Nationalism (end)

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Fri Jul 18 14:19:20 MDT 2003


It is final, because time does not permit me to discuss further, I cannot
spend my whole life sorting out inanities, I have done so professionally at
the university and as statistician, but that is not the whole of life. I
will just make a few brief comments.

You write:

1. We are not talking about scientific capacity.  We
are talking about class interests.  They speak very
clearly about that to each other.  The fluff about
legality, democracy, national self-determination is
for advertising purposes only. That the bourgeoisie
may be capable "not infrequently" in your words of
clearly expressing their interests, proves the point.

Reply:

Nobody denies that. but you willfully do not engage with my point, evading
it.

You say:

Unlike the bourgeoisie we have no interest or ad-
vantage in duplicity.  We must always define the class
interests behind and in front of our assessments.

Reply:

Good solid religion here. The way to hell is paved with good intentions. You
are just romanticising people and social classes.

You say:

2. We don't speak to all as a government representing
all classes, until we are such a government.  When
the proletariat in conflict speaks, to us as well
as all others, it is exposing that the terms of its
specific struggle are the general terms for emancipation.
Specificity is the origin and path to power.

Reply:

No disagreement here, but you again evade my point.

You say:

3. Ideology-- haven't been an activist in awhile, but
when I was with my comrades we had considerable success
articulating just those social forces at work, rather
than relying on somebody's previous formulas.  I don't
think that your mythical body "ordinary people" exist,
but those engaged in struggle seem to respond pretty well
to defining the class forces at work--

Reply:

Good for you. I do not deny that "those engaged in struggle seem to respond
pretty well to defining the class forces at work". even so, what these class
forces are is not to be arrived at through axioms.

You wrote:

I would point out the Russian Revolution as one minor example, where
ideologies fell by the wayside rapidly in the face of the actual social
confrontation.  Then it was class against class, with the class organ of
power, the soviet, vs. the class
organ of power, the duma saying all that needed to be said about ideology.

Reply:

Again an error in the Marxian ABC. You construe ideology as a kind of "mist"
which blows away when "naked class struggle"" heats up. I have in a specific
context occasionally used the term "ideological fog" but this term is
misleading. To the contrary, ideology was a force before the Russian
revolution, during and after. Why ? Because ideology is not only a means for
hiding class conflict, but also a force for articulating it. This is a point
which Antonio Gramci, a Marxist with certified proletarian credentials, made
numerous times. Louis Proyect will agree with me here, because he agrees,
that in specific circumstances you raise specific themes, and you do so
because of the specific ideological configurations that exist at the time.

You said:

4.Perhaps you are not familiar with Plessy v. Ferguson,
this was a legal decision that reversed the 13th, 14th,
15th amendments and enshrined segregation as the law of
the land.  The Civil War established those amendments. The
intrusion of capital through the mechanization of Southern
agriculture after WWII disrupted the existing relations
of Jim Crow and precipitated the civil rights movement
which progressed rather rapidly through "forms" to
reveal itself as the struggle for the emancipation of
black labor, not a struggle for civil rights or a
black nation.

Reply:

I have no knowledge of the US legal system, nor a detailed knowledge of US
history. only of its effects. When I need to know about the US legal system,
I ask Justin Schwartz or others on PEN-L who have specialist knowledge in
that area, being US lawyers. When I need to know about US history, I ask
historians on Marxmail List or PEN-L. Your analysis of Black nationalism is
again schematic.

You write:

5. Schematic about bourgeois law being the instrument of
property owners?  Well, check the prison population stats
and get back to me.

As far as I know, there are a couple million in the USA. I sympathise with a
lot of those guys, they are in jail often for the strangest and most inhuman
reasons. Nevertheless this does not motivate me to say that the law is
irrelevant, it motivates me to criticise the law and be in favour of better
juridical procedures. The law, as I said, protects property owners, but also
defines rights, responsibilities, duties and obligations of citizens, in a
manner which is essential for any civil society, whatever the bad laws might
be. If you want a socialism without any legal system, go ahead, try it. But
pretty soon you will confront crime, corruption, barbarism, venality and
immorality. Unfortunately human beings at this stage of their evolution are
not able to regulate their own behaviour in such a way that no laws are
necessary anymore. Some individuals may be able to live without any recourse
to legality and get away with it, but their number is small.

You wrote:

6. If you would attempt a concrete analysis of a real
conflict, the real history of the civil rights movement,
the Irish Rebellion, the counterrevolution in Chile in 73,
the current world situation, the overproduction of oil,
the advancement of the anti-apartheid struggle in South
Africa, you would found deep and profound correlations
between the politics, the forces engaged in struggle, and
the demands made upon and for labor.  It is really that
fundamental.  You can even look at Portugal in 1974 and
find similar information.

Reply:

I do not deny it, otherwise I would not be a socialist. But again you are
fudging the issue. Your whole polemic is a fascist polemic, you just want to
ram your deformed notion of class into my head, suggesting that I do not pay
attention to it. And I have no use for such imbecile discourse.

