FW: Louis Proyect and the Register Dicscussion List

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 8 07:45:02 MST 2001

On Fri, 07 Dec 2001 21:54:49 -0600, Travis Fast wrote:
> Take the Rebuilding the  Left (RTL), you seem
>so contemptuous of for example.  It is not a
>parliamentary initiative, rather it is an
>attempt to ground socialist ideas  and practices
>within actually existing communities. 

Okay, let's take the RTL. They invited Jaddi Singh to be a keynote 
speaker at their last conference. This exposes a problem that exists 
across the board on the Canadian left: adaptation to ultraleft moods 
in the "anti-globalization" movement. David McNally, another 
intellectual leftist in the SR orbit, has been pandering to this 
current in the most shameful manner. The boneheaded Drainville 
article in the current SR is replete with adaptation as well:

"Early summit protests were events unto themselves. Sure of their 
contrapuntal unity, radically defiant of political intent and 
instrumental thinking, participants subsumed political differences 
under strategic concerns: ‘how to climb trees, block roads, lock down 
on doors, eat and shit in extreme situations, scale buildings, deal 
with cops, minister to the injured, show solidarity and survive in 

It even repeats a slander against Medea Benjamin, who took a sharp 
stand against Black Bloc provocations long before the rest of the 
movement woke up:

"Medea Benjamin and her colleagues from the San Francisco-based 
Global Exchange, which had waged a four year campaign against Nike, 
stood on the steps of Nike Town and other sweatshop outlets in 
downtown Seattle to defend them against anarchists and other 
trouble-makers, calling on the police to identify and arrest them."

In fact, Benjamin did not call on the police to do anything. She 
simply commented that they seemed much more interested in beating up 
innocent bystanders than they are in arresting those who are breaking 
windows. In other words, she was anticipating the events that defined 
the debacle in Genoa.

Without denying the need to rebuild the left, we must say that 
particular "Rebuilding the Left" in question is a far too amorphous 
project. It seems to be a sort of Rorshach test for the left in which 
various participants project their own hopes and ideals. For Sam 
Gindin, it is an attempt to put pressure on the NDP to reform itself. 
For others, who are on a sectarian "intervention" mission, it is an 
attempt to score ideological points and recruit an innocent or two.

Despite all the breathless prose devoted to "anti-globalization" 
initiatives in articles by Drainville and McNally, the task in Canada 
is the same as it is in the USA: the construction of Marxist parties 
based on the working class. This cannot be done by drafting up some 
"program" by a dozen or so people and recruiting people to it one by 

Such parties can only emerge out of the mass movement. In 
anticipation of such events, it is necessary to pull together a loose 
current of Marxist activists who are committed to the need for 
revolution and who know how to apply Marxism creatively to local 
conditions. These sorts of activists were being gathered around the 
July 26th Movement in the 1950s and around the Sandinista front in 
the 1960s.

We have to figure out ways to do the same sort of thing as Castro or 
Fonseca but in much more difficult conditions. We have to deal with 
the kind of disorientation that attends living in bourgeois 
democracies that appropriate the lion's share of the goods and 
resources of the rest of the world. For us, co-optation rather than 
death squads are the main obstacle. Its victims are strewn across the 

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 12/08/2001

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