LCR lets go of dicktatorship - reply to Tom

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Tue Nov 11 04:03:16 MST 2003

Jurriaan, you tell me the question I raised is "quite straightforward", but
then you offer us 3370 words on it, so I think maybe it's not so
straightforward after all.

I suggest there are a few aspects to it:

1. Getting rid of old jargon that alienates modern activists (or worse
still has totalitarian associations) is fine with me. I made that clear up

2. Your statement "if you think these problems are resolved via a correct
programmatic statement, then you are an idealist" is quite right. I don't
think that. But then the converse is also true: removing old jargon won't
by itself turn people into better communicators in the mass work or enable
us to unite the movements.

3. I also agree that we don't need elaborate formulations about these
things to be conditions of membership. I've never been in a left group that
told new members they had to believe in the Dictatorship of the
Proletariat. We just talked about workers' power.

4. But what the programmatic formulations do is provide some measure of
where a group or a movement is heading. That's what interests me about the

5. For example when the PCF abandoned the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
it was signalling a fundamental change in its class position (a change that
had already taken place in practice): from an orientation to the stalinist
version of the Dictatorship Soviet style (which I see as a kind of class
society, but that's by the bye) towards an integration into the French
political mainstream.

5. OK, now about the LCR. You write: "their strategic objective is to unite
the radical Left in France politically on an activist basis, through
integrating different social movements and far left parties as much as
possible, within one organisation. For this purpose, the formula
'dictatorship of the proletariat' is not particularly helpful, since many
people regard it now as quaint, extremist, oppressive or bizarre,"

It should be clear that I sympathise with the last bit, but I have serious
reservations about what comes before it. Can the LCR, or any other
particular group, "unite the radical left", "integrate social movements"
and the like?  This sounds all too familiar. In the post-Seattle period,
the group I was in started thinking it could do things like that. We were
going to "cohere movements" and be "at the centre". To do this we had to
"ditch the old baggage" and just focus on what we had in common with the
movements. But in the event, we did not integrate anything, rather our own
group began to dis-integrate because it was no longer clear about what it
stood for. Something similar, and more disastrous, seems to have happened
to the previously very successful IST group Linksruck in Germany.

Now of course the LCR is considerably bigger than the Australian ISO, but
relative to the size of the forces that make up the "radical left" it's not
so big at all. It can experience these dangers too.

It's not that I don't want to unite the movement, or break out of sectarian
practices, it's just that experience over the last ten years has shown me
another side of the issue: how groups can disarm themselves politically in
pursuit of over-ambitious perspectives.

PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list