Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Trotksyism

Trotksyism and Political Confusionism: The Case of Sam Marcy and the “Marcyites”.

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Image result for Sam Marcy

Macryites: the Anti-Imperialism of Fools.

Louis Proyect recently had a post about  some the more unpleasant figures on the US left.

“Trotskyists” put down red carpet for obscure Stalinist blogger

On Friday, July 14th at the Solidarity Center in NYC, Stephen Gowans will be speaking on “Washington’s Long War in Syria“, his new pro-Assad book. Solidarity Center is the HQ of the International Action Center, the antiwar front of the Workers World Party, a group that emerged out of the Trotskyist movement after the founder decided to back the Soviet tanks rather than the Hungarian workers in 1956. They are essentially Stalinists–much more so than the Communist Party.

Among the sponsors of the meeting is something called UNAC, the United Antiwar Coalition, that has a steering committee that is a mixture of WWP’er Sarah Flounders and independent Stalinists like Phil Wilayto.

But the largest party representation is from Socialist Action, a tiny sect led by Jeff Mackler. After splitting from the SWP, Mackler and other party veterans formed SA in the early 80s to rebuild a purified Trotskyist group. It has failed abjectly but like the group it split from, it soldiers on in the foolish notion that it is to the USA that Lenin’s party was to Russia. Mackler is on the steering committee as is Marilyn Levin and Christine Gavreau, who like Mackler are in their seventies. I can’t say for sure if they are still in SA but I strongly suspect that they are. This is definitely not a formation that is going to compete with the DSA for fresh young blood.

As part of our wider project of charting “Confusionism” Lois has made a contribution.

“the ideological cocoon of the Marcyite wing of the American left that now includes Socialist Action. Indeed, nothing that took place within Syria held even the slightest interest for them. These are people who get their ideas from ZeroHedge, Moon of Alabama, Global Research, Information Clearing House and other bottom-feeding click-bait outlets of the lunatic left.”

Now Marcyites….

Recently we had a hard job on Facebook trying to explain Campism to French comrades, or rather I and one French comrade had a difficult job in explaining this to people in France and Belgium.

What is Campism? As used by the AWL and others it describes those who, despite the Fall of Official Communism, the end of the time when the planet saw the ‘Socialist Bloc’  pitted against the Imperialists still divide the world  into two camps, Imperialism, and Anti-imperialism, to French comrades.

Oddly (….) they had not heard of Max Shachtman

Macryites are the ultimate ‘campists’, the defenders of the original anti-imperialism of fools (a term which French left-wingers did not find hard to get). In the original version they believed in a “global class war”, one waged between states.

The term comes from Sam Marcy (pseudonym) and his faction.

“Basically he took the concept of “deformed worker’s state” in the opposite direction that most traditional Trotskyists do. In essence he believe that socialist states were necessarily deformed because socialism can not co-exist with capitalism. To that extent he opposed the idea of socialism in one country. At the same time through his theory of global class war he saw the socialist nation state as a key factor in the final downfall of world imperialism. WWP was one of the few parties to call for PRC-USSR unity. Of course WWP was in the awkward position of being a Trotskyist group condemning Khrushchev for being revisionist in denouncing Stalin.

In general as far as Trotskyism goes, the Sam Marcyist brand is the closest to genuine Marxism-Leninism. Of course in practice it amounts to simply supporting any anti-US force as anti-imperialist or even socialist. Its a sort of reverse Trotskyism.”

Marcy wrote, (The Global Class War and the Destiny of American Labor by Sam Marcy May 20, 1953)

the camp of the proletariat today, unlike the previous epoch, has the bulk of the oppressed peoples in the colonies and dependent countries within its camp as allies. The class of peasants, semi- and non-proletarian elements of the backward countries, which in previous epochs were the reserve of imperialist reaction, can now be regarded not merely in a social but the political sense as well, as having been attracted to and daily becoming more and more part and parcel of the camp of the proletariat. The revolutionary ferment all over the colonial world is testimony to this fact. Our class camp is numerically much larger, much more politically conscious than in all previous epochs. The second characteristic of our class camp is that it has state allies, states where the working class, if not in a political sense, then certainly in a social and historic sense, holds the ruling power.

Today’s Marcyites believe that while there are no longer many states where the working class ‘holds power’ on a formal socialist basis that there are some kind of ‘objective’ allies of the left in the ‘colonial world’. According to some positions this would go right down to ‘anti-imperialist’ states like, as Proyet complains, Syria.

Workers World in the US keeps the flame lit.

Perhaps the nearest we have to this line is the groupuscle Socialist Action around Gerry Downing though some in the Stop the War Coalition often sound like them..

Background,

Sam Ballan (1911 – February 1, 1998), known by his pen name Sam Marcy, was an American Marxist of the post-World War II era. He co-founded the Workers World Party in 1959 and served as its chairperson until his death.

Marcy was born in Russia to Jewish parents. During the Russian Civil War, his family was a target of anti-Jewish pogroms by the White movement and received protection from the Communist forces. They resettled in Brooklyn, where Marcy became an activist for the Communist Party USA. He studied law at St. Johns University and provided legal advice to labor unions in New York.[1]

Marcy grew discontented as a member of the Communist Party, viewing the Third International as increasingly detached from working class interests and instead a mouthpiece for Joseph Stalin, whose oppressive bureaucracy he despised. He joined the Trotskyist movement in the 1940s, building a branch of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Buffalo.[1] Yet he again became dissatisfied, finding the SWP uncommitted to revolutionary politics and instead oriented toward parliamentary reform.[2] Marcy, Vince Copeland, and other SWP members developed a theory of “global class war“, according to which Marxists had a duty to defend the existence of the USSR and its satellites in spite of their bureaucracy[3]. Over several years Marcy clashed with the SWP leadership on several questions, including their approach to Communist China and North Korea, whether the SWP should endorse Henry A. Wallace,[4] and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. On the last question, Marcy’s faction supported the Soviet military intervention, arguing that the initial worker uprising had attracted class elements that sought to restore capitalism.[5][6]

