Why has the corpse sprouted so much hair?

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Thu Oct 3 23:28:02 MDT 1996


Adam has penned a very trenchant comment on the Najibullah thread.  He has
also gone on to characterize Stalinist politics as the living hairs on a
corpse and he has wondered aloud as to why they are so much in evidence on
this list.

I have a great deal of respect for Adam's politics and I take this post
seriously.  I  make here a very marked distinction between what Adam has  to
say and Rolf's Maoist gloating.

The central categories at work in Adam's analysis are of course those of
the ISO tendency -State Capitalism and Russian Imperialism.  Beyond this
there is a strong libertarian streak and a link to a tradition of
syndicalism and libertarian Marxism.  So great was this tendency once within
ISO that apparently their leader Cliff was once reported as saying that
Luxembourg was greater than Lenin.

But Cliff and co in the 80s led a turn to Leninism and even Trotskyism and
little is heard today of Luxembourg's superiority.

Adam though seems to have retained a fair measure of the pre-Leninist aspect
of ISO politics. Thus some time ago he remarked that Trotskyist continually
over estimated the importance of the nationalization of property.  That was
a shrewd comment and one I think worth discussing some time.

Adam also reacted strongly to Louis P.'s when he had something to say about
the former East German Communist Party that was not totally condemnatory.

Where do I stand in all this?  Well Adam reminds me very forcibly of the
anarchists that I work with here in Brisbane.  They are true dreamers of the
absolute and with their magical mantras about exploitation and domination
are always correct in whatever situation they find themselves in.  they make
no distincion between say Hitler and Stalin or indeed Hitler and Lenin.
Indeed one of them remarked lately to me that Mussolini was better than
Lenin because Gramsci was allowed  to write books while in prison.

But perhaps it is my Trotskyism which makes me reject such commentaries as
fundamentally un dialectical. If State Capitalist theory and the anarchist
formulas were so totally correct why has not the lot of the workers improved
with the collapse of the Soviet Empire?

In the 80s when I used to subscribe to Monthly Review there was an article
which showed empirically how much the worker benefitted under the Imperial
might of the USSR.  The interesting thing  was that  the author had great
difficulty in getting any left wing magazine to publish her work.

However since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the former
regimes, we can all see much more clearly that the consequences have been
disastrous for the working-class.

Now let me briefly try and answer the question why Stalinism?  and why has
the corpse sprouted so much hair?  Well the answer is:-  because  it is not
a corpse.  Where "Stalinist" views have currency they are linked to a real
struggle.  That of the PCP for instance.  It is this commitment to struggle
which is at the heart of the continued relevance of much of what people like
Richard B. and Louis G. have to say.  It is this that I respect.

My take on Stalin is clasically straight Trotskyist.  But I have stayed out
of the debates because they are not relevant to me or the people whom I see
being crushed around me.  Similarly I do not "mourn" Najibullah in the way
that  Richard B. or Louis G. do but equally I know that his murder by the
Talliban is a signal for the descent on Afghanistan of  a new Dark Ages.

regards

Gary







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