[Marxism] Relations with DP activists/sympathizers
donaloc at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 3 04:00:06 MST 2006
This comment moved me to send a rare post to the list. Maybe give some idea
of whether to support the DP, too.
I remember May 1997 when New labour under Blair was about to sweep the hated
Tories from power. Even at the age of 22, I was under no illusions about
what they were going to offer. At that time, the IRA was still bombing
London and as a Republican I was entirely supportive of this campaign. The
Tories were an absolute disaster - they had failed to engage in our attempt
to develop negotiations with them and had brought the second cease-fire
I happened to be in England following the completion of my degree and I
remember well the pressure which everyone felt to finally get rid of the
Tories. Of course, it would make no substantial change but new Labour would
be good news for our Peace process. It was a slight dilemma.
In the end, I didn't vote for Labour, I voted for some mad Trotskyist
candidate who got a couple of hundred votes - it wasn't my election. The
Labour candidate - one of Blair's babes as they were known was such a
liberal - she won anyhow.
That night the whole country seemed relieved that the Tories had finally
gone from power. I went to my local (a rough Irish bar) to see the results
come in; surprisingly it was there that the Labour party was going to
celebrate. I joined them but told them I couldn't vote for Labour. They were
astounded moreso when they heard I was from Ireland. Some understood my
disgust at Clause 4 going - although my problems with labour were long
before that happened. But they thought it would be marginally better. They
were authentic working-class supporters. The candidate wasn't however - she
had careerist written boldly across her face.
The one thing that struck me even then was their reaction when the right
opportunist machieavellian mandelson was elected - there was hissing and
booing. They guy was hated even then. I guess he personified the recent
shift to the right-wing (from the centre).
The British Labour party has always had substantial links into the British
working class - yet it has played a role of consistent social-imperialism.
This fact has, I believe, a material basis in the relative advantage of the
'core' working class compared to the global masses. People know the quote
from lenin on it. It is not in their interests to have a revolutionary party
represent them. Certainly, a Gramscian perspective on the role of the media
develops that understanding but I feel such an explanation is insufficient
from a Marxist perspective to fully explain the failure of revolutionary
socialism in the West. Facts have material bases not simply a basis in
ideology. We are materialists after all.
After 1917, Lenin was certainly developing an understanding of this. Trotsky
never did because of his tendency to overidealise marxism - I also think his
understanding of imperialism was fundamentally flawed and this didn't help.
Trotsky was too rigid in his application of classical marxist theory. It is
why the Trotskyist movement has failed so significantly despite what can
only be described as almost superhuman efforts by some of them.
I think that the maoist line has had a better understanding of this fact. It
was always based in a mass struggle and had the confidence to challenge
tenets of marxism which they found untrue. The problem with many of them in
the imperialist centres is that they take that as a justification for
sometimes a simplistic, almost racist approach to politics or else
disconnect from the struggle in the core countries to act as cheerleaders
for third world movements.
The good part for us - as revolutionary activists - in particular those in
the 'core' imperialist countries, is that globalisation is proceeding to
undercut those relative advantages which have propped up the imperialist
countries. So is rising migration. The logic from that is that the
underclass in imperialist centres will expand - these are the objective
revolutionary class. The centrality of anti-racism in uniting that
underclass and in combating social-chauvinism is essential to build a
Supporting the democrats may save lives in Iraq today. However, that is an
insufficient reason to support them. Our role is to achieve a worldwide
revolution. Saving a few lives, or even taking a few lives, is, in the grand
scheme a cost we must face. Our enemies do no shirk from killing untold
numbers every second of every day. Revolutionaries in the core states must
remain focussed on anti-racism, anti-imperialism and work at the very base
of the labour force with a grim determination to build a real revolutionary
movement. Not straining every nerve in that task is responsible for killing
far more people in the third world than ever not voting for the Democratic
party is. I believe that such extraparliamentary struggle is of the first
order of importance in creating the material basis for a revolutionary
movement to proceed from. No one who would like to call themselves a
revolutionary could fail to be working diligently to that end. Everyone
should be asking themselves what of concrete worth have I done for a
revolution in the last week. If nothing, then shame on you.
The ideological basis of a putative revolutionary movement will likely be
broad. The days of cults dedicated to Trotsky or even Mao are long over - if
ever they were a good thing. What is required is a rebirth of marxism in the
core countries founded on a return to Marx himself and trying to make his
and following writings useful. Everything should be read - every source
contemplated. There is value to all the marxists. Insights in all. However,
I think we must be certain that reading books will never substitute for
action. Action and thought are interconnected. One cannot be a marxist
without both aspects fully developed and integrated.
One last thought is that in the imperialist core, we must not underestimate
the attachment existing to liberal freedoms among the people. I can't
remember where I saw it but some marxist made that point ages ago. Once
people are accustomed to freedoms they will not allow them to be taken away
lightly - I think that the lack of respect for bourgeois freedoms was a
significant problem in socialist revolutions in the past. That's not a vague
bourgeois concession but a strategic thought - we must find ways in which to
empower people and not unnecessarily impact on their culture of freedoms
(where possible). 21st Century US marxism will be attuned to that culture of
individual freedom but will develop it in a socially responsible manner. It
is impossible for me to say how that will happen. Each revolution is
different. The US revolution will be different too - it is yours and
probably the crowning revolution. We all anxiously look to your successes.
I hope this 'letter from afar' is of some use.
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