[Marxism] Paul Le Blanc on the SWP crisis

Ed George edgeorge1963 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 2 10:30:19 MST 2013

Louis Proyect:

"Honestly I am growing weary of debating "Zinovievism". I probably will 
write a response to the Socialist Alternative article by Sandra 
Bloodworth but am not looking forward to it. At a certain point it 
becomes an exercise in futility. I remember back in 1969 how I felt 
about things as a young and enthusiastic SWP member. If anybody had 
approached me with the kinds of ideas I have now, I would have laughed 
in their face. I think the momentum is shifting toward mass parties of 
the left that have much more in common with the Second International 
parties that the Comintern was meant to replace."


If the foregoing has an element of truth to it [...] what conclusions 
can we draw?

First, in relation to the character of the period we are about to enter. 
We can surmise that we stand on the brink of a new long-wave cycle – the 
fifth under capitalism. The forthcoming cycle will be marked by an 
absence of global hegemony; or, rather, will form a interregnum between 
one global hegemon – the United States – and the next. Which the next 
will be, of course, we do not know, as this will be something determined 
by inter-imperialist competition between the declining power – the 
United States – and new, rising, ones, and overdetermined by other 
factors exogenous to the cyclical process. [...]

If it is historical analogies that we are looking for, then we can say 
that the coming long-wave will not have the political characteristics of 
the last cycle but those of the one before, i.e. that we will be moving 
in a period more akin to that of 1890-1945 than 1945 to the present. [...]

We can expect the ascendant phase of the coming cycle to be marked by a 
slower and more unstable rhythm of growth than we saw during the 
post-Second World War boom, and the descendent phase by qualitatively 
more turbulent than the post-1970 period: the descendent phase of the 
third long-wave cycle opened of course with World War One and closed 
with World War Two. But the supervening period was that single period in 
human history to see a genuine flourishing of socialist revolution.

What conclusions can we draw as socialists, particularly in respect of 
the type of political organisations we should be building? It should now 
be clear that what should not be on the agenda is the type of 
organisation that was being built in the late 1930s, as the few 
remaining socialist revolutionists struggled desperately against time 
and against seemingly impossible odds to construct parties that would be 
ready, in extraordinarily unfavourable circumstances, to deal with what 
was seen as an imminent struggle for power. We are in a period more akin 
to the end of the nineteenth century, in which the mass parties of the 
Second International were built. [...]

The only political current which today retains any filiation to the idea 
of socialist revolution is that emanating from Trotsky’s Fourth 
International, formed exactly towards the end point of that last period 
of revolution and counter-revolution. But the political practice of the 
organisations which trace their origins, however indirectly, to this 
tradition – "leadershipism" and leadership cultism, literary 
fetishisation of programmatic declarations, bureaucratic centralisation 
to the point of monolithism, catastrophism, extreme hyperactivism, 
vanguardism, "short-cut" substitutionism – are precisely a reflection of 
the fact that these groups still see themselves on the brink of a real 
collapse of the capitalist system and an actual and imminent struggle 
for power, as if the maxims of Trotsky’s Transitional Programme [...] 
were not conjunctural pronouncements contingent on the circumstances of 
the time but timeless and ahistorical programmatic ones (akin to the way 
in which Lenin, at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern, characterised 
the approach of the young European Communist Parties to the resolution 
on organisational structure approved at the Third as akin to "hanging it 
in the corner like an icon and praying to it".

No: the parties we need to be seeking to build will be built much more 
in the way in which, for example, Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? was 
precisely not presented as a blueprint for a doctrinally pure and 
programmatically pristine centralised "propaganda group" but as a call 
to, and for, "revolutionary social-democrats", *all* revolutionary 
social-democrats, to build a party of the Russian working class 
movement, in close connection with and out of that movement; exactly in 
the same spirit as the Communist Manifesto, which declared its aim as 
the "formation of the proletariat into a class", could declare that "The 
Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class 
parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the 
proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of 
their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement."

Full: <http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/pages/back/wnext30/Whatstage.html>



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