[Marxism] Fwd: Reading the fine print in Seth Ackerman’s blueprint for a new party | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 21 13:04:54 MST 2016

Issue #23 of Jacobin, which I received today, is devoted to an 
examination of “The Party We Need”. Since I have been advocating a new 
left party for the past 35 years both on and off the Internet, I was 
curious to see what the DSA supporters on the editorial board had to say 
on this topic. I probably will be evaluating other articles in the issue 
but want to start off with Seth Ackerman’s “A Blueprint for a New Party” 
that was available at least a month before it came out. It made sense 
that Ackerman’s article would be highlighted since it encapsulates 
perfectly the fence-straddling politics of DSA today, especially the 
youth wing that has made Jacobin its semi-official voice.

To start with, I was wary about Ackerman’s title since the word 
blueprint is antithetical to Karl Marx’s approach. Keep in mind that he 
once wrote in defense of the “critical analysis of actual facts instead 
of writing recipes for the cook-shops of the future”. Of course, when 
Marx wrote this he was referring to the sort of grand designs for 
classless societies found typically in Albert-Hahnel’s Parecon and not 
how to build parties. That being said, Ackerman has displayed a 
susceptibility to recipe-writing in the past as we can see from his 
Jacobin article “The Red and the Black”:

	Why, then, are radicals so hesitant to talk about what a different 
system might look like? One of the oldest and most influential 
objections to such talk comes from Marx, with his oft-quoted scorn 
toward utopian “recipes” for the “cookshops of the future.”

Ackerman felt that Marx violated his own rules in “Critique of the Gotha 
Programme”, where he supposedly wrote “his own little cookshop recipe” 
that “involved labor tokens, storehouses of goods, and an accounting 
system to determine how much workers would get paid.”

One imagines that Ackerman was referring to Marx’s reference to a worker 
receiving a certificate based on the amount of labor he has contributed 
and that could be used in turn to purchase goods equal to the amount of 
labor embodied in the certificate. That is not only the sole reference 
to certificates in “Critique of the Gotha Programme” but in Karl Marx’s 
entire body of work.


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