[Marxism] And you thought your sect was mad...

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 5 11:09:37 MDT 2012

"Hasn't the post-sixties Trotskyist left a great tradition of believing that the crisis of socialism is not to be found in a lack of class consci[o]usness, of a pre-revolutionary period, or victory of capitalism but rather to be found in a "crisis" or "failure" of revolutionary leadership? "
It's a good point, schact, but I'm not sure if it's a debater's point (trick) or a query of substance. A query of substance, I think, would be a bit less accusatory and less negative about Trotskyism. Perhaps you believe another non-Trotskyist analysis would be better regarding the lack of leadership? Which would that be that does NOT simply dismiss the revolutionary capacities of the working class even if that capacity is relatively quiescent in the U.S. and progressively less so leaving the shores of this relatively privileged society (read the lack of willingness to struggle among White workers and other sectors still in process of being bought off or downtrodden)? 
I agree that the nub of the issue--whether we speak of revolutionary leadership or the need for growth in revolutionary class-consciousness among the toilers--is that there is no true awakened base upon which to provide leadership even if such a leadership actually existed (having a "program" and calling yourself a leadership is, of course, nothing of the sort). As long as the (again, relatively) privileged working classes of the imperialist world cannot bring themselves to a point of desiring to fight, it will still be possible for capitalism to buy, divide, or otherwise blunt the united struggle of the working masses--even if capitalism is, at best, rotten to its core. We are seeing this reality bearing itself out right now in Greece with the real threat of a fascist movement that can serve as capitalism's executioner in the midst of the revolutionary ferment that has transpired over the last several years. No leadership does not mean only no victory, it also means a barbarism of catastrophic proportions. 
I do not see how "telling the truth" about the quiescent privileged working class being the true reality as opposed to "Trotskyist" over-emphasis on revolutionary leadership is at all helpful except to imply . . . what? That we are all doomed? That we "need" to get workers "off their asses"? To focus on . . ."education"? What? This kind of argument goes exactly nowhere. 
Perhaps the various Trostksyist sects over-emphasize the problem of leadership as a focus and get themselves all "tied up in knots". However, it is not the Trotskyist sects that are the most damaging on the issue of leadership, which you yourself intimate when you allude to the problem of "labor bureaucrats or social democrats ...misleading the working class" (not to mention the various Communist Parties). The sects are just that, sects. The SDs and CPs and their petit bourgeois milieu in the labor bureaucracy, aren't they a real problem? 
I seem to remember a "paper" by Lenin about "what is to be done." Perhaps what needs to be done today is to think about strategy and to help each other develop better guidance as we remain so atomized midst sects and counterrevolutionary traitors?  Perhaps we need actual analysis and suggestions for what we really need to be doing rather than just reading "What is to be Done"?  Lenin's time is gone, Fidel has gotten very old. We are truly on our own and we had better start thinking about revolutionary change in our context and not our heroes' previous times.
Personally, I believe that if there is one crucial area that is not being "done" right now is how revolutionary socialists throughout the world can find a way to unite behind promoting solidarity with the Greek working class and doing what we can to stave the impact of the fascist Golden Dawn developments there right now. Yes, there are many great struggles of great import in every one of our countries worthy of our time and commitment. However, I do not really believe ANYONE has a sense of the urgency that the fascist threat in Greece poses to the world working class; it is a sure way to sow the kind of dissension among workers and the oppressed that the capitalist class could never do by itself in the throes of it decay. It is no accident that Golden Dawn is finding an audience in a place like the U.S. where the advent of rightist demagogy has festered (see Louis' recent post from North Star about a counter-demonstration against GD in New York). I should say I don't believe anyone has a sense of that urgency except perhaps those revolutionary socialists, some of which are here. We may not be, or have, a revolutionary leadership. We may not be young enough to sustain the activity necessary. But our limitations do not absolve us of the need at least to focus and hope by the united sounds of our voices point up the real dangers of such events. Does anyone here believe that the threat of a worldwide conflagration is truly a much more real threat today than even a year ago; especially in places like Greece and the Middle East? Can we not see the potential synergy between the advent of reaction in Greece and the Imperialist (with their Zionist thugs) threat of world war to redistribute the Middle East and surrounding regions for purposes of giving capitalism a much needed boost in markets? Will the rolling back of even the minimal working class footholds in Latin America be far behind? Will internal passports and progroms against Latinos under the guise of profiling us as "undocumented illegals" and barbarism against women (not to mention the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the U.S.) become the new "normal"?
To be sure, schact's original point about the lack of revolutionary will among the working masses as  opposed to the problem of revolutionary leadership remains an important point that demarcates the problems of the sectarians. But what is needed is not morose doom-saying. Rather, what we need is a sober assessment what any of us can do; and then doing it. We are an international network if not an International. We should do what we can in the areas that no one else seems to be speaking. If there is anything that we could be doing it would be to alert as many as we can about the fascist threat (now, in Greece) because very few "out there" can see the dynamic that such a threat brings. In a reply I made to the North Star post about the protest in New York against Golden Dawn, I suggested those who are in position to do so to connect with elements of Syriza and their diaspora in Greece and try to get them to speak out and educate on their solutions for the crisis in Greece. I suggested that holding a counter-demonstration, while good, is "pathetically under-reaching". What is needed right now is . . . words. That is, explanations, speaking up, and speaking out by the voices who can have an effect in countering the right wing synergy between the fascists and the growing frustration among workers in many countries in the absence of "revolutionary leadership". 
But then again, perhaps, I'm just being a Trotskyist . . . 		 	   		  

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