it is a hard fact that leftists brought up on fables of the “New Deal” have trouble facing: that the U.S. working class has generally supported capitalism, imperialism and racism, through electoral support of BOTH capitalist parties (in this way the Republicans can act as a surrogate “reactionary worker’s party” just as the Democrats can be the same for the “liberal working class”), so long as the capitalists were able and willing to share out the spoils (technically, surplus profits) derived from the same. In this sense U.S. workers were not “clueless”, but acting on a very particular, immediately perceived self-interest, at the expense of the world worker’s movement, this with deep historical and material roots in the development of the U.S. that can’t be covered here.

    It is also true that the historical and material basis for a pro-capitalist, imperialist, racist working class (whether “liberal” or “reactionary” – see the Bill Maher comedy show on HBO for a toxic dose of what I am talking about) has been crumbling under the feet of this same working class since the 1970’s crisis. U.S. workers have NOT largely seen benefits from capitalist development, imperialist war and racism since then, even as they continued Pledging Allegiance to the Flag. This began the Era of Cluelessness that Eustacius speaks of. That was the significance of the 2008 election results, however muffled by a backward (even in bourgeois terms) electoral system. Here a bunch of racist flag-waving “Reagan Democrat” white workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, along with a piece of the Old South in Virgina and North Carolina, were the pivot in electing a black man, one moreover with a funny-sounding “foreign”, even “middle Eastern” sounding name that rhymed with that of the Great Satan, “Osama”. As silly as this sounds, it is what is to be expected from an era of cluelessness. What is objectively expressed was a desire to bring an end to the Reagan Era of relentless reaction. Of course who they elected was dedicated to just the opposite, to preserve it at all costs, using every trick in the book. Once disappointed by Obama, they have gone back to their traditional “reactionary working class party”.

    Hence no need for fascism in the U.S. Once the U.S. working class shifts its stance, though, watch out!

    As for Russia, there we see a situation with parallels to Greece, though at a lesser intensity. There the Russian CP plays a similar role in holding back the working class and propping up the regime, leaving the anti-regime field open to a reactionary alliance of bourgeois “liberals”, fascists and, no doubt, anarchists – the ones who want an “Americanized” Russia. We see a similar situation in Chile as well. All the key pivot countries of the reactionary era.

    Finally, I can only agree with “If not, a new party moving this agenda can do it, but it will never be by some rump group of so-called Trotskyists debating the flotsam and jetsam of missed opportunities to sell newspapers or trust accounts. All of that is irrelevant to the issues at hand and the comrades need to get off of it.”, if by “missed opportunities” we also include the largest one of all: the failure to develop a mass fourth international. The period that gave rise to the fourth international project and its tasks was closed by the high tide of the reactionary era, already described here, in 1991. Even today’s “fifth internationalists” who recognize this as a historic failure, still insist on a “continuity” with the methods of the past, as if continuity itself, that is, the historical and material basis for any party building method, hasn’t been irretrievably broken and transformed by its supersession in the reactionary era, and era that is in turn demanding its own supersession, now, potentially opening into a new era of working class revolution.

    Comment by Matt — February 10, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  5. Thanks – When I survey the history of capitalism since 1880, I can’t find any period where it has not been reactionary to the utmost. The capitalist politicians and henchmen have been letting blood from the beginning. We have a banana republic crypto fascist as attorney general at this moment. A man who has not indicted his United Fruit bosses for their campaigns of mass murder and terrorism waged against their workers. We see an Obama that squirrels himself away in a room with his lawyers to peruse their drone hit lists. We are entertained by a ruling class that has just given the green light to using its army to pick up citizens and take them out. So, it appears that the state in the United States is moving to the right as quickly as it can for the purpose of repressing all opposition to its accelerating transfers of value from the public treasury and workers into the hands of the billionaires. The elections are an excuse and opportunity for ratcheting their agenda to the right. The response to this rightward lurching has yet to find mass opposition within the United States. Here’s what I sense is happening in the trenches:

    1. 10s of Millions are unemployed in just the US. These millions are not yet questioning capitalism – at least as long as they are getting unemployment. No mass movement speaks for these unemployed or underemployed workers. Many factories are working their workers with heavy overtime.

