[Marxism] Awesome Proletarian Positions

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 5 17:04:01 MDT 2013

On 4/5/13 6:50 PM, Richard Fidler wrote:
> Actually, iit makes perfect sense to anyone who has read the documents in
> the debate between Trotsky and Burnham-Schachtman. Creegan tells it
> correctly. You don't, Louis.

Except that I was not really addressing the debate.

Instead I was addressing the epithet "petty bourgeois" that gets tossed 
around in the Trotskyist movement in the same way that sinner is used in 
the Catholic church. It is a way to stigmatize your opponent and make it 
easier to steamroll over them in a debate.

For example, in 1976 (or possibly 1977) I came to the conclusion that 
when Frank Lovell told an audience at Oberlin that we were in the midst 
of the deepest and broadest working class radicalization of the 20th 
century that he had gone off his rocker.

If I had the courage of my convictions, I would have challenged him then 
and there and followed up with a resolution to the next convention 
warning the party that it was deluding itself.

But how could I? Frank was a life-long worker and I was a computer 
programmer, a trade seen by people like Jack Barnes as tantamount to 
owning a jewelry store or an asparagus ranch. Who would want to be 
labeled a new Max Shachtman or James Burnham.

Of course, Frank Lovell himself was a philosophy major at Berkeley in 
the 1930s and probably the son of a shopkeeper like me but it didn't 
matter. He had gone through a "transformation" just like the party was 
about to undergo. All of our petty-bourgeois youth would be proletarianized.

As it turned out, after discovering that Lovell's pie-in-the-sky 
analysis was bogus, just about 90 percent of them dropped out.

So what's the point? We have to stop using terms like "petty bourgeois 
opposition". It is a sick way of conducting politics that has its roots 
in the early Comintern. Trotsky used this weapon against Shachtman and 
it has been used ever since to facilitate purges and splits that leave 
small propaganda grouups smaller. There must be another way.

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