[Marxism] The movement/layer of revolutionary leftists (was:Criticism of Religion)

Roger Baker rabaker at suddenlinkmail.com
Wed Aug 29 06:22:02 MDT 2007

Harv,  good morning.

      I did some yardwork yesterday after work, and I daily ask myself:  is 
there something better in my golden years?

I want to get out of this "burg," but where?  North Texas is as far south as 
I want to go.  San Antonio and Austin are fun cities, but the summers are 
considerable longer and hotter than 200 miles North (San Antonio 250 South), 
and I am licensed only in Texa and there is loads of part time work for me. 
And Terri and the Boys seems comfortable here, and as you know, "the boys" 
are extremely important.. They are Terri's children and my "amigos."  Ben 
likes to hang out with me.  He thinks I am "action  Jackson," and I will 
provide most of the adventure and excitement in his life.  Ben is like a PhD 
boy.  He has a large vocabulary, also makes demands, like lots of walks down 
the road to the woods, looking for small wild animals to chase, so he never 
leaves the yard without a leash, he knows that is verboten.

     Well, the game season is coming and that will take our minds off the 
dreadful things done in our name by our elected officials.  Sadly, the 
experiment has failed, and it failed long ago when the US sent troops into 
the Philippines and the Battleship Maine gave us an excuse to co-opt the 
Cuban revolutionary struggle with Spain. Imperialism, from that time on, 
gained a powerful foothold in the American psyche.  The working class also 
realized that crumbs would fall on it's economic table (terrible metaphor), 
ie., --they also became strong supporters--and are to this day--strong 
supports of imperialism and its endless wars.

     Later Harv,   roger

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Joaquin Bustelo" <jbustelo at gmail.com>
To: "'Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition'" 
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 6:47 PM
Subject: [Marxism] The movement/layer of revolutionary leftists 
(was:Criticism of Religion)

