Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Weekly focus # 17 -- Creating the party of the future

Expand Messages
  • Ben Seattle
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Weekly focus # 17 -- (1) The pof-300 list: high-traffic list for pof-200 subscribers (2) The development of our
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 19, 2004
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Weekly focus # 17 --
      (1) The pof-300 list: high-traffic list for pof-200 subscribers
      (2) The development of our community and its agenda
      (3) Confronting the paralysis of our movement
      (4) Steve Wallis takes on the SWP (Britain)
      (5) Reply to DJ -- Creating the party of the future
      ** Joint work on wiki page against reformism
      ** DJ's Live Journal posts
      ** The CVO leaflet
      ** The CVO-LRP polemic concerning
      the fight against the draft
      ** A real party will wield
      the weapon of transparency
      ** Why we struggle for partial demands
      ** Can the "crisis of theory"
      be reduced to "Stalinism" ?
      ** The struggle against the TUB's
      ** Saving the patient
      ** Some links
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Hi everyone,

      For new subscribers to this group (and existing subscribers who
      may have forgotten about me), my name is Ben Seattle. I haven't
      posted here since August 29 but it is my intent (when possible)
      to make weekly posts which review the activity of this list in
      the context of the tasks which are decisive for the development
      of a powerful and healthy movement for the overthrow of bourgeois
      rule.

      Unfortunately my time is extremely limited. I have followed much
      of the list traffic, and I have developed a conception of the
      tasks which I believe will move this list (and the associated
      wiki) forward. But I lack the time to implement many of these
      tasks (even simple tasks such as cleaning up the wiki front page
      and creating easy-to-use wiki help files). On the one hand this
      can be frustrating. On the other hand, as militant and
      determined activists, we adjust our thinking in order to deal
      with material reality and existing limitations. Our brothers and
      sisters in other parts of the world (such as in Iraq -- where
      there are popular struggles against US imperialism and its puppet
      regime) face harsh conditions. Here at least our struggle takes
      place in conditions of legality and we are well-fed, sheltered
      (most of us) and safe. Step by step we will move things forward.

      I am not the only one on this list who finds the lack of progress
      frustrating. Some of the posts by Sean and Dennis indicate to me
      that they also find the current level of activity and
      organization of the list/wiki to be frustrating.

      Sean has made a number of criticisms which he has addressed to
      "all members of the Party of the Future". Some of Sean's
      comments are profoundly true while others are, frankly, nonsense.
      (Earth to Sean: the "Party of the Future" has no members because
      it does not yet exist: it is a concept under development.)
      Dennis has reposted here articles that he has found to be useful
      (and which are probably useful to a number of our readers) but
      has repeatedly exceeded the suggested limit of two posts per
      week. I emailed Dennis about this privately and reminded him of
      this suggested limit and also of the fact that a poll in July
      indicated that a majority of readers of this list support the
      idea of "better fewer but better" posts. The suggested
      limit is not yet a formal rule (that will come later -- once the
      wiki is more user friendly and we take steps to make sure that
      subscribers understand how to use the wiki as an alternate method
      of communication) so subscribers currently have the right to post
      more often at their discretion. However I hope that subscribers
      use this discretion rarely and, to assist in this, I have (just
      now) activated the pof-300 list and invited to it those
      subscribers (Sean, Dennis and others) who indicated in the July
      poll that they would like to post more often.

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      1. The pof-300 list: high-traffic list for pof-200 subscribers
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      I cannot guarantee that the traffic on the pof-300 list will be
      worth reading (I suspect a lot of it will not) but all
      subscribers to this list (or any of my other lists) are welcome
      to join it. (It may take a week or so for your membership to be
      approved since the pof-300 list has no moderator except me to
      approve memberships and I usually only go online on weekends. If
      anyone wants to volunteer to perform this function for the
      pof-300 list -- please let me know.)

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      2. The development of our community and its agenda
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      The "Media Weapon community" at this point is not a real
      community. It is more accurate to say that such a community is
      my goal and (I hope) your goal also.

      There has been much discussion in parts of the hard-core left
      concerning questions related to organization and (among militant
      marxists) the question of the "party". There exists, in my view,
      incredible confusion on this topic from all quarters. My view is
      that the development of a genuine community which is focused on
      the development of a mass movement aimed at the elimination of
      the system of bourgeois rule -- and an agenda of revolutionary
      work which is the product of open discussion and debate and open
      competition between competing ideas and projects -- would be a
      huge step forward toward the development of revolutionary
      organization which is deserving of the respect and attention of
      the working class.

