British Marxist on anti-WTO protests

David Welch welch at
Tue Dec 14 11:50:18 MST 1999

On Wed, Dec 15, 1999 at 04:09:27PM +1100, Paul.Benedek at wrote:
> This article raises 'warts' to the crucial issue to be discussed. I think
> the problem is not that the Left doesn't mention the 'warts', but if the
> Left (a) doesn't see the potential of the mass mobilisations and simply
> berates them from the sidelines; and/or (b) fails to put forward
> direction and ideas for strengthening the movement/s - ie fails to SHOW
> IN PRACTICE (as well as theory) the superiority of Marxism.
> Perhaps many on the (Brit) Left DO avoid ANY mention of the possible 'warts'
> in public statements on Seattle. But I think the WW (should fix the
> confusion!) bends the stick too far in focussing solely on the
> limitations and not the possibilities.
Well if that was your only concern why make such a fuss? As Comrade
Fischer writes: "We do not argue for a sectarian boycott of those sorts of
protests. Far from it. It is the glaring absense of a vigorous and
effective communist intervention that allows the politics of the petty
bourgeoisie to win hegemony unchallenged." It is certainly not the case that
"it is through the struggle that people's political and perspectives
develop." Through the struggle mistaken and outright reactionary ideas can
develop, and when the working class is so weak it is more likely that they
will. Obviously the solution to this difficulty is not just to write
critical articles, but the place to begin is an honest assessment of the
weaknesses of the left. That so many comrades find such an assessment so
painful only confirms its necessity.

> Really? I hope David can point out where I "assumed that throwing a few
> rocks and chanting a few slogans will transform the protestors into
> hardened leftists"? There is so much wrong with this sentence:
> a) It totally denigrates the MASS nature of the Seattle demonstrations,
> which WW itself put at involving 100,000 people. It was being part of
> such a MASS event, having a feeling of strength in unity, that would
> have radicalised many that were there [but no-one talked of
> tranformation into hardened Leftists - that's our job ;-)].
Being in a large crowd and then having President Clinton agree with you,
that would turn anyone into a radical. I couldn't have stated the
mechanistic and economistic approach to leftwing politics better myself.

> The Seattle protests SHOW that there is plenty of
> anger against this or that aspect of the capitalist system - but
> predominantly this anger is not organised and is allowed to dissipate. At
> the worst, it can and will be harnessed by right-wing forces. But it can
> and must instead be harnessed and developed by us.
Once again, the anger (such as it is) is organised into the environmental
movement (and various others).

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