[Marxism] Stanley Aronowitz: the father of the “dirty break”? | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 13 12:50:42 MDT 2019

Just a few days ago, I got a copy of “The Lesser Evil”, a Pathfinder 
book that has the debate between Peter Camejo and Michael Harrington 
that unfortunately never got posted online, mostly because of the tight 
control the SWP has over its “intellectual property”. While browsing 
through the book, I noticed that there was also a debate between cult 
leader Jack Barnes and Stanley Aronowitz from 1965 over the same questions.

I was startled to see how close Aronowitz’s tactical support for running 
in Democratic Party primaries was to the Jacobin and DSA articles of 
today. Aronowitz, unlike Harrington, was a serious Marxist thinker who 
was 32 at the time, not that far in age from Bhaskar Sunkara, Eric Blanc 
and all the other Jacobin/DSA theorists who favor a “dirty break”. 
Indeed, after reading Aronowitz’s answers to questions from the floor at 
a conference held on October 30, 1965, you almost feel that nothing much 
has changed.

Aronowitz was speaking on behalf of the Committee for Independent 
Political Action, a group that he helped to found with Jimmy Weinstein, 
the publisher of “In These Times” that has been the informal voice of 
the DSA, long before Jacobin. The two men were closely linked to SDS and 
saw NCIPA as a sister project of the New Left’s rapidly growing 
student-based movement. It is no exaggeration to state that SDS was the 
DSA of its day, whose growth was fueled by the Vietnam antiwar movement. 
If you study SDS history, you’ll learn that it backed LBJ for President 
in 1964, raising the slogan “Part of the Way with LBJ”. When LBJ began 
escalating the war, the New Left rejected the Democratic Party but never 
really theorized the question of independent political action. Its most 
notable achievement was building the Peace and Freedom Party that 
achieved ballot status in California and attracted widespread grass 
roots support. It succumbed, however, to sectarian disruption in latter 
years that it was ill-prepared to fend off. Below you can read a 
transcript of the Q&A with Aronowitz with my commentary as well.


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