In 1959 the “global class war” faction set up a new organization, the Workers World Party, characterized by outspoken defense of all Communist governments in the world. After the first issue of the Workers Worldnewspaper was published, Marcy started applying his view of Marxism–Leninism to contemporary issues. Marcy’s writings included extensive works on socialism, the Cold War era and the rise of the powerful military-industrial complex. He also wrote about the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War, the economic forces behind capitalist downsizing and the impact of the scientific-technological revolution. [1] Selections of his works have been translated into many languages, including Persian, Spanish, Turkish, Korean, French and German.[citation needed]

His writings show a strong support for Mao Zedong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, though he continued to defend China against imperialism following the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. Marcy defended China and also the Soviet Union against the charge of imperialism even while disagreeing with some policies and practices of the Communist Party leadership of both countries.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 10, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Day of Rage, UK Right-Wing Press Goes Hysteria.

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Day of Rage campaign poster

This is happening today.

Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessaryshared their event.

17 June at 15:32 · 

#JusticeForGrenfell #Justice4Grenfell

We returned to the site today, speaking with people who live locally, people who came from all sides of London & outside. All races and ethnicities, all faiths and none, migrants and citizens, ALL of us coming together to grieve, to connect, and to fight so this never happens again. ALL of us are London, we are ALL Britain.

This government has presided over thousands of deaths from 7 years of austerity and anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racism and bigotry. THEY NEED TO GO. NOW.

* MARCH * STRIKE * WALK OUT *
21/06/17 Queens speech – march on Parliament. We march from Shepherds Bush to Westminster.

We have came out and shown in the last elections what society we want: progressive, equal, just, hopeful. And we will fight for it by any means necessary. May’s coalition of millionaires & bigots must go, if we are to win a progressive hopeful future for all.

On Wednesday 21st
Bring your rage, bring your anger, bring your hurt, we will be loud and bold, speaking the only language the rich and powerful understand: a mass integrated movement in the streets.

#DayOfRagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1490621807662608/?ti=icl

#BringDownTheGovernment

The Daily Mail boils with its own rage,

If Jeremy Corbyn truly believed in democracy, he’d roundly condemn today’s ‘Day of Rage’, organised by the storm troops of the hard Left to bring London to a halt and help overthrow the Government.

Leave aside the sickening way his Marxist supporters have exploited the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire to promote their hate-filled agenda – ‘hijacking our grief’, in the words of local residents and churches.

The very thought of a revolutionary mob seeking to overturn an election result should horrify anyone who cherishes our constitution and rule of law.

Yet from the Labour leader, deafening silence. Worse, he has pandered to protesters’ thirst for class war by echoing their demands to seize the empty homes of the rich.

As for Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, yes, he has said half-heartedly that he ‘repudiates’ the Day of Rage. Yet as the Mail reveals, he has given his backing in the past to the protest’s organisers from the chillingly-named Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary.
Meanwhile, this man who would be chancellor has egged on union militants to topple Theresa May in a ‘Red October’, with mass protests and a summer of strikes that could do untold harm to the economy.

During the election, Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell presented themselves as misunderstood idealists. How quickly the mask has slipped. And what a warning to anyone tempted to give them power.

The Evening Standard adds,

Stand Up To Racism has organised a demo for 6pm called: “Protest the Queen’s speech – no to May/DUP racism & bigotry!”

London Socialist Party is hosting a Facebook event called “May Must Go! Protest the Queen’s Speech” which is scheduled for 4pm.

One assumes they are both going to protest against the Queen’s Speech, unless they are organising the event from Washington DC.

Grenfell Tower fire: Local residents do not want their ‘grief hijacked’ by ‘Day of Rage’ protest

This report is more significant, from Get West London.

“They’re angry, they’re grieving but they are working to bring about positive change”

Some of the residents who have been affected by the fatal Grenfell Tower fire , have talked about having their ‘grief hijacked’ following the announcement of the ‘Day of Rage’ protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

According to the Clement James Centre, a local educational charity which has provided temporary shelter for residents, those affected by the fire do not support the planned protest.

Posting on Twitter, the Clement James Centre said: “There has been a ‘Day of Rage’ announced for Wednesday, trying to bring London to a standstill.

“We cannot emphasise enough how against this many of the affected residents we’ve spoken to are and they do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means.

They’re angry, they’re grieving but they are working to bring about positive change and action through conversations with the right people.

“They want their voices about this to be heard just as loudly.

“If the streets are closed, we cannot effectively continue our aid operation in the area, and if any violence ensues, the issue takes a whole new direction.”

The charity also spoke of a #peaceforlatimer trend, where the local community are trying white ribbons around their wrists to ensure their message is heard.

Others have condemned the “Day of Rage” protest, Facebook user, Joanne Green posted on the event, saying: “Rioting will not work. It will destroy the last 2 years of hard work that we have done to get this close to a real Revolution as is possible.”

To which the event organisers replied: “Where exactly are you seeing that we are calling for a ‘riot’?

“We don’t let the fears of those who oppress us determine how we fight”

Activists will also take note of the following, which I agree wholeheartedly with:

Another post on the event, by London Black Revs, who describe themselves on Facebook as a “self-determined working class URBAN and strictly working class revolutionary organisation”, says: “Were residents consulted on this?

“They are really against having a demonstration without being told, asked or leading it, especially for other political agendas, which may or may not be important.

“There is a lot of anger locally that things are being done in Grenfell’s name and they’ve not had the time to even bury their family members.”

But,

The organisers replied by saying: “We have been in the community for several days now, speaking to hundreds of people, many who have friends and loved ones missing or dead.

“We’ve had tonnes of support, people taking flyers, saying they are coming, wanting to speak out about their experiences.”

*****

This Wikipedia account of the Movement for Justice is said to be broadly correct – according to our sources.

