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4213Re: More questions on the theory of the labor aristocracy

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  • Pip, Peter & Zoe
    Jan 22, 2004

      Gould's Book Arcade wrote:

       In this context, I note that Peter boyle was
      influenced by discussion of theoretical questions by comrades in the
      Phillipines who he had discussions with, particularly in 1994. As these
      comrades were, at that stage, independently moving away from, and in the
      process of criticising the Maoist political training that they had had, I'd
      be interested to know what elements of their original Maoist training and
      development that they regard as still valid, and what they reject, and Peter
      might regard as still valid and useful to the development of the theory that
      he puts forward with such enthusiasm.
      Is this another cheap fit up of the DSP (as Stalinist>) coming on? I do not think it would be fair to blame the Filipino comrades for the views on labour aristocracy I have expressed on this list. The notes from which I extracted a few key points and references, in response to a request from Bob Gould, were prepared in Australia before we left for the Philippines. The character of the seminar was an exchange on a few aspects of Marxism as we saw it from our different perspectives. We took part in three sets of seminars during that trip. The first was with the Visayas regional committee of the CPP, a group of about eight comrades, the second with about 60 members of district committees of the Manila-Rizal section, and the third, a much bigger a broader one involving other MR activists and some young activists from the BISIG group (a sort of Christian-radical left group with significant involvement in unions, rural cooperatives and progressive NGOs). All three had to be conducted in clandestinely. In the second, for instance, our rather superficial cover was that we were discussing pig farming methods! Some of the comrades leaned more towards Maoist politics (a few in the MR group), but others had begun to try and pull together an anti-Stalinist Marxism based on whatever readings they had come across, including Gramsci, Trotsky and a range of “Western Marxist” writers.

      This was just one small episode in a broad process of political exchange, debate and cross-fertilisation that DSP comrades have actively pursued right through the 1990s with socialists overseas coming from a variety of political backgrounds. It well and truly took our politics out of the confines of the Trotskyism movement. It is only partially reflected in Links magazine articles. A wide range of DSP comrades were involved in these exchanges and visits and we are still trying to absorb and share these various experiences.

      While in recent times it might appear that much of the focus of these exchanges has been with groups in Europe, like the SSP (for obvious reasons), for me, to date comrades from two mass revolutionary movements in Asia (from the Philippines and India) have had the most marked ideological influence. Some of these comrades have simply put Marxist ideas more to the test than any socialist group has been able to do so in the West in the last three decades. Their experience (and not Maoism) convinces me that socialists all around the world should more carefully study the political ideas of Lenin.

      Lenin was clearly the best Marxist of the 20th century. He absorbed the method of Marx and applied it effectively to the conditions the Bolsheviks faced, including the new development of monopoly capitalism. There is a sharpness (and unity as Lukac's noted in later life) of his thought. Quite a bit of effort will be needed to prove one major part of his theory right while the rest is left intact. Of course reality can prove the ideas of the smartest cookie inthe socialist movement wrong. But that has to be demonstrated with a little more than the shallow, dismissive single sentences that Shane Hopkinson has come up with so far in this discussion.

      But this puts a heavy challenge to all side sof this argument because anyone who claims to the method of Marx, Engels and Lenin today should study not just  Marxist theory but also understand our specific history and today’s conditions. But we do this best while building an independent socialist alternative -- we don’t wait for a more complete theoretical clarification before acting on our convictions. That is why the establishment of Socialist Alliance, Seeing Red magazine, the broad socialist education and discussion seminars, the greater opening up of Green Left Weekly are all good steps forward to meet the challenge. To be sure there will be initiatives by others outside the Socialist Alliance and that too is good.

      Peter Boyle

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