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Re: Referring Australian "Labor" Party

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  • bobgould987
    By Bob Gould Vic Savoulien s several posts about the Labor Party are a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the views in and around the DSP and the Socialist
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 26, 2006
      By Bob Gould

      Vic Savoulien's several posts about the Labor Party are a kind of
      reductio ad absurdum of the views in and around the DSP and the
      Socialist Alliance on that party.

      Savoulien treats Laborism, from its moment of development, as a super
      entity embodying an initial, and then continuing, conspiracy against
      the working class.

      This approach is totally un-Marxist and un-Leninist in the sense in
      which both those terms are useful.

      While polemecising against right-wing forces in the labour movement,
      Marx and Lenin treated these forces sociologically and constantly
      analysed contradictory elements in all working-class mass movements as
      they developed.

      A conspiracy theory in which a pure entity, described as the Labor
      Party, perpetrating crimes from the moment that it appears on the
      scene, is a bit like the holy ghost or Satan in Christian theology. It
      is alien to Marxism.

      This primitive approach allows for no strategy and tactics involving
      contradictory working-class formations, and the life works of Marx and
      Lenin consisted of working out strategy and tactics involving these
      contradictory mass movements.

      This kind of approach has its parallel in the method we all fall into
      from time to time, and should stamp out of our thinking, when we talk
      about the ruling class as a super-historical entity. What we should do
      is constantly try to comprehend and make reference to contradictory
      forces, factions and fractions within national ruling classes and the
      ruling class of the world.

      Vic Savoulien's diatribe may satisfy him as an expression of anger and
      rage, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the method of Marx,
      Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.
    • Ed Lewis
      For a clinical dissection of Social Democratic formations, including developments since the Second World War, and responses to neoliberalism, Ernest Mandel s
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 26, 2006
        For a clinical dissection of Social Democratic formations, including
        developments since the Second World War, and responses to
        neoliberalism, Ernest Mandel's 1993 article, The Nature of Social
        Democratic Reformism is hard to beat.

        It is a devastating survey of the failure of Social Democracy to
        defend working people, but it avoids infantile moralising and abuse,
        and empty scolding of scoundrels.

        Mandel's conclusion is interesting, if expressed a bit academically in

        >>In these conditions, revolutionary Marxists must combine in relation
        to social democracy, to use fashionable terms, a "culture of radical
        contestation" and a "culture of dialogue'.

        "Culture of radical contestation" means on the practical level to
        refuse to make any concessions to the logic of the electoral and
        governmental "lesser evil", which would imply an even limited
        acceptance of austerity measures, restrictions on democratic
        liberties, any concessions to xenophobia and racism. That means giving
        priority, under all circumstances, to the defence of the immediate
        interests and aspirations of the masses, to the unhindered development
        of their initiatives, their mobilisations, their struggles, their
        self-organisation, without subordinating them to any "superior
        objective", chosen and imposed in an authoritarian and verticalist

        "Culture of radical contestation" means also on the level of
        propaganda to present as concrete and structured a global
        socio-political objective as possible. That means refuting all the
        "theoretical innovations" of social democracy and the new reformists,
        "innovations" which are ninety-nine times out of a hundred regressions
        to pre-Marxist positions that are 150 years old, if not more.

        That means vigorously defending the capital of Marxism, but of a
        Marxism that is open, critical and self-critical, that is ready to
        re-examine everything in the light of the facts, but not lightly, not
        in an unscientific way, not without looking at reality as a whole.
        Revolutionary Marxists have neither the arrogance to have an answer to
        everything nor the claim to have never been wrong about anything. But
        they are not ready to throw out the baby with the bath water. The
        theoretical and moral capital remains considerable. It deserves to be
        vigorously defended.

        "Culture of dialogue" means engaging with social democracy, with every
        wing of it that is ready to, including parties as a whole, debates and
        confrontation whose aim is to facilitate common actions in the
        interests of the working class and the oppressed.

        These operations are certainly facilitated by a modification of the
        relationship of forces which would render too costly a peremptory
        refusal by the reformists. They can facilitate differentiation within
        social democracy. But independently of this logic, we have to fight
        resolutely for the dialogue to be engaged and pursued, so that a
        "third component" of the organized workers movement, to the left of
        social democracy and the new reformist parties, is de facto recognised.

        This objective is neither tactical nor conjunctural. It is strategic
        and long lasting. It is directly linked to a fundamental conception of
        the self-organization of the working class, which leads on to our
        conception of the taking of power (...)

        To combine these two "cultures", that is the task of revolutionary
        Marxists today in relation to social democracy.>>

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