One should add that their site, Movement for Justice, does not seem to have been updated since 2013, and people indicate that they may have less than a dozen supporters.

Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary

“The Movement for Justice was set up in 1995 by people around the Kingsway College Student Union in the London Borough of Camden to tackle racism in institutional and established forms. The group confronted organised fascism as well as death in custody and wider racism to black people as well as travellers, refugees and asylum seekers. It is also the sister group to the American organization The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which has been accused of being a cult by former members. Movement for Justice is headed up by members of the Revolutionary Internationalist League (RIL), a Trotskyist group.”

The origins of this group are obscure even by Trotskist standards<

“The Workers Internationalist League was a Trotskyist group in Britain founded in the summer of 1983 by the Internationalist Faction of the Workers Socialist League. It was the British affiliate of the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee until that body was renamed the International Trotskyist Committee.

Although a small group, it immediately moved to producing a paper which was called Workers’ International News in mimicry of the magazine of the war-time Workers International League. For a small group of no more than 35 members this was a major undertaking.

The main concern of the new group was to clarify its ideas and where to concentrate their work. Therefore the question of how to orient to the Labour Party was a major area of debate. On the one hand, comrades around Mike Jones, close to the views of the Workers’ Party (Argentina) (PO), were for working in the Labour Party Young Socialists and were hostile to the United Secretariat of the Fourth International forces then in the Labour Party. This was an important question for the group as the Italian section of the TILC moved to join the USFI group in that country. On the other extreme of the group, Chris Erswell was supportive of the Italian TILC group’s orientation.

Meanwhile the senior leader of the WIL, Pete Flack, found himself isolated when the rest of the National Committee opposed the Italian tactic of fusion with the USFI. The WIL was being pulled in different directions by other Trotskyist tendencies, with the TILC, PO and the Workers Power group all representing different poles of attraction. This became obvious at the first national conference of the group, held in December 1983.

The conference solved none of the problems of the group and in January 1984 eleven supporters of the TILC left the WIL to establish the Workers International Review Group. The TILC refused to make them their official British section, instead choosing TILC sympathisers still in the WIL. They formed a Tendency for Political Clarification which was itself clarified when 3 of its 5 members left to join Workers Power. The remaining two members of the tendency then formed a Liaison Committee with the Workers International Review Group which led to the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist League in November 1984,[2] which was the British section of the International Trotskyist Committee (formed that summer from the TILC) until its split in 1991. The rump WIL would seem to have expired in the meantime.

The WSL was originally a faction inside the Workers’ Revolutionary Party.

The Labour Party, Trotskyism and Pabloism.

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They Lost….

“Trotskyism is being studied as never before” The Brent Soviet.

“But we want to speak frankly to you, comrade Trotsky, about the sectarian methods which we have observed around us and which have contributed to the setbacks and enfeebling of the vanguard. I refer to those methods which consist in violating and brutalising the revolutionary intelligence of those militants – numerous in France – who are accustomed to making up their own minds and who put themselves loyally to the school of hard facts. These are the methods which consist in interpreting with no indulgence whatever the inevitable fumblings in the search for revolutionary truth. Finally, these are the methods which attempt, by a colonisation directed from without, to dictate to the labour movement attitudes, tactics or responses which do not come from the depths of its collective intelligence. It is in large part because of this that the French section of the Fourth International has shown itself absolutely incapable not merely of reaching the masses but indeed even of forming tried and serious cadres.”

Marceau Pivert to Trotsky. 1939 (Where is the PSOP Going?  A correspondence between Marceau Pivert, Daniel Guerin and Leon Trotsky)

 

With Trotskyists about to take over the Labour Party there is interest in the ideology and politics of this current on the left.

One figure we have yet to hear mention is Michael Pablo one, of many but by far the best known, party names of a revolutionary usually called Michel Raptis. The most reviled Trotskyist of the post-war period, he has been accused of being the father of lies, liquidationism, and revisionism of all stripes and spots.  In fact his ideas and career are important to anybody concerned with Trotskyism: an illustration of its worst faults and some of its better features.

It will come as no surprise that Tendance Coatesy, as with many other leftists, owes a political and ideological debt to this outstanding individual. That his principal orthodox Trotskyist enemies were Gerry Healy, Pierre Lambert and James Cannon – all po-faced right-wing authoritarians – one cannot but help but like Pablo.

This should be borne in mind even if we accept that the fundamental premises with which he, and all Trotskyists, worked, that the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and China, not to mention countries like Cuba, had, by revolution or by bureaucratic imposition, become ‘non-capitalist’ social formations, part of a fundamentally new stage in history has been proved false. And that it’s hard to avoid acknowledging the erosion of the related belief, that ‘building revolutionary parties’ on the models laid down by Lenin and Trotsky was a realistic strategy to help create socialist societies in the capitalist world,  and overthrow the Stalinist bureaucratic ‘deformations’ in these non-capitalist countries.

Pabloism. 

The term Pabloism was first used during the splintering of Trotskyism in the 1950s. It referred to a set of positions advanced by Michael Rapitis during debates within the Fourth International, principality Pablo’s view that the “objective” growth of Stalinist-led ‘workers’ states’ ‘degenerated’ and deformed) meant that they had to have a strategy towards the mass Communist parties that could capture their base. He was accused of ‘liquidating’ the Trotskyist ‘programme’ as an independent point of reference outside of these parties.

Since many of his opponents had their own strategic alliances inside social democratic parties that disguised their true ‘programme’ (Gerry Healy’s pre-Socialist Labour League group in Labour ‘The Club‘, the original home of most UK ‘Trotksyist’ organisations and groupuscules) , not to mention  collaboration with right-wing anti-Communist elements backed by American funds (in France, in the union federation Force Ouvrière) this accusation looks  bad faith. More serious criticisms stem from the claim that Stalinist forms of Communism were a kind of ‘leap’ into a better form of society which Trotskyists should back (from the outside) and influence (from the inside).