      I use the concept of "community" rather than "party" because I
      believe this concept corresponds more closely to the needs of our
      time and is less likely to be misunderstood (ie: is less subject
      to the extreme "reality distortion fields" which exist around the
      concepts of "party" and "democratic centralism" and which are
      promoted by social democrats and "cargo cult Leninists" alike).
      The term "community" is usually understood to be a relatively
      loose (ie: non-formal) form of organization in which community
      members have essential democratic rights as well as a common
      purpose.

      Our wiki has a "projects" page but the page currently exists more
      as an idea than a reality. A more developed projects page (in
      which many projects compete for attention and labor power) is
      necessary and would be essential for the development of a
      community which is organized in a genuinely democratic way. Any
      member of our community would then be able to add to this page a
      description of their project together with their views on why
      this project is important and deserves support and labor power.

      Currently our community-in-embryo has no projects going that
      represent collaboration between our subscribers. So the
      criticisms that we are, at present, nothing more than a talk-shop
      (ie: similar to hundreds, or thousands, of other lists) are,
      unfortunately, accurate. Subscribers come here and post their
      views (which they often work on with great diligence) and,
      currently, often get little or no response for all their efforts
      (ie: no thoughtful criticism of strong and weak points, no real
      sense of connection to anyone else). Subscribers come here and
      look for some project which they are able to understand and
      contribute to -- and often find nothing.

      So criticisms which have been made contain a lot of truth.

      On the other hand, as the saying goes, Rome was not built in a
      day. We are just getting started. The number of experienced and
      dedicated revolutionary activists who have been drawn to and who
      support this list and its aims is miniscule. Without a number of
      experienced and dedicated activists with the ability to place
      matters in perspective and offer helpful guidance -- our progress
      will inevitably be slow.

      In my view, however, all this will change. Not overnite of
      course. But it will happen.

      The concept that serious, militant activists need a focused
      community with democratic rights and the ability to offer clarity
      on the deeper questions -- conforms to the urgent need of our
      time. I am very much encouraged by even the limited progress and
      the relatively shallow discussion that has developed so far --
      and I believe we will be better organized a year from now.

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      3. Confronting the paralysis of our movement
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      Our list has gained a few subscribers and there have been threads
      since my last post and I thought I should comment briefly. Red
      Renascence discussed (Sept 14) the contradictions and competition
      between various ideologies. Chris discussed (Sept 4) his idea of
      starting a socialist or communist club at his university (he also
      asked if it would be ok to link to http://communism.org and
      http://mediaweapon.com -- yes, of course :-) ... ). And Robert
      questioned (Sept 9) whether the revolutionary movement is really
      paralyzed by a crisis of theory.

      For those new here, or who have not yet seen it, I suggest taking
      a look at my page on "proletarism" at
      http://struggle.net/proletarism . The article there is
      relatively short and easy to understand (it was written for the
      limited knowledge and attention span of many of my 14 year old
      readers who want quick and concentrated answers to basic
      questions). The crisis of theory is real and, whether we realize
      it or not, it impacts (ie: profoundly degrades) all revolutionary
      work by anyone and everyone every single day. If we cannot offer
      an alternative to the present system of bourgeois rule that makes
      sense to people who have not had a lobotomy -- then there can
      _never_ be a mass movement which is aimed at the elimination of
      the system of bourgeois rule.

      We need to be able to answer basic questions which we are asked.
      We cannot do so at present. The bourgeoisie and its myriad
      apologists can answer basic questions (ie: their answer is
      TINA -- "there is no alternative" to continued bourgeois rule and
      the current commodity-based system of production and exchange)
      and they have this ability to saturate the mass media (and the
      marginal media) with their answers 24 x 7. According to the
      bourgeoisie all attempts to create a society that they do not
      rule are doomed to become police states ruled by a party which
      suppresses all criticism and suppresses the independent political
      voice and independent political life of the working class. I
      believe that my theoretical work has stumbled onto at least an
      outline of the proletariat's response. This work may be able to
      greatly help us develop the ability to bring to a vast audience
      the need to eliminate the system of bourgeois rule.

      For those who would like to see theoretical work that is a bit
      deeper than an article I created for 14 year old readers -- I
      recommend reading part 7 of the anarcho-leninist debate on the
      state at: http://struggle.net/ALDS/part_7.htm .

