Re: [Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism

2020-02-07 Thread Andrew Stewart via Marxism
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Regardless of how much hot air one expends on blogs and email ListServs, none 
of that is worth jack shit unless we are actually organizing to make these 
political aspirations material realities. If Socialist/Communist blogs, email 
newsletters, magazines, and journals were able to make organization 
materialize, we would have been a pure communist society a century ago. 

Cheerleading for Hawkins is not building a Green local that will collect the 
signatures to get him on a ballot or fundraising for his campaign, which is 
frankly very needed right now.

 And NOT doing that organizing gives ammo to the Democrats and the lesser-evil 
advocates who can point out the lack of organizing and say “See, Green voters 
aren’t going to stick around after Election Day and be there in solidarity.”

 And if you are not going to be offering solidarity, the cornerstone of 
socialist politics, WTF is the point?

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart 
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Message: 9
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2020 12:08:22 -0500
From: Louis Proyect 
To: marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism
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> On 2/7/20 11:45 AM, John Reimann via Marxism wrote:
> My point simply was that political parties are based on class, not simply
> ideas, and that any new party that is worth anything will emerge from the
> actual struggles of the working class, not from some nice ideas and good
> intentions of a relative handful of socialists. When and how such a
> struggle will develop - whether we are even close to such a struggle - is
> an entirely different issue.

Nobody, least of all me, believes that the Green Party will ever become 
the party that is necessary to transform the USA. However, there is a 
wing of it that is consciously and openly anti-capitalist, including 
Marxmailer Howie Hawkins who is a retired warehouse worker and Teamster 
Union member. Like John, he radicalized in the 60s and took a 
blue-collar job out of the understanding that the working-class had a 
revolutionary potential.

The wing that he belongs to included Bruce Dixon, a former Black Panther 
and editor of Black Agenda Report until his death last year. I have had 
long discussions with both Howie and Bruce about the Green Party 
evolving into a membership organization that can tap into the widespread 
discontent in this country. There is an outside possibility that if 
Howie is the presidential candidate and if the DP continues on its death 
march, the Greens can capitalize on this and strengthen their hand.

A vacuum exists in this country. With the utter collapse of the Leninist 
left, people are looking for an alternative to the two-party system and 
the weak tea politics of the DSA. There is absolutely no guarantee that 
the Greens can fill this vacuum but given the deep environmental crisis, 
there is an opening for a party that has a principled stand on the need 
for an anti-capitalist Green New Deal. The people who respond to this 
opening will be wage-earners. I have no idea how Greens make a living 
but I assume that they are no different than the average DP voter who is 
a schoolteacher, social worker, librarian, barista, web developer or 
nurse who would be thrown into a deep crisis if they lost a job, 
especially if they were over 40.

John dismisses the Greens because it is not "working class". Maybe not 
based on his criteria but there's another dimension that is worth 
considering. This is not a party that has people like Michael Bloomberg 
running for office. Nor does have any significant segment of the USA 
ruling class in its major leadership bodies.

Despite its obvious flaws, it is still worth supporting.

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Re: [Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism

2020-02-07 Thread Louis Proyect via Marxism

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On 2/7/20 11:45 AM, John Reimann via Marxism wrote:

My point simply was that political parties are based on class, not simply
ideas, and that any new party that is worth anything will emerge from the
actual struggles of the working class, not from some nice ideas and good
intentions of a relative handful of socialists. When and how such a
struggle will develop - whether we are even close to such a struggle - is
an entirely different issue.


Nobody, least of all me, believes that the Green Party will ever become 
the party that is necessary to transform the USA. However, there is a 
wing of it that is consciously and openly anti-capitalist, including 
Marxmailer Howie Hawkins who is a retired warehouse worker and Teamster 
Union member. Like John, he radicalized in the 60s and took a 
blue-collar job out of the understanding that the working-class had a 
revolutionary potential.


The wing that he belongs to included Bruce Dixon, a former Black Panther 
and editor of Black Agenda Report until his death last year. I have had 
long discussions with both Howie and Bruce about the Green Party 
evolving into a membership organization that can tap into the widespread 
discontent in this country. There is an outside possibility that if 
Howie is the presidential candidate and if the DP continues on its death 
march, the Greens can capitalize on this and strengthen their hand.


