Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Tue Jun 13 11:18:37 MDT 1995

On Tue, 13 Jun 1995, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> On Tue, 13 Jun 1995, Justin Schwartz wrote:
> > .....I'm not saying that on
> > balance the US govt is pro-labor and pro-civil rights. Au contraire. But
> > the state is an arena of class struggle, not a mere instrument of class
> > oppression.
> Louis Proyect:
> Is the state really an arena of class struggle? Do you think Lenin, in
> addition to being a dictator, was also mistaken in the views put forward
> in "State and Revolution?"

Which views in particular? The thesis that the state is simply and
unabiguously an instrument of class domination? Yes, he was mistaken., In
fact, he didn't hold this view consistently. Elsewhere he notes that,
e.g., the post office is a class-neutral entity which isn't to "smashed."

 Marxists have never abstained from electoral
> struggles, and the parliament certainly is an arena of class struggle.
> But the state itself? Do you believe that socialists could "take over"
> the state peacefully and electorally in the United States?

I doubt it, if by that you mean in a "business as usual" election. One
can't foresee the course of a revolutionary struggle, but it's not
inconceivable that things might unfold in something like the way that
did in in Eastern Europe and the former USSR, with a defeated and
dispirited bourgeousie giving up without too much of a (violent) fight
while trying to posistion themselves for best advantage in a socialist
order which was legitimated by elections afterward. I don't regard this as
very likely, but I think a Petersburg Scenario, the Red Guiard storming
the Capitola nd the White House, as virtually impossible.

 Do you think
> that socialists can participate in the bourgeois state apparatus without
> compromising their class loyalties, as socialists did just before WWI?
Depends on what you mean. I think socialists can and should run for (at
present) mostly local offices--a New Party-type strategy--and actually use
their positions to benefit their constituents, not merely as "bully
pulpits." No doubt this qould require some compromises with bourgeois
forces. Some would and will sell out. It's been argued that Bernie Sanders
has sold out--I reseve judgment. I don't think he made a mistake in
running for and serving in Congress and trying to make a difference. And
he did (does) it as a socialist--not as a Democrat. Likewise I think
socialists can work for other branches of the government in various
capacities and serve socialist goals. It really depends on the concrete
conjuncture and the particular circumstances. I don'ra dvocate abstention
on purist grounds, and not just because Lenin rejected it as well.

No doubt this brands me as a petty-bourgeois social democratic sellout, a
traitor to the working class, a lacky of the capitalist class. Please tell
them what I am. Then maybe I can get my job back.

--Justin Schwartz

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