markets, shibboleths, multiplicity

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Mon Feb 5 13:54:24 MST 1996

So presumably if the workers come to support market socialism as the
preferred path by which they emancipate themselves, Adam will find himself
confined to uncomradely and irrelevant opposition. And if his group of
planned socialist ends up in power, Dave Schweickart, Peter Burns, John
Roemer, and myself will be shot as class enemies.

Again, Adam's real opposition comes from his unargued belief that markets
are ewquivalent to capitalism, so anyone who supports markets is really
procapitalist. That's why he thinks we are not comrades. This belief is,
as far as I can make outr, an article of faith. I have never been able to
get an adequate explanation of it from the ISO, the American branch of his
outfit, the British SWP. ALthough I will say that many of his ISO comrades
havea  different attitude and do regard me at least in a comradely way,
whatever their disagreements.

By the way, my group, Solidarity, has as good a claim as the ISO/SWP to be
considered the heirs of the International Socialists. We are descended
from the IS in America, and we are just as uncompromising on the issue of
worker self-emancipation. That's one reason that we don't preclude market
socialism as an organization. It might be a choice the workers make. Some
of think that would be a terrible mistake; others, like me, think it would
be a good idea.

It's also interesting that Adam regards parlaiments are bourgeois
institutions that have no place in revolutionary socialism. Apparently
worker self-emancipation is limited politically as well as economically.
The workers are not to be allowed to choose markets or parliaments either.


On Mon, 5 Feb 1996, Adam Rose wrote:

> I think Lisa is genuinely puzzled by my harsh response to the market
> socialists. I am equally puzzled by her tolerance. The mutual
> puzzlement comes about because it is not details of each other's
> posts which forms the disagreement, but the overall tone. It is
> puzzling, because on most other issues we can discuss and disagree
> in a comradely manner.
> I think an explanation of my attitude can only make sense in the
> context of an explanation of what I think the real revolutionary
> tradition is.
> The absolute bedrock of this tradition is the idea that "the
> emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class".
> This tradition has been half buried by the second and
> third internationals, by reformism and stalinism.
> The conception of a workers revolution and a workers state is based
> upon the high points in the class struggle itself. Marx only
> declared that the proletariat could not lay hands on the
> existing state but had to smash it after the Communards had come
> to this conclusion in practise.
> The more advanced working class in Russia invented the Soviets which
> Lenin and Trosky analysed theoretically as the form of workers power
> appropriate to a more advanced capitalist economy. Every revolutionary
> workers movement since then has comfirmed this basic analysis. These
> centralised workers councils, where no delegate is paid more than the
> people they represent, where every delegate is subject to instant recall
> by the people that elected them, where the decision makers are also the
> decision implementors, have been constructed by workers in the interests
> of their struggle without reading Marx or Lenin or Trotsky.
> Yet every time this has happened, these institutions have been drowned in
> blood. Of course Hitler and Franco were the main butchers in the 30's.
> But it must be remembered that the people responsible for Hitler and
> Franco were Stalinists and Reformists. It was Stalinists that crushed
> the Spanish Revolution; it was Left Wing Social Democrats that ordered
> the police to murder Liebkecht and Rosa Luxembourg. This happened because
> the revolutionary tradition, epitomised by Marx, Engels, Lenin + Trostky
> as its giants, but also by people like Oscar Hippe in Germany ( who
> was in the SPD, then the KPD, then the Troskyists, who was imprisoned
> by the Nazis and then the Stalinists ) or the "Balham Group" in Britain,
> was not strong enough.
> But what weakened the working class was not the out and out ideas of
> capitalism, which make little sense in revolutionary situations, but
> ideas which attempt to marry ideas based on the class struggle with
> ideas which uphold capitalism. The people who murdered Luxembourg and
> Liebknecht did so because they wanted the workers councils to exist
> alongside parliament. The people who strangled the Spanish Revolution
> did so not because they opposed socialism but because they wanted it
> postponed. This is why I am very jealous of that tradition - because
> I don't want these disasters to occur again.
> The common objection to defining the revolutionary tradition in a narrow
> way is the charge of "sectarianism". But I think this charge is based on
> a misunderstanding of that tradition. Part of that tradition, after all,
> is the rejection of ultra leftism and the insistence that revolutionaries
> work in Trade Unions, Parliament etc, and the tradition of the united
> front.
> Also, I think that this tradition rejects the method which forces abstract
> schemes on reality. So the Polish workers who in practise rediscovered
> their revolutionary tradition during 1980 - 81 are closer to that
> tradition than the so called "Troskyists" who dismissed that movement
> as counter revolutionary, and the new left "humanist" 1950's historians closer
> to it than their more formally correct Stalinist opponents. While I would
> argue that my particular tradition, the International Socialists, are part
> of that revolutionary heritage, I wouldn't argue that we have exclusive
> right to it, but I would argue that, in the light of history, we are
> right to be very jealous of it. That is why I do not treat the market
> socialists in a comradely manner. To the extent that we accept their
> arguments, when the practical choice is the market or socialism, capitalism
> or workers power, we will be paralysed in the middle, unable to act, and so
> leave the field open for the Tony Blairs of this world.
> Adam.
> Adam Rose
> Manchester
> UK
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
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