Free Cde. Sparrow from his sectarian bird cage!

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Fri Nov 8 20:26:33 MST 2002

Jeff Sparrow writes:

"Furthermore, since no-one can give a serious explanation of what's changed
on the left (other than the rightward drift of the ISO) to enable 'unity'
to take place now (rather than, say, 1989 or 1975 or during the Timor
intervention 1999), the proponents of the idea resort instead to the
timeless notion that the various groups should 'get on better'. So what
happens? Everyone sagely nods and promises to behave (after all, who could
be against 'getting on'?)  and then, because none of the underlying issues
have been resolved, they just as quickly begin knifing each other in the

Us die hard anti-"Leninists" could have hardly asked for a more finished
expression of the circle spirit and sect outlook than comrade Sparrow
provides here.

He dismisses "the timeless notion that the various groups should 'get on
better'." I mean, after all, this idea that the working class, and those
groups that claim to represent its interests in the political arena, should
*unite,* where did THAT come from? Especially since great Whosis, founder
and leader of our very own sect, a veritable Lenin of our time, has already
pointed out the impossibility of unity with revisionist kautkyiste titoist
menshevik guevarist reformist stalinist ultraleft trotskyite sandinista
maoist adventurist fidelista splitters, wreckers, and betrayers, as well as
people who part their hair on the wrong side of their head.

For comrade Sparrow, the pages of the Communist Manifesto are useful only
for lining his sectarian bird cage.

"In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?
The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other
working-class parties.

"They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as
a whole.

"They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape
and mold the proletarian movement....

"The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world
to win.

"Workers of all countries, Unite!"

Communists like Marx and Engels, profoundly convinced of the correctness of
their ideas and the justness of the proletarian cause, had no "sectarian
principles of their own by which to shape and mold the proletarian
movement." Comrade Sparrow is unmoved. He flies to and fro in the narrow
confines of his sectarian thinking: "the underlying issues have not been
resolved. There is no way I'm getting out of this bird cage."

Indeed the "underelying issues" have not been resolved. And they may never
be resolved. In Cuba, a party of all the communists was cobbled together
from everyone, from militant workers who had busts of Stalin on top of their
black-and-white TV sets to revolutionaries for whom Trotsky has served as a
model and an inspiration.

Comrade Sparrow believes there are different groups BECAUSE there are
differing points of view on these "underlying issues."

I want to propose a radically different explanation, a --dare I say it--
MATERIALIST explanation. At the risk of being accused of the most vulgar
kind of reductionism, I believe that today the REAL basis for the existence
of a lot of these "differences" is, quite simply, the existence of different
groups. And I believe the material basis for overcoming these differences
*in practice* would be "liquidation" into ONE group.

[This is, obviously, not something that can be done simply by taking a vote
at the convention of whatever group has the privilege of counting us among
its members to the effect that the best thing we can do in the interests of
socialism is to dissolve. That would just lead to a scattering of
all-too-meager forces. Yet that would be  the *essence* of the task,
dissolution, liquidation, but in an organized and, yes, even disciplined

And THIS is something that HAS radically changed in the last couple of
decades. Until 1990 or so, there was a very strong and real and material
basis for the policies of one wing of those who called themselves
communists, and numerically, by far the largest wing. And that was the
existence of the Soviet bureaucracy.

Another thing that has radically changed, although, in truth, over a broader
time frame, is what social democracy represents politically. In most major
capitalist countries, the social democratic and labor parties have become
fully integrated into bourgeois two- or multi-party systems; and that is
what they represent politically, not a break from bourgeois politics but
rather one more expression of the bourgeoisie in the political arena.

This makes clear what *should* be united in a working class regroupment or
communist refoundation.

"The immediate aim of the Communists," Marx and Engels wrote in the
Manifesto, "is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation
of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy,
conquest of political power by the proletariat."

I think the kinds of currents that Marx generally categorizes as "other
proletarian parties" is what should be included.

Formation of the proletariat into a class, obviously here is meant in a
*subjective* sense, i.e., into a conscious political force. This means
independent working class political action. To what end? "Overthrow of the
bourgeois supremacy", i.e., revolution, which is intimately tied in with the
following sentence. Today we take for granted, of course, that a revolution
against "bougeois supremacy" would obviously have to be a workers, marxist,
socialist, communist, or whatever other term, revolution. One and a half
centuries ago, it wasn't so clear, hence the two step in the manifesto:
overthrow bourgeois rule and replace it with proletarian rule.

The regroupment, therefore, is of all socialists (=people who are for
socialism, meaning not Sweden or Norway but a different social system) who
agree on independent working class political action as the road to
overthrowing bourgeois supremacy and establishing a workers (or a workers
and farmer's, or some other term with similar content) government.

(Here I am thinking specifically of developed capitalist, i.e., imperialist
countries not of colonial or semicolonial countries, where the need for
national liberation tends to present itself as the main immediate cause of a
revolutionary upsurge).

Now, in advocating this, I am --frankly-- NOT thinking primarily of
Australia, but rather of the United States. It is more difficult here
because there is no pre-existing left/socialist alliance into which various
groups could "liquidate" but if anything the need is much greater here (in
the US) than there.

And there is a basis for it, in the real world, in American society.

The results of Peter Camejo's campaign for governor of California, where he
got 5%+ of the vote statewide, and even beat out Simon (the Republican) in a
couple of Northern California counties, shows that when left forces can
punch through the media blackout, we can and will win a hearing, and a
significant layer of adherents. And from all the press coverage I've seen
Camejo did not run some milquetoast "sewer socialist" campaign, but a
hard-hitting campaign on the biggest issues, including the war, rights for
undocumented workers, and so on.


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