[Marxism] Reply To Tim T On Relny Socialist History and It's Application To Green Movement Today Re: Three Questions

Alex Briscoe obeynow20001 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 13 12:56:56 MST 2004

Everyone else: The relevant items re the Green Party are in the bottom four paragraphs. - A.
Hey Tim,
Yes to numbers one and two.  I can't give you an exaustive answer as that would take a whole essay, but I'll try to do it in a few sentences.  Before that, I would refer you to the writings of Tony Cliff, Paul LeBlanc, Steve Bloom, Hal Draper, David Finkel and Daniel ben Said for a better idea of where I'm coming from.  You can find some of them through www.marxsite.com, www.mia.org net or com (I forget).
Trotskyism came from Leninism which is part of the original program of the Third International before it became Stalinized.  The Third Intnl was founded in response to the bureaucratic degeneration of the Social Democratic parties in western Europe in the begin of the 20th century, culminating in the heads of those parties voting war credits for capitalist govts in WW1 and misleading and crushing workers uprisings after the war.
The ideas are generally:  capitalism is in an historic decline and needs war to keep up the profit rates for ruling classes based in national blocs.  (ecosocialists like Walt Sheasby, Joel Kovel, James O'Connor have also brought out the fact that capitalism destroys the national world through accumulation and is leading to ecological catastrophe that will culminate in about 25 years.)  
Socialist revolution must be mass democratic and will be lead by workers, poc and their allies. 
 Soc rev must be international because of the worldwide division of labor and because of the threat of the industrialized imperialist nations crushing revolutions in the global south. 
 Mass democratic struggles in the global south will tend to either go the way of post capitalist/worker/peasant revolution (eg Venezuela and the Andean countries today) or the most reactionary sectors of the indigineous ruling classes will combine with imperialists in the north to drown these movements in blood and retard these societies for a whole period (eg Chile in the 70s, China 30s, Indonesia, 60s to 90s, etc).
In addition, Lenin and the Bolsh also had a core of dedicated organizers starting from the handfuls, in Russia in the 1890s, then to the score I believe in the early 1900s to even greater layer from 1915 to 1917.  They were a minority in the workers councils up to the Fall of 1917 but when the Russian bourgeoisie did not know how to rule Russia except through a Pinochet type general, the workers went en masse for workers power in November 1917.  The workers were able to take and keep power because the Bolsh Party, by this time a mass workers party of 20,000 to 30,000 (have to doublecheck that number) was organized enough to coord and lead the insurrection, land redistrib, defense of the country in the face of imperialist counter-rev, etc.
Cliff's bio of Lenin is interesting, however because he shows that the Bolsh Pty started off relatively small, was never that well financed and more often than not was not as well organized as all involved would have wanted.  They were also many times very fractious and suffered repression, which took months or years at a time to overcome, partic 1906 to 1909. The intellectuals (writers) abandoned them in 1906 to 1909 and 1917. They were able to succeed to a large extent because: the period they were in was one of rising workers struggles, they based themselves starting in the working class and supported all struggles of minorities and democrats as best they could, they adhered in the main to their core principles, they were generally the "hards" who would not compromise with the liberals on the issues of strikes, direct action and working class independence.
Further, it's interesting that what Cliff writes is that Lenin and the Bolsh Party was one of action and (esp worker) movement participation, not process mongering.  The Menshevik middle class Party members at one point drew up a bylaws document that was pages long that Lenin said was ridiculous because you couldn't block opportunism with rules alone. 
 Also, the Bolsh Party considered running for office as an adjunct to the struggles in the workplaces and in the streets, mainly to get one's message out, not believing that reforms would last or that they would prolong the life of capitalism which would slowly grind down the mass of people.  
However, they were very much involved in worker based reform movements like that of the social security boards before 1917.  They had an immensely popular newsletter that discussed social security law and agitated and educated to organize masses of workers to demand democratic input (more reps, better laws) on the boards,  while educating for the final necessity for a soc rev as the root soln to social insecurity.
Anyway, have to get back to business, but I think you can see some of the implications for the Green Party.  I think that we have to spend far less time on process, far more time on movement work and recruit through that, not worry so much about respectability and electability.  Also, we need some form of one member one vote for rep in the Party (forumula forthcoming from Greens For Democracy and Independence, in large part ironically thanks to the efforts of Gregory W, a member of the Green Alliance who hates Nader but is now helping Forrest Hill, arch Nader supporter Cobb hater.  (Thanks Gregory and Forrest.))
Of course one problem for us is that the workers move here in the US at least has been beaten into the ground, but OTOH, I don't think that's going to be the case for any more than 10 years at the most and probably for far fewer years than that.
Kind of a side note:  some hardened Bolsh types would object that the GP is a cross class alliance (small busn owners and workers in one party) and thus is doomed to never have a clear class approach (eg definite support for strikes, more direct social/class struggle instead of just lobbying nice liberal politicos, etc.).  
I think that the mushy, cross class aspect of the GP is a problem, as I would say that we've seen in 2003 and whether and how to confront the Dems with a cand that could pose a real threat (however organizationally difficult he may or may not have been).  However, due to the lack of a consolidated layer of left worker activists at this point, I think that building a left wing of the GP so to speak as an example to working people and organized labor with the possibility that the more successful and forward we are (a la Seattle 1999), rank and file union members will pressure the labor officialdom to create a labor party that the GP could ally with, merge with, etc.  In CA/southwest we see sections of the Mexican community breaking off from the Dems and re-registering Green along with AfrAmer activists here and there.  Here in Illinois, there are similar potentials beginning to be realized through our activism.
Anyway, thanks for asking, See You Saturday hopefully,
Alex Briscoe

aikideshi2 <timwtacker at hotmail.com> wrote:


Three questions:

1. Do you consider yourself a Trotskyist?

2. A Leninist?

3. Why? (With which characteristics do you identify?)


P.S. Thanks.


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