[Marxism] Socialist Action on Libya and Syria
jgreen at communistvoice.org
Sat Oct 22 06:22:03 MDT 2016
I will deal in this note with some issues which I think apply to everyone who
replied to my contribution to this thread, and I will deal in separate notes
with specific points raised by individual comrades.
I was disappointed that no one dealt with whether the theory of pernmanent
revolution was responsible for Socialist Action denouncing the anti-Qaddfi
struggle in Libya. It pretty clearly was, but it seems that various people
would prefer this swept under the rug. There is a theoretical crisis in the
left, and the left is going to deal with it seriously, it has to look at
these examples seriously. Otherwise it's just a matter of clinging to dogmas
of the past, and refusing to see what has to be changed.
It's not as if Socialist Action is some kind of outlier and exception. It was
hardly the only Trotskyist group which was led astray on Syria and the Arab
Spring by permanent revolution. I have given quotes elsewhere from a number
of Trotskyist groups. True, some Trotskyists do support the democratic
uprising on Syria and write useful material on it, but that's not the result
of the theory of permanent revolution and it's not representative of the
Trotskyist movement as a whole.
It has been charged that I have distorted the meaning of permanent revolution
or don't really understand it. But that charge was made with respect to the
definition of permanent revolution that came from Socialist Action: I quoted
their own description of "permanent revolution". Moreover, I have studied
"permanent revolution" from the writings of Trotsky and various Trotskyist
groups. Indeed it's notable that one comrade, while writing that my
understanding of permanent revolution was supposedly shallow, went on to
criticize Trotsky's formulations as well. Apparently Trotsky didn't really
understand it either.
The fact is that the Arab Spring is a major problem for permanent revolution.
But the defenders of permanent revolution want to avert their eyes from this.
One way they do it is by not mentioning permanent revolution when they have
to go against it in practice, such as when supporting the democratic movement
in Syria. Another way they do it is by pretending that the critics of
permanent revolution are Mensheviks or have distorted it; they pretend that
no serous issue has been raised by the practice of the Arab Spring or by the
critics of Trotskyism. There's a certain "code of silence" that is widely
observed, in which the important thing is to rally around the "old man" or
permanent revolution, not to test revolutionary theory in the light of
events, not to advance revolutionary theory, not to examine why things have
gone wrong repeatedly..
In line with this, it also seems that various people who commented on my
views didn't bother to first see what my views were. Instead they repeated
shopworn arguments from the past, and stock curses. But theory does advance
over time, whether the Trotskyist movement cares to look at it or not. The
fact is that Trotskyist theory is backrupt with respect to the Arab Spring,
and so far no one I've seen has been able to produce an analysis based on
"permanent revolution" that has stood up to the events of the Arab Spring.
The Communist Voice Organization can reproduce what we wrote at the beginning
of the Arab Spring, and the general framework still stands. But the
predictions based on the permanent revolution were wishful thinking at best
-- Joseph Green
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