Debating Karl: a waste of time

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Jun 6 06:24:47 MDT 1996

As I expected, Karl's reply to me was simply commentary on my own
historical research. He includes no quotes from the parties involved in
the fight. He provides no background from Lenin's articles preceding the
split conference. I think it is absolutely obligatory for somebody who
advocates "Leninism" as Karl does to have a working knowledge of Lenin's
Iskra articles, letters and speeches from the period of 1900-1903.

Basically, I don't really feel motivated to have a debate with somebody
about the significance of the 1903 split whose posts are
so barren of historical context. I find myself in the same position as I
was in debating Hugh Rodwell about Nicaragua. When I challenged Hugh to
produce some facts to back up his arguments, he backed off. Karl, on the
other hand, simply keeps repeating the same thing over and over, whether
or not they are in the spirit of historical Bolshevism rather than his

What is this same thing?

Karl believes that Lenin had the correct ideas. The struggle for
"Leninism" is the struggle to preserve the revolutionary thread of these
ideas. Karl wants to create a new revolutionary movement. How does he
propose this be done? He wants to create small circles of intellectuals
who will discuss the basic ideas of Marxism in order to purge the left of
the false ideas that permeate it currently.

I would try to demonstrate to him that this approach has nothing in common
with Lenin's approach. Lenin conceived of theory and praxis as being
interlinked. The party would develop out of engagement with popular
struggles. The program would be refined through these very same struggles
within the context of Marxism. Karl's approach is to get the ideas right
and then carry them out. This approach is reminiscent of the declaration of
somebody who says they will become a capitalist as soon as they put
together a million dollars.

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