Fwd: [BLACK-LEFT] SACP Speech to COSATU Congress

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sun Aug 22 07:38:11 MDT 1999

>much as the leadership.  They are exhausted as a collective political force.
>Rather than come up with the usual prescriptions for what should be done
>(build a new party/enter the movement to influence left-moving
>forces/reconstitute fragments of the left etc, etc), one needs to ask: how
>do we relate to this radically different situation?  It first requires us to
>grasp intellectually just how much things have changed.

Okay, Russell is being a little bit coy. This formula is straight out of
the pages of the British RCP book from 10 years ago, which to help identify
it, is the same general orientation as Phil Ferguson's Revolution magazine
in New Zealand. Now, if I had to choose between the RCP of ten years ago
and the ex-RCP of today, I'd absolutely opt for the former which was
grounded in Marxism of a type that characterized the British Trotskyist
left in general: catastrophism mixed with sectarianism. I have never taken
the trouble to analyze the voyage of the RCP, but it would appear to me
that the failure of the 1970s and 80s to produce world revolution, had a
powerfully disorienting effect on the top leadership, who are mostly
academics at best, including a sociologist at the top of the pyramid.

So in a rightist turn against the "Third Period" excesses of the 1970s and
80s, LM today hosts conferences hostile to the left with sponsorship by
Absolut Vodka in a peculiar version of tragedy being repeated as Pop Front

Taking the RCP analysis on its face value, which I don't often do, I have
to raise several objections. How much different is the period we are in
from the past? When a society is not in a deep radicalization or a
prerevolutionary crisis, it would be ABNORMAL given the laws of social
behavior for human beings NOT to be preoccupied with their own problems of
COPING. Russell derides the preoccupation of South Africans with AIDS.
Except for people like myself who prefer Marxist debate to sexual
intercourse on most days (too much trouble and expense going to bars and
nightclubs), the SEX drive is all-powerful. So if you can get sick and die
from fucking, it will naturally be on your mind much of the time. Also, on
the question of contemporary society being "therapy-obsessed", I suspect
that Russell is too young to remember the mid 1960s when psychoanalysis was
America's semi-official religion. Everybody I knew in NYC was either in
therapy or shopping around for a therapist. Thank god for prozac, so people
don't have to waste their time any more.

I think the explanation for the RCP angst is found in Stendahl's "Red and
the Black," where the young hero born too late to be part of Napoleon's
revolutionary wars, walks around in a perpetual snit because mid-19th
century France is too petty and self-satisfied for his tastes.

Oh well. I guess I am a bit old-fashioned. I would describe the period we
are in, except for places like Russia, Indonesia/East Timor, Venezuela and
Colombia, as one of general QUIESCENCE. In such a period there are two
things that can be done: one, to prepare for impetuous outbreaks of the Old
Mole in the future; two, give aid and solidarity to peoples in struggle.
And stay away from psychotherapists and single-engine airplanes.

Louis Proyect

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