- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Party Line

Posted by: Bill on December 08, 1999 at 10:58:41:

In Reply to: Thanks for your thoughts---now please vote with your feet posted by Stoller on December 07, 1999 at 21:47:49:

Good open hostility--now that's more like it! Well, at least your letter wasn't condescending!

: Something wrong with the Sparts?

Yes, there is. While I do have a general agreement with them, they're a lot like you, giving people the correct party line as it is written in the Gospels of Lenin and Trotsky. What's more, they spend too much of their time obsessing about what other leftist groups are doing, hollering about "shamed-faced defections from Trotskyism!" and the like. (If you've been reading the WV for a few years, you know what I'm talking about.) But, like I said, I agree with a lot of their positions, even those positions they take against other leftist groups. For example I agreed when they criticized a British socialist group for saying Jesus was a "Super Red." In this instance, they correctly said, "Leave religion out of it!"

As I said, your comments about the protests in Seattle were once again indicative of that strain of thought--the vanguard party business with its party discipline and party line--which creates a bunker mentality. They treat Lenin and Trotsky as sacred texts, and have their sacred canon of literature and system of views on just about EVERYTHING. What's worse, the structure of the group itself is fundamentally hierarchical, so whatever books the leaders approve of, those should be the ones on the cadres reading list. Whatever the leaders don't approve of or haven't read, those are discouraged. You can't tell me the Sparts aren't structures in a hierarchical fashion. I've seen it.

This is not to say that the Sparts aren't right in many instances. Indeed, you may be correct in your assessment as to the revolutionary
potential of the Third World proletariat. I'll even yield that point to you and say, ultimately, that you are in fact quite correct.

Now, having granted that point, I still think your letter "Thoughts" was ill-timed. Among jazz musicians there's a saying: just because you can do it doesn't mean you should. Just because, in the long term, maybe you're right, doesn't mean you should say so. People in Seattle--comfortable First Worlders, were getting beat up by the cops for their views. They deserve our support.

Read the postings on this site! Now, I found it quite offensive when you lectured to them about how, ultimately, their actions were meaningless, and "sensible" people know what the real fight is all about.

Once again, your letter was an example of the vanguard party thinking which will never have any mass support. There are no magic keys to be found in Trotsky, Lenin, or even Marx, waiting to be discovered by the diligent and studious members of the party. However that's not to say that Lenin, Trotsky and Marx don't have any relevance, because they do, they have a lot. But they are not gods. They are like everyone else, temporally bound by the times in which they found themselves. So, yes, their insights are important, but not as holy scriptures, and not as something to wave at people who are out there on the streets.

There is only education, agitation and then more education more agitation. Education about what the bourgeosie are doing and agitation to make them stop. At this point in the struggle, I think Leon, VI, and Karl would agree.

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