Trotskyism as anti-communist propaganda: Question for Doug

Vladimir Bilenkin "achekhov at unity.ncsu.edu" at ncsu.edu
Sat Sep 14 16:06:55 MDT 1996


Doug Henwood wrote:

> Oh, hell, damned if I know what "general political and historical position"
> informs my thinking, much less my postings to this list, which have
> increasingly been expressions irritation and despair, with occasional
> attempts at humor. Were I forced to choose, I'd join Lou Proyect in
> characterizing my political line as similar to that found in publications
> like New Left Review, Monthly Review, and the Socialist Register. In my
> serious writing, I usually avoid using the classic Marxist vocabulary, or
> citing the Marxist literature (with the prominent exception of Marx
> himself, whom I cite frequently in LBO), because, though my analysis of
> capitalism is essentially Marxian, drawing excessive attention to this
> turns off too many people who might be attracted to the analysis itself. If
> this sounds cowardly to purists, so be it. And as a stylist, I find most
> Marxian writing (again with the prominent exception of the Old Man himself)
> dismal and alienating.
>
> The history of socialism is something I think socialists spend too much
> time quarelling over unproductively. Re-fighting the Trostky-Stalin battles
> seems so goddamn pointless to me now. I think it's more important to figure
> out just what is going on in the real world today, and put that into some
> historical/theoretical context - very much like what Marx did in Capital,
> but very much unlike what goes on in many Marxist/socialist fora today. Too
> much time has been spent on the transformation problem, and not enough on
> the nature of modern capitalist society itself.
>
> The prospects for socialism can't be said to glisten with possiblility
> right now, at a time when a 50-cent increase in the minimum wage looks like
> a great victory for the working class. That's a topic for another time when
> I don't have a newsletter to write.
>
> Doug
> 	Thanks. And thanks for your last MR article, informative, spirited,
and, of course, in good style (though of a quite different provinance than
the Moor's.  Trotsky was another great political writer, but de gustibus...).
I can see your point re Trotsky-Stalin debate.  I would only suggest that its
relevance may differ  today, depending on local conditions. In Russia,
at least, this subject cannot be put aside.

Vladimir

PS.  It occured to me that one phrase in your piece could be vulnerable
to possible objections from the likable fellows, like Andrew Ross, let alone
the smart piggish chaps, like Rifkin. Contra the consumer capitalism
line, you argue that <<..consumer credit fundamentally involves poor and
middle income people borrowing from rich ones, which makes the lenders
richer in the end>>. Yet the apparently endless bull market has been
made possible, it seems,  by "middle class people" extending credit
through mutual funds (I am one of them) with one hand while borrowing
with another. Moreover, for the first time in history this small guy
investment has become global, which can add to the above-mentioned
company of your likable if piggish opponents quite a different group
of characters, like MIM.


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