[Marxism] Relations with DP activists/sympathizers

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 3 04:00:06 MST 2006

A chairde,

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 
revolutionary movement.

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.

Le meas,

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