[Marxism] Some of my thoughts

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at theplanet.net.au
Thu Nov 16 07:11:03 MST 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Alan Bradley" <alanb1000 at yahoo.com>
To: <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:23 AM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Some of my thoughts

> From: Louis Proyect
> > If Karadjis, by some miracle, changed his mind
> > about Vietnam or Kosovo or any other of the DSP
> > line positions through counter-arguments and
> > data presented here, he would risk expulsion if
> > he declared that the party line was incorrect.
> The most impressively bizarre part of this statement
> is the fact that Karadjis had a great deal to do with
> formulating the DSP's lines on Vietnam and Kosovo, and
> would probably play a similar role in any revision of
> them.
Actually Alan is giving me far too much credit for "formulating" the
DSP's excellent, well-thought out positions on these questions. I have
happened to have been in a position at different times over the last 15
or so years to be able to make major contributions on these issues, but
the DSP already had well-developed positions.

In the case of Vietnam, the position is simply the same one that we
developed around 20 years ago when we junked the more sectarian aspects
of 'trotskyism' and decided to notice that it was bizarre for a small
group of western socialists to be deciding that that the VN Communist
Party, which had led half a century of revoluton and defeated a few
imperilaist powers, were not "really" revolutonary, because they didn't
have our "program", and that the only reason they had persisted was due
to the intransigence of imperilaism on the one side and the pressure of
the masses on the other. It was a DSP position that the VCP was a
revolutionary organisation, and the DSP has never held a position that
Vietnam was a "deformed" workers' state" in the fairly drastic way our
movement has used the term. That obviously does not mean there are not a
lot of bureaucratic problems.

Once you hold this position, it would take a lot to junk it. That is,
yes, there is lots of awful stuff associated with the turn to the
market, but the question is whether or not there has been a complete,
fundamental overthrow of the system which has compeltely changed its
class nature. In being lucky enough for life to take me to VN, I have
been able to study the place deeply, and I find that the already
formualted view of the DSP is essentially sound, although in fact I am
extremely nervous about it and extremely critical of a great many
aspects of Vietnamese politics and development.

Louis Proyect writes as if all this is somehow idiosyncratic. It all
seems rather logical to me. He thinks "South Vietnam won." Fine. When
did it happen? Just when VN introduced an NEP, in smilar conditions to
when the Bolsheviks did?

He thinks I would risk expulsion form the DSP if, as a result of
discussions on Marxmail, the evidence showed me that the DSP position
was wrong and I publicly admiited it. He ought to have a think about why
the DSP holds positions. We do not hold a view just for the hell of it.
The available evidence - and here I have played a role in gathering lots
more of it in recent years - tells us to have our current view. If
enough evidence and other arguments were presented on marxmial, it would
not only be Karadjis that would read it. Other members might also begin
to question the policy, and the party may have a discussion, and a new
view may be developed. Actually on the GL list I have sent much material
about VN, not necesarily lauding it - I have also sent some extremely
critical material.

As for Yugoslavia, the DSP long held a position that, consistent with
the old Titoist Yugoslav constitution, the constituent nations had the
right to self-determination. That was long before I began helping
formulate positions. We held this position even when Yugoslavia was
still a kind of workers' state. Such a position would therefore be all
the more obvious once the Titoist order was smashed in the Milosevic-led
social counterrevolution, when the rising Serbian bourgeoisie employed
the ideology of narrow bourgeois nationalism to destroy the remnants of
the workers' state, which had been based officially on the ideology of
"brotherhood and unity" (among nations). Far from being idiosyncratic,
this was the view of the the bulk of the left who were closely observing
Yugoslav and East European developments from the late 1980s. It would
never have occurred to anyone then that Milosevic was anything other
than the leader of the "market reforms" (ie capitalist resoration) in
Yugoslavia in the same as Walesa, Havel, Yeltsin etc were elsewhere. The
DSP view was quite consistent. If anything, during the first war -
Croatia in 1991 - I was if anything somewhat more critical of Tudjman
than the DSP average at the time (I hope I don't get expelled for that

I was much more involved with "formulation" with Bosnia. This was all
partly related to my living several years in Greece. The reactionary
chauvinsit ideology of Greek imperialism - the rising imperialism of the
Balkans - was both trying to crush Macedonia, and also allying with the
"Orthodox brothers" in Serbia, the two chauvinisms being allied against
their "histroic enemies", ie, "the Turks", meaning pretty much any
Muslim still daring to live in the Balkans. To complete the war against
the Ottoman Empire, these "Turks" (ie Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar
Albanians) needed to be explelled or exterminated. Thus I guess I had a
certain "take" on the issue which was very consistent with the already
exisitng DSP position (lucky for me I suppose, as Louis claims). It was
only in the late 1990s as the threat of a NATO war approaced that people
like Proyect started coming up with idiosyncratic views about Milosevic
Serbia being the "socialist exception" in east Europe and other such

The thing is Louis, you continually give these "answers" about how you
don't know what the differences are inside the DSP, which for some
reason you think is important, and people might get expellled etc, but
for the life of me I cannot remember anyone having any fundamental
difference on these questions over all these years. Take the NATO/Kosova
war. Obviously people might have had different views on the degree of
emphasis on this aspect or that, perhaps people had different views on
what they thought imperilaism was really after in launching the war etc
etc. However, on the fundamentals - that we oppose US/NATO aggression
and call for an immediate end to the bombing, but that we also oppose
the Serbian attempt to empty Kosova of its Albanian population (and not
indulge in crass and stupid apologetics for Milosevic), I honesty do not
think there were internal differences. The reason for this is that such
views are entirely consistent with the DSP's principled views on pretty
much every other similar question. For example, when the US invaded
Afghanistan, we opposed the invasion, did not bow down to any
"humaniatrian" liberal interventionism, but at the same time did not go
around bullshitting people that the Taliban really were just a bunch of
misunderstood nice socialists who hadn't actually done much wrong.

At the end of the day, what I'm saying is that there is a high political
level within the DSP, so comrades are not easily sucked into bizarre
positions that ignore reality and violate our fundamental principles.

> Yes, I have the impression that he is a one-man think-tank on these
> questions

Well, I'm having a few problems coming up with a groovy name for my
think tank.

Seriously though, aren't you something of a "one-man think tank" on a
number of issues? In fact, isn't running your own blog an example of a
"one person think tank". Basically, what Louis really does not like is
people besides himself doing much thinking on issues he has a hard line
on himself.

For the record, I think Marxmail is a very worthwhile list and I
congratulate Proyect on running it, and appreciate his work. Even his
expulsion policy, while far from being as benign as that of the DSP,
seems to have improved, to have mellowed somewhat. I agree it is a
difficult job. I also agree with Rohan that it is good there are less
trolls than on the GL site. Louis also sends a lot of interesting and
useful material to the list.

In fact my problem is not even for the most part his views, as I find in
the majority of cases I end up agreeing with Proyect. The problem is his
tendency to flame people he has had an argument with, or people whose
views really grate on him. And I have been on the receiving end of his
flaming  before. If he could simply avoid the flaming he would be making
an immediate improvement to the tone of the list.

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