The slogan BHTTN: a heterodox socialist perspective

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Thu Jul 24 09:18:38 MDT 2003

(1) I think the insights of comrade Mark Lause and comrade Charles Januzzi
are compatible, both make valid points, they don't exclude each other
(dialectical principle of non-exclusion), they just offer different reasons
for the same political line.
(2) Agreement on the slogan BHTTN is perfectly okay, people are going to
interpret it differently anyhow, and are going to be argued for in different
ways anyhow, with different variations in different contexts as appropriate
to different audiences, and you cannot stop them from doing that anyhow.
(3) You have to bear in mind the specific political function of a slogan, it
is supposed to indicate the main political line and act as a stimulus for
action (what to do now), not to be a full explanation of life, the universe
and everything.
(4) It is impossible to devise a slogan which covers all cases and
situations perfectly, more than a general orientation cannot be expected.
(5) Why focus on the validity of one commonly accepted slogan used as a
basis of unity, when other, additional slogans could also be used as well,
as appropriate and when you do not have one monolithic political movement
anyway ?.
(6) If the troops are brought home soon, or the situation changes, new
slogans could be raised.
(7) When evaluating the validity of a slogan used universally, one needs to
look at the level and type of political awareness of the whole population,
not just the level of consciousness within the movement itself
(8) The slogan is good, if it provides a focus for a whole range of
arguments, by different people who have different political stances and
reasons for why the troops should be returned home now. There may be more
reasons thatn we can currently think of or currently consider relevant.
(9) Debating the precise formulation of a slogan is pertinent only if you
are leading an organisation which actually has a large influence on masses
of people, if you haven't got that, campaigning for an already existing
slogan may be a prerequisite for gaining that organisation and influence.
(10) If you campaign for BHTTN and it helps to change the political mood,
and really brings home those soldiers, those soldiers may in fact be
grateful and one day defend, or fight for, the socialists in other political

When I had a job as statistician in survey design, I discovered that in some
subject areas, it is practically impossible to design even a very simple
survey question, which will be uniformly understood by all respondents, and
then even if it was, you would still get a certain amount of response error;
so that to reduce response error to near-zero level, you would have to give
the surveyer the possibility of formulating the question in different ways
to suit different respondents, in order to get accurate data.

If you have that sort of problem already in collecting observations, which
form the basis of scientific data, how can you avoid it in formulating a
unifying political slogan that adresses a very complex situation understood
variously by different people ?

Bickering about the ultimate political correctness of the slogan gives it a
power which is does not have (fetishism) whereas its power is only in the
substantive arguments used to explain, justify and defend it, and in the
future there might be new substantive arguments for the same slogan.

We're all on the same side guys, as regards imperialist intervention in
Iraq, let's not forget that in our squabbles !


More information about the Marxism mailing list