The noise and fury (cited above) around such disagreements can only be understood by referring to earlier disputes which set the pattern for Trotskyist polemics that has endured to this day.

This process of raucous fractures and splits which can be traced back to the 1930s, notably in France. Despite the widespread impression that American Trotskyism, above all the US Socialist Workers’ party, was the lodestar of the movement, French Trotskyism was the centre of the Fourth International and many of the original parties – a country with (in the 1912 foundation, larger than the Socialist SFIO), and form 1936 ownwards a significant political player) a large Communist party to boot, and a deep-rooted socialist and communist tradition that sets it off from America. Before looking at what ‘Pabloism’ is we have to begin there.

One of the first Trotskyist groups in that country was the  la Ligue communiste founded in 1930. By the latter half of the decade there were already three main Trotskyist tendencies in the Hexagone (French Trotskyism) .

They were all organised around strong personalities: long embedded leadership is an enduring feature of Trotskyism (French Trotskyism)

Zeller’s Témoin du siècle (2000) outlines some of their disagreements. Perhaps it is most revealing on how the Trotskyists behaved after the ‘french turn’ which saw them joining the French Socialists, the SFIO.

Zeller describes their activists lecturing people on the First Congresses of the Third International and Trotsky’s line on the Chinese Revolution. Not surprisingly not everybody was impressed with these no doubt kindly meant lectures. They were kicked out of the party of Léon  Blum after, amongst other things,  a sustained campaign to build workers’ militias. For Trotsky the “La révolution française a commencé” with the wave of strikes that accompanied the election in 1936 of the Front Populaire you understand (Trotsky, Ou Va La France 1934 – 8, particularly the section on the ” milice ouvrière ” in  Socialisme et lutte armée.)

In his Mémoire d’un dinosaure trotskiste (1999) Yvan Craipeau describes the various positions Trotsky took on French politics,, from ‘entryism’ in the SFIO as the bolchevik-léniniste tendency, to efforts to influence Marceau Pivert’s “Gauche révolutionnaire” both while it remained in the Socialist party, and later (see above) when it was the independent Parti socialiste ouvrier et paysan (PSOP). founded in 1938. Pivert memorably replied to Trotsky about their  efforts at hectoring instruction, that his party members “are accustomed to making up their own minds ” and that they “put themselves loyally to the school of hard facts” – not Trotsky’s international prognostics. 

Trotsky replied by, behind his back,  describing Pivert (as described by Zeller) as a false revolutionary in the mould of  a provincial school teacher.

The entire history is of  bitterness and great  complexity (one I am familiar with in case anybody wants a Trainspotter lesson…).  People wishing the investigate further should begin with these two books and look at this Wikipedia entries: Trotskisme en France. French Trotskyists.

But all this ill-will was a mere foreshadowing of the later splits in the Trotskyist movement.

Entryism.

To jump from those years: the key issues in the 1954 split included entryism (which Pablo advocated inside the mass Communist parties and well as social democracy) and this,

Pablo’s elevation of the “objective process” to “the sole determining factor” reducing the subjective factor (the consciousness and organization of the vanguard party) to irrelevance, the discussion of “several centuries” of “transition” (later characterized by Pablo’s opponents as “centuries of deformed workers states”) and the suggestion that revolutionary leadership might be provided by the Stalinist parties rather than the Fourth International—the whole analytic structure of Pabloist revisionism emerged. The Genesis of Pabloism.

Pablo indeed took seriously the prospect of a Third World war. In these conditions he  backed, and enforce, this entryist strategy known as ” entrism sui generis ” inside (where possible) Stalinist Communist parties, and just about everything  that moved on the social democratic left. This meant not just concealing  membership of the Trotskyist movement,  even to the point of point-bank denial of any link. Famously as the text above states he considered that it might take decades of such underground work for their efforts to bear fruit.

Apart from its inherent implausibility the prospect of ‘centuries’ of clandestine burrowing away seemed to  consign the Trotskyists to the fate of the Marranos, ‘converted’ Jews who ostensibly  submitted to Catholicism but practised their faith in secret.

The strategy had little impact in the Communist parties – in contrast to long-term and independently initiated entryism in the British Labour Party by Trotskyists (the secretive and bureaucratic ‘Militant’ group) who were distant from his Fourth International.

After winning support for these policies, and even a degree of power over the International, helped by the departure of Healey, Lambert and Canon (cited above) Rapitis by the end of the same decade  plunged into a new cause: anti-colonialism and the ‘Arab Revolution’. He lost control of the Fourth International to Ernest Mandel and Pierre Frank. He retired from it in the mid-sixties.

Romance about epochs of hidden revolutionary labour aside, the  idea of working within the French Parti communiste français (PCF) was, even at the time,  in view of the party’s  top-down structure  and intolerant culture, ill-thought out and profoundly misjudged. It was equally parasitic on the success of the party being ‘entered’ (as indeed the experience of the Labour Party indicates).

Nevertheless French Trotskyism emerged more openly on the 60s political scene when a group of young Communist students, led by Alain Krivine, founded the independent Jeunesse communiste révolutionnaire in 1966. (1) Pablo did however put heart and soul in supporting the anti-colonial struggle in Algeria (a fight in which Krivine was also engaged) and was imprisoned for gun running to the independence fighters. He had a  brief period of influence in  the post-independence (5th of July 1962) Front de Libération Nationale, (FLN) notably on the leader Ben Bella (1916 – 2012) promoting the ideas of self-management. The Houari Boumédiènne,  1965 military coup put paid to that. (2)

The later politics of Pablo’s the  Tendance marxiste-révolutionnaire internationale (TMRI), and its French affiliate, the Alliance marxiste révolutionnaire (AMR) centred around the primacy of self-management.  They embraced the project of a ‘self-managed’ republic, took up themes such as feminism (in the mid-sixties), supported anti-colonial revolutions (without neglecting as their consequences unravelled, the necessary critique of ‘anti-imperialist’ national bourgeoisies), and defended democratic politics against Stalinism and orthodox Trotskyism. Pablo’s writings translated into English include a collection of his articles (Michel Raptis, Socialism, Democracy & Self-Management: Political Essays 1980 and his first-hand studies of workers’ control during the Allende government in Chile (Revolution and Counter Revolution in Chile by Michael Raptis. 1975) – another experience cut short by a bloody military coup.

