Free Cde. Sparrow from his sectarian bird cage!

NIBS nibs at
Mon Nov 11 05:18:31 MST 2002

Jose writes:

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.

Jeff writes:

Wow!  An argument based upon the peculiarity of my name! Gotta love those
sophisticated polemicists. It’s a shame Jose agrees with Peter Boyle  he
could have had a field day there.

As for the substance of the post, suffice to say that it’s quite perverse
to think that a quotation from the 27 year old Marx, written in an era
before modern political parties even existed can settle a dispute about how
communists should organise today. Any serious attempt to deal with the
question has to at least come to terms with (irrespective of whether one
agrees with them) the arguments made in the twentieth century  it’s daft to
simply that one can ignore them by ‘returning to Marx’, particular in the
form of the most misused quotation in the entire canon.

Jose wrote:

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

Oh, please!
Marx spent his life polemicising against the ‘let’s all just be friends’
school of socialism. Hence the debates in the First International, hence
the Critique of the Gotha Program, hence just about everything he wrote.
I’m quite happy to defend the continuity between Marx’s attitude to party
politics (taken in context) and Lenin’s. Of course, there’s a whole shabby
tradition that tries to use the quote above to make a contrary case, but I
didn’t think it had much currency any more. Perhaps I’m wrong.

Jose wrote:

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

Jeff writes:

Yeah? You could argue with just as much legitimacy that the difference
between the various views put forward on this list could be eliminated by
us all turning off our computers!
The material basis for the myriad of tiny groups lies in decades of defeat.
I would have thought that was obvious. But that’s a legacy that can’t
simply be wished away. It needs to be overcome  which is why I keep banging
on about the importance of fresh forces or political victories.
Underneath all the hoopla of these ‘we all should simply get together’
arguments lies a terrible pessimism. The tiny numbers of people already on
the revolutionary left are all we’re ever going to get, therefore we should
just make the best of each other, cos it aint never getting better than this.
Well, I don’t buy it.

Jose writes:

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.

Jeff writes:
This would be the same Peter Camejo who now devotes himself to playing the
stock market and investing ‘ethically’? This is fellow with whom we should
bury our differences and unite?
Thanks very much, but I think I’ll stick to my bird cage.


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Jeff Sparrow
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"Comrades, cling to your principles! Be men and women! We are fighting for
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J.W.Fleming, 1889

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