    2. The energy families are continuing their squeezing of consumers and extortion of billions for energy.

    3. The super-exploitation of “foreign” workers by imperialism has reached it zenith as its grab for the bottom strategy.

    4. With the realization of super-profits from “foreign workers”, (meaning the averaging out of the temporary advantage amongst the imperialist competitors) the exploiters are looking for other avenues to increase their margins. The Bush and Obama Congresses gave it to them in the form of some $4 trillion that the administration and Congress is now seeking to recoup from the working stiffs. This signals a relative first in using the public treasury to substitute for global corporate profits. The workers have not figured this out and no mass press is informing them. The primary mechanism for recoupment has been retail price inflation.

    5. The federal government is tapped out for Keynesian purposes. Most of the available surplus is being diverted to the MIC (Military Industrial Complex).

    6. The government is signalling a severe round of austerity measures. These will kick in after the elections.

    7. The Feds have ramped up the security apparatus to contain mass protests. Not out of the question that they will perform preemptive detentions as the Brits have tested.

    8. The US working class at all levels is the most complacent and receptive of capitalist dogma of any working class on the planet. Extraordinary as it is, many hundreds of thousands believe Obama is a Marxist simply because they have been told this by one or another corporate stooge. They have no idea what Marxism is. This is part of the cold war history, but it is also present day propaganda designed to make revolutionaries into “satans” that the military can take out without a whimper. Hence, Obama can incinerate those who object if the CIA can find them traveling in a remote area. Soon to come to our highways.

    9. There is no real revolutionary left inside of the United States. No one that has any dicernable effect that is. The armed bureaucracy inspects anyone that they sniff out, but the reality is that no group poses any challenge at all to the hegemony of the capitalist class or state. This applies on the practical and on the theoretical level. No one has a plan. No one is executing a plan that poses any challenges at all.

    10. No revolutionary challenges will arise from union actions anywhere. The unions are completely bought off. They may protest, but not too much. They endorse the capitalist system because they conceive of themselves as the counter part of capital. They are best buds. They do this when they bargain for contracts. This abject failure of the American left is principally the result of the surplus available to spread around as it has been since the 1950s. This period is ending as the imperialist class is jettisoning its past practice and moving to a new level.

    11. The new level is called “globalism”, which is distinct from classical imperialism in this: the imperialists and their states have finally begun to coordinate their actions on a global scale. Where before we had imperialists sending workers into the trenches killing each other to secure new markets or to attack the Russian revolution, now we have globalists coordinating their exploitation of the international working class by enforcing world-wide austerities and world-wide sanctions on non-cooperating imperialist states such as Iran. The billionaires want all of their class to sing from the same book. I see the Obama drone war in this context. They want to move to the point of being able to take out individuals who will not cooperate. What this means for the world proletariat is fairly straight forward. The imperialists will still pit proletariat against proletariat as is happening with Iran and even China to a lesser extent. This achieves several purposes and goals. It controls the minds of the proletariat. The object of hatred becomes other workers instead of the capitalist system. It guarantees profits for the MIC. It gives a platform for the bourgeois democracies and their talking heads. It allows the continued hyper-exploitation of the most oppressed workers, such as in China. The implications of this new level are taking shape.
    a. International military policy is somewhat coordinated.
    b. International monetary policy is somewhat coordinated.
    c. International propaganda is somewhat coordinated ( a weak area since the imperialists have so many shitheads speaking for them, especially in the US where the new billionaires are quirky).
    d. International agreements on exploitation are somewhat coordinated. (Hence the imperialist flood into China, NAFTA, etc).

    12. All of the above is subject to the thieves’ paradox. Can the individual imperialists trust their partners and what is their opportunity to take in more loot by skirting the agreements? (Iraq is a case in point where US and British imperialists moved to challenge French, Russian and Chinese imperialists in the development vs temporary capping of Iraqi oil production). Interestingly, they are all mum on the Iraqi result which apparently is allowing the losers to get a share of the pie with the immediate result of severely restricting Iraqi production and thereby increasing profits for the international oil families. This “oil drama” is part and parcel of the international monetary “crisis”. That is why “Iran” is such a hot topic. Iran as a crisis helps stoke the fires of price support and thereby artificial profits for the billionaires through monopoly pricing. I’m fairly sure the Iranian oligarchs are in on the game. They hang strikers, so why wouldn’t they be in on it for nothing else than class solidarity?