New Left.

In the 1970s its members joined the Parti Socialiste Unifié, a French New Left party with over 30,000 members,  hundreds of councillors  during the late 60s and early 1970s and 4 MPs in 1967. Later the AMR was involved in other left alliances, all within the  traditions of workers’ self-management and New Left causes, participative democracy feminism, gay rights, green issues.  By the 1980s the TNR,  operated on a collegiate rather than a ‘Leader’ basis (and numbered outstanding figures such as Maurice Najman). It helped keep alive the ideas of workers’ control during the political triumph of neoliberalism. I was close to them in the 1980s (and attended one of their World Congress, the 8th) as a member of the Fédération pour une gauche alternative where we worked with the PSU in its final years.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CqjSS9FXEAAJxOm.jpg

Movements, that place ecological issues within the context of popular control, talk of new forms of democracy, owe something to those in the PSU and other New Left groups of the sixties and seventies across Europe. The TMRI was part of these currents, less and less concerned with building a revolutionary ‘party’ than with the interests of the movements themselves. (3) It could be said to have been a practical answer to the critique of Trotskyism offered by Claude Lefort of the group, Socialisme ou Barbarie in the 1950s.  Lefort once asked, why, without the kind of material basis of a Stalinist state or even a trade union administration, did all Trotskyist groups reproduce the bureaucratic forms of these apparatuses?One response is, yes, “liquidationism”, being part of the wider movement and not a self-styled ‘vanguard’.

Pabloism’s  legacy continues. It is one of many influences inside  the French ‘alternatifs’, left social- republicanism, and the (left-wing of) the  Front de Gauche (Ensemble) and more widely in the European and Latin American left.

Although a small number of  ‘Pabloites’ re-joined the ‘Mandelite’ Fourth International (already moving away from Trotskyist  ‘orthodoxy) in the 1990s most evolved away from ‘Trotskyism’ towards broader forms of democratic socialism and New Left radicalism. Some even became part of the French Greens (at the time known as Les Verts), while most, as indicated, merged into the broader left.

As the political landscape has radically changed since the fall of Official Communism and the entrenchment of neo-liberal economists and social policies in most of the world those associated with this current have  been involved in a variety of left parties and campaigns. Pablo’s anti-colonialism hardly meets the challenges we face today. But the democratic strand of workers’ self-management remains perhaps, a strand which retains its relevance in the emerging ideas and policies of the left, including within the Labour Party..

Unlike ‘entryism’ and dogmatic Trotskyism….

 

(1)One of the best accounts of this and Krivine’s background is in Hervé Hamon, Patrick Rotman, Génération, les années de rêve, Paris, Seuil, 1987. For 68 itself: Patrick Rotman et Hervé Hamon, Génération, T.2 Les années de poudre, Paris, Le Seuil, 1988,

(2)The best biographical introduction to Michel Raptis: on the Lubitz Trotskyanet –  here

(3) A  reliable sketch of the French affiliate of the TMRI, the AMR, is  available here: Bref aperçu de l’histoire du courant “pabliste” ses suites et sespériphéries en France 1965-1996.  A journal from this tradition is Utopie Critique.

From KS.

 

Paul Mason: From Revolutionary Marxism to Radical Social Democracy and the Workers’ Bomb.

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https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-0/s480x480/12321435_1042464712491001_3416137419649154513_n.jpg?oh=66717944578b4701be0323732ae2e4a8&oe=578BD2E8

 

Then raise the workers’ bomb on high,
Beneath its cloud we’ll gladly die,
For though it sends us all to hell,
It kills the ruling class as well.

The Workers’ Bomb.

(See: Posadist Paul Memes.)

Paul Mason is at the centre of new controversies, about his left politics, and about his support for nuclear weapons.

This is what he says about the former.  (Paul Mason Blog).

As to Mr Osborne’s claim that I am “revolutionary Marxist” it is completely inaccurate. I am radical social democrat who favours the creation of a peer-to-peer sector (co-ops, open source etc) alongside the market and the state, as part of a long transition to a post-capitalist economy. There’s a comprehensive critique of Bolshevism in my latest book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future.

Paul Mason was, we are informed, a member of the groupuscule, Workers Power, now better known amongst the masses for its ‘revolutionary’ Labour Party journal Red Flag.

Paul Mason’s book  PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future  (2015) uses many Marxist concepts (echoing Ernest Mandel on Kondratiev waves as in Long waves of capitalist development: the Marxist interpretation. 1980). This is the idea that capitalist development and crises, innovation and stagnation, are long-term cycles (we are on the downward one at present).

The core of PostCapitalism is a reflection, often interesting,  on “immaterial”labour, and the development of postcapitalism, a form of social order and economics,  within capitalism itself, fostered by the (apparent)  central role of information in the economy, civil society, and the state. His key concept is “networks v hierarchies”. This is a belief that that there is an inherent desire for a “beyond” capitalism in the search for human autonomy, although since he does not appear to have read Castoriadis or the current inspire by his works he would not use this term. He asserts, however clear tendencies in the direction of the current of thought that began with the 1950s/early 60s  review Socialisme ou Barbarie, and now has an influence on radical European ecologists”Eventually, work becomes voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free and economic management becomes primarily an issue of energy and resources, not capital and labour.”  It is important to note that in this objective everybody (as the Castoriadists would say) has an ‘interest’ in the ‘project’ – farewell then to the central agency of the working class and labour movement. (1)

That Mason has drawn on rather more radical politics and ideology than ‘radical social democratic’ ideas in the distant past (2011/12) can be seen in the book that preceded PostCapitalism.   His  Why It’s Kicking off Everywhere, The New Global Revolutions, uses the ‘autonomist’ idea of the ‘multitude’  – rather than just everybody – amongst other terms, to express the growth of resistance to the existing state of affairs. The multitude is the many against the few, Empire, or, in ‘populist’ form, the ‘elite’.

