On Marxist scholasticism was Re: Nader/U.S. Election

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Sun Nov 5 14:37:56 MST 2000

Note: This post came out sounding much more polemical and flame like in
tone than I intended.  It is just that I think Mike's post set off certain
alarm bells in me or maybe it triggered some conditioned reflexes towards
what I see as politics which is fundamentally flawed in what Bhaskar terms
open situations i.e. real life


Mike's post contra Jon and Alan was a classic of what I call Marxist
scholasticism -so Aristotelian in tone.  It identified the central concept
and then proceeded from this to say what the "correct" thing to do was.
Much of what he wrote was very convincing. Thus I am sure that he was
correct about the Democracts not being a social democratic force.  Mike 5
Alan & Jon 0.  He then proceeded to the definition of the Labor party as a
Bourgeois Workers Party and the consequences for the DSP of rejecting this
core definition. Political opportunism no  less and the support for
candidates like Nader.

Much of what Mike said about Nader was no doubt correct again.  But the
weakness in the whole approach peeped out when he acknowledged the need for
an orientation towards the phenomenon of Nader's campaign and the American

How one asks is this orientation to be carried out?  Do we go along to
meetings and we sit there trying to hide that we know more than the young
enthusiasts and activists in the room?  Do we identify and attempt to
recruit what we perceive to be the more militant who in my experience can
be people with terrible problems.

I think the key metaphor here is that of the Marxist brain attempting to
attach itself to a body.  In practice however it is often the Marxist
parasite looking for a host and surprise surprise the parasite is often

What is the alternative to such politics?  Well I have spoken before of the
need for what the International Socialists used to dismiss as a
"swamp".   Here I am much more with the DSP, though for me they do not go
far enough.  We need not a party but a mass movement.  I am absolutely
convinced that such a movement is on the way. We should engage with such a
movement, but not as their future leaders or unrecognised superiors.

Painful as the thought may be to the ISO, the SWP, Spartacist League or
what ever the truth is that we have as much to learn from them as they have
from us.  Let us for once and all abandon our Zinoviest fantasies tricked
up with Leninist Trotskyist slogans.  If we need a slogan at all for this
conjuncture I would suggest that it be Napoleon's "On s'engage et puis on



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