Can liberalism hide the contradictions of capitalism

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Sun Nov 19 20:16:29 MST 2000

Mark Jones wrote:

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 science.

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, anyway.

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

Mark Jones


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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