To Michael Dawson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Nov 13 18:11:49 MST 2003

Michael Dawson:
>Socialism will need a UN, in my opinion.

I would certainly think so. But I am not sure what this has to do with
sanctions against Iraq, imposing the rule of NATO in Yugoslavia, etc.  All
such institutions have a class basis. The cops in Somoza's Nicaragua had a
different role and function than Sandinista Nicaragua.

>I am as much a Marxist as anybody.  I simply think that policing left
>thought is not a high priority.  Hell, 50 percent of what Marxists of the
>past have said is obsolete anyway.  I don't agree with everything Doug
>Henwood, or anybody else, says and thinks.  I simply respect his positive
>help in throwing light on the way capitalism works.

At the risk of becoming a bore, let me repeat myself. I do not criticize
Henwood's useful articles on money that appear in LBO, no matter how
infrequently it comes out. I am referring to Hardt and Negri. I have no
idea why you think that taking up "Empire" is tantamount to "policing left
thought". Is this what John Bellamy Foster was doing when he criticized
them in a recent MR article? Our movement grows through debate.

>I've read Trotsky and lots of other stuff on the USSR.  None of it convinces
>me that the results were anything short of a disaster.  I admire the
>Bolshevik's attempts to break away, but their project was doomed from the
>start, in part due to their early-Marxist tendency to dismiss democracy as a
>bourgeois ruse.

But aren't you aware that Lenin's "State and Revolution" was noting but a
restatement of Marxist orthodoxy on the state?

>MLK and Gandhi were both socialists.  I'm not sure what "contradictions" in
>their thoughts you're aware of, but MLK told his inner circle that "Karl
>Marx was right," and Gandhi termed "wealth without work" one the seven
>deadly sins.

Michael, I don't want to disappoint you but I have no intention of
bad-mouthing MLK or Gandhi. You can call them socialists if it pleases you,
but I have an orientation to CLR James and Che Guevara whose socialism was
based on historical materialism. Life involves political choices after all.

>As to pacifism and socialism, I also fail to perceive the contradiction.
>Isn't the point to use politics to win major changes in institutions?
>Sometimes violence is the only remaining alternative (as both MLK and Gandhi
>accepted, albeit with stringent emphasis on it being the truly last resort),
>but I see no reason to build it into the definition of socialism.

Despite my reputation as an ideological thug, I have no interest in
attacking pacifism either. David McReynolds is an old dear friend. I
advocate peaceful and legal change and advocate violence only in
self-defense. In any case, these questions are pretty abstract and not the
kind that I usually engage with (nor are they of much interest to Marxmail)
so this will be the last of our exchanges until I cc you with my response
to Henwood's Nation Magazine article.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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