Avoid Sectarianism & Opportunism (was Re: victimology)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Tue Dec 12 11:11:40 MST 2000


>  >I don't think they will listen to you. Even if that is what they
>  >should do, they are not going to.
>But I speak fluent Spanish.

Perhaps, it will help if you get involved into some solidarity work
facilitating labor & other organizing in the Mexican Maquila zone.
You can put your Spanish to good use.  The fact of the matter is that
folks like Debbie Nathan, David Bacon, etc. are actually engaged in
cross-border solidarity work with Mexican workers to the south &
migrant & immigrant workers to the north of the US-Mexico border,
while you do not appear to be.

Alternatively, your Spanish will be put to even better use if you get
around to organizing a solidarity group in support of the FARC, given
the intensification of the Columbia Plan.

>I have no argument with Yoshie, only the anti-Marxists she accomodates to.

I've had my share of disagreements with Doug, etc., but it seems to
me to be a useless hyperbole to call Doug an "anti-Marxist" & make
him out to be an "enemy of the people."  Doug appears to me to be far
to the left of Ralph Nader & even David McReynolds, as far as I can
see.  Can't you bring yourself to a position that Mark Jones has
taken, for instance?  Here's Mark's remarks on Doug that Mine
forwarded here a while ago:

*****   http://www.mail-archive.com/marxism%40lists.panix.com/msg14844.html

A hundred years ago, bitter battles were fought between those who
claimed the mantle of Marxist leadership (Kautsky, Bernstein etc) and
those who from the margins of the movement (Luxemburg, Lenin)
bitterly denounced them as impostors, bourgeois politicians and above
all, "revisionists", whose purpose was to deny the possibility of
capitalist crisis and the reality of proletarian revolution, and to
deliver the working class bound hand and foot to its mortal enemies.
The same thing is going on now, not just here but al over the place.
It is part of a pre-revolutionary ferment.

Today the person we should mostly be attacking politically is Ralph
Nader.  For him to consolidate his leadership of the US Greens would
not be a good thing.  It will mark the full assimilation of the
Greens, as has happened now in Germany.  This will split the
anti-capitalist movement even more, and it is already split about
everything except the need to come together for specific
issues/events/struggles.  Our anticapitalist movement extends from
the nationalist far-right to the sectarian ultraleft and takes in EF!
along the way.  The ambition of our enemies is to fragment this
movement so completely that it will no longer even be able to find
unity in action and will become what it was, a fissiparous,
quarelsome morass of hundreds of groups, special interests etc who
have no shared view, interest or strategy.  They way to do this is to
strip out the dominant core, or centre of gravity of this burgeoning
movement, by reconsolidating its centre around an authoritarian
figure who actually does not speak to the real activists, and whose
ideology albeit confused is rootedly petit-bourgeois: the ideology of
a disaffected shopkeeper. Nader's role is what it always was: to
prevent a real radicalisation of the broader masses outside the
activists fringe.

However, nothing can slow the ascent of Nader to national political
prominence as a 3rd party leader; it is he who will be the political
beneficiary of Seattle/DC etc and the movement which has sprung up
and breathes in his sails.  The contradictoriness and shallowness of
his own thought makes him the perfect choice; he is a template cut
from the contradictions, doubts and political illiteracy of the
masses themselves.It is necessary to support his candidacy while
exposing ruthlessly, the rottenness of his politics.

That, to judge from what I have seen on lbo-talk, is more or less the
position taken by Doug, who will vote for him 'without illusions' (I
stand to be corrected if I misunderstood).

But Doug Henwood takes a correct position in an overly fastidious,
Pilate-kind of way.  We must not be vestal virgins.  This is a great
opportunity for Henwood himself to find supporters and go forward to
seek high office. He is in tune with the movement and au fait with
its MO and many of its leading figures; and many respect him. He is
perfectly capable by nature, disposition, natural charm and
connections, of being a credible aspirant for high office.  Of
course, Henwood has no such ambitions, and his politics is too
lacking in necessary clarity.  In order to form a bloc or position
within the emergent radical right-green-left movement, you have to
have an absolutely clear theoretical position of your own.  This is
1902 stuff; before uniting, you must divide. You can make your own
checklist of points, and it practically writes itself, on gender and
identity politics issues, on ecology, on supranational instances of
power, on centre/periphery relations, on our characterisation of late
capitalism holistically, systemically, and above all on our view of
the nature of capitalist crisis. How real are items like global
warming, N-S divisions, water, oil, GE etc etc?  Not as
ethico-political quandaries or flags marking ways thru a moral maze,
but as *indicators of crisis*, and how weakly or strongly determinant
of crisis are they, what degree of hysteresis do they embody?  You
have work thru these items, systematically, one by one, with a clear
programmatic intent.  And this programme must never be cast in stone,
never be a mosaic fetish-object 'owned' by some sectarian leadership,
it must always be the subject of debate, dispute, rejection,
clarification, development, re-adoption etc, in light of real
analysis of concrete events and actualities, above all in light of
best available science.  What is the real science of GE, of global
warming, of fossil-depletion, etc? You have to base yourself on

I think that in the context of *struggle for a movement*, that is to
say, of a struggle to participate in shaping a broad social movement
(which may possibly emerge under certain circusmtances as a true
revolutionary movement), it is quite possible to settle all
theoretical differences as between say Louis Proyect, Doug Henwood
and myself.  If I lived in NY and knew Henwood personally I would
urge him all the time, day and night, to use his powerful position
and to take on a role of *political leadership* for which he is well
suited.  I would urge him to play a leading role in the planning of
events and to run for office. And this process would be the context
in which one could try to reach conclusions on outstanding
theoretical issues, however contingent, unstable and shortlived such
conclusions might be in practice.  That is always the way it is,

Movements which boil up from the social depths  like A16, Seattle
etc, always and inevitably revitalise the politics of a whole class
as well as reinvigorating its enemies, always ignite new struggles
and above all, awlays produce new parties, new programs and new
LEADERS. The question of leadership is profoundly important and it is
because I think of Henwood's suitability that, as a matter of fact, I
press him about it and why I keep on mentioning it as a possibility.

Mark Jones   *****

While I think that Doug is far too committed to being a journalist to
develop the political ambition of the kind that Mark argues for,
Mark's post shows that, volatile as his temper sometimes is, he's
fundamentally generous & large-minded.

Marxists should avoid becoming narrow-minded, and it is possible to
be _generous_ toward those with whom you disagree on some questions
_without losing sight of differences & the need to clarify them_.  In
short, eschew both sectarianism and opportunism.

I've had disagreements with you, Mine, Mark, Doug, Gary, Phil, Jose,
Charles, Anthony, Michael (Hoover, Perelman, Yates, etc.), Jim
(Blaut, Devine, Farmelant, Heartfield, etc.), & other Marxists (some
differences are huge, other differences are minuscule), but I do not
think of them as enemies or anti-Marxists because of various


P.S.  Well, maybe in your mind, Mark is now "an enemy of the people"
because he had some kind words for Ken Livingstone.

More information about the Marxism mailing list