[Marxism] Real Left Unity
Jose G. Perez
elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Sat Jun 19 16:43:17 MDT 2004
Dayne Goodwin writes, "I don't agree with Jose that the SWP's
sectarianism "grew out of the turn to industry" - if by that he means
that sectarianism grew naturally, inherently, inevitably out of the
'turn to industry.' I think a revolutionary socialist organization can
potentially make a turn to industry, or any other turn, without becoming
If what I said read like "turns to industry in general are inevitably
sectarian," then I wrote badly, that isn't what I think.
I do believe *this* turn to industry, the one adopted at the Feb., 1978,
plenum of the SWP NC, was sectarian from birth. That was far from clear
to anyone in the room then and I know even today "the turn" remains
popular with those who went through it. Perhaps it would be more politic
if I said something like that I think it would prove unsustainable given
U.S. conditions without a sectarianization of the organization, or
something like that, but it isn't what I think. I believe that the truth
is this turn was born as a sectarian turn.
The turn that was adopted was projected as fundamentally a *maneuver* in
the military sense of the word, a coordinated redeployment of forces. It
was motivated by the *projection* that big class battles were on the
horizon. With the adoption of that turn, we stopped orienting towards
the actual forces in motion and oriented instead based on the as yet
non-existent class battles. Yes, there were seemingly contradictory
formulations and it took time for this to work itself out in real life,
but as conceived, presented and adopted, it was a *typical* sectarian
nostrum, based on the revealed truth of what must come to pass, of the
Tasks Appointed Unto Us by History, rather than the reality of what IS.
In and of itself, however, this turn would not have provoked nearly the
damage it caused if at some point the leadership had honestly confronted
the mistake, or allowed the ranks to do so.
Instead, the party was *diverted* into a discussion about the character
of the Cuban state, government and leadership, a question that did not
have decisive immediate implications for our practical activity, and
many aspects of which the members of a workers party in the United
States have no way of evaluating first-hand, no real practical way to
test *at all.* This discussion was factionalized to the max and taken to
a ridiculous level of abstraction and generalization in the form of a
discussion about "permanent revolution." This set the stage for a whole
series of bureaucratic and anti-democratic "reconquerings" of the SWP's
already too tight organizational norms, the need for this tightening
being justified by the "proletarian" turn and of course the misdeeds,
real or imagined, of the opposition.
In terms of practical activity, the turn was clearly a sectarian retreat
into sterile socialist propaganda. The unions and party fractions in
them were projected as the central arena for all work, the "framework"
for all our activity. That based on the idea that the working class had
moved to center stage due to the ruling class offensive which inevitably
would set off big class battles. It represented, all protestations to
the contrary notwithstanding, a retreat especially on the national
question and the centrality of the oppressed nationalities to politics
in the United States. And it was accompanied by an ultra-arrogant
attitude towards all other groups and forces, which were dismissed
simply as "the petty-bourgeois left," quite ironic since most of these
groups had carried out similar colonization policies in factories before
the SWP and we could have learned something from them.
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