[Marxism] Muslim notables?

Lenin's Tomb leninstombblog at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 7 00:02:02 MST 2007

On 11/6/07, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> Sigh. You just don't get it. Reformist is a term of abuse. If Benn uses
> it to describe himself, that doesn't legitimize it.

I do get it: you think 'reformist' is a term of abuse because you associate
its use with the nutters on the sectarian fringe of the American left.
That's not my problem, frankly.  We use it as a neutral (dare I say
'scientific'?) description.  You would be hard pressed to

For example, Duncan Hallas wrote
> an article titled "Do We Support Reformist Demands?" in 1973. This is
> totally alien to how Lenin or Trotsky dealt with the matter of
> *democratic reforms*. For example, the fight to end Jim Crow was not
> reformist. That term has no relevance to the struggle to consummate
> Reconstruction. Fighting to end Jim Crow through mass action is
> consistent with the approach of the Bolshevik Party, which was called
> "proletarian methods of struggle" in the jargon of our movement. If you
> run as a Democrat on an integration platform, you are following a
> reformist approach.

You are yourself confusing two separate issues.  There are struggles that
are necessary, and which any revolutionary should be at the forefront of
fighting - and reformists can and should also be at the forefront.  But it
doesn't mean that reformists cease to be such in the context of this

The second point is that you don't seem to be aware that Hallas was
supporting Lenin's position against the "simon-pure" impossibilism of the
SPGB.  When it comes to discuss what he means by 'reformist' demands, he
distinguishes them from 'transitional demands' in the sense of those that
the system can't cope with, though they are formally possible.  The former
are achievable, but are not intended as, or likely to be in effect,
radicalising levers.  But they are beneficial for workers.  Hallas says:
"Are we then still for it? Of course we are."  Which is why SWP activists
are involved in Defend Council Housing campaigns or even such local and
consummately non-radical campaigns as 'Defend Ladywell swimming pool'.

Now, there's something curious going on here.  There is a crisis in Respect,
in which Galloway has resorted to his Old Labour means to attack the SWP and
enforce a very rigid electoralist format on the coalition - unsuccessful in
that, he and a small coterie of 'names' around him have split.  Your
response is to attack the SWP's conception of a 'united front of a special
kind', ignore all specifics of the struggle, and then engage in a series of
staccato switches - one minute it's about Bob Avakian and how awful some
revolutionaries, next it's about what Duncan Hallas said in 1973, next it'll
be something else irrelevant to the issues.

But you can find no reference to "reformist demands" in Lenin.

Well, so what?  Aside from the fact that Lenin didn't exhaust wisdom on this
matter, the term is not incongruent with Lenin's approach.  You have failed
to explain how it could be.

Here is
> much more in the way that Lenin approached the question from "What is to
> be Done:
> etc
> Lenin maintained that Bolsheviks should be on the front lines pushing
> for democratic reforms as indicated above.

We agree with that strategy and have pursued it with some measure of
success.  You are unlikely to find a campaign for reforms or the defense of
useful reforms (such as the NHS, council housing, public utilities etc) that
we are not involved in.

I have no intention of posting comments on your blog because there was a
> veiled threat of censorship. I won't put up with threats from Crooked
> Timber, and even less so from somebody who named his blog after Lenin.

There was no such threat, veiled or otherwise.  You fabulated that in order
to pitch for the moral high ground and excuse yourself for removing to a
venue where you feel more fully in control and don't have to listen to those
awful critics.  Your conduct throughout this whole discussion has been
ludicrous: first you engage in a ridiculous attack on the SWP based on a
fetishised notion of what the united front entails and then accuse *us* of
fetishism.  You adopt a silly patronising tone in your article and
responses, and then accuse me of pomposity for being a tiny bit pissed off
about all this.  You issue wad after wad of spit-flecked irrelevant polemic
and non-sequitur, trashing the SWP, and then accuse us of being insulting to
the poor reformists.  What, in the end, are you trying to achieve?
Patently, it is not a serious discussion of the issues at hand.

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