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      4. Steve Wallis takes on the SWP (Britain)
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      Steve, I read with interest the first part of your post
      concerning your adventures at the Marxism 2004 events this July
      and with the SWP in Britain. (For those readers in the US who
      are not familiar with the alphabet soup of competing trotskyist
      groups -- the SWP in Britain has no relation to the SWP in the US
      but rather is the "mother party" of the group in the US known as
      the ISO -- the International Socialist Organization.)

      I have a few comments.

      First: welcome aboard. Your Sept 8 post was your first post here
      and I hope it will not be your last. We need people here who are
      capable of making independent assessments and taking independent
      action. Distributing 1500 independently created leaflets at the
      Marxism 2004 conference is a good thing althou, unfortunately, I
      have not had time to read all of your post or study the leaflet
      within it as I have only a very superficial knowledge of the
      united front efforts in Britain that have been much talked about
      within the British left.

      I will note that I somewhat skeptical of your assessment that the
      SWP's "leadership is heavily infiltrated by conspiratorial
      organizations on the side of big business". There is no
      shortage of left organizations that are dominated by the
      reformist ideology and social strata (in my view most are).
      However the reformist domination is usually best described in
      terms other than "conspiratorial". The reformist domination may
      be news to many activists (who do not understand the nature of
      reformism) but it cannot be described as a "conspiracy" since it
      is usually in the open provided that you know what to look for.
      If the SWP in Britain is anything like the "daughter party" in
      the US (ie: the ISO) I suspect the problem is more the sectarian
      disease than the reformist disease. Both diseases will lead to
      sabotage of the revolutionary struggle and the liquidation of
      revolutionary work. Since I am speaking out of a great amount of
      ignorance it is possible that I am mistaken. But it is important
      to keep in mind that unprincipled manipulation that sabotages
      revolutionary work is not necessarily proof of hidden bourgeois
      control. Sometimes it is simply a product of a sectarian agenda
      that disregards the needs of the movement and sees nothing but
      the possibility of recruiting the young and willing bodies of
      activists.

      I will note that, in May 2000, I wrote an article about the
      "civil war" between the SWP-Britain and the ISO-USA. This was a
      war which was waged by the mother party in order to control the
      daughter party. The leaderships of both parties initially
      attempted to keep the war secret from their memberships. However
      as the war escalated some dissident members of both groups were
      disgusted by the secrecy and posted some of the relevant articles
      on the internet. My comments on this focused on how the internet
      is changing the terrain involved in these kinds of sectarian
      squabbles and will eventually lead to the extinction of the
      sectarian disease. It is posted under the title of:
      "The SWP/ISO fight--and the intervention of the internet" at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theorist/message/20

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      5. Reply to DJ -- Creating the party of the future
      ------------------------------------------------------------

      The rest of this post will be focused on my reply to DJ. I hope
      that everyone is cool with this. I recognize DJ, more than I do
      anyone here, as my peer -- as a "political" person. The term
      "political", of course, has a great many meanings. I recognize
      DJ as my peer not because he has great experience as a
      revolutionary activist (his experience is limited) but because
      within him there breathes a certain kind of determination -- a
      certain kind of fire.

      What this means, in practice, is someone who is very determined
      to take the actions that have real weight in relation to the
      class struggle of the proletariat. This kind of determination
      means a willingness to confront, and wrestle with, the difficult
      questions around which everything else revolves.

      DJ and I discussed (see my weekly focus # 16 at
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pof-200/message/564 ) the idea of
      working together on a wiki page dealing with the nature of
      reformism. There has also been discussion (see:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pof-200/message/566 and
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pof-200/message/577 ) of (1) a
      leaflet written by some former comrades of mine who are presently
      organized into the Communist Voice Organization (CVO) and (2) an
      organization that DJ is currently studying , the League for a
      Revolutionary Party (LRP) and (3) the interaction between these
      two rival groups.

      Joint work on wiki page against reformism
      -------------------------------------------

      I would like to start with my proposal that DJ and I work
      together on a wiki page dealing with the nature of reformism.
      The main issue here is how to move this forward in a practical
      way as quickly and easily as possible.