You say:

7. Law has no importance?  I said that we do not believe
in the importance of the rule of law.  The importance is
historical, class-based.  The law permits what the
bourgeoisie might or might not be able to afford. It
does not exist separate and apart from ruling class
interests.  See no. 6 above.

Reply:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The law has no importance, the importance is historical,
classbased, blah blah blah. Go back and read carefully e.g. Hal Draper's
book Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Volume 1. You will notice (1) that
the bourgeois state performs class tasks (e.g. the defence of bourgeois
private property) but also performs general civil tasks (such as policemen
rescuing babies or firemen rescuing cats), precisely in function of the fact
that the bourgeois state must secure the general social conditions for the
reproduction of capitalism, functions which cannot be fullfilled by private
enterprise because of incessant intercapitalist competition (2) that Marx
did not create any elaborate theory of civil society. When Lenin advocates
smashing the state, he does not mean burning down post offices or ripping
out busstop signs, he does not mean destroying parks or anything like that,
he means dismantling the repressive apparatus of the state. That is to say,
the state performs certain civil functions and it performs certain class
specific functions. The whole mystery of the bourgeois state is of course
due to the fact that these functions frequently overlap, and even that, if
they do not, they still do not operate in a social vacuum.
Lenin emphasises that one cannot simply "take over" the existing state
apparatus, nevertheless in many cases that is what initially happened in the
Russian revolution.

You say:

8.  Saying revolution requires program and organization is
"fascist"?  So that would make a revolutionary organ like
the soviets expropriating bourgeois property fascist? That's
just stupid.

It is not stupid, because you are one of these people who like to bash their
programme and their organisation into other people, instead of engaging with
their consciousness and their subjectivity. You just want to give me an
earfull of polemical verbiage about "class" and disregard what I am trying
to say. And I am not interested in that, that is exactly why do not
associate with many leftists anymore, I am sick to death of their
tyrannical, deaf-and-dumb style of dialogue. The whole idea that you have
the true programme and need to bash it into people with "organisation" in
which you are the boss, is a fascist idea, just go and read the literature
about how the fascists operated. This concept is inimical to the heterodox
socialist idea.
Rather than trying to understand what I say, you suggest a diversion, that
soviets expropriating bourgeois property are fascist.
Well, they could be, or they could not be, it depends what sort of culture
they operate with, and what sort of humanism they subscribe to. The task of
the party is to develop a correct approach to expropriation, and not
mindless expropriation of the David Schanoes type, who doesn't believe in
the rule of the law and would therefore sanction any old crime.

You say:

What drops out in all your supposed concern for law, equity, subjectivity,
et. is class.

REply:

No, I am approaching the discussion from the standpoint of the healthy parts
of working class, not as a two-bit sociologist.

You say:

9. I don't know how sitting in my office in NYC is any
different than sitting in your office in Holland, except
for the time differential, but I do know a little about
Africa, and nationalism has been an impediment to the
progress of social emancipation.  I do know that the
the drop in coffee prices internationally has flattened
certain economies in Africa,that flower cultivation for
export has been damaged by inspection procedures insti-
tuted by Holland, and I do know that the solution to
those problems can be found only in an international
program and organization for socialist control of the
means of production, not through a program for the
national sovereignty of Uganda, Nigeria, etc.

Reply:

Then why are you not working for an NGO ? Your  "international program and
organization for socialist control of the
means of production" sounds mighty fine, except it is just abstract. You get
these people who want to save the world somewhere else, but they cannot even
get anything done in their own backyard or tackle the political issues
raised by the state in their own country. And this results in useless,
waffly disputes about globalisation and international solidarity which help
nobody and at most just make money for people who spout this nonsense.

You say:

It did not matter that the Russian working class was
by far a minority of the population in Russia, nor
that the US industrial working class is a minority in
the US, nor that the African American working class
is a minority of that minority-- it is the class
position that is critical.

Reply:

Yeah, Amen, the Good Lord Karl Marx be Praised. In fact it is rubbish, it is
not just a question of class position but also of human position.

You wrote:

11. Head shot off?  Unlikely to be in that position again
comrade. But, anyone who thinks the solution to the
US occupation is "self-determination for Iraq," or
Afghanistan, is kissing a corpse.  These aren't national
struggles, and actually, pseudo-left nationalism is what
exposed Iraq to such vicious assaults.  Iraq is part of
an international class struggle, where the only prospect
for emancipation is just that program, just those types
of organizations you find fascist.

Reply:

We'll see about that - have a go at selling your international program to
the Iraqi people if you like, see how you like it. Again you are talking
generalities, which dissipate as soon as we actually try to do something
with them. The only reason that you come out with such verities as "the only
prospect for emancipation is just that program" is because you think that
class struggles are a computer programme that you should be running. Your
method is fascist, and you are an enemy of mine until you drop your fascist
method.

You wrote:

Repeating something you repeated about Marx is
all very well and good, but then it sounds like you are
doing exactly what Marx is criticizing--  say "Here is
the necessary subjectivity"  "Here is the manifold nature
of conflicts"  "Don't dare try to find a coherent point
of analysis."

This stuff is not worth responding to at all.

Jurriaan







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