[Marxism] Re: Individualism, collectivism, 'fighting' capitalism and imperialism

Brian Shannon brian_shannon at verizon.net
Sun Jul 30 12:04:58 MDT 2006

> And in reply to Joaquin, who gives an exceedingly uncomplex  
> analysis about how 'left culture', especially in the US (why is the  
> US of primary importance?) 'abhors complexity', and says that:
> 'We are engaged in "struggle," we are "fighting" for this and that,  
> "military" discipline is demanded and enforced, social revolution  
> is conceived of as civil war between classes. The object of the  
> struggle is "conquest" of political power.
> There is a huge load of unexamined assumptions in all this of  
> gendered politics.'
> -- Ian Pace

The intersection of socialist politics with class "struggle" is  
precisely why Joaquin's contribution is so valuable.

The capitalists recognize this as do radicals, as seen in the "Gold  
Star Mothers" or "Women for Peace." Hours of discussion and reams of  
paper have been used up in arguments over the particular slogan or  
editorial or leaflet.

We strive for improvement in this area, even if we can't achieve  
perfection. In fact, I just posted a note on Floyd Landis that said  
that this subject was important to "you." I should have written "us".  
No class or difference of sense, but a better way to express unity  
and a collective attitude, without the implicit "me" seeing this, but  
"you" not seeing it.

Certainly the headline that I recently quoted in my recent post on  
the differences in the antiwar movements about Vietnam and Iraq, was  
discussed before it headed an expensive NYTimes advertisement for  
April 24, 1971. It is about war; it is also about WE and US:

Sometimes a small error can be very damaging. I recently accidently  
posted a note on the SWP Yahoo site that described some aspect of  
black/white relations in Berkeley in the early 1960s. Because it was  
written for an individual researcher, I left out an interesting  
"Trotskyist" footnote.

Leroy McCrae was an important African-American leader of the Young  
Socialist Alliance in the early 1960s. When he came to Berkeley on  
tour, probably in 1962 or 1963, he spoke on a panel (probably also  
alone at another talk). Speakers included two members of the Afro- 
American Association (based at Berkeley but also with members and  
Oakland Community College), McCrae and myself. I believe the two AAA  
speakers were Mary Lewis and Cedric Robinson.

I am not sure whether it was because of the forum or because we were  
trying to influence this group in general, but Paul Montauk thought  
that the speakers would be interested in our internal documents on  
the Black struggle. While I don't have the particular documents, I do  
remember very well that they had the key word "intervene" along with  
appropriate variations of it. In fact, that is about all that I  
remember except that I stood there for a long time with egg on my  
face. "How dare we INTERVENE in order to RECRUIT from Black  
Nationalist organizations!"

McCrae was experienced in this kind of give and take and mostly had  
to explain his presence in a "white" organization. Although I was 25  
years old, I had only been a member for one year, and was completely  
unprepared for this kind of debate.

Brian Shannon

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