      DJ, since our views on this question are different in various
      ways the easiest and most practical method of moving this forward
      would be to create a page (or pages) which consist of different
      sections. Each section could be demarcated with a horizontal
      line (or by a simple table) and would conclude with "(written by
      DJ)", "(written by Ben)" or "(approved by DJ and Ben)".
      Initially most of the sections would be written by you or me but
      over time we might be able to have more sections that both of us
      agree with. There are also other possibilities concerning how
      this page could be organized such that neither of us feel that
      our views are misrepresented -- but the proposal above might be a
      relatively quick and simple way of getting started.

      Here is my proposal for the section at the top of the page:

      DJ Dialectic and Ben Seattle both feel that the development
      of a mass movement for the overthrow of bourgeois rule
      is inseparable from the struggle against the influence of
      the social strata (composed of trade union bureaucrats,
      religious leaders, poverty pimps and progressive media
      personalities) which preaches to activists the supposed
      wisdom of restricting our struggle to those actions which
      are deserving of respect in the eyes of the liberal-labor
      politicians and professional opinion makers. We believe
      the independent political movement of the working class
      can only develop in the struggle against this kind of
      treachery and blackmail and we have decided to work
      together to expose the sabotaging role of the reformist
      political trends which aim to suck the life and militancy
      out of the antiwar movement and all other similar
      movements in society.

      If you agree with this--then go ahead and create the page with
      the passage above, concluding with "(approved by DJ and Ben)", at
      the top. That would be a start. We need to start somewhere.
      Then you could add your own sections -- and/or include sections
      that I have written on my pages. At this time only you or me
      would be authorized to edit the page.

      If you don't like the passage above, or would like to modify it
      or create a different passage -- then let me know. I am
      confident that our views are sufficiently close that we can find
      a way to work together and make this happen.

      Please let me know if this sounds like a practical and reasonable
      way to get things started.

      DJ's Live Journal posts
      -------------------------

      DJ, I have read some of your posts at
      http://www.livejournal.com/users/djdialectic/ and find them to be
      very interesting. I would hope that you would give serious
      consideration, in the future, to formatting (to avoid the broken
      line problem when email software uses a different line width than
      your word processing software) and forwarding these posts here
      to the pof-200 list. I have read some of the comments that your
      posts receive on Live Journal and I note that while many of the
      comments have problems they are generally of a higher quality
      (ie: more serious, more focused, more reflective of revolutionary
      experience) than many of the posts on this list. I hope that
      eventually the quality of the discussion here becomes much
      higher. Forwarding to this list your Live Journal posts might
      represent a step in that direction.

      The CVO leaflet
      ------------------

      I read, carefully, your criticism of the CVO leaflet that I
      forwarded as an appendix to my weekly focus # 16 (readers: see
      links for msgs 564 and 566 above). At one point you express a
      concern that your criticism "may seem like sectarian nitpicking".
      I would like to express my view that your concern is very well
      founded.

      I am replying to you on this topic because I believe that genuine
      revolutionary collaboration is not possible without honest and
      respectful criticism. So, before going any further, I want to
      emphasize that, while we do not shrink from criticizing one
      another, our primary responsibility as revolutionary activists is
      to find ways to work together in the context of building a
      community of activists which is serious and focused. The need
      for revolutionary cooperation is frequently forgotten the moment
      activists enter into the strange energy fields which emanate from
      competing groups in the left which frequently act as if they are
      engaged in a life-and death struggle against one another. No one
      (not even the most militant, the most dedicated, the most
      experienced activists) is immune from the sectarian disease so
      there is a need for extreme caution when in proximity to the
      sectarian energy field.

      I say these things to emphasize that our work to build a
      community here -- and our proposed joint wiki page describing the
      nature of the reformist ideology and social strata (and the need
      for struggle to remain independent of its influence) must take
      precedence over discussion of our differences. If we forget
      that -- then we are lost.

      Basically, I see very little that is wrong with the leaflet.
      Yes, any leaflet that I distribute would also bring up some of
      the deeper questions -- which the CVO leaflet evades. The CVO
      typically distributes these leaflets with a prominent hammer and
      sickle at the top -- but the CVO's leaflets are never able to
      address (or even discuss in an intelligent way) the kinds of
      questions which are raised in the minds of readers when they see
      this "communist" symbol.

      However the things which I believe are left out of the leaflet
      appear to have little relationship to the things which you
      believe are left out of the leaflet.

