[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Carlos Petroni cepetroni at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 2 17:09:55 MST 2006

Hopefully, this will appear right in the list.  If not, I will re-format it and re-send:


I simpatize with Carrol Cox’s points on this issue.  I also agreed with Louis in his first,
  Quasi sarcastic, mostly ironic response to Stan’s letter.  I also agreed with some of the
  points raised by Mark Lause and others in response to posts by Joaquin Bustelo.
  Let me emphazise that my personal position that I rather have comrades joining any
  Left wing Marxist group or organization than none, even bad ones.
  That’s why I don’t welcome, as Louis does, Stan’s break with an organization.  As long
  one remains committeed to organized revolutionary action, the possibilities of
  reform or creation or a revolutionary party is there.  Once you quit disappears.
  Why? Because even if the organization you joined is not the right one, it is an
  approximation to what a Marxist should do.
  We don’t learn theory in any other ways than through approximations, we can’t 
  learn and evolve organizationally in any other way than by approximations and
  That will necessarily include a number of missteps, mistakes, errors

  Marxism is not just an ideology, it is a movement.  It is not designed nor exist for
  any other purpose than to help guide the actions of the working class to overthrow
  Capitalism and build socialism. The dialectical “other side” of Marxism as
  ideology/program/strategy is organization.  The last without the first is
  voluntarism and cannot further in the intervention in the class struggle beyond
  certain limits, the first without the latter is empty academicism at best.
  That’s why I don’t agree with some comrades here that limit Marxism to thought or
  theory without praxis.
  Now, some small points on what Stan Goff so pointedly titled “Doctrine”: 
  Stan Goff:
  “I am herein announcing and explaining my definitive rejection of Marxism in its current
  organizational forms, be they called Marxist-Leninist or Trotskyist or Maoist.”
  Here he seemed to reject just organizational forms of Marxism

  Stan Goff:
  “My personal life, as a spouse, father, grandfather, friend, and member of local and 
  political communities, is my most direct window on the world, and the experience against 
  which I have to measure any political belief or organizational theory. Even more so, as I
   now find myself indefinitely caring again for an infant; and thereby bound to the house 
  in the same way as many women, constantly being confronted with the most immediate 
  and practical necessities. The kind of politics that does not take these constraints as the 
  starting point of all politics is what I am now taking under long review.”
  Marxism as method and as an organization tries precisely to depart from this subjective, 
  immediate reality.  As the purpose of Marxism is to organize a revolution, breaks with 
  this individual, isolated, alienation. Those of us – and this is valid for men and women – 
  strive through Marxism and the class struggle to break with the limitation in 
  understanding and practice imposed by what Stan so well list as the task of bourgeois 
  family. That is not the starting point of politics of Marxism, that is the immediate reality 
  imposed upon us. In order for humanity to progress, it needs to obtain the withering away 
  of those “constraints.” Marxism organizes the fight against them, but is NOT a cure.
  “One of my primary disappointments has been what I consider the failure to take seriously  the struggle against patriarchy, and to give it the same weight in our organizing
  as we do class and national oppression. There have been only token efforts in this regard, 
  and no serious initiative that I have seen to go outside the canon to understand this
  This may be true and he seemed to be talking about specific examples he has in mid 
  about Solidarity (is that the organization he was in?). It is difficult to assess its validity 
  for those of us not familiar with the internal life of Solidarity.  I meant the first sentence. 
  But c’mon, give the struggle against patriarchy – inherited and preserved by the 
  bourgeoisie – the “same weight in organizing as we do class and national oppression” is a 
  disparate.  Organizing against patriarchy – and national oppression by the way – are and 
  should not be separated from the class issue, as they are entirely linked.  
   “Worse, there has been a reactive embrace of liberal-libertarian “feminism” by many 
 which I consider to be a sly academic reassertion of male power in the 
  consumer-choice package of “freedom,” undermining the whole analysis of gender as a 
  I cannot judge “the reactive embrace of liberal-libertarian “feminism” by many 
  comrades” as he seems to be talking, once again, about the internal life and behavior of 
  certain people in an organization. But certainly gender is not a system, separated and kept 
  in a compartment of its own, but a part of a more general system of oppression. But then 
  Stan walked away the issue he decided to put first in his resignation letter and said:
  But this is not the crux of the issue for me. Feminism was the gateway to a number of 
  other interrogations of the assumptions of organized Marxism.
  My own last association with organized Marxism was with members whose work I 
  greatly admire. In particular, I was attracted to their analysis of national oppression, 
  which remains in advance of most of the US left, and their stated committment to 
  refoundation of a politically efficacious left in the US.
  Here he talks about “organized” Marxism, twice. And he talks well of the same comrades 
  he called “liberal-libertarian” feminists before (or adopting those positions).  He seemed 
  to be targeting specific segments of Marxism, what he calls “organized.”  But, Marxism
   is organization.  Without the organization of the movement the intervention, the actual 
  struggle to change the world, Marxism is no more than a subject for a university course. 
  Marxism cannot exist outside an organized framework (using organization in the broadest 
  sense) and even those who are hostile to the idea of the party area appealing to some 
  forms of organization, without which their Marxism ceases to exist.
  It is this project, refoundation, which carries with it wherever it goes another question, 
  that has preoccupied me for my entire tenure in and out of Marxist formations. The 
  associated question, of course, has been “What happened? Why is there no organized left 
  with the attention and support of broad masses of peope in the US?” What is the nature of 
  this “Crisis of Socialism”?
  In politics, failure to win is no proof of inadecquacy in the same way than success is no 
  proof of theoretical accuracy. Winning and losing are relative terms which are only made 
  rigid formulae for correctness by the bourgeoisie, or if you wish, by any ruling class since 
  the beginning of history.  There is no more “crisis of socialism” because it failed to 
  attract the “attention and support of broad masses” than unstopabble capitalist rule 
  because they managed to maintain the allegiance of those said “broad masses.”
  The rest of Stan long piece is as boring and useless to his readers as its beginning.  I only
  read demoralization and frustration into it, not a well thought out critique that we may
  benefit from. He may serve better his cause of explaining why he quit if at least explains
  what and who he meant when writing.

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