> Carrol writes:
> Mark, Joaquin, myself, a number of people on the lbo & pen-l lists are all
> part of the largest single group of conscious marxists in the u.s.
> -- independent marxists who are not attached, or not strongly attached, to
> any formal marxist organization. I would expand that a bit. Many who are 
> not
> marxists, or say they are not, have essentially the same understanding of
> and attitude towards socialism as do the conscious marxists in this group.
> Do we  want to characterize this grouping as a "social layer"? How does it
> fit into the arguments Joaquin and Mark are advancing?
> *  *  *
> I agree with Carrol that this is a topic worth discussing. For 
> convenience's
> sake I'll call this the "revolutionary left" or "revolutionary leftists" 
> to
> avoid the misunderstanding that Mark Lause brought out, of the broader 
> left
> composed of progressive-minded people and so on, the left of millions.
> The revolutionary left I'm talking about certainly includes people in
> socialist organizations, but not just them, and I believe today not mostly
> them. It is a layer of several thousands today; it may have been one many
> times that size "back in the day."
> In an immediate sense it is the product of social struggles, but not just
> that. It is those people who also have been influenced/shaped by the
> historical critique of this system as a whole as we inherited it when we
> became active, the *revolutionary* critique of the system, one major, and
> perhaps the central strand of which is the Marxist critique, but also in 
> the
> post-WWII period incorporating an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist,
> antiracist critique as well as a feminist/anti-patriarchal critique.
> I don't mean to present a sharply defined current or even broad drift 
> among
> revolutionary anticapitalists/antimperialist people but rather to 
> encompass
> pretty much all of them -- at least in this first initial stage of this
> discussion.
> It seems to me this set of people should be viewed historically, as a 
> social
> product. It is not the same as the social and protest movement where such
> people mostly get their start, not even the same as the most active or
> long-time or leading layer in these movements. What defines it for me I
> think is somehow incorporating yourself into a tradition of revolutionary
> thought and struggle. It is the activism PLUS the ideology. Except that 
> this
> makes it seem what I'm really talking about is a layer of the 
> professoriat,
> the revolutionary petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, and while I think this 
> is
> PART of it (and does in fact very precisely describe my own social status)
> there are lots more people --especially among women, and most of all Black
> and Latino women, as well as some men-- who I believe are organically a 
> part
> of this layer, but could not provide you the book references and so on 
> that
> those of us from the intelligentsia can.
> This sort of layer was first described by Marx and Engels, and when they 
> saw
> it for what it was, they made it their task (in 1846-1847) to win them 
> over
> to what we today call Marxism viewing it as the most conscious and
> systematic theoretical basis for what was ALREADY then "the communist
> movement."
> And for M&E, there was ALSO no mystery where this came from -- on the
> continent, the primary, and very direct influence was the left of the 
> French
> Revolution, the wing that did not want the revolution declared finished, 
> but
> rather continuing in permanence. In Britain it also had roots but had
> already become a mass class political movement --a "party"-- the 
> Chartists,
> which stamped it with its own character.
> This is where Marxism as a theory came from, from the interaction of Marx
> and Engels and their insights into economics and history with the most
> advanced and far-seeing people in the revolutionary movement of the
> mid-1840's in Britain and Western Europe.
> And from there, you can trace a lot of history, and OTHER revolutionary
> elements/traditions flowing into what was, well into the second half of 
> the
> XXth Century, the MAINSTREAM of revolutionary anticapitalist,
> anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal thought, which was largely
> Marxist in inspiration and tradition. And then eventually down to our day.
> And what you're dealing with is a complicated social product, a layer of
> cadre shaped by the interplay of "objective" material factors, the 
> economic,
> social and political struggles the "objective" situation of exploitation,
> oppression and repression gives rise to, the attempts to theoretically
> explain and present these struggles as right, just, inevitable, or
> necessary, and the incorporation of elements/traditions/manifestations of
> these struggles into the cultural inheritance of varying layers of the
> population.
> Why talk about and focus on THIS layer?
> Because if there is some sort of anticapitalist/anti-imperialist/socialist
> political/ideological pole to be but together in the United States, this
> social layer is the only one that can do it. And even if only a major 
> shift
> in the objective situation is likely to lead to such an outcome, what that
> outcome looks like is going to be shaped to some degree, and probably a 
> very
> significant degree, by the ideas of those who are there at the beginning
> when it first starts to take off, who are going to be people from this 
> layer
> and others influenced by them.
> The large (and as far as I can tell, growing) non-affiliation or
> half-hearted affiliation of these comrades with the really-existing
> socialist organizations is a GOOD thing, at least from this angle: if you
> believe that the organized, structured socialist left in the United States
> really fell WAY SHORT of what it could and should have been over these 
> past
> few decades, THEN a discussion of our mistakes can contribute to the
> emergence of a much more intelligent revolutionary socialist movement in 
> the
> future.
> And there is a lot to criticize, everything from the zombifying effects of
> "Democratic Centralism" (as it was usually practiced) to the class
> reductionist bias in many/most Marxist organizations to the 
> anti-materialist
> idealism of various sects preserving "the correct program" fossilized in
> amber in complete laboratory isolation from any social forces that might
> contaminate it, to issues of social composition, orientation, and the
> reproduction within socialist organization of patterns of power and
> privilege inherited from broader society.
> And then there is the situation TODAY. We must develop, build up, 
> generalize
> and systematize the critique of the QUANGO (Quasi "Non Governmental
> Organization"), non-profit, social service, community and union organizing
> sector as essentially, taken as a whole, something that serves BOURGEOIS
> Yes, to SOME degree, they also represent concessions, but overwhelmingly 
> in
> the nature of scraps from the imperialist banquet table consciously aimed
> both at mollifying and CREATING DEPENDENCE.
> We should stop bullshitting ourselves and recognized that with perhaps, at
> the very most, a very few, tiny number of exceptions, there are no REAL
> popular organizations sufficiently rooted among the oppressed and 
> exploited
> to successfully resist the strings that come with
> corporate/foundation/government funding.
> Are we organizing self-empowered collective resistance or are we 
> organizing
> a disempowered, atomized and dependent client base? That is, I think, one 
> of
> the essential questions to be asked.
> Joaquin
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