[Marxism] Re: what kind of socialism are we talking about?

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Mar 15 20:31:26 MST 2006

Louis doesn't like flame wars but he has done little else besides flame
in this thread.
In addition, he has introduced a new wrinkle in the pause on the Bolivia
discussion.  Now it is supposed to be an extended break on the
discussion of an entire continent. And all because people have
differences on this.  
The issue is not whether Latin America will disappear if we don't talk
about it.  Is that why we talk about things -- because they will cease
to exist if they don"t?  But I am not convinced that the issue will wait
until Louis firmly makes up his mind about what he thinks, and is ready
to argue about it without nervously dragging in Kautsky, Perfidious
Social Democracy, and all the rest of that stuff that really comes under
the category of the ban on calling people Mensheviks that Louis
established as part of the basis of the list.
I don't see anything wrong with Walter submitting the clipping on
Bachelet -- and I didn't see that it required any response at all, much
less a polemic around the Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade
Comedian. Louis himself, as well as Andy Pollack, submitted Morales'
comments on his first month in office.  I thought they were pretty good,
though Louis and Andy may not agree.  I felt no pressing need to comment
on them.
And I submitted Celia Hart's comments on the election of Morales.  I
happen to basically disagree with her approach, but I thought it was
useful for the list members and readers to have this reference.  At some
point, I may want to comment on her views.  Of course, if not even Louis
can express a disagreement civilly, then a "flame war" would be
inevitable.  But that is not an absolute historical necessity.  Louis
can exercise leadership, including by example.
Louis says that Walter is a one-person party intervening on his line,
and he apparently thinks this has no place on the list.  But if we don't
allow people to consciously pursue conscious and thought-out political
perspectives on the list, then how can the list contribute anything to a
real regroupment of revolutionaries or even more broadly (the approach
Louis himself seems to favor) revolutionaries and other fighters for
progressive social change.
The fact of the matter is that I am probably a lot more of a
self-conscious one-person-faction cum one-person-party  than Walter is
and I have been so pretty much since my last decade in the SWP-US.  I
write almost nothing for the list without a conscious political purpose
and objective, and although I learn from others and sometimes am
corrected by others, that doesn't  change the purpose I am pursuing,
which is, in a sense, "party-building," even though I find it hard to
explain concretely what I mean by that.  The formulation I used in my
last preconvention discussion in the SWP, "a July 26 movement in the US
labor movement" expresses a sentiment more than a concrete plan of
action.  But on this list, I, as an individual who is moderately active
at best, and puts a lot of myself into writing, am pursuing a conscious
party purpose.
Louis seems to be trying to rule Walter's political axis on Cuba out of
the framework of the list.  But if this is out, what exactly is in?
Although I would say my axis is more "American" (somewhat in the
Cannonite sense) than Walter's, I certainly agree with him that Cuba is
central to world politics and that the significance of what they
represent and what they contribute as a leadership (not just as a
revolution which is "nice to people," as the late head of the Communist
Party Gus Halll used to say about socialism).  
As I do, I think Louis needs to  use a little more self-discipline.  If
he doesn't want flame wars, he should resist the temptation to "flame"
those who disagree with him.  As he did around Kautsky, and women in the
Chilean cabinet.  Of course this is a registration of social progress,
and Louis damn well knows it.  Louis can let clippings go even when he
knows that he disagrees with the views of the person who submits the
clippings.   Louis also played a role in the recent flame wars, and it
wasn't always 100 percent positive. If Louis does not want flaming on
the list, he should resist the temptation to flame on the list more than
he does, in my opinion, and I know I do not recommend this as an
innocent party. If he gains more control over how he expresses his
views, he will be better able to press others to adhere to them and gain
more support for doing so.
Louis suggested that hell is boredom. Sartre had a character say that
"hell is other people," and for Louis, hell seems to be Walter.  But
Walter is not hell for me, or for a lot of other people on the list, and
I really think that Louis' feelings about this should be more a matter
for off-list discussion.
Fred Feldman

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