A reply to Louis and other centrists

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sun Aug 25 11:34:50 MDT 1996

Louis P wraps up, for the time being:

>Hugh, basically I don't want to debate with somebody whose words
>are under "discipline". I want to be assured that the person I am debating
>with can be persuaded by my words.

It's ideas and principles that are under debate, and actions based on them.
If your words have any validity in relation to real developments, they will
win out. All but the most petrified fetishists will come round to your
position sooner or later if it's valid. Just look at the persuasion by way
of history that has given Trotsky's work on the History of the Russian
Revolution its pre-eminence.

I debate your positions, all the while aware that you as an individual have
fundamental views preventing you from being persuaded by any words that
don't flatter these views. Persuading you is not the point. I would be
certifiable if it was. What's at stake is getting clarity on the positions
and principles involved. Your stubborn refusal to lay down and die has
definitely helped to make your basic positions much clearer than before,
and has forced me to clarify more than I ever thought I would have to. This
will definitely assist others in taking a position.

>Again, your understanding of the functioning of the Bolshevik Party is as
>sketchy as your understanding of Latin America. Your view of how
>this party functioned is a distortion based on a misreading handed down
>from Trotsky to Moreno. Lenin advocated a party based on adherence to
>*Marxism*. The purpose of Iskra was to allow *public* debate between
>various tendencies *within* Marxism in order to hammer out a program for
>the Russian revolution.

This is muddled and worthless. Your ignorance of how Morenist parties and
other orthodox parties work is as great as your ignorance of the realities
of Latin America -- take that insulting reference of yours to Morenist
cadre schools in the Pampas! Ever heard of Buenos Aires, Louis? Big town in
Argentina. Big port and industrial city. Big proletariat. Or Sao Paulo?
Same thing in Brazil, but no port. And the Sao Paulo Forum *revolutionary*!
This is also an insult to the intelligence and fighting spirit of the Latin
American proletariat.

As for Lenin and the discussion within the party, the more theoretically
authoritative and practically experienced the leading cadre of a party, the
stronger the voluntary discipline of party centralism and the easier it is
to manage an open discussion without getting blown off course -- you surely
don't imagine that Lenin and the leadership made up the most fundamental
principles of the revolutionary Marxism the party was grounded in as they
went along?

What the discussion could provide was the most concrete alternative for
shaping policy at any time and the best way of getting policy across to the
membership and the workers.

>I notice that you continue to categorize me as something other than a
>revolutionary socialist. Meanwhile, I view you as having impeccable
>revolutionary credentials. Excuse me if I choose to exercise my privilege
>to speak only to people who don't view me as a "Menshevik", "centrist",
>"liberal" or "new fascist".

Louis, there are all kinds of revolutionary socialists. You are just a poor
judge of revolutions. You are capable of doing excellent work organizing
support for a revolution that you sympathize with. Nobody except a lunatic
would deny that. It's as a policy-maker and policy-debater that I disagree
with you and consider you a centrist. Many of your political friends
(Castro and the Sao Paulo Forum) are counter-revolutionaries.

You talk to whoever you like. Just like the rest of us. You've exercised
that privilege of yours very little in the history of the list. I don't
think you have much control over who you talk to or about what.

Cut out the sarcasm about my revolutionary credentials.

>I want a list where there is broad agreement
>on socialism.

For what it's worth, I think the majority of us think that *Socialism Is A
Good Thing*, and however uncomfortable we might think the list is for us,
it's a damn sight more uncomfortable for non-socialists such as the
unlamented Mark Adkins or other deliberate disrupters. (Hans's remarks on
this were very much to the point.)

>It could include a wide range of opinions, ranging from left
>to right *within* socialism. I am trying to regroup these forces
>nationally and internationally and am actually participating right now
>with others in a moderated Spoons list on regroupment.

Remember, the list isn't a party.

>Our discussions are
>mostly around organizational questions,

Surprise, surprise.

>but the same type of need exists
>for us to clarify political issues as well.

You speak the truth, and how!

>I want to build a list that goes out and actively recruits people who are
>within this general framework. It would include the sort of people who
>have built the Brecht Forum in NY, the intellectuals associated with
>Socialist Register, activists in Germany like list member Hinrich who
>works with the magazine "Socialismus", participants in the Sao Paulo
>Forum, the SACP, the PDS of Germany, etc.

Building a Menshevik international debating club? I'm a bit doubtful about
the way you include Hinrich and the Brecht Forum people in this list.

>No offense, but Trotskyism does
>not have a mass base in any society and never will.

What a fantastic non-sequitur! Your beloved Euro-Communism is just a stage
on the path by which Stalinism has been *actively losing* the mass base in
the world working class it usurped from the revolutionary Bolsheviks of
October. Castro's regime is actively decimating the mass support it had for
the Cuban revolution and the creation of the Cuban workers' state.
Trotskyism will never squander the trust of the masses this way. You say:
'never will'. This is foolish empiricism that I've answered before. Any
fool could have said the same about the Bolsheviks before 1917. Trotskyism,
in the person of its founder in his joint struggle with Lenin to implement
Bolshevik-Leninist principles, actually had the most powerful mass
proletarian socialist base in history -- and you should know what decimated
and squandered that mass base. (And just for the record, don't forget
1905.) As for the future, let history be our judge.

>and Malecki, the resident "Bolshevik-Leninists" do not know how to present
>a positive vision of the way to achieve socialism. Their entire energy is
>focused on "exposing" others.

Where have you been the past six months?

>I wish them good luck in their endeavors.


>I, for one, need to save my energy

That's a laugh!

>for sorting out political differences with
>my friends and comrades.

This isn't true. You've been insistently confrontational on the list, and I
don't think you'll change. Leave the sweetness and light to me!

With your friends and comrades, you've got a whole bundle of *huge*
political differences. It'll be fun to see what you consider to be 'sorting
them out'!



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