      Is there really a need to confront the reader (more than the
      leaflet already does) with the fact that a vote for Kerry is a
      vote for war, austerity and oppression? The problem is not that
      people are voting for Kerry -- but that the Kerry campaign is
      being used as part of an effort to suck the life and militancy
      out of the antiwar movement. This is fundamental. The leaflet
      addresses this issue (with great skill and tact in my view) by
      making extremely clear (with fairly comprehensive analysis
      covering Iraq, repression, the economy, the environment and
      health care) that Kerry and Bush are controlled by the same
      people -- and have essentially the same program --and urging
      readers to become involved in the mass movements whether or not
      they are voting for Kerry or Nader.

      Antagonizing readers with demands that they not vote for Kerry
      would be clueless and would accomplish nothing.

      Further, I disagree with your analysis that the problems of the
      CVO can be described as "centrism".

      I agree with you that the CVO is not taking the actions which are
      decisive to the development of the class struggle of the
      proletariat. But historically, the term "centrism" is used to
      mean something a little different than this. Historically
      "centrism" refers to efforts to retard the process of the working
      class breaking from the influence of reformist (or reformist
      controlled) political trends. The CVO leaflet, on the contrary,
      works to accelerate the process of activists breaking from the
      influence of the Kerry and Nader reformists.

      When Trotsky (prior to 1917) worked to promote illusions in the
      kinds of cooperation that were possible between the Bolshevik and
      Menshevik trends -- this was an example of centrism.

      Your criticisms of the CVO (to the extent that they are valid)
      would be expressed better by simply saying that they are not
      taking up the tasks which are decisive. But putting matters in
      this context raises the question of which tasks _are_ decisive
      (since there is much disagreement on this).

      Also, your criticism of the CVO for failing, in its leaflet, to
      prove to workers that a revolutionary party is needed -- is a
      criticism which is not very well developed.

      A real party will wield the weapon of transparency
      ---------------------------------------------------

      No one today (no political trend as far as I am aware) has done
      an adequate job of addressing the issue of genuinely
      revolutionary organization. We need a "revolutionary party".
      Fine. But what exactly is a "revolutionary party"? The trends
      which talk, constantly, about the need for a revolutionary party
      generally don't have a clue what a revolutionary party would look
      like and what it would _do_ in the context of modern conditions.

      I looked at the LRP article you recommended on "The Leninist
      Conception of the Revolutionary Vanguard Party" and found very
      little there that answered the fundamental questions concerning
      the principles that would be used in the organization of this
      party and its activity. What I found instead were various
      truisms that explain very little and endless, mind-numbing
      repetition of the same abstract generalizations that have been
      repeated for decades by people who do not have a clue what any
      of it means. It is a supreme farce that Lenin's name is used to
      promote this kind of stale crap.

      Genuine revolutionary organization would involve finding methods
      of bringing serious, militant activists together to engage in
      common struggle and to sort out and focus on the tasks which are
      decisive. This would require public discussion and public
      debate. Unfortunately, both the CVO and the LRP appear to me to
      be deathly afraid of any process which might lead to political
      transparency -- which might lead to their having to publicly
      answer public questions from activists concerning their actions
      and their priorities.

      Neither of their web sites allow for readers to post
      comments, questions or criticisms. This is not a technical
      problem. Rather it is fundamental to the operation of a
      political cult which cannot exist without illusions among their
      supporters in the supposed competence of their central
      leaderships. The result is political trends which believe
      themselves (and proclaim themselves to be) leaders of the working
      class -- but which are not accountable to the working class in
      any way whatsoever.

      Any _real_ revolutionary organization that emerges from this
      point forward will make use of the weapon of transparency; will
      encourage activists to ask public questions and to make public
      comments and criticisms.

      By providing solid and reliable public answers to public
      questions a real revolutionary organization will provide a
      service to militant activists everywhere (who are struggling like
      hell to make sense of the movement and their role in it), help to
      bring order out of chaos, prove that it does not have its head
      stuck in a place that can't be reached by sunlight -- and
      demonstrate that it is worthy of attention and respect.

