Louis, Alexander and "National Left"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 30 13:48:16 MDT 2002

>Louis, thanks for the above paragraph.  That clarifies for me where the
>confusion lies. Obviously, you adopted a pragmatic approach between a
>right wing social democrat (Alexander) and the few fellow travelers of
>the labor bureaucracy of senile Peronism in order to analyze history and
>politics and judge political tendencies.  I thought for a moment you
>were struggling to grasp today's Marxism' challenges.

I seriously doubt that. You probably regarded me as some kind of Pabloite
traitor from the start.

> It seems you
>settled for a simpler explanation that would match your pre-conceived
>biases.  One piece of advise, if I may.  Before you take very seriously
>Alexander's book on Trotskyism in Latin America, I would suggest you
>have a chat with him and ask him whether he think, retrospectively, that
>he accurately reflected reality.

My main interest in Alexander's writings is documentary. He is also the
editor of a humongous book on Trotskyism worldwide that you can only find
in places like the Library of Congress. While on a visit to DC, I went with
Scott McLemee, who is a CLR James scholar and an admirer of the Trotskyist
movement from afar (smart lad he), to the library where his wife works. We
got a copy of Alexander's book off the shelves and scanned through it. He
said, "When read about how these promising but weak and tiny groups kept
splitting and disappearing, I want to cry." I tried to explain to him that
this was in their nature. There are constant accusations of betrayal in
their ranks. Everybody is looking for the scratch that will turn into
gangrene. Petite-bourgeois elements are ruthless exposed. A century from
now, when we live under communism (or are all dead), we will look back at
this subculture and laugh. Right now, it is enough to make you cry.

> You may also ask him whether he
>intended to write a documented history book or a critique of Trotskysm
>from a perspective of somebody who admits that he voted for their
>expulsion from the US SP, and can't forget that that act ended the SP as
>a significant force in the US.

Actually, Cannon's decision to split from the SP was one of his dumbest
moves ever, but as is the case with so many of the pathetic groups
documented by Alexander, he knew no alternative.

>It is interesting to note that from that
>event emerged the SWP that you joined and worked for a number of years.
>Why instead of work your way ahead, you returned to the departing point,
>adopting the point of view of those who were in opposite sides of the

Because I reject all self-declared vanguards.

>As for the Argentinean "National Left" would be interesting
>for you to note that it exploded (was already very small) when its
>founder, Abelardo Ramos, reached the logical conclusion of his politics
>and uncritically supported Menem. This was not the last and
>unpredictable turn of a senile leader, but the continuation of a policy
>that included to have Juan Peron and Isabel Peron on the top of their
>ticket in the 70s's Presidential elections.

Oh well, I guess I won't join. If I go to retire in Argentina, that won't
stop me from learning how to tango from my landzman Nestor.

Louis Proyect
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