[Marxism] Following the British SWP understanding of "Leninism"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 24 22:40:59 MST 2013

I plan to say much more about this but in issue 5 of the Socialist 
Alternative theoretical journal (http://marxistleftreview.org), there's 
a *very* long article by John Percy that echoes the counter-attack on 
Edward Rooksby, Richard Seymour et al by Alex Callinicos and Paul 
Blackledge who share Percy's old school Leninism. In fact I haven't seen 
such an outpouring of support for Leninist orthodoxy in a dog's age. 
Even in the ISO there's lip-service paid to moving away from a 
mechanical understanding of democratic centralism.

I am not sure if I am going to be able to find the time to plow through 
all these "Leninist" declarations in issue #5 that dispense with the 
advice that brevity is the soul of wit, but it would be interesting to 
see how they stand on the question of whether the Bolsheviks became a 
separate party from the Mensheviks at the Prague conference in 1912. 
Lars Lih, who Bloodworth appears to recognize as an authority on Lenin, 
is absolutely opposed to the idea that the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks 
were anything except factions of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party.

If that is the case, then Percy's hostility to the notion of a "broad 
party" is based on a misreading of Lenin. If there's anything that 
defines broadness, it is Lenin and Martov functioning in a common 
framework. And, trust me, there are people on the Australian left a 
thousands times "worse" than Martov.

I know it will sound controversial to Leninist purists, but to repeat 
myself, the goal of creating "revolutionary" parties has been tried and 
failed. Percy considers the experiments of the past 10 years to have 
been a failure and is happy that Socialist Alternative will now go on 
its merry way recruiting and training revolutionaries in time-honored 

I take a different stance. I am more interested in the 90 year history 
going back with one sectarian disaster after another, sometimes 
involving massive forces such as in Germany in 1921 and at other times 
involving tiny sects splitting with each other over which one represents 
"revolutionary continuity" as in the case of the 25 different groups 
that came out of the Morenoite organization in Argentina.

I think that history is moving decisively against the sect formation, 
mostly because of the intensity of the crisis that forces most serious 
revolutionaries to figure out a way to unite on a principled basis. 
Since that crisis will only deepen, I expect a rebirth of the socialist 
movement on the principles upon which it originally rested.

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