[Marxism] The Teixeira thesis

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 6 15:24:54 MST 2004


Marvin Gandall:
>I don't recall making reference to Kautsky, although I do remember
>saying I would like to find time to reread the Menshevik critique of the
>Bolsheviks as "adventurist" in light of the subsequent short-lived
>course of Soviet history. I'd add that given the world situation at that
>time I don't think it was unreasonable of the Bolsheviks to have seized
>power in anticipation it would spark revolutions in the West. Without
>the benefit of hindsight available to us now, I expect and hope I would
>have been with them.

Without the benefit of hindsight? What are you trying to say? That if you 
were in Russia in 1917 and could have foreseen how things would have turned 
out, you would have opposed the seizure of power? I hate to even ask.

>But I don't mind removing the quote marks around "reformist" if you
>prefer that I do. I didn't intend it as a "scare quote". I think I
>explained previously that I don't describe myself as a "social democrat"
>or "reformist" because a) I don't believe as a matter of principle that
>there can be a a peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism - which I
>understand to mean the political and economic expropriation of the large
>property holders, and b) I believe I would move, with many others,
>towards revolutionary solutions if capitalism broke down and was no
>longer capable of delivering modest job and income growth and tolerable
>living standards for most working people.

The real dividing line between reformists and revolutionaries is not over 
"a peaceful road to socialism" but how to orient to the Democratic Party in 
the here and now. In tomorrow's NY Times Magazine, there's an attack on the 
Nader campaign by Sean Wilentz of Dissent Magazine and The New Republic 
(now there's a combination for you.) The fundamental CLASS question in the 
USA is the Democratic Party. For the past half-century at least, every 
single social movement and the trade union movement have been set back by 
orienting to the Democratic Party. I am now reading Jeff St. Clair's "Been 
Brown So Long to Me that it Looked Like Green to Me" for an upcoming issue 
of Swans. The collaboration between inside-the-beltway environmental 
organization, timber and mining companies and the Clinton administration is 
enough to make you retch. These people are not just enemies of the working 
class. They are enemies of every living and breathing thing, including 
Bison and wolves.

>But isn't this true of yourself and everyone else on the list, as well?
>How can it be otherwise in the absence of a pre-revolutionary situation,
>when all of our practical activity is necessarily "reformist" - whether
>it be in the unions or in the international solidarity, environmental,
>and other movements, or through participation in pro-capitalist parties
>like the Democrats or, in your case, the Greens?

You are confusing "revolutionary" with "insurrectionary". I thought that 
you would have known the difference. Apparently not.

>In fact, you acknowledge as much. You write "if down the road a
>revolutionary formation based on a new awareness comes into being, I'd
>probably join it. But right now I couldn't find the time.if millions of
>working people were gravitating toward independent political action
>while engaging in militant strikes and mass actions, I'd not be pushing
>for support of the Green Party."
>
>I understand this - it reflects my own position - but unfortunately I
>don't think you've grasped the corollary that if and when this happens,
>you'd be much better positioned in the DP where the
>politically-conscious trade unionists would begin their journey, and
>where you presumably would have had a prior opportunity to earn their
>confidence.

The politically-conscious trade unionists would be exactly the same as they 
were in the 1930s, fighting tooth and nail with the National Guard, scabs 
and other enemies deployed by the Republican and Democratic Parties. This 
time around, I would hope that the CPUSA has so little difference that it 
won't persuade workers to retain loyalties to the "lesser evil". Of course, 
we revolutionaries will have a fight on our hand with those who preach 
class-collaboration using Marxist jargon.

>  You instead view "the art of politics" as standing outside
>their plant gates and convention halls selling your broadsheet along
>with competing handfuls of other revolutionary- and Green-minded
>intellectuals and students. From your point of view, this makes sense
>because you refuse to accept there is a long and continuing historical
>relationship between the labour movement - right down to the secondary
>leadership and activists - and the Democratic party.

Selling my broadsheet? I think you are thinking of the Spartacist League 
rather than the Green Party. Plus, I don't deny that there is a 
"relationship" between the labour movement [sic] and the Democratic Party. 
We can only look at the trail of broken promises going back to NAFTA and 
welfare "reform" to know that the relationship is based on deceit. Radicals 
are trying to expose the treachery of the Democratic Party, while 
reformists are trying to maintain illusions.

>Apart from your current infatuation with the Greens, the only other
>difference I can see between us is that, to your way of thinking, you
>are also engaged in the revolutionary activity of building a "Bolshevik
>party". You are wrong to suggest I "hadn't figured out" that this is
>what you are deep down "pushing for", although I have no knowledge of
>what it is you are actually involved in away from marxmail and the
>Internet.

My political involvement is here and now on this mailing list. I have also 
been invited to submit a book proposal to a British publisher and will 
probably present something on "Lenin in Context". If I can write that and 
keep this mailing list on an even keel, that's about as much as I can 
handle. I have a full-time job and will be forced to begin working 6 days a 
week next week. That's a plenty.

>  Clearly, I don't find such activity either necessary or
>rewarding in present circumstances, as you do. I'd be reluctant to
>describe myself as a "Bolshevik" in any event, a term I associate with
>those operating in much more intense and dangerous political
>environments, though of course I respect everyone's right to choose an
>identify which is pleasing to themselves.

Again with the "dangerous" stuff. We are not asking you to make molotov 
cocktails. Only to stop preaching on behalf of scum like Clinton, Kerry and 
Gore.


Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 





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