Mason wrote,

“the political theory that influenced the events of 2009-11” was Autonomism. They “had theorised very clearly the idea of a struggle between the ‘general intellect’, the suppressed human being and capitalist legal norms.” One can see that this offers at least one vehicle to express opposition to economic policies, to inequality, to lack of power. The ability to share and form new agencies of opposition has been made stronger by a technological and social order that needs instant, unrestricted, communication.

Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. Paul Mason. Review. Adnrew Coates.

To Mason there are signs of the “emancipated human being” emerging “spontaneously from within the breakdown of the old order”. The illumination of the multitude can be seen in the “act of taking a space and forming a community” – from Tahrir Square to Wall Street. This showed “the deployment of digital communications at work, in social life, and now in the forms of protest.” But in the tradition Mason refers to, there are more sceptical strands. Capital and the state can colonise such “smooth spaces” (democratic and equal areas) and make them “striated” (integrated into established exploitation and power) is less obvious (A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze. Félix Guattari. 2003)

This is the theoretical background:

These theorists considered that globalisation and ‘Empire’ (its political-economic inter-tangling) were creating a new ‘nomadic’ (Félix Guattari) form of resistance: the “multitude”. (Multitude. Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri 2004) Negri, Hardt and others from the ‘autonomist’ tradition considered that in contemporary capitalism, the “general intellect” and ‘immaterial labour” (production and communication by the manipulation of symbols) were centre stage. Paulo Virno described post-Fordism as a “communism of capital”, “A communality of generalised intellect without material equality.” (A Grammar of the Multitude. 2004.)

For Hardt and Negri a general figure, made up of “all the diverse forms of social production”, emerges. This the multitude. It is “an open and expansive network in which all differences can be expressed freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work and live in common.” It is a “living alternative” to the domination of Capital and Empire – the entangled economic, “biopolitical” and sovereign rule of Nations. This ‘network’ is the future paradigm for revolutionary change, its imprint flourishes everywhere, its future open.

Negri and Hardt observed examples of this operating, in the anti-globalisation campaigns of the 1990s, and early new century. Such resistance showed up most famously in the Mexican  Zapatistas, and, travelling down to a region where revolts never died down, in the rest of Latin America. For John Holloway, building on several decades of similar work, there was a world-wide “Scream of refusal” of people refusing to accept Capital and the State (Crack Capitalism. 2010).

Negri also talked of how the proletariat was enlarged, giving it “productive functions that were once typical of the middle class” (Goodbye Mr Socialism. 2008). May 68 was only the “first revolt of the post-Fordist and cognitive proletariat” against global capitalism. Europe was not resigned to the rule of business. 1996 saw France explode in nation-wide union-led strikes and protests against neo-liberal public reforms that brought down Alain Juppé’s Cabinet (though not the President). Many at the time saw that as defining set back for neo-liberalism. Negri enlarged the field of class conflict to the “precariat”, the partially employed and often unemployed, and saw this as a social factor behind the 2006 “local insurgencies” in the French banlieues.

No doubt Mason has changed the distant time of 2012, when it must be underlined that these ideas circulated in a rich broth of concepts, emotions, and reports. For the present it is indeed hard to see how his more recent belief (in Postcapitalism) that the pro-business Scottish Nationalist party, dedicated to looking after its “ain folk” or claim that the populist leader centred (Pablo Iglesias) and hierarchically organised Podemos represents a ‘network’.

Mason’s views on the Bomb are now the centre of interest, not all of it of the most serious quality.

This is his call:

A new defence doctrine for Labour Keep Trident. End expeditionary warfare

Vote for renewal of a Trident-capable force of four submarines, while retaining the right move from CASD to a CASD-capable submarine force, subject to parliamentary approval. At the same time, if the Scottish government votes to scrap Trident, Labour should advocate the removal of the base from Faslane to a base in England.

His argument?

Labour cannot un-invent its unilateralist wing, and it must listen to those who took to the streets calling for it to scrap Trident. Having listened, it must offer them something more important: a Labour party ready to rule; a government ready to break the cycle of failed expeditionary wars; which can fight terrorism effectively and stabilise NATO’s relationship with Russia in Europe.

To do this Labour needs more than just a position on Trident. It needs a defence doctrine.

Which is,

  • a nuclear deterrent whose posture can change in response to global circumstances, and whose specific terms of use are made clear to adversaries and allies alike;
  • a conventional force designed around Britain’s NATO mission in Europe, to deter potential Russian aggression and to facilitate the major powers of Western Europe taking charge of stabilising the region, rather than having to jump to the demands of immature democracies of Eastern Europe.
  • an enhanced anti-terror capability pre-authorised to operate on British soil in the face of a Mumbai-style attack, and whose surveillance and intelligence operations come under increased democratic scrutiny.

Since neither Mason nor the Tendance are defence experts, or indeed have views of any depth on these topics, we leave it to others to comment.

Meanwhile we intend to have a good laugh.

(1) Recent books on this which are worth reading include: Manuel Cervera-Marzal, Eric Fabri (dir.), Autonomie ou Barbarie. La démocratie radicale de Cornelius Castoriadis et ses défis contemporains, éditions du Passager clandestin, 2015. Cornelius Castoriadis et Claude Lefort : L’expérience démocratique 2015.  Collectif (Auteur), Nicolas Poirier.   François Dosse, Castoriadis, une vie, La Découverte, 2014. Cornelius Castoriadis ou l’autonomie radicale Broché – 23 avril 2014 Serge Latouche

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Gerry Downing Bumper Issue in the Weekly Worker.

with 28 comments

Bumper Issue: Fun for all.

