[Marxism] MR-2004

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Feb 3 06:39:57 MST 2004

Phil wrote:

We tend to think that the 'Trotskyist' vs 'Maoist' thing of the 60s and 70s
is not relevant today.  (...) At present WP and Revo are in a fusion
process, which should be completed by the end of this year.

Sounds good to me. Think of it this way: would intelligent New Zealand
workers give a stuff about this Maoism-Trotskyism thing ? I would think they
wouldn't - what concerns them is a way of thinking and a principled politics
that can can inspire people with the confidence needed to improve the
position of the working class. That doesn't deny the need for theory, but
that it has to relate to New Zealand experience, not simply what chairman
Mao said or Trotsky said eighty years earlier. You don't develop an esprit
de corps by all reading the same books, but through lived experience that
relates to what's happening now.

If particular Maoist groups are any good, that's because of their own
experience. Anybody can read the little red book or whatever or subscribe to
some dogma. Personally, I think Marx, Luxemburg, Lenin and a few people like
that are worth keeping lest we regress to an even earlier level of thinking
about radicality (they set a standard). But as far as I am concerned, there
are no dead authorities, only living ones, though maybe living ones regard
dead ones as authorities. I think of it this way: if my ideas do not live in
some way, then I am just a repository of ideas, a sort of walking library or
conservatory. Fine and good, there is a time and a place to pull out an
idea, but it's basically just a dusty and dead feeling if it just sits
there, it doesn't live, it is not a meaning which transforms anything in a
satisfying and emancipating way.

I recall talking to Ernest Mandel in Amsterdam on 3 April 1984 over a bowl
of fish soup, telling him about all these little groupuscles in New Zealand
and so on. And he said "yes, well, it's a long uphill battle (to unify those
groups)". Personally I got sick and tired of trying to unify them after a
few years, I didn't believe anymore in Ernest's political idea very much,
and I'd rather try to do something new, but I admire those people who make
that effort anyhow.

I'll try to get that article done but I am feeling pretty stuffed and sad
just now, I'm just back from the court where I had to wait and watch an
amazingly mindboggling inefficient juridical procedure (it was actually
amazing also that the judge and his assistant could retain an element of
cheerfulness and sensitivity with all this routinism, I tried to stay
friendly even although I got a bit irritable about waiting). Wehkamp claimed
I had failed to pay for something that I had bought from them, but I am 99.9
percent sure that I didn't order anything, I just clipped a picture of a
woman out of the catalogue, that was all, but I don't regard it as buying
anything but as aesthetic appreciation. Anyhow, better get on with it,
otherwise you'll think I am turning into an old hag. My crime now is a messy
apartment. Pah.


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