[Marxism] Paul Le Blanc on the SWP crisis

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 1 11:40:39 MST 2013

DW: " One finds, for instance, a general theme of complete inflexibility with regards to the organization of non-Russians into the RSDLP outside of the metropolitan areas of St. Petersburg/Petrograd and Moscow. I raise this because if is the one area that no one really has studied carefully, not LeBlanc, not Lih and not Pham."

This is a point that continues on in our own history of the "American" left, David. I find it particularly poignant that much of the early Communist movement had some roots in the emigration of Russians and Eastern Europeans, but that, today, I can think of no real Marxist leader in any of our discussions, with the possible exception of people like Binh (and perhaps Hunter Gray) that reflect Black, Brown, Indian or Asian voices and certainly no tradition of immigrant or people of color playing large roles in socialist activism and less so, in theoretical Marxist circles (there are, of course, examples ensconced in specific struggles like the FMLN's involvement in the immigrant rights movement). I have mentioned several times the need to engage emerging revolutionaries like Glen Ford of BAR, but to no real avail, neither from "us" nor, of course, from Glen himself. 

Indeed, of all the groups "out there" the all too moribund U.S. SWP still has more Black voices than most--James H. Omari, or Latinos like Roger C., for example--AND, even more sparse, the voice or revolutionary women--again with few exceptions of mostly older women comrades here or in FB groups. I say all that to note that the issue of how revolutionaries attracted and included immigrants, oppressed nationalities, "non-nationals" is probably as important to these discussion of left unity as the issue itself. There is a very different dynamic to any discussion when the perspectives come from not just different political perspectives, but from people with fundamentally different worldviews and experiences. Some may argue that such ideas have to do with "identity politics" (do I hear the strains of complaints about "creeping feminism" in the air :) ) and that somehow it shouldn't matter; "Marxism shouldn't have a color" or national orientation. Marxism should not, but people do and arguing that it shouldn't matter just makes it sound that current "Marxists" have all they need to know about unity and "Leninism" for everyone regardless of "identity". 

Again, Marxism can never be a dogma or the purview of the "knowledgeable" (or what is accepted as knowledgeable) if it is truly to reflect the solutions to the doom of our time. Voices as much as theory matter. I wonder just how different history would be if, for example, "non-Russians" had been much better integrated into revolutionary Russia and the development of the revolutionary leadership. I wonder how progroms and scapegoating might have been more mitigated and curtailed as a way to promote bureaucratism and chauvinism if such efforts had been made more successful? Yeah, it's not very materialist to think that way, but I wonder just the same. We can point to the examples of the Theses at Baku and Lenin's on oppressed nations, but theories and statements can never count more than the actions and behaviors we employ in making our theories and statements a reality.


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