The Saga continues:

Gerry Downing movingly pleads:

This anti-democratic procedure (no hearing before expulsion; no right to appeal) was initiated by the Labour Party leadership of Tony Blair, which was involved in extensive criminality against working class people at home and abroad. Such as, most notoriously, the Iraq war, where the Labour Party leadership bore responsibility for over a million deaths, caused by the unprovoked invasion.It was also involved in terrible abuses of democratic rights, such as torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’, and even complicit in the American sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. So it is hardly surprising that a party whose leadership did things like this evolved procedures that show contempt for the seemingly more mundane democratic rights of ordinary Labour Party members at home.

The tone is set.

But what does Comrade Tony Greenstein have to say?

Socialist Fight is an organisation that is causing much amusement to the right. However, Downing’s defence, or “understanding”, of al Qa’eda’s 9/11 attacks and the actions of Islamic State are anything but amusing. His playing with anti-Semitism is also no joke and his actions have been used to discredit the wider left.

Unfortuantely cde Greenstein has not the slightest intention of analysing Daesh, its totalitarianism, its class basis, and its genocide, in its own terms.

Instead we get this,

IS, for example, is known to be controlled militarily by ex-Ba’athist officers who have adopted Islam as a convenient justification and legitimation for their barbarous rule. How any socialist can support or “understand” – not as a means of analysis, but as a form of apology – an organisation which enslaves young Yazidi women, whilst slaughtering all the men and older women, defies belief. A group which openly uses rape as a weapon of war. This genocidal group may indeed be a reaction to the US’s imperialist slaughter in Iraq; it may have come into conflict with the US and its sectarian Iraqi regime (although being supported by the Turkish regime); but what type of reaction is it? Do we support any opposition, however reactionary, to US capitalism?

Perhaps those less inclined to dismiss the religious basis of Daesh would disagree: it is a genocidal variant of Islamism, with clear roots in the internal development of that current. How it sprang into political power is a related issue, but it cannot be reduced to this.

Greenstein also makes an extraordinary claim,

It is no accident that Israel is known to support al Qa’eda’s al-Nusra in Syria and it is widely suspected of supporting IS (it is known to be the largest purchaser of IS-produced oil). Opposing Zionism is not on the agenda of IS or al Qa’eda.

It is with relief that we turn to this:

Jim Grant writes, “We must oppose the expulsion of Gerry Downing, but fight to expose his political errors. ”

Gerry’s anti-imperialism is, needless to say, confused in the extreme. The confusion stems from exactly where Gerry says it does: Leon Trotsky’s policy of critical support to anti-imperialist nationalist forces – most notably Haile Selassie in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion – and his argument that, instead of joining the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang in the 1920s, the communists ought to have fought separately but alongside them against the Japanese. This policy ultimately stems from the anti-imperialist united front advocated by the early Comintern.

The trouble is that Trotsky’s judgements were straightforwardly incorrect, and Gerry’s later ones also wrong for much the same reasons. Selassie was a British client; Trotsky’s support effectively meant supporting British imperialism against Italian imperialism. (His vigorous pursuit of this policy inside the British labour movement was thus particularly misguided.) As for China, it is difficult to see how the communists could have suffered less except by fighting the KMT and the Japanese, as they ended up doing anyway.

Leftist Trainspotters will note that the Weekly Worker here attacks some of the most cherished ideas of Trotksyism.

The mad Bob Pitt was fond of citing Trotksy on Haile Selassie in defence of his own principled position in defence of the progressive potential of feudalism, sorry Islamism.

We forget exactly the details about the line of the Kuomintang but know it is an issue that continues to burn today in the halls of orthodox Trotskyism.

The Tendance hopes a stern rebuke, from an unimpeachable sources, such as the World Socialist Web Site, will be winging its way to the Weekly Worker forthwith.

Cde Grant concludes:

When the Labour Party is cleansed of warmongers, city shills and cabs-for-hire, there will be time enough to deal with people whose anti-imperialism leads them to idiotic political conclusions; and with those, like the AWL, whose horror of the latter leads them to worse errors in the opposite direction. Hopefully the comrades will learn along the way. Until then, we deny the right of the Labour right to police the left tout court – no exceptions.

It is hard to see that what could be worse than Downing, from his support for Assad’s chemical weapons programme, his claim that the ‘anti-imperialist’ forces of the genocidal Daesh has to be backed “against” the US and this pile of steaming manure: “ISIS, no matter how reactionary they are, should be supported only in these circumstances (NOTE: of ‘imperialist’ ‘attack’) and only against imperialist attack.”

We therefore, as a matter of principle, support the right of indigenous forces in such countries to resist imperialist attacks. We also say that it is the duty of the workers’ movement in imperialist countries to assist them in defending themselves when possible. This is the meaning of the phrase about ‘tactical military assistance’ that has been so often quoted, again out of context.  In the current situation such assistance would most likely take the form of political strikes against a given war. In a developed revolutionary situation, more might be possible.

Socialist Fight.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm

As Workers Power Goes Michel Pablo, is this the Maddest Sectarian Blog Post Ever Written?

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https://www.marxists.org/glossary/people/p/pics/pablo.jpg

New Workers Power’s Guru: Michel Pablo.

Extensive investigations by the Tendance Coatesy Central Committee have revealed the startling truth about Workers Power’s “Corbyn Turn”: dissolving and joining the Labour Party en masse (insofar as they are anything like a mass).

The erstwhile steel-hardened Trotksyist anti-liquidationists have taken a leaf out of Comrade Michel Pablo’s book and adopted “entrism sui generi., otherwise known as “deep entrism”.

“In entryism sui generis (“of a special type”), Trotskyists, for example, do not openly argue for the building of a Trotskyist party. “Deep entryism” refers to the long duration.”

