"Russian" questions

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri May 31 12:17:46 MDT 1996

On Fri, 31 May 1996, Adam Rose wrote:
> Although I do not think it is fair to make out that all Solidarity members
> are market socialists, as he is, this seems typical of organisations which
> are essentially agnostic on the question. Not only are they agnostic on
> questions about Russia, they are also agnostic about the central questions
> of reform and revolution etc. It all stems from the basic problem that they're
> not entirely sure what socialism is. So naturally, they can't agree how to get
> it either. This acts as a barrier to such organisations winning people to
> the basic ideas of Revolutionary Socialism.

Louis: Organizations are never "sure" what socialism is, only individuals
are. The Bolshevik Party had multiple ideas of socialism in circulation
that were discussed openly. There was no "party line" on this question
that party members defended in public. Some tended to agree with Lenin's
perspectives while other members expressed views closer to Plekhanov's or
Parvus's. In addition they debated this out in their party press and in
public. The Bolshevik Party was made stronger by this, not weaker. Groups
like the SWP/ISO can by definition only consist of people who agree
totally on the "state capitalism" question. The SWP/ISO is made weaker by
this, not stronger, since many Marxists will never accept these ideas. I can
never belong to an organization where a prior requirement of membership is
so narrowly defined. We need something like the Bolshevik Party which
asked people to join on the basis of adherence to Marxism, not a party
like the SWP/ISO which asks people to join on the basis of Tony Cliff's
theories. Marxism is much greater than Cliffism.

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