      Both the CVO and LRP, it is clear to me, include in their ranks a
      number of serious militant activists. Both organizations (in
      spite of their infection with the sectarian disease) do a fair
      amount of good and useful work and embody a fair amount of
      revolutionary experience. In both cases our attitude must be to
      "cure the disease and save the patient". But it is something of
      an understatement to say that our efforts in this direction are
      not likely to be appreciated ;-)

      The CVO-LRP polemic concerning the fight against the draft
      --------------------------------------------------------------

      While I am on the topic of the CVO and LRP phenomena, I should
      note their recent polemics concerning the struggle against the
      draft. I had earlier glanced at the CVO's articles on this topic
      and concluded that they were simply picking on some clueless trot
      group with whom they were in competition for the warm, living
      bodies of activists. After learning about the LRP from you -- I
      took a closer look the next time I went to the CVO site and
      discovered that the clueless trot group was the LRP -- which
      fails to recognize that it is important to struggle against the
      draft.

      At least on this topic, I think it should be clear that the CVO
      has the upper hand. In these kinds of fights the losing group
      can never admit defeat because, to do so, would undermine, among
      its own supporters, belief in the competence of its central
      leadership (which would threaten the existence of any
      organization based on this kind of confidence game). Rather than
      admit is it mistaken, the LRP was reduced to ... well I don't
      really know ... because I didn't finish reading their
      word-twisting evasionism.

      At one point (I think -- I didn't read their article very
      carefully) the LRP claimed that the CVO distorted their position
      on the draft. Of course the CVO is a master at distortion. The
      CVO is a slick as deer guts on a doorknob. However in this case
      the CVO got it right. At one point the LRP says:

      > any campaign against the draft represents a demand
      > on the capitalist state to maintain a professional,
      > mercenary army, since that is its only alternative.
      > That is why we say "'No Draft' Is No Answer."

      Case closed. The LRP is clueless here on the nature of the
      struggle for partial demands.

      Why we struggle for partial demands
      --------------------------------------

      I wanted to touch on this, DJ, because this subject was the topic
      of one of your Live Journal posts and is also central to the
      struggle against the influence of the reformist social strata and
      ideology.

      The term "partial demand" is synonymous with "reform". The
      struggle for a partial demand is a struggle for a reform. The
      struggle against the draft is a just struggle even if it leaves
      the capitalist state and its imperialist army intact. Such is
      the nature of any partial demand. (In fact the term "partial
      demand" originates in the idea that the full demand would be for
      the bourgeoisie to surrender power.)

      DJ -- Sept 2:
      > this abdication means, "fight for reforms, and once
      > the capitalist class as a whole beats you up, you'll
      > realize capitalism as a whole is your enemy."

      The proletariat leads or assists the various struggles for
      partial demands for a variety of reasons. The basic reasons are
      these:
      (1) to improve the conditions of life and work
      of the masses,
      (2) to build the fighting capacity and self-confidence
      of the masses -- and their confidence in the tactics
      of mass struggle and
      (3) to raise the consciousness of the masses concerning how
      the class struggle works and who their real friends are
      and who their real enemies are.

      The third point is key.

      It is generally only in the course of actual struggles that the
      false friends of the working class reveal themselves for what
      they are -- as they work to sabotage the struggle. Similarly, it
      is only in the course of real struggles that the advanced forces
      gain the respect and attention of the workers and the activists.

      The CVO is an offshoot of the MLP. The MLP grew, step by step,
      out of the actions of a group of activists organized as the
      Cleveland Draft Resistance Union. The CDRU was very militant (it
      had to be to survive in that period) and led to an organization
      which engaged in frequent street fights with the police over
      their right to distribute literature and to organize marches.
      Whatever the weaknesses of the CDRU, it made possible everything
      you see of my work.

      Can the "crisis of theory" be reduced to "Stalinism" ?
      ------------------------------------------------------

      DJ -- Sept 8:
      > I think that the crisis of theory largely stems from
      > Stalinism and all the controversies surrounding it

      I believe you are mistaken. On nearly every essential point,
      Trotskyism is in full agreement with Stalinism.

      The crisis of theory goes much deeper. The essence of the crisis
      of theory is that activists are unable to describe:

      (1) how a society (and economy) would function
      that did not rely on commodity production
      and exchange

      and

      (2) how the transition period would lead from
      a commodity economy to an economy
      that was not based on commodity production
      and exchange.

      In addition, a subset of the crisis of theory revolves around the
      question of the revolutionary organization of the working class.
      Specifically:

      (3) how would this organization work and what would it do?

      As far as I can determine Trotskyism is a big zero on all three
      questions.

      All three questions are related to the control and flow of
      information. My own work has led me to conclude that the concept
      of "information war" is central to the solution to the crisis of
      theory in the context of conditions in the 21st century.

