18504Re: socialist unity with the living dead
- Jun 5, 2005By Bob Gould
Joaquin Bustelo makes a sweeping attack on all the revolutionary
socialist organisations for not immediately going out of business.
I've read all the Marx-Engels material that Bustelo refers to, and my
understanding of it is quite different.
Marx and Engels, and later Lenin and Trotsky, favoured Marxists
building organisations, and spent a lot of their time trying to do so.
They were polemicising against the tendency of small socialist groups
to turn themselves into sects and to neglect the possibility of
building mass workers' movements or integrating themselves in an
organised way in such proletarian movements as began to develop, such
as the Henry George movement in the United States.
Bustelo presents Marx and Engels as opposed to independent Marxist
organisation, which is total rubbish. The problem is not the existence
of such groups, but their often quite sectarian behaviour towards each
other, and more importantly towards mass proletarian movements and
Ben Courtice, who reposted Bustelo's post to the Green Left list, is
repois still a member of the Australian DSP, so I assume he's either
playing a devil's advocate role or maybe he's a little more cynical
than that, and he's implying that all the other socialist groups
except the DSP should go out of business.
If that's his line of argument, it's spurious, given the now rather
desperate attempts of the DSP to present a group that they essentially
control, the Socialist Alliance, as some kind of non-sectarian
formation, despite the fact that in the Socialist Alliance the DSP is
at constant war with just about all the other affiliates and perhaps a
majority of the independents.
The immediate problem for the revolutionary socialist movement is to
start some kind of realistic and non-sectarian political debate and
discussion between the members of all the groups and independent
individuals on the left of society, rather than Bustelo's pompous and
dopey proposition that they should all go out of business forthwith.
In Bustelo's case, is he saying that Solidarity in the US should go
out of business?
I've been engaged for the past couple of years in a sustained critique
of what a number of people choose to call Zinovievism (which we now
discover from Barry Sheppard is also Dobbsism) but that's directed at
bringing the inhabitants of some of the sects down to earth and trying
to initiate, if at all possible, some kind of serious debate on a
number of major historical and current questions, across factional
It's pretty arrogant of Comrade Bustelo to demand that they all go out
of business because the constructs of the different groups don't fit
his eclectic schemas.
To promote debate, on Ozleft we've been trawling through the history
and pre-history of the Australian and international Marxist left and
putting up a respectable collection of material.
Proclamations about Marxists groups going out of business are quite
irrelevant, because such groups aren't about to go out of business.
What's clearly required is serious political discussion, rather than
I ask both Bustelo and Courtice, what do they think the activities of
future socialist organisation should consist of if the existing ones
were to go out of business?
These are big questions and should be discussed in a calmer and less
arrogant way than Bustelo does.
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