[Marxism] Richard Seymour is the principal culprit
davecq at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 15 09:02:28 MST 2013
If my political legacy amounts to nothing more, then at least ill leave the epithet "Stallinicos" to posterity. What a pathetic sad excuse for a "comrade." His arrogance reeks of the academic fetish for always being "right." When his intellectual authority was first challenged by reality and the course of history (when Blair was *not* met by mass strikes), he sought bureaucratic means to cover this; now that people are challenging him and those means are starting to fail, he resorts to anger and threats.
He's right about one thing of course though. A three-month discussion period would destroy "them"--the bloody-minded control-freaks who have led the group* into this blind alley. (*It is a "party" in name only and was never intended to be "the" party, but the tinpot divas who currently run the show apparently don't understand that.)
Such a (creative?) destruction though would involve replacing the thuggish "committeemen" that are currently strangling the SWP with bold, intellectually adventurous (probably younger) activists who would of necessity be more self-critical, whose pride in the SWP's history and strengths would be balanced by an awareness of its limitations and weaknesses. And that is *exactly* what the SWP needs right now. Not dick-swinging (and i use the term pointedly) bravado, but critical reassessment of where the SWP actually fits in the labor movement, in the student movement, anti-war, liberation, anticuts, etc., and in the left generally, both nationally and internationally. It would be more open, more democratic, might even elect organizers locally (maybe even a contested election now and again!), would provide (gasp) accurate financial reports (if paid staff file income tax returns--I.e., tell the government--why should they not tell the members?), and more importantly accurate membership numbers, CC meeting minutes and votes will be published, sparking debate and discussion in the branches and the wider left. They will certainly make mistakes (that wouldn't be anything new), but they can legitimately claim that such mistakes were honest and hold a real debate about how to engage in the struggle better next time. If CC members do behave inappropriately, members will be given the actual information necessary to hold them accountable (as opposed to the "trust us as a group or not" faux accountability that currently exists). Theoretically, they would enthusiastically engage critically with the rising women's movement and develop new insights and theories on women's oppression--as the ISO is only just starting to--(as well as concrete protections for them). And would pose a new model of organization for the international left to debate and discuss (at least in "bourgeois democratic" countries). Members would be emboldened to start blogs and web sites and they would have to figure out their relationship to these things. It may be messy at times, but it will be exhilarating, and crucial to the current rising class consciousness as it finds expression in the digital age. Theory will meet practice again, and both will be strengthened.
Callinicos of course doesn't also see that a one-month discussion period will *also* destroy them (dialectics and all that). If this is rammed through and the faction doesn't gain the upper hand, then the expulsions will begin. They may hope to be satisfied with Richard and China as ceremonial scapegoats purging the rest of the party of its sins, but will probably include a good many of the platform members (they are trying to split the faction and the platform)--I.e., dozens. (There are certainly plenty of uncomradely exchanges on FB threads to give the CC cover for it.) Hundreds more will leave. Thousands more who may have joined in the coming years will see blog posts and FB/twitter/reddit/tumblr threads (my knowledge of these things is tragicomically limited, but I am at least aware of them). Dark Side Callinicos is already threatening to become a meme. The SWP will more and more become an intellectually sterile environment, whose sole motivation will be its own perpetuation, hyping the next big thing, engaging in stunts and street fighting provocations to provide some sort of excitement to members who will know better than to speak up against the "centre." Good activists will remain members and others will continue to join (though the revolving membership door may become something of a permanent tornado, a Jupiter's storm on the left). Such people will continue to be the cause of crises in the increasingly laughably named "party," though most of the best activists will continue to just leave. More importantly, the SWP will (more than it ever has) play a role people to draw far-reaching pessimistic and/or hostile conclusions about socialism, Marxism, Leninism, revolution, and the ability of people to change anything at all (rather than just about the SWP). Any other group that tries to build will have to do so in conditions of having this 800lb. gorilla on their backs.
I wish the members of the faction and the DR platform the best. The odds are most definitely stacked against them. But if they don't allow themselves to be divided, if they work their tails off over the next month, ringing and visiting comrades, meeting in pubs, (treating this like the mother of all union votes, essentially) honestly debating, listening, and convincing their comrades, connecting their demands and grievances to the "post-Tahrir mood" (to put it crudely), and the SWP machine (correctly) to the downturn mentality of the 80s in which the leadership openly distrusts the membership, driving home the point that the structures currently in place were put there (right or wrong) for very specific reasons that now no longer obtain, that the party is run by academics who have no interest in damaging their reputation by admitting a mistake, then they have a real chance to accomplish something extraordinary.
On Feb 14, 2013, at 6:25 PM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
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