Forwarded from Alex LoCascio (Detroit study group)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Apr 10 07:29:39 MDT 2001


Announcement and Invitation: Independent Socialist Study Group

Dear comrade,

The recent upturn in anti-capitalist struggle (Seattle, D.C. Prague, and
soon Quebec), attempts at constructing viable alternatives to the present
system (the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil), and the looming
threat of reaction and retreat (the Bush presidency and the possibility of
economic recession) are all signs that we live in turbulent times indeed.

Well, duh. When *isn't* the world turbulent? And what makes now so special?

Point taken. Nonetheless, something in the air compels us to undertake an
analysis of the present moment (a "ruthless criticism of everything
existing," if you will) grounded in an understanding of history and the
movements and traditions that have preceded us. In order to adequately
grasp the present, we need to equip ourselves with the analytical tools
that others before us have used.

As such, we are pleased to announce the formation of an independent
socialist study group. Our intent is to offer a forum, independent of any
tendency, organization, or "line," but firmly rooted in revolutionary
socialism and historical materialism, for people to come together and
discuss ideas with some bearing on present reality. We believe the current
absence of such a forum here in Detroit is unfortunate, since there is
definitely a curiosity and desire for one that should be met.

Writers such as Ellen Meiksins Wood, Mike Davis, Ernest Mandel, Hal Draper,
and C.L.R. James epitomize the approach we seek to emulate: a renewal of
the historical materialist and revolutionary socialist tradition without
falling back on hoary old orthodoxy or sacred programmatic texts of the past.

Also central to our approach, given the unique conditions of American
society, is the understanding of the relationship between class and race,
the role racial consciousness plays in class formation, and the
contradictory function of the "white" working class in racial and national
oppression. We hope that the study of the works of such thinkers as Noel
Ignatiev, David Roediger, and Alexander Saxton will enrich our
understanding of the American condition.

Given the sometimes unbalanced emphasis by many socialists on the structure
of capitalism, its "laws" and relationships, we wish to redirect our focus
to the study of the working class within the capitalist system, its
autonomy, culture, self-activity, and agency. In doing so, we see our work
as being in line with that of various traditions and thinkers, from David
Montgomery, E.P. Thompson, Martin Glaberman, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus
Rediker, to the "Autonomist Marxism" of Harry Cleaver and Selma James.

Due to the upcoming Labor Notes conference, we are planning to hold our
first meeting on the Saturday of Easter Weekend (April 14th), at 2 p.m. We
hope to discuss the first three chapters of C.L.R. James' classic work, The
Black Jacobins. If you are interested, please contact Dora Badger at
(313)778-9792 and let us know whether this date, and what time, would be
best for you. Please note: future meetings will be held on Sunday afternoons.

In solidarity,

Dora Badger and Alex LoCascio
Co-convenors


Louis Proyect
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