Comments on an Alex Callinicos letter to the Left Turn group

Johannes Schneider johannes.schneider at
Tue Sep 23 13:46:45 MDT 2003

On Tue, 23 Sep 2003 15:26:51 -0400, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> wrote:

> Callinicos raises genuine issues of concern, but Marxist participation in
> the Global Justice movement, or any other social struggle for that
> matter, has to be based on a totally new relationship defined by
> transparency. Democratic centralism, as understood by the British SWP and
> similar such groups, is the number one obstacle to the acceptance of
> Marxism by a new generation of radicals. They understand that people like
> Alex Callinicos, Chris Harman and John Rees work out in advance what
> correct Marxist strategy and tactics are and then disseminate them into
> the mass movement. Attempts to persuade the British SWP at a mass meeting
> that its ideas are wrong is seen as an exercise in futility. We need a
> movement whose discipline is based on the needs of the class struggle
> rather than that of a self-defined vanguard that knows what is best for
> the movement and dispenses its advice like cod liver oil to a child.

Louis, your criticism of the SWP`s Zinovieism sounds good, but what is your

How can a movement that takes something like `Empire` as its gospel
understand the needs of the class struggle.? I dont want to talk about
discipline here.

I have seen a lot of `movements` coming and going, not as a bystander, but
as an active particpant. At the end of the day, they had very little
influence on the daily barbarism of capitalism and fell apart or lifted
cynics like Joschka Fischer to the top.

The latest movement we saw at the beginning of this year. In February
hundred of thousands marched against the war. But only half a year later
(at least here in Germany) that movement has fallen apart and even if there
werent groups like the WWP in the US or the SWP in the UK and similiar
organisations elsewhere it would not even have come into existence.

All this leads me to the conclusion that only an organisation of concious
Marxists based on the principles democratic centralism will understand the
`needs of the class struggle` and have the neccessary discipline to work
against the up and downs of movements and bring about real change.


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