Socialist Utopia

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Jul 6 11:10:46 MDT 1995


On Thu, 6 Jul 1995 TimW333521 at aol.com wrote:
>
> However, it would be a Crime to seek to Impose  your dream of utopia and thus
> create a Frankenstein (Stalin's collectivization, Mao's Great Leap Forward
> and Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's agrarian communism).
>

Louis Proyect:

You know, Tim, I'm 50 years old, bald, overweight and use Polident
every day. Most of the time I feel pretty tired and jaded. But when it
comes to U.S. capitalism, I still have fire in the belly.

We all need to find a way to summon up that fire in the belly. Its all
too easy to succumb to the "god that failed" siren-call and aspire to be
the next Irving Howe. But people like Irving Howe, while never a threat
to impose totalitarianism, were neither a threat to bring about
socialism.

You wring your hands over Pol Pot and Stalin. You should broaden
your horizons a little bit and study some newer revolutionary
developments. The Sandinistas overthrew Somoza and tried against
overwhelming odds to build some kind of socialism in poor Nicaragua.
This was done without Gulags, executions and thought police. Daniel
Ortega and Tomas Borge read exactly the same works of Lenin that
Stalin and Mao did but their revolution took another trajectory, one
that should appeal to all of us. The fact that they were ousted has more
to do with the relationship of forces vis a vis US imperialism rather
than sins on their part.

Also, look at Brazil where Lula's Workers Party has come close in
recent years to attaining power, or in South Africa where the ANC and
SACP are struggling, for better or for worse, to advance socialist
goals. The Workers Party and the SACP have both been strongly
influenced by Lenin's writings but show no signs of the type of
dictatorial behavior that alarms you so much. The problem, after all, is
not what's in Lenin's writings but in the concrete historical and
economic factors that attend each proletarian revolution.

We, as American Marxists, should focus on confronting our own
ruling class. Before we start worrying about whether we'll act like Pol
Pot, let's try to win the allegiance of perhaps one percent of the
American people. Our problem is not abuse of power but inability to
achieve any at all. We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot.

With all of your intelligence and experience, you should consider
applying the Marxist method to the resurgence of populism that you
spoke about recently. As far as I know, not a single Marxist in the
United States has come anywhere near unraveling the tangle of class
issues that are found in this new movement. Pay attention to Jeffrey St.
Clair and Alexander Cockburn to get a fresh perspective on the
stirrings in the West. Why not tackle this subject yourself? I'm sure if
you took a look at land usage statistics, unemployment figures,
funding by various corporations, etc., we might see something that
Daniel Guerin would be proud of.

In the meantime,why not leave the "god that failed" routine to
bourgeois intellectuals. They're much better at it.



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