[Marxism] From reformism to struggle and regroument

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 17:42:44 MDT 2015


Hi John,

Let's have a friendly non-sectarian non-flame war type debate about this,
because it is very important..  I respect your position but I disagree with
it.

I will begin by trying to unpack the labels "reformist" and "reformism".
These unfortunately have migrated from slow to fast thinking (See Daniel
Kahneman) and have acquired both the status of curse words and a sacred
sayings that have the magic power of preventing the need for critical and
analytical thought i.e. slow thinking.

So what did reformism originally mean?  In what contexts did it originally
appear.?  What was its original political function?
Thankfully there is a good wiki on the word and it points us towards
Bernstein (reflex shudder in horror) and Rosa Luxembourg. There is also
mention of the debate in the 60s within the British Labour Party around
nationalization, which I am old enough to recall.

Briefly, reformism seems to have meant something like a process according
to the Send Law of Dialectics. Quantitative reform piled upon reform will
eventually produce qualitative change in the system. I am inclined to agree
with this and so that would put me in the reformist camp. But, the law or
tendency if it operates in the social sphere is subject to all sorts of
counter tendencies which arise from the struggle between the social
classes. So, I am not naive enough to believe that we would be allowed
simply to pass reform upon reform, and hey presto the workers' paradise
emerges.

But here, and I think this is the crucial point, if one runs up the banner
of reform -say the imposition of a 35 hour week or a job guarantee along
the lines advocated by Bill Mitchell of Newcastle University-  then that is
more likely to get public traction than a campaign build around slogans
such as "One solution - Revolution", which I used to chant in the streets
of Brisbane.

The political point is that gaining public traction  i.e. support gives one
a political space to operate in.  That of course does not guarantee victory
but it does allow for maneuvering. The alternative is to stick with the one
anti-reformist line and demand a revolution.  Been there, done that for
years and really it ends up as a kind of self-fulfilling irrelevancy.

That might be enough for my opening salvo.  Hopefully over to you

comradely

Gary

On Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 7:58 AM, John Passant via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> From reformism to struggle and regroument
>
> If there are two lessons I draw from the surrender of SYRIZA they are,
> first, not to pursue a grand reformist project, especially an electoralist
> one aimed at winning power to manage capitalism, and second to consider how
> to unite those small and disparate forces now on the ground in Australia
> which understand that the emancipation of the working class must be the act
> of the working class.
>
>
> http://enpassant.com.au/2015/07/14/from-reformism-to-struggle-and-regroupment/
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