Left Unity List resub offer

Robert Malecki malecki at algonet.se
Sun Oct 6 23:33:52 MDT 1996


>JJ sent me the following message:
>
>>On behalf of the moderators of the Left Unity List,I am posting the
>>list charter and some additional information. I should be grateful if
>>you would let me know whether you regard the charter and additional
>>decisions as a basis on which you would be willing to operate if your
>>suspension from the list were lifted. I will forward to the
>>moderators, unaltered, the text of any response you might wish to
>>make. The moderators will consider anything you wish to say and make
>>appropriate decisions.
>
>etc. The rules concerned are the ones recently posted to m1.
>
>The rules by which the moderators operate are much more clearly formulated
>now. This removes a number of ambiguities. On the basis of how the
>moderators have worked, how the rules are formulated and how the unity-list
>discussions are developing, I have come to the following conclusions.
>
>There are a number of aspects involved.
>
>First of all, the challenge of creating unity on the left is very, very
>important. My main concern has been with the potential of the unity-list in
>this respect.
>
>For unity to be achieved, a really open discussion is needed. So far this
>has not been the case on unity-list. If the moderators were prepared to
>demonstrate their willingness to "descend from their mountain stronghold"
>and open up the discussion, they would
>
>a) immediately revoke the exclusions (later commuted to suspensions) of Ben
>B, Jose and myself, as being unjust,
>
>b) immediately reconsider the banning of certain individuals (Bob M) and
>groups ("Stalinists") before they have had a chance to demonstrate on list
>their willingness or otherwise to engage in serious discussion of unity
>issues.
>
>My reasons for insisting on this involve the *political* imperatives of
>unity. It is not an organizational or administrative matter. If you define
>the political scope of the forces of unity beforehand, what's the point of
>discussing?
>
>And this is where the question of the rules comes in.
>
>I think the rules as written constitute a hostage trap. The "non-sectarian"
>strictures, the "positive" developments, the exclusion of "messianism" and
>so on, are all intended to be used against people advocating building a
>party and applying a Bolshevik programme, if and when they insist on the
>importance of this against anti-party, anti-Bolshevik subscribers.
>
>Now there are two distinct aspects to unifying the left, and *both* have a
>central place in discussions on unity-list.
>
>One (and in my opinion the most important) is unifying scattered parties
>into a coherent whole united around a clear programme, as Trotsky managed
>to do in 1930-31 in China. There were four groups of Left Oppositionists in
>China, all very suspicious of the others. The main discussions dealt with
>the question of a constituent assembly, the character of the Red Army, the
>defeat of the revolution of 1925-27 and the nature of the coming third
>Chinese revolution. Pressed by Trotsky, the majority realized that there
>were no differences of principle between them, and merged. Some of the
>previous leaders refused to give up their "mountain strongholds" and left
>the movement rather than submit to a new unified organization. So the
>problem of sectarianism can be overcome in the work for unity within a
>Bolshevik party.
>
>This example, well told by Wang Fan-Hsi in his book "Chinese Revolutionary"
>(OUP 1980, translated by Greg Benton), shows that sectarianism is by no
>means synonymous with democratic-centralist party-building projects. But
>the elastic rules of unity-list could be easily invoked to exclude someone
>for discussing this kind of example (Leninism = failed,  sectarianism =
>Leninist party project).
>
>The other main aspect of unification is how to get different programmatic
>tendencies to work together for big social objectives. Here the big fight
>on the left is between Popular Front policies and United Front policies.
>The unity-list rules preempt the discussion by giving Popular Front
>organizations as "positive" examples. Insistence on the fact that they are
>not much use could quite easily be used as grounds for expulsion.
>
>"Messianism" too, is quite an elastic concept. Using Marx, Lenin and
>Trotsky as authorities, as reliable points of reference in a discussion,
>could easily be labelled "messianism" and again be used as grounds for
>expulsion.
>
>The same goes for the rules against being a spokesman for a group.
>
>Since I don't hide the foundations of my position, and I express myself
>fairly drastically, it wouldn't be difficult to get me on an elastic
>interpretation of one or other of these catch-all subjectivist rules, if
>anyone close to the moderators should take offence at what I write.
>
>There are in fact so many irrelevant ifs and buts in the setup, that I
>think the whole project of unity-list with its present composition and
>statutes is still-born. Unity on the wishy-washy Broad Left lines
>demonstrated so far by unity-list will get the revolution nowhere.
>
>The excellent initiative of discussing the Transitional Programme for its
>relevance to contemporary struggles should take place in a more congenial
>setting. The reaction by typical Broad Left anti-Trots so far has been "I
>haven't got time" by David McR and the usual dismissive unreasoned putdown
>by Louis P. The discussion of the advantages of transitional demands as
>opposed to a minimum and a maximum programme may get somewhere. We'll see.
>As I see it, it depends on the comrades from Militant Labour and the USec
>getting their fingers out and going for revolutionary, class-independent
>unity. They haven't shown much sign of this so far.
>
>Cheers,
>
>Hugh
>
>PS The name of the list -- Left-Unity -- is very good. Pity the content is
>so contradictory.

I fully support both Hugh and PO in their right to be taken back onto the
Unity list. I also support their letters which give a clear and principled
statement about Unity and what should be done if this list will be a place
for *real* discussion in the future.

Bob Malecki

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