[Marxism] Different periods, different politics

Craven, Jim JCraven at clark.edu
Mon Mar 8 14:01:45 MST 2004

Marvin Gandall wrote:

Judging by my experience in the NDP and what I'm able to see from across
the border, I think they're the kind of people who would understand this
as an ongoing process against against a formidable apparatus, involving
the requirement to constantly put the leadership's "feet to the fire",
so to speak. I'm almost prepared to bet they would understand this
better than many on this list, who appear overwhelmed by that process
and who want prior guarantees of certain success.

Response Jim C: Well I am also from both sides of the border with
extensive experience with the NDP. This comment is typical of the
eurocentric nature of many in the so-called "left" in Canada. The NDP,
in my experience, has not only had nothing to say about First Nations
issues that is of any substance, the NDP has been every bit as
treacherous on the provincial and national levels on First Nations
rights/issues as anything the Tories or Liberals have produced. The NDP
in Canada, like the Democratic party here, is like a bandage on a still
birth, like an aspirin for cancer--at best. As a Blackfoot, who can
speak for many--not all--with whom I have discussed the nature of the
NDP, there is for us no difference except a slicker line and a few more
palliatives offered--not to First Nations for sure.

Marvin Gandall wrote:

I also gave some thought to how Louis probably viewed the article - as
something for information only, and probably not very good information
at that, given its bourgeois provenance. He either filed it for
reference purposes, or more likely, deleted it. Then I saw him turning
back to his study of Lenin In Context and his polemics on marxmail and
other chat groups - that which Louis calls political activity;
"revolutionary" political activity, no less.

Louis is an extreme example. I'm aware most others do useful political
work outside their homes in the unions and the social movements. But
Louis said something else which was revealing in one of our many
exchanges: that he could engage "calmly" only with "like minded people".
To which I recall replying that the purpose of the left was precisely to
engage calmly with "non like-minded people" I sometimes have the
impression that this penchant for primarily engaging with like-minded
people, usually fellow Marxists, keeps people away from the Democrats
and, up here, the NDP. There is a hint of elitism in this behaviour, as
in Mark Lause's comment yesterday - not strictly true, incidentally -
"that those who put more thought into politics should probably not be
guided by those who put less thought into it."

Response Jim C: Perhaps no one more than I has written more and more
virulently on the subject of hitting the keyboards and chat rooms is not
necessarily--in and of itself--a revolutionary activity even when
comments are on radical topics from radical sources if not linked up
with concrete praxis and if the discussions are not about critical
issues that can be used in concrete struggles under concrete conditions
by concrete forces. But to suggest that this is what Louis is doing is
such summary slander without proper background as to be unbelievable.
First of all, running a list is not the same thing as occasionally
writing to one--it takes a lot of work and attention. Secondly, I'll
tell you that Louis cared enough to come twice to Blackfoot Country (you
ever been to Blackfoot Country or for any extended time on any First
Nations Reserve?) and has met (and was immediately trusted by) the
traditional leadership and most hard-core activists of the Blackfoot
(who usually do not trust or even want to be around non-First Nations
activists). No one on this list has any idea of the contributions Louis
has made in the case of my own People because he will not toot his own
horn or breach security or trusts. You can add Louis' travels to South
Africa, Nicaragua and work with Technica along with a lot of other real
world struggle and experience. This is disgusting slander. Furthermore,
this list is for activists to try and and share ideas as they reach out
beyond this list; this is not for the uninitiated as the list would
really degenerate as it has when dilettantes, know-it-alls, libertarians
and petit-bourgeois liberals--masquerading as radicals--have come on the
Of course we need to reach out to the uniniated (to radical thought) in
various venues and media but we also need our own venues and media to
discuss and try out things/ideas radical as we link up with those other
venues and media; that is what this list is about.

You need to have some appreciation of what you do not know, incorrectly
assume and lack background./information about before running your own
fingers over the keyboards. As a Blackfoot, I find that you are indeed
typical of what we find in the NDP--arrogant, superficial and highly

Jim C.

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