      I will add that the CVO is carrying out a protracted series
      (three articles so far) on "Trotskyism's anti-Marxist Theories".
      I have skimmed portions of this series. Parts of it appear
      correct and well considered. Other parts are the skilled
      charlatanism at which, unfortunately, Joseph Green has become
      very practiced. While I cannot enthusiastically recommend this
      series I would consider it likely to be worth reading or
      skimming. These groups on the left work hard to dig up "dirt" on
      one another and frequently they are quite successful at doing so.

      The struggle against the TUB's
      -------------------------------

      TUB's, by the way, is the abbreviation that I sometimes use for
      "trade union bureaucrats". It has been a popular abbreviation
      that workers often liked in MLP leaflets because the labor hacks,
      just like cops who hang around a donut shop too much, are often
      very well fed.

      DJ -- Sept 2:
      > It also says we should oppose the union leaders.
      > But how do we oppose the capitalist class and
      > the union leaders? With what do we oppose them?
      > The leaflet counterposes "independent mass struggles."

      I don't know if it will help much but I can think of two examples
      that may possibly shed light on your question.

      The first is the leaflet put out by the LRP opposing the sellout
      of NY transit hack Roger Toussaint. (Toussaint, by the irony of
      the small world we live in, is a former member of the MLP who
      sold his soul to reformism after the MLP dissolved itself in
      1993.)

      The second example (much more recent) is a CVO post that I
      discovered on Seattle Indymedia this morning (it had, by some
      miracle, been posted in the coveted center column by the
      reformist IMC editors). It consists of an article and leaflet on
      the current contract talks of the local grocery workers (who were
      sold out by the slick manipulation of the tub's).

      I have only briefly skimmed both the LRP leaflet against
      Toussaint and the CVO leaflet against the local hacks -- so I
      cannot fully endorse either leaflet. But the general approach of
      telling the workers the truth and (to the extent possible)
      assisting the workers to find the difficult path of independent
      struggle -- is the way forward.

      Saving the patient
      ------------------

      I have spent a fair amount of time discussing the CVO and the
      LRP. It was probably necessary to do so. It is important to
      keep in mind, DJ, that our main responsibility is to struggle to
      find ways to work together in a productive way. We may need to
      remind ourselves of this from time to time -- because we may need
      to struggle to remember this. My former comrades in the CVO
      (some of whom were personal friends) will no longer talk to me --
      because I will not compromise on principle. But I love them and
      no one will work more consistently to help them achieve their
      aspiration of helping the working class to organize itself.

      The most damning question that can be asked about the good
      comrades in both of these organizations is: Why aren't you
      working together?

      The answer to this question revolves around _us_. It is _our_
      responsibility, DJ, to create a community here where the good
      comrades from both of these organizations (and many other
      organizations) can come and engage in respectful dialog with
      others and participate in meaningful projects that accomplish
      something and which represent valuable assistance to the struggle
      of the working class.

      We have our work cut out for us. And it would be great if we had
      more help from knowledgeable and experienced activists. But that
      will probably only come later -- after we have proven that this
      community is taking steps in the direction of becoming something
      that is real.

      Some links follow.

      Sincerely and with revolutionary regards,
      Ben Seattle
      ----//-// Sept 19, 2004
      http://struggle.net/Ben (my elists / theory / infrastructure)

      Some links:
      ------------

      http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/33cLRP.html
      The LRP surrenders to militarism
      and the threat of a new draft

      http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/34cTrotsky.html
      An outline of Trotskyism's
      anti-Marxist theories (part three)

      http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2004/09/242227.shtml
      On the grocery workers' struggle

      (excerpt below:)

      > AFL-CIO leaders' sabotage the workers'
      > economic struggles, just as they sabotage
      > the workers' desire to fight the Iraqi occupation.
      >
      > About the California and Washington state
      > grocery workers' struggles
      >
      > The following article by Helen Jones, one of the
      > supporters of the Communist Voice Organization
      > in Seattle, discusses the Washington state settlement.
      > In both struggles, the workers faced not only intense
      > pressure from the capitalists, but sabotage from
      > the class-collaborationist leaders of the UFCW.
      > Following this is a leaflet by Helen that was originally
      > intended as a leaflet in support of local grocery
      > workers. It deals with the experience of the
      > California strike as well as the issues in Washington
      > state.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.