Barnesite Dog and Pony Show

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Feb 17 09:42:42 MST 2002

On Sun, 17 Feb 2002 11:19:21 -0500, Tom Siblo wrote:
>Later I felt the COINTELPRO was far greater than
>any of us thought. Many of the top leaders might
>have been FBI or Naval Intelligence.  I said no.

The answer is much simpler. The "turn" is nothing more nor less than
the kind  of "workerism" that has rendered much of the Trotskyist
movement ineffective. It is based on a schematic understanding of the
1930s. Rather than seeing the 1960s as the particular form that the
class struggle in the USA took, Farrell Dobbs believed that this was
merely some kind of "detour" that allowed the SWP to pick up some
members until the "real" class struggle began again.

Around 1975, when the 1960s radicalization began to wind down, a mood
of panic gripped the younger SWP leadership. They feared that the
largely student and white collar membership of the party would begin
to reflect petty-bourgeois deviations from the true proletarian path.
Thus it would be necessary to inoculate them against the sort of
germs found in the left milieu of this period. Instead of choosing
political opportunities on the basis of real gains, such as the
feminist, environmentalist, gay or service-oriented trade union
movements, they colonized basic industry because basically that's
where the struggles of the 1930s took place: auto, steel, rail, etc.
Unfortunately, this analysis did not take into account the sort of
structural changes that had taken place. In reality, a job in a steel
mill making $25 per hour might strengthen petty-bourgeois deviations
rather than militate against them. In any case, the lack of radical
political ferment in basic industry cannot be swept under the rug.

Since it is in the nature of Trotskyist sects to resist
self-criticism, the "turn" was never corrected. This is
understandable in a certain sense. Dogmatic Marxism has an enormous
temptation in this period. Instead of trying to deal with all sorts
of problems in the "anti-globalization" movement, a workerist sect
can simply dismiss the whole thing as a bosses plot because some
elements advocate protectionism.

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 02/17/2002

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