Pablo, Michel Raptis, is best known for advocating this line, “To gain influence, win members and avoid becoming small sectarian cliques just talking to each other, the Trotskyists should — where possible — join, or in Trotskyist terminology enter, the mass Communist or Social Democratic (Labour) parties. This was known as entrism sui generis or long-term entry. It was understood by all that the FI would retain its political identity, and its own press.

This study, Christophe Nick, Les Trotskistes, (2002) contains all you need to know on the subject of entrism – the French Trotksyists make the British ones look like hopeless amateurs.

It is to be expected that internationalists like Workers Power have read and absorbed its message.

 Review: Les Trotskistes. Revolutionary History

… its main theme is entrism (particularly Chapter 6, pp218-64), and the book’s very first words are that ‘the Trotskyists are everywhere’. Trotskyists, apparently, ‘identify themselves with the mole, and venerate this animal’ (p12), and ‘entrism is a technique peculiar to the Trotskyists, a case unique in the annals of politics, an ethnological curiosity’ (p217)

Chapter 6 of the estimable study, Cde  Al Richardson suggests of some of the book, contains “much of real value“.

It recounts for example the case when one Trotkyist group (the ‘Lambertists’) set up an entrist current (the Ligue communiste internationaliste  LCI, led by Daniel Gluckstein), inside another Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. It exited and fused with its parent as the Parti communiste internationaliste in 1981 .

Please ask for more information on ‘Lambertism‘ (and its present split)- it’s a hoot! (1)

Ian Birchall has written elsewhere that the next study by the Christophe Nick might be on  the Rosicrucians.

Which makes him an even more appropriate strategic guide for Workers Power preparing for perhaps centuries of underground work inside the Labour Party.

Particularly in view of the fact that they have attracted this kind of debate (Thanks NN).

Exclusive: from Workers Power factional history (which is we emphasise for the unwary, is meant to be ‘satire’ – just).

Who Are Proletarian Democracy? A Historico-Theoretical Special
Posted on October 9, 2012

In spite of the strong liquidationist tendencies within a substratum of semi-Stalinist circles in and around Workers’ Power’s CC in the 1980s, Mark Hoskisson was productively correct to assert that Trotsky, had he lived to 1945 to see a nuclear bomb in action, would have revised his statements denouncing nuclear physics and nuclear weapons:

“Now with the reality of the boom, only an idiot or perhaps a charlatan like Gerry Healy, would describe Trotsky’s categorical declaration as correct. However we reject the idea that Trotsky’s error stems from an objectivist and fatalist methodology on his part. This charge, levelled at him by theoretical cheapskates like John Molyneaux – does not stand up for one minute.” – (Workers’ Power Theoretical Journal of Workers’ Power- no9).

BOURGEOIS MILIEU TO ITS CORE

Hoskisson is only partially correct to suggest “Had Trotsky’s epigones re-elaborated his programme in the 1950s many of the difficulties we face today would not exist.” The contradictory containment of post-war Trotskyism within the methodological confines of identary post-manufactured retopianism would have marked a bourgeois milieu to its very core even in the 1950s, hence Hoskisson would be wrong.

Although Paul Mason is now an erstwhile counter-Proletarian Democrat on Newsnight, his contribution to Workers’ Power as it was then, was insightful:

“Soviet power in reality had been enough to drive the Mensheviks into the camp of the bourgeoisie, to make centrists like Kautsky opt decisively for bourgeois-democratic counter-revolution. Conversely it had raised the political sights of the best syndicalist and anarchist militants who had hitherto rejected both the party and state power, by embodying in deeds the revolutionary essence of these words.” – (Workers’ Power Theoretical Journal of Workers’ Power- no9).

We Agree.

It remains our aim to drive Mensheviks such as the IRSP, Eirigi, the ICC, the SSP and the various sordid sub-party groupings around the journals ‘The Commune’, ‘Battaglia Comunista’, ‘Good Housekeeping’ and Lauren Laverne’s columns in Grazia into the camp of the bourgeoisie. We are as committed as ever to make centrists like Owen Jones and Caitlin Moran opt decisively for counter-revolution. And, we will, in time, make the best syndicalist and anarchist militants embody in deeds both party and state. The worst syndicalist and anarchist militants naturally will face a workers’ girder.

THE ‘MACE’ IN PAUL MASON

The crucial point: we were the ‘mace’ in Paul Mason’s words. We did what he preached, and began taking action to make the bourgeoisie crack from within. We knew better than to openly discuss our factionalisation in front of the WP CC, and to openly digress from their characterisation of the Labour Party as a bourgeois workers’ party would have been foolish. We knew they would never condone or support militant action and might even have acted as informers – so we acted in secret, in private.

Anybody who’d been comrades with that lot will be probably end up in Progress – out of sheer relief.

 (1) See latest summary: Longue scission au CCI/POI : et maintenant ? (5th September 2015).

Workers Power: Missing, Please Return to Owner.

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Workers Power

Missing: Please Return to Owner.

Workers Power has gone absent.

Or so it seems.

They left this enigmatic, yet poignant, note on the dressing table.

Workers Power supports key elements of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme. We believe all socialists should join the Labour Party, defend and promote Jeremy’s progressive demands, and work to extend and deepen these policies in a revolutionary socialist direction.

We will be working collectively in the Labour Party, hand in hand with others, to advance that cause.

Workers Power.

Since this statement on the 15th of September sellers of Workers Power have not been seen in public.

There’s been this Tweet, on October the 22nd.

Unconfirmed sightings include Red Flag, and Fifth International, and rumblings, rumblings….

Workers Power was the author of this much-loved document – it’s believed the last living person who got beyond page 2 is still around.

Not to mention this (genuinely)  fine analysis: Strategy and tactics of the Counterfire group; a critique.

Elderly, it suffers from incontinence, but is still sprightly enough to take a leading role in defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

If found please return to the League for the 5th International as soon as possible.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2015 at 11:49 am