Yoshie and the Lenin line: reply to Mark Lause

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Jul 22 06:46:48 MDT 2003

Eh. Who am I to say this ? Well here's my two bits worth anyway.

Mark's arguments about elitism and hierarchy don't apply I would think, as
the people Yoshie mentions would be just as aware as any of what's involved
here. The last argument is a more serious one, but the centrifugal forces
already exist, how else can you explain the fragmentation of the Left that
everybody whinges about for the last 20 years or more ? I cannot speak for
Yoshie obviously, but I imagine she would say that this grouping process is
exactly a way of overcoming the fragmentation process. It is all very well
for you and me talking over the Internet about stuff without even knowing
who we are or where we are coming from, but if we have seen each other face
to face, we can, if we return home, discuss and respond much better because
we know more exactly who we are dealing with.

So I wouldn't rule out the benefits of conferential activities. Yoshie is
strictly pursuing the Lenin line, namely: there are two groups of people on
the Left - those in favour of organisation, and those against organisation,
and we side for those who are in favour of organisation, and against those
who oppose organisation, we do so systematically and without exceptions.
When you get a group together like that, you can often solve problems
unexpectedly and in a "sideways" manner, and make political statements. In
this, you have to consider carefully the special place of academic
intellectuals and the specific predicaments they have to cope with. I would
say the Leftist and radical academics do not really constitute an "elite"
anyway in the USA, they just don't get top positions, unless they really are
superb apologists for the system. What I suggest you do here, is reread Marx
& Engels, Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci, Novack, Mandel and Draper on the
role of the intellectuals in class struggles (I can provide refs later if
you want).

Yes, but now you are going to tell me that "I didn't say I was against
organisation, that is not what my argument is about". But Yoshie would say,
"if you are in favour of organisation, just leave me to my own club, which
you think is useless, and go and organise something yourself, you go and
organise your own people, be constructive rather than negative". Which makes
sense, because we attract and can work with only people who are currently
most like ourselves or are in a similar position, have similar
personalities, and so on. And this is again the Lenin line, the heterodox
socialist line. There are a lot of quotes which somebody could dig up, where
Lenin complains about windbags, backsliders, seatwarmers and so on, and he
says in effect, the real test of the usefulness of our cadre is whether they
can win over other people, whether you can recruit more new people to the
movement. So Lenin would be saying, how many people can Mark recruit or win
over, and how can we establish a productive link between Mark's people, that
he knows in his area, and Yoshie's people ? In this case, we are not
pontificating about who has the true revolutionary line, we are not being
judgemental, but we are implementing the revolutionary line, because the
more people we have with us, the more we can say, and the more it is heard,

Some of us on the Left are softies, others are real hardnosed people, we've
got everything here, mods, punkers, rockers, teddybears, hippies, rappers,
romantics, wellpaid people and penniless people, people who are into God and
people who are into Marx, blacks, whites, Indians, Hispanics, Arabs, Jews,
ecologists, middle class people, workingclass people, capitalists,
moralisers, theologians and all sorts. All these people make judgements
about the lifestyles and revolutionary potential of the people of other
cultures. But what the fuck ? Are we racist or something ?  I mean, you
organise with the people you feel comfortable with organising, and if you
get them organised, then we can talk further about in which particular
regiment or batallion they belong, where they can do the best work. But to
none of these people we say, "you are useless, stop your struggles, they are
stupid stuff", rather we say, how to we link this into what we're already
doing anyhow.

To get that qualitative political change going, we needs lots of quantity,
lots of mass, and we don't get there by telling other people that what they
are doing is invalid. Rather we get there by creating space for the full
flowering of their personal creativity and initiative, we want to create
space for people and help them into a place where they can do what they do
already more effectively. And when we do that, we really organise and get
rid of that despotic Marxist-Leninist bullshit in the movement where the
monolithic central committee pronounces about the correctness of the
political activities of comrade so-and-so, or the correct Marxist line about
this or that question, to which people must adhere or be expelled. We want
to get people who are unorganised IN organisation, and when they are IN
organisation, personal changes start to occur which sort things out better.
Whereas these little marxist Hitlers are parasitic on other Marxist groups,
criticise them, steal members from them, and generally try to make trouble
for the Left rather than genuinely solve its problems.

Okay, maybe we lose a few people again, because they feel they are in the
wrong group. But even then, we can say, if this is not your cup of meat,
then we can refer you to, or recommend some other group, that deals more
with people of your type and current beliefs. We see this in motion,
dialectically.  And if you think that this is a recipe for political
eclecticism, let me tell you that if you really start organising seriously,
you eliminate political eclectism more and more, as your leadership skills
develop. It becomes quite clear what people really stand for, not just on
(toilet) paper.

All of this does not cancel out the need to develop a good political line,
nobody says that you don't have to do that, but the point is,  in constantly
researching that, if you can access the minds of people who have time to
think and get their cooperation, then your political line is going to be
enormously better, and you get the job of sorting out what the political
line should be, done quicker. Just think of everything Louis gets for free
by setting up a mailing list with Les !!! Fucking amazing.
And so anyway, we leave the yelling about the anti-revolutionary sentences
of comrade so-and-so, to the anti-organisation rabble, the anti-Lenin line
people, the anti-heterodox socialist people who want to sabotage
organisation with orthodoxy.

Well, anyway, I am backing Yoshie on this one, and I guess I will be backing
her, until I am backed up against the wall by the firing squad (that already
caused me to die before). Now back to my domestic chores (gotta organise




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