[Marxism] Paul D'Amato (US ISO) responds to Pham Binh on Tony Cliff's Lenin (phew!)

Angelus Novus fuerdenkommunismus at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 6 15:12:55 MST 2012


Dan:

> I would say that the problem is simply more acute in the US, where even a mass reformist workers' party (let alone a revolutionary or Stalinist one) like Labour or the > SPD, etc. has never existed

I realize that the winner-take-all electoral system in the US poses a huge barrier to electoral alternatives, that's not necessarily what I'm talking about.  I mean simply a broad(er) socialist formation than the current motley assemblage of initials and newspapers.  I don't understand why such a thing is a logical impossibility.

> Is there a history available of the origins of Die Linke?

I wrote an article for the upcoming issue of The Jacobin, so you can watch for that.

> My impression is that its formation was made possible by a break within the SPD as well as formations of independent leftists and trade unionists, not to mention t 
> former State Stalinists.

This is broadly correct, but I would take exception to the phrase "Stalinist", which I don't find helpful in this regard.  The PDS was constituted primarily from the reform wing of the former SED, and during its founding even explicitly enunciated a break with "Stalinism".  It does not represent a some sort of unbroken continuity with the SED (except perhaps in a formal organizational sense): many of the worst bootlicking old bureaucrats of the old system have gone on to prosperous careers in parties like the CDU (for example, the current chancellor).

I note this only because I think there's a certain species of West German arrogance dismissive towards the importance of the PDS throughout the 1990s.  With a few noble exceptions -- like the majority tendency of the former Kommunistischer Bund, a nondogmatic Maoist group based in Hamburg -- very few sectors of the West German left took the PDS seriously enough.  And this has less to do with any alleged residual Stalinism than with a certain culturalistic arrogance among West Germans in general.  This is still exhibited on occasion whenever people present the left-right conflicts within the party as being between a "left-wing" from the West and a "right-wing" from the East.  That's simply inaccurate: Lafontaine and Ernst are just as much "reformists" as Gysi and Lötsch are.  And there are "left-wing" tendencies rooted primarily in the East, for example the previously mentioned "Emancipatory Left".

> Our politics shape our approach to Occupy (and everything else) and between the largest groups there continue to be pretty fundamental differences.

Sure, but what prevents those differences from existing under a common organizational roof?


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