The tide is turning

Zeynep Tufekcioglu zeynept at
Wed May 22 12:47:10 MDT 1996

Hi Hugh,

Guess I've been absolved of the Mimi status, I still don't get how the hell
you made the connection, since you did not answer. Anyway, back to business.

You know that I don't call the Soviet Union a "Stalinist Regime", but since
I agree that it has collapsed, partially under its own weight and failures,
and partially due to the never-ending assault of the imperialists, I don't
think it currently effects remarks I'll make regarding your remarks.

>'Defeat' is too vague when you're characterizing historical periods in
>relation to the prospects for class struggle. The least you can do is
>categorize the significance of the defeat. I mean, we didn't suffer any
>*historical* defeat, in terms of our organizations being smashed. We had
>some tactical defeats that weakened us, like the failure of the miners'
>strike to achieve its ends, and this made us a bit more vulnerable
>strategically, but the fighting spirit of the miners broke the timetable
>and the aggressive edge of Thatcherism, and provided a much needed model
>for militancy and solidarity (regardless of the errors of leadership that
>prepared the way for the 'defeat' and return to work). The nearest we came
>to a strategic defeat was the contradictory fall of the Stalinist regimes
>in the deformed workers' states. The lack of conscious socialist leadership
>in the uprisings that hastened the departure of the Stalinist regimes
>opened the door to the restorationist sharks and even the Pope (Walesa in
>Poland). But at the same time they showed the capacity of the masses in
>these states for large-scale rebellion against brutality, injustice and
>exploitation, serving notice on the restorers that their time was limited.
>Remember, as long as imperialism survives, everything we do can be
>construed as a defeat, if we see things non-dialectically. 'We lose, they
>win'. Losing battles is the nature of our struggle. We'll 'lose' every
>battle (in the sense of imperialism surviving) until we win the war! The
>thing is, the day we win the war, the world changes.

I uphold, we were defeated. The Soviet Union's and Eastern Europe's collapse
gave way to capitalist restorations, and provided more room for imperialism
to move, Nicaragua caved in, many struggles around the world had to go for
"peace-processes" or were stuck in very tight situations since imperialism
could easily intervene militarily. Of course I agree that it is but a
battle, and the war goes on.

>>History moves in swings, something like a pendulum.
>No, Zeynep, and I'm not nit-picking here, it moves in waves -- pendulums
>are too regular, and they don't have tides.

Sure Hugh. I wasn't making a direct analogy with physics, just that it moves
in general trends, which are upset by smaller, tides if you will, but a
trend is the general direction. There are of course counter-trends, and a
movement as a whole is composed dialectically interacting contradictory
dynamics. Waves explain this better, no problem.

>>The upswing is but at the beginning. The shape of things to come requires
>>that all communists and revolutionaries realise what's happenning.
>Right! History is in our favour. It has been for a long time. Over seventy
>years ago Lenin characterized the present imperialist epoch as one of wars,
>revolutions and the transition to socialism. Trotsky subtitled the
>Transitional Programme of the Fourth International 'The Death Agony of
>Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International'.

Last 70 years did not go in a straight line though. I generally agree with
Lenin, but I think he foresaw a more direct path then that actually happenned.

>Imperialism was kept alive by the life support machine of Stalinism in the
>post-war period. Since that political lifeline was cut off (by
>imperialism's own greed and blindness) imperialism has been growing more
>rapacious and intolerable by the day. All the tensions and contradictions
>accumulated during 'peaceful coexistence' are surging out of their
>confinement now with explosive force. The working class is forcing its way
>back on to the stage without the shackles, chains and grotesque masks of
>Stalinist misrepresentation. It's finding its own feet again and starting
>to think its own thoughts.

I don't think Imperialism was kept alive by Stalinism. However, I agree that
the collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed many previously super-determined

>This means we must re-examine what Zeynep calls: 'the gains of the relatively
>pampered working classes of the imperialist nations'. 'Relatively pampered'
>be damned! Every gain, material, legal and cultural, has been wrung from
>the imperialists by struggle and the threat of revolution implicit in a
>strong and organized working class. The fact that the imperialists never
>admit this and encourage the myth of a pampered working class shouldn't
>bamboozle us into using the same language. The working class of any country
>anywhere has more in common with the working class of every other country
>than with the bourgeoisie of its own country. Where this doesn't appear to
>be the case, there's bound to be a tradition of treacherous working class
>leadership -- like the French Stalinists and their chauvinism in relation
>to the Algerian revolution, or the British Labour Party and its attacks on
>the liberation movements in Southern Africa or immigrants from South Asia
>and the West Indies.

Yes, the gains were conscessions wrung from capitalism. But, they
corresponded to a boom period, and fitted within the regime of accumulation
of the era. So they were not threatening the system's survival. The simple
fact that the system survived and prospered proves this. Keep in mind that
every worker is also a consumer. The relative contradiction between
surplus-value and effective demand throws capitalism off-balance. Solve one,
the other squeezes the system. The "welfare-state", or "fordist" era was a
different frame-work of exploitation and reproduction of the relations of
production, then is now, "neo-liberalist", or "flexible accumulation" era.

>Linking the oppressed classes throughout the world requires *organizing* on
>an international basis. Only a link within one and the same party will
>provide the necessary combination of continuity and immediacy, shared
>principles, shared priorities and shared campaigns to get out of the blind
>alley of nationalism and particularism. A good recent example of this is
>the emphasis given to the Workers Aid to Bosnia campaigns in Europe by the
>Latin American sections of the International Workers League (LIT/CI).
>The Liaison Committee set up by the LIT and the Workers International is
>also a sign that the tide is running our way. The days of easy sneers at
>splits and bickering within the Trotskyist tradition are over, and the
>opportunity is arising to watch -- or even better participate in -- a new
>constructive process of principled fusion of Bolshevik-Leninist tendencies
>towards a new mass party of the Fourth International.

(btw, I am reading what you have sent me before). I hope all goes well, I
welcome all attempts. But, the International organisation must consist of
fighting organisations all over the world. It is not enough to put forth a
programme and expect people to see the value of it. Your attempt is fine,
personally I am for an heteregoneous International, including communists of
various shades (not just Trotksyists), maybe some serious anarchist groups
(not the student ones), and some national liberation movements that want to
link up with the working class. Something like the First International. I
think the current state of the world calls for that.

>I think it's time we imagined one of these big mobilizations being led by a
>conscious internationalist socialist leadership, and worked towards it as a
>goal of our party organization, instead of boosting semi-conscious,
>nationalist, non-socialist leaderships over our own heads.

Hugh, do you think we disagree? I claim that a communist-led effort should
make every effort to include and dominate "semi-conscious, nationalist,
non-socialist leaderships", whose interests are objectively linked with the
working class.

>>Time to move people.
>Time to organize.

I get my "organise" lesson, again! Sure, I spend my life writing to Marxism
Lists. Thrill of my life. How does one move? By organisation, action,
polemic, struggle, fighting.

(Are you coming up with anything about the Vladimir's call, you had said you
would. I think we need all the help we can get.)


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