Labour parties

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 22 06:32:40 MDT 2002

Steve Painter and Rose McCann crossposting Bob Gould:

>In my next contribution I will discuss the sociological formulations of Ben
>Courtice, Jose Perez and Phil Ferguson in relation to the mass workers'
>movements, and in another contribution I will discuss the political practice
>and internal life of the DSP in Australia in the context of Peter Boyle's
>dismissive remarks about myself and his ingenuous defence of the regime of
>the DSP.

Does anybody besides me find Bob Gould something of a stuffed shirt? One
of the things we've been trying to do on Marxmail is to eliminate the
tendency to classify participants. Once you begin to do this, it makes
it nearly impossible to have a productive conversation. For example, to
label somebody "ultraleftist" not only implies that they have an
infantile disorder (somebody go fetch me the cod liver oil), but that
the labeler is in a position to make such a diagnosis. Politics then
becomes a game of classifying tendencies on the basis of how they match
up to some kind of predefined ideal, usually some version of Lenin,
Trotsky, Mao, etc. for the ages.

I honestly think that Bob wants the left to dump a lot of useless
baggage, but he needs to include this tendency toward ideological
reductionism. Specifically, to group Phil Ferguson's magazine with
Daniel DeLeon, the dregs of the Healyite movement, the Sparts, etc. is
just absurd. For one thing, Revolution magazine is simply not in the
business of recruiting people to some kind of vanguard that will
liberate New Zealand. Anybody who reads it can figure that out for
themselves. It is a lot more like Marxmail, with distinct standpoints
within Marxism liberally interpreted. I write for it, as does James
Heartfield who is associated with Frank Furedi's network. You really
can't get more far apart than me and Heartfield.

In any case, I strongly believe that Marxism has to dispense with this
tendency to classify and dissect currents in the fashion that Bob Gould
demonstrates. We have to assume that even if a position taken on one
question or another--such as the Labor Party--is a product of some
overarching ideological stance (or deviation), it does not help the
debate to objectify one's opponent in this fashion.

This is not to say that there is never a call for this. For example,
there is a lot of  rot out there in the broader movement, from
Hardt-Negri to Zizek to the flag-waving social democrats post-9/11. But
within our own ranks, we should give each other the benefit of the doubt
and resist the temptation to treat each other as some kind of alien body
that has to be isolated from genuine Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism or


Louis Proyect

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