[Marxism] Not learning from the New Communist Movement | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 1 18:21:19 MDT 2018

On 10/1/18 11:52 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
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> There’s an interview with Max Elbaum on Jacobin today titled “Learning 
> from the New Communist Movement” that is mostly unobjectionable. As I 
> pointed out in a review of Max’s “Revolution in the Air” in 2002, “I 
> strongly recommend this recently published Verso book to anybody trying 
> to make sense of the state of the left today. While focused on the “New 
> Communist Movement” of the 70s and 80s (that I prefer to call Maoist), 
> the lessons Elbaum draws are applicable to all vanguard party-building 
> projects including those of the Trotskyist movement that I participated 
> in.”

Michael Yates wrote a comment on this that is really quite telling:

Elbaum and Utrecht set up straw men here and then by knocking them down 
presume that they are also knocking down all those who do not agree with 
their pronouncements about how best to bring about radical change. I 
don’t know many ultra leftists who fit their bill. Almost all of us have 
many specific suggestions, principles, and programs aimed at 
revolutionary change. I spent some 32 years teaching working men and 
women along radical lines, sending a good many students back to the 
labor movement with new and radical ideas that they then began to 
promote in their unions and political organizations. Has Max spent a 
minute doing this? I took the workers as they came to me, using their 
life experiences as catalysts for discussion. I have no doubt that many 
came away with a more radical perspective than the one they entered the 
classroom with. I am sure all radical labor educators could say the 
same. Not once did I urge people to work inside the Democratic Party, 
but never did a student suggest that I was offering pie in the sky. If 
you really want to be a socialist, you have to name the system and offer 
an alternative to it, one that rejects all aspects of capitalism, 
because there are no good ones. I have found that people respect those 
with principles, even those they might not fully agree with. I don’t see 
most DSAers and their magazines, etc. espousing really revolutionary 
perspectives. They seem to take the view that the working class just 
isn’t ready for these yet. However, it has never been the case that they 
will come around through electoral politics, certainly not that which 
revolves around the Democratic Party.

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