Comments on Barbara Epstein article in Monthly Review

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Sep 3 12:03:02 MDT 2001

On Mon, 03 Sep 2001 13:44:44 -0400, Barry Stoller wrote:
>I would suggest that MR is finding some of their
>ultraleftism in reformist circles these days,

I am not sure what you are driving at here. For me the "black bloc"
and the "Weathermen" are second cousins. In fact, somewhere along the
line I plan to draw up a genealogy between the dregs of European
1970s ultraleftism (Red Army Faction, etc.) and the Starbucks
window-breaking brigade.

>Amen. Yet it is possible that some of
>anarchism's militancy can be of use to Marxists,
>provided we find a way to bring them TO us
>-- just as it is our challenge to bring
>vacillating workers to us.

I would not use the term "vacillating workers" myself. It presumes
that you are above them in some fashion. The deadly logic of this
approach was identified by Hal Draper:

"The sect establishes itself on a HIGH level (far above that of the
working class) and on a thin base which is ideologically selective
(usually necessarily outside working class). Its working-class
character is claimed on the basis of its aspiration and orientation,
not its composition or its life. It then sets out to haul the working
class up to its level, or calls on the working class to climb up the
grade. From behind its organizational walls, it sends out scouting
parties to contact the working class, and missionaries to convert two
here and three there. It sees itself becoming, one day, a mass
revolutionary party by a process of accretion; or by eventual unity
with two or three other sects; or perhaps by some process of entry."

>Essentially, the issue has to be the desire to
>abolish BOTH large and small capitalism. I am
>convinced that many of the 1960s anti-war
>demonstrators rejected the war to save their
>necks, not to assist Ho Chi Minh. I am also
>convinced that many of today's anarchists oppose
>'globalization' to make the world a safer place
>for mom and pops.
>Clearly, these folks we do not need.

Actually, Marxists--and Trotsky specifically--argue for the need to
defend the interests of the small shop-keeper and farmer against the

>Yes, however, it IS natural to want to break
>windows once illusions are broken. I think the
>two can be compatible --
>once the brick-throwers have decided that its
>the mom and pops as well as the Gap that
>deserves abuse.

I have a feeling somebody sold you some spoiled pastrami or

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 09/03/2001

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