[Marxism] Reform and Revolution

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 21 19:42:20 MST 2013

Ben Kunkel on Zizek:

Despite this last caveat, Žižek is most often an enemy of reform. 
However, the experience of western societies since the Second World War 
suggests that the old opposition between reformism and revolution is no 
longer useful. The heyday of the welfare state was accompanied, after 
all, by far more worker and student radicalisation than the era of 
neoliberalism that followed it, which demoralised radicals and reformers 

Projects of reform, in other words, have tended to nourish hopes of 
revolution and vice versa. In present circumstances, the achievement of 
reforms might well pave, rather than bar, the way to a new society, not 
to mention relieving some of the human misery to be endured before the 
advent of the communist millennium. If, on the other hand, the system 
were to prove incapable of incorporating any serious reforms, this would 
demonstrate the need for revolution that Žižek merely asserts.


Me on Callinicos:

Callinicos seems to worry that if the NPA is not careful, it will go the 
same route as the SP’s and the CP’s. Fundamentally, I consider this to 
be a rather idealistic approach to politics. Reformism is not a function 
of the ideas in peoples’ heads but rather material forces operating in 
history, including the privileges enjoyed by parliamentarians and trade 
union bureaucrats. In other words, the Second International degenerated 
not because of Bernstein’s ideas but because its leaders had become 
corrupted by their place in society, which made it natural for them to 
begin thinking like the class enemy. Material reality determines ideas 
and not the other way around.


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