A vacuum exists in this country. With the utter collapse of the Leninist 
left, people are looking for an alternative to the two-party system and 
the weak tea politics of the DSA. There is absolutely no guarantee that 
the Greens can fill this vacuum but given the deep environmental crisis, 
there is an opening for a party that has a principled stand on the need 
for an anti-capitalist Green New Deal. The people who respond to this 
opening will be wage-earners. I have no idea how Greens make a living 
but I assume that they are no different than the average DP voter who is 
a schoolteacher, social worker, librarian, barista, web developer or 
nurse who would be thrown into a deep crisis if they lost a job, 
especially if they were over 40.


John dismisses the Greens because it is not "working class". Maybe not 
based on his criteria but there's another dimension that is worth 
considering. This is not a party that has people like Michael Bloomberg 
running for office. Nor does have any significant segment of the USA 
ruling class in its major leadership bodies.


Despite its obvious flaws, it is still worth supporting.
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Re: [Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism

2020-02-07 Thread John Reimann via Marxism
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In the first place, I have no illusions in either carpenters nor any other
section of the working class. I just referred to the struggles of
carpenters that I did because Louis was much too categorical in his comment
on construction workers. Also, maybe Louis didn't notice what I added to my
original message - that it's true that all these struggles I mentioned were
simply for the immediate interests of these carpenters, but it's exactly
out of such struggles that a wider consciousness emerges.

In any case, who ever said that construction workers - or blue collar
workers in general - will be in the vanguard of a wider movement of the
working class? I never did. Never even implied it either.

Nor, contrary to what Anthony Boynton implies, do I have any illusions in
the state of affairs within the US working class in general. In fact, I've
written frequently about the "crisis in the US working class."

My point simply was that political parties are based on class, not simply
ideas, and that any new party that is worth anything will emerge from the
actual struggles of the working class, not from some nice ideas and good
intentions of a relative handful of socialists. When and how such a
struggle will develop - whether we are even close to such a struggle - is
an entirely different issue.

John Reimann

-- 
*“In politics, abstract terms conceal treachery.” *from "The Black
Jacobins" by C. L. R. James
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook
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Re: [Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism

2020-02-06 Thread Anthony Boynton via Marxism
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(In response to John Reiman's comments)

Historical materialism, in my view, means studying the real material
movement and development of human society, and continuous abstracting out
of that study the essential movement of society. This is the opposite of
taking a dead abstraction from some book, even some great books by some
great writers, and trying to impose it as a schema on living, breathing,
human history.

I think Marx's abstraction from history that the working class is the
revolutionary class in capitalist society remains valid today, but the
working class of the United States is fragmented by race, gender, region,
citizenship status, and a dozen other major impediments to uniting itself.

The vast majority of workers in the United States are not organized, not
even into unions. The really existing working class is not a class for
itself, and it is not even conscious that it is a class.

How can it achieve class consciousness? Well, part of that answer is
through the class struggle, even through the fragments of that struggle
like what we have seen in Black Lives Matter, Me-Too, the immigrant rights
movement, the various anti-war movements, and even the trade union
movement. All of these are fragmented parts of the working class struggle,
even when they are initiated and led by petty bourgeois individuals. The
student movement, which is showing some signs of life again in the United
States, is today also basically a working class movement (even if they are
mostly working class youth who would like to exit their own class.)

The other part of that answer lies in the activity of people on this list,
and others, who are part of the vanguard of human social consciousness.
True, we are not organized into anything that  could or should be called a
"vanguard party" (although some of us are members of hopelessly and
ridiculously deluded self-important sects), but we are nevertheless part of
that vanguard.

Historically, working class parties, and all revolutionary parties, start
out as parties of the conscious minority...the vanguard. Right now, most of
the people likely to be part of the vanguard of the next five to ten years
are out campaigning for Bernie Sanders.

Should we join them?

No. We should warn them about the wall they are going to hit, and offer
them another course of action for the time they pick themselves up, dust
themselves off, and start looking for a better way to fight.

That is historical materialism in my book, and I am pretty sure Marx,
Engels and the revolutionaries who followed after them would agree with me.

Anthony
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