    13. Lastly, we have the coordinated development of the armed capitalist bureaucracy here and abroad. We are seeing an exponential expansion and coordination of the imperialist/globalist repressive state. They share intelligence, prisons, torturers, and all other repressive resources. This is at an all-time high level of integration and they are seeking to take it to the transnational level in all respects. In a way, this is a good thing. That discrete object of desire becomes more identifiable the more it assumes its common face. If it is more identifiable, perhaps more workers will wake up and smell the coffee. this development leads to a rational, international revolution. In practical terms, no bunch os imperialist stooges can really confront the mass movement. They run with their tails tucked once things unwind. This is their personality. All sociopaths are cowards at heart.

    At any rate, I do not see a lessening of the repressive states’ activities. I see an increase from China to Pakistan to the US to Britain, France, Greece, Egypt, etc. There is more “anti” activity, but is is piecemeal, uncoordinated and totally uninformed-stupid in fact. The various sects serve no useful purpose. The Stalinists are, of course, useless to workers as are the SPs performing as bourgeois’ teats. The “Occupiers” are a well-meaning joke. I think the billionaires are having a very good laugh at their success and the nearly complete ignorance and out-maneuvering of the the so-called leaders on the left! Can it really be any worse than it is? That is what I see. Me, I am certainly no better than anyone else. Too comfortable, too complacent living here in the belly. But thinking over all these 40 some odd years about theory and action. And, I see it is coming to an end and moving to another level. I think this is a game workers can win. I think the workers can have the last laugh. I think the billionaires can be taken off their yachts and made into honest people. I do not believe we need a mass terror. We need a mass movement that can exert its force by numbers and squeeze the imperialists into a very pliable paste. After all, how many are there? 1,000? We need to inform that movement with theory and organizational ideas. We do not need a messiah or some imposter or inflated toad dressed as a ‘super prole” who has learned to karaoke the various rites. We certainly do not need career opportunists with a liberal agenda for cosmetic surgery. Those of us who have been around should know the score. When the time comes to mess with the American imperialists, it will be a mass movement, not a group of groupies. That will be a serious time.

    Lenin wrote What is to Be Done because he had learned some lessons close to home. When the Czar hung Lenin’s brother, Lenin’s mother came to him and said, “Vladimir, the Czar has hung Aleksandr, my son and your brother. What are you going to do?” And Vladimir said to his mother, “Don’t cry mom, I have a plan.” And Vladimir then and there set his goal and set into motion the organization necessary to get to that goal. He knew that challenging the Czar was serious business. He had an itch on his neck. Of course, his goal became the goal of millions as they recognized that the end of the Czar meant the end of the imperialist slaughter of WWI and the beginning of a new opportunity to crawl out from the yoke of the Czarist state and capitalism. Unfortunately, the opportunists of the SPs and the CPs sold out and mislead the workers in Europe and everyone got to enjoy WWII, “the greatest generation” (to survive the imperialist slaughter) as one head has it. For this, we say that this cannot happen again. Let’s not make those mistakes again. Let’s forget whether we need a 4th or a 5th International. What workers need is success on their level of operation. Success means power and nothing short of it. That is what everyone must get. Success is not “kicking the boss’ ass in a strike.” That is an event. It cannot even be considered a tactic. There is no tactic of strike that leads to state power. One is economic and one is political. Of course, some gum this up with”general strike”. We do not need general strikes as such. We need movement to power, and that will be through the All-American workers’ councils and those will be something more spontaneous than most of us can imagine. We can help with the conceptual framework and trying to get political organization fleshed out. None of this can be approached using a liberal’s agenda of lasering capital’s warts. All this requires a paradigm shift and some realization of what is real and what is fantasy. Ciao.

    Comment by Eustacius — February 11